|Romain Gary was married to Jean Seberg, American actress. She killed herself in 1979 and he followed in 1980.|
Promise at Dawn (1960)
by Romain Gary
Who is Romain Gary, exactly? He is a French author of Russian-Jewish ancestry, by way of present day Lithuania and Warsaw. He was a popular fellow in his day, an actual French diplomat and certified French war hero. Promise at Dawn is his biography-novel, written in the first person, about growing up with his heroic Russian-Jewish mother. The end product is like a cross between Woody Allen and Ayn Rand, with humor and remarkable self reliant achievement walking hand in hand.
I think the essential combination that makes Romain Gary interesting is the combining of a nerdy French/Russian/Jewish momma's boy with a mid 20th century man-of-action. It bears mentioning anytime a 20th century work of literature contains anything resembling "action." Although authors that portray virile, macho, alpha male types might not be in favor of these days, they really did represent a departure from the mainstream literary culture of the time. Gary is not any kind of theorist of literature but he spins a good yard. He's like a variation on the dashing English gent that you might encounter in a Graham Greene novel.