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The Rebel: An Imagined Life of James Dean
by Jack Dann

Category: Fiction / General
0 pages; ISBN: 0380978393

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

The Rebel: An Imagined Life of James Dean
Jack Dann
Morrow, Aug 2004, $24.95
ISBN: 0380978393

In 1955, James Dean loves putting the pedal to the metal until his speeding Spyder met a Ford at an intersection. Encouraged by his sweet dead mom to get off the ground so he will not catch a cold, Jimmy awakens at Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital and later is moved to Santa Monica Hospital. Jimmy slowly recovers, but mentally is no longer the same Rebel Without a Cause.

Jimmy leaves the hospital, but is hooked on Demerol. He leaves Southern California for New York, following advice he once gave Marilyn Monroe. In Manhattan, Jimmy meets merry prankster writer Jack Kerouac and dreams of directing meaningful films. Marilyn, who he protects from the jealous rages of Joltin’ Joe, introduces Jimmy to Bobby Kennedy. When Monroe commits suicide Jimmy suspects Bobby was involved. They battle over her incriminating diary. Jimmy is now a rebel with a cause as he plans to take on the Kennedy gang knowing he could end up rather quickly joining Marilyn in the afterlife.

This is an intriguing what if biographical-like fictional account of the life of James Dean if he recovered from the fatal car crash. The story line is at its best when fifties and sixties famous people realistically interact with Jimmy. However, Jack Dann goes too far out with the High Noon confrontation between Dean and the Kennedy mob, making it feels more like fantasy. When Mr. Dann stays with the low level scandals even of high ranking people, fans obtain a fine tale of what could have been intermingled with happened.

Harriet Klausner

 

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