There aren't many things that make you want to be a worse person.
Certain types of drug maybe. Visits to IKEA on a bank holiday weekend. Pop Idol.
And Sammy Glick.
Sammy Glick is an anti-hero if ever there was one. He slithers his way through the pages of Budd Schulberg's book leaving you with the kind of regard you have for a Piranha fish - you sure wouldn't want to get in the way of one, but damn if it ain't cool the way they can skeletonise a cow in ten seconds flat. He double-crosses his friends, deceives his family, takes advantage of those beneath him. There is nothing, nothing to recommend him as a human being. And yet, without a saving grace in the world, there's no-one I'd rather be than Sammy Glick.
The titular question posed by the narrator forms the basis of a life-long fascination, as he plots Sammy's career, from a thrusting young copy boy through the ranks of Hollywood. It becomes almost an anthropological study - as if the narrator was some kind of West Coast Desmond Morris, a witness to the evolution of a new kind of human being, one who ruthlessly and efficiently dispatches all who get in his way.
There are plenty of Hollywood exposés. The Player, Sunset Boulevard, Swimming with Sharks, Adventures in the Screen Trade, you name it. But there's something a bit more important about What Makes Sammy Run. A bit more applicable. Because if there's one thing the book teaches you, it's that Sammy Glicks are everywhere. And as a manual for anyone who works for a living, it's invaluable.
Chances are you probably know someone like Sammy Glick. Someone so awful, so objectionable, so insidiously evil, that you can't work our just how he or she has managed to stay alive so long. But what's really incredible about people like this is their lack of self perception, the utter inability to behave within the accepted rules and confines of polite society. How can they NOT see that what they're doing is, quite simply wrong? How can they not get it?
It's a difficult and disturbing question. How can they just do things their way, and get away with it time and time again, while the rest of us slowly crawl up the waterspout, waiting for the inevitable rainfall that'll wash our itsy-bitsy little lives back down until the sun comes up again?
It's wrong, and unfair, and there can only be one terrible, harrowing explanation for it.
It's a Sammy Glick world.
We're just living in it.