As unconventional a biography as Dennis Hopper was a man, Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream by Tom Folsom charts his roller coaster life and career through the lens of the landscape of American popular culture.
The chopper-riding hippie outlaw in Easy Rider. The prophetic madman in the jungle in Apocalypse Now. The terrifying psychopath in Blue Velvet. The kid gone wrong in Rebel Without a Cause. The actor taken under the wing of James Dean, a friendship that set Dennis Hopper on his path to becoming a star. A quintessentially American dreamer longing to be the next Orson Welles. The hell-raising director who revolutionized Hollywood.
Dennis Hopper’s extraordinary journey takes him to superhero highs and plummeting lows. Capturing the magic and the madness of his American Dream, Hopper is a wild ride through Dennis’s many lives. Written in a rebel spirit, complemented with iconic photographs, and packed with insights from his fellow actors, artists, and friends, Hopper tells the story of a half-century of rebellion waged at the edge of pop culture.
Folsom, whose previous works include The Mad Ones and Mr. Untouchable, focuses here on actor Dennis Hopper's monumental successes and failures, like Easy Rider and The Last Movie, respectively, while nicely capturing the essence of other aspects of the actor's life his Kansas childhood, rehab stints, and pitch-man career in short, lively vignettes. Though it is nearly impossible to put down on paper the life of a man who was so motivated by visions real and imagined, Folsom does an admirable job capturing Hopper's manic and spirited personality in prose, as when he describes the actor's adopted home of Taos, N.Mex.: " hidden plateau, damp and lush and glowing iridescent in the hallucinatory light when filtered through the thin alpine air illuminated everything in Technicolor." Still, even with Folsom's exhaustive research and incisive perception, the book doesn't fully explain the mystery of Dennis Hopper, but that in itself is a fitting homage to this once great yet enigmatic entertainer
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Where was the editor
It was interesting to read the author's descriptions of Hopper's emotionally frenetic personal and professional lives. However, the book is poorly structured. It needed the hand of a skillful editor. The only thing I can think of is that the author was trying to be artsy and construct a book that was jumbled, distracted and unfocused much like his subject Hopper. If this is the case he missed the mark.
I was there. It was the tumultuous sixties rolling into the seventies. Hoppy was a big piece of those times. Lost for a while there, but came back with dignity and art. Tom Folsom tells the tale with style, humor, and grit. A tale well worth the telling. A must read for anyone that lived, loved, and got high in the sixties.