I first created this site in 1999 so I could help keep my cousin's memory alive. Turns out, there were already plenty of people who hadn't forgotten. I've received countless emails from fans around the world. Here are just a few of my favorites. Thanks again to everyone who's ever written.
I didn't actually know what happened to your cousin. Such a great writing career cut short. But still, his works were mature from the word go. He didn't need 2 or 3 tries to hit his stride. He also didn't shoot his wad after 1 book like virtually every other Vietnam writer; they all have toc hange topic to produce another book.
P.S.: I personally wish your cousin had been eulogized the way they've been doing with the bootlegger's grandson this week. No offence to that fellow, but your cousin's accomplishments are of greater lasting significance than his.
...Chapters.ca is accepting votes on the best 20th century novel. About 2 or 3 days ago, just to be different, I voted for The Phantom Blooper.
I almost did not notice how well the site
was constructed out of an immediate fascination with the subject.
My father (who was a Marine that served in Viet Nam) and I had seen Full
Metal Jacket together. I remember clearly how moved he was to
see the Boot Camp scenes. It had taken him back. Anyway...
The web page is well organized and is easy to follow. You convey the fascinating personality of your cousin thoughtfully and without unnecessary aggrandizement. Good job.
I realize now just how feeble my own adventures into larceny as a bibliophile have been, Gustav set a high standard.
Excellent site. I have been trying to
track down The Short Timers since seeing Full Metal Jacket
thirteen years ago. (The best Vietnam movie ever made. And,
perhaps, the best war movie ever made.) In fitful attempts, when
it would come to my mind while perusing the History>Vietnam War section
of any book store I was in, I would look for: Gustav Hasford, The Short
Timers. I was never able to locate the book nor ever learn much
about its author. Only after reading Mike Herr's Dispatches
did I really begin to get the itch to get my hands on a copy of Hasford's
novel. So I found one on ebay just the other day and promptly outbid
everyone else. (Still waiting for it to arrive.) That lead
me to entering "Gustav Hasford" as a query in Hotbot and your site popped
I was shocked when I saw the dates.... I had never been able to track down this Hasford character that had written the book that was the basis of the best war movie I had ever seen....and then when I finally did, he was long dead.
What I can't understand is, how come
The Short Timers is still out of print. What is going on with
the copyright? Isn't there any way to get it reprinted? It
would be great to print both Short Timers and The Phantom Blooper
together in one volume. Obviously I know nothing about the
"real world" of publishing, but is there anything that could be done to
try and get Gus's books published again? Who owns the rights?
Is there anything in the works? With the prices that old copies of
Short Timers and Blooper are commanding, there is some real
interest out there for the books....
Thanks for finally letting me find out who Gustav Hasford was.
I lived in S.L.O. from 1982-1985, and I lived on Santa Barbara St. This is how I met Gus as he rented a studio 3 houses down. We spent alot of time together, we took alot of walks (to McDonalds) which was quite a hike from our neighborhood. I know that he came to Pirates Cove with a group of my friends and myself on several occasions. Mostly we walked and talked about books and just hung out. I was 21-22 yrs. old at the time and very likely was a genuine pain in the ass, as some people are…
I know that he would disappear for days at a time, without an explanation. He also drank very heavily and would stay up all night, drinking and writing, while I sat with him writing poetry. He had me read things he written quite often, I cannot remember anything about the work, though. I remember I was at his room one day and I answered the phone for him, later, Gus told me that it had been stanley kubrick. I cried when I read on the site that those people did not acknowledge Gus's death. It figures. I am angry with myself for letting so much time lapse, not attempting to get in touch with him sooner. He was a good friend and I would have enjoyed and appreciated him even more, now that I am older. I am sorry that I don't have anything concrete to send you such as pictures ect. All I have is the memory of a person who made me feel good about myself, (and that is alot).
I just wanted to let you know how glad I am I came across your Gustav Hasford site. Ever since I saw Full Metal Jacket, whenever I went into a used book store I looked for the Short Timers. It was only through your website that I got a chance to read it and find out it was a good hunch that made me look for it so many times.
Most excellent site. Glad to see that the Joker's insight lives on. He is one of the reasons I became a writer.
Naval Advisor (that was a laugh back then too)
I've probably already mentioned this, but Gustav Hasford is one of my favorite writers, and I routinely go back to his books for inspiration/entertainment. I don't think I write anything like he does (stylistically) but he's been a big influence nonetheless.
Aside from my day job (as a reporter for a chemical industry trade magazine), I write movie reviews and articles for a web-magazine: www.plasmotica.com. Please check it out. My article about my days as editor of a porn magazine (The Rewrite Stuff in issue #2) and a story about a professor I had in college who was both a vet of the German army in WWII and of the US army in Korea (Unsettling Dreams in issue #3) might be of special interest.
I have no idea if these two authors are aware of Hasford (beyond the Full Metal Jacket thing), but Jim Goad (author of The Redneck Manifesto; a sarcastic, but incredibly well-researched book chronicling the history of class warfare in the US/Goad is now serving time in Oregon for assault) and Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club) share Hasford's style and tone: That too-smart-for-his-own-good/smart aleck who is pissed off at the complacency and stupidity around him. Or at least that's my impression.
Just wanted to thank you for the page. I met Gus when he was in San Luis Obispo for his criminal case. I had not read his books yet, but had seen the movie. I am a criminal defense attorney and a former member of Hotel Company 2/5 so I spent several hours in the courthouse halls talking with him about boot camp. He was a great guy with a fantastic sense of humor. Since that time I have read all three books and been waiting for more. Came across your page while looking for Nam buddies. It's a great page and I enjoyed the other writings from Gus that you have posted. I'll just have to keep waiting for anything new from him.
Jay A. Peterson
San Luis Obispo, California
I am a 2 tour Vietnam veteran, USMC Sgt. and not only enjoyed Gustav’s novels but could relate to Full Metal Jacket in its entirety. For all of those who served and some who never came back Gustav’s books and that movie told the 'world' how it was. To those who graduated Paris Island it was too close to the bone in its portrayal of the recruit experience.
To Gustav...no matter where he is. Semper Fi brother.
My name is Richard Goodwin Luck and I am a freelance feature writer, critic and author from London, England. A regular contributor to British film magazines such as Empire, Total Film and Hotdog, I've also written for Premiere and am the author of books on Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah.
I'm currently writing a definitive piece on the making of Full Metal Jacket. Since I'm friends with the head of Warner Europe and know Stanley Kubrick's production accountant, I've been able to get hold of some really good, previously unpublished material. However, no piece on FMJ would be complete without paying considerable attention to Gustav Hasford.
I read The Short-Timers while at the University Of California and was, like Michael Herr before me, completely blown away. And much as I admire Kubrick's film, I still find myself in seminars telling people to do what they can to get a copy of the book.
The reason for wanting to include information on your cousin is to correct an imbalance. It's always struck me as odd that Michael Herr is considered a genius (despite a body of work that consists of a couple of film narrations, two biographies and the [admittedly excellent] Dispatches) while Hasford, whose body of work is on a similar scale, is all but ignored - this, in spite, of the fact that his work sold and was reveered by, amongst others, Michael Herr. What I'd also like to do is create a situation where fans of great literature are petitioning Amazon and BOL to find out why The Short-Timers and The Phantom Blooper are no longer imprint.
I'm an Italian fan of Gustav Hasford.
I've been reading and loving Gus stuff since The Short Timers was
published in Italy in 1987. I consider him as one of the greatest
war novelist ever, and I was happy to discover your web site, and have
the chance to read and know more on him.
I suppose you’re aware that the book was a big success here… Yes, it has been reprinted at least three times.
The book sold out, taking full advantage of FMJ success, and became a little cultural case - especially when magazines started comparing it to the movie. Kubrick is/was an icon here (basically, even my grandma knew who he was). When FMJ was televised for the first time the entire nation got glued to the screen (I remember they did it with a debate BEFORE and AFTER the show!). It was all free publicity for Gus.
Another great plus the book enjoyed was the Italian translation (by Pier Francesco Paolini), one of the best ever done for a modern American novel. Paolini apparently (at least, that was what the publisher told me) contacted your cousin to check the meaning of most of the slang, and came out with some wonderful stuff, bordering in some case on the use of local dialect (much appropriate for the kind of language Gus was using). I'm currently lobbying for an Italian translation of Phantom, and it would be great to have Paolini doing the job again.
I just wanted to thank you for allowing those of us interested in your cousin’s work an opportunity to access it. I saw Full Metal Jacket (for the umpteenth time) and for some reason, out of all the times I watched it, I never noticed that it was based on a book. Being very interested I started to search the web to purchase The Short-Timers. Somehow after a lot of frustration looking at bookstore sites I stumbled onto your web page. The book is almost finished printing and I know I won't sleep until I finish it tonight. And I'm looking forward to checking out his other works too. Being a kid who had no immediate family serve in the war, I can't explain why that movie touches me so much. I think it's because Joker reminds me of my first football coach, from whom I learned to appreciate the meaning of the war and its impact on the people who served in it.
As an old marine (not a lifer pogue but a snuffie, by the way) I have to say this is the finest dedication site I've yet to come across. As for Ermey's interview statement about your cousin's book 'Shorty' not covering marine bootcamp accurately; Ermey is full of shit....I was there. The book and the movie convey the full necessary brutality of that era's entry rites into the brotherhood (right down to the most minor details).
I'm sorry your cousin died, but he left an unpretentiously vivid literary mark in the world. His work won't be forgotten.
Always been interested, like most marines, in anything authentic about the corps (could care less about fictional war novels filled with movie hero BS and in fact have read very few military oriented novels period). By 'authentic' I don't mean factual but rather conveying the real essence of the experience. Just nostalgia about an important period of my life. It was a love-hate relationship....I really enjoyed the company of my buddies, but didn't care for a lot of the non-functional chicken-shit stuff from above. Glad I did it, wouldn't trade it for anything and wouldn't give a nickel to do it again. I think it's great that you care enough about your cousin to make these materials available in an artful and user-friendly manner. Very decent tribute to a guy I would have liked to meet.
Thank you ever so much for your amazing Gustav Hasford site. I want to tell you a story:
I'm 31. When I was a teenager, I was overweight and underfriended, and all I wanted to do was to get out of high school and join some army so I could legally shoot assault rifles. I researched Vietnam and WWII and drank way too much action movies into my common sense. In senior high I went on a science-class field trip to the city of Calgary and happened across the movie tie-in reprint of The Short-Timers. I was waiting for the release of Full Metal Jacket and, being an avid reader, I bought the book and read it in one sitting on the bus trip home.
The next morning, I decided I wasn't going to be a soldier, and instead spent the next few years learning guitar, growing out my hair and beard, graduating from music school, playing in bands, and eventually moving back to my hometown, where I'm now actively involved in the local arts & music community. Gustav Hasford gave me the nudge I needed to take a better fork in the road, and I haven't regretted my change in direction.
In the summer of 2000, after spending three years acting in our local community theatre troupe, I acted on an impulse that had been brewing in my busy head as a damn good idea: I would adapt the "Spirit of the Bayonet" segment into a stage play. And I did it, too.
It was the first dramatic production in local community theatre for many years. We ran seven evenings and played to sold-out houses (110 people). I received great praise for effectively delivering the gist of Gustav's story into a powerful, albeit short (65min) performance. People still come up to me on the street and tell me just how much they enjoyed the work; it was unusual for them to come away from a sharp show like that, thinking. Usually all we do is comedies and musicals.
Here's where the story gets frustrating. At the time, I had no idea how to contact Gustav. I knew next to nothing about him, and the jokers (heh heh) at Bantam Books weren't very helpful about locating him, or his literary agent, to attain proper permission to adapt his words. I was forwarded to a Hasford living in Washington state, but attempts to phone this person (widow? cousin?) ended strangely: a computerized filter came over the phone, I spoke my name and my business into it, and was promptly rejected. Believe me, Jason, I tried my best.
By the way, Cranbrook Community Theatre is a non-profit organization, and we don't rake in a lot of money as it stands, so please don't jump to anger by thinking we ended up rolling around happily naked on a big heap of cash by thieving Gustav's intellectual property. I didn't do that at all.
No luck in contacting him, or anyone else interested in him. And I'm astounded by flipping through the Yahoo! directory and coming across your site. So many Gustav Hasford links. I never knew. I have no idea why I never found any of these before. Maybe our director's internet links weren't so shit-hot (I'm a newcomer to this cyberspace angle). So here I am, and I'm coming clean. Please don't rip me a new asshole.
I don't know if anyone else out there in the US or Canada has done that, but my reasons for producing "Spirit of the Bayonet" were as follows:
-I loved Full Metal Jacket, being a Stanley Kubrick fan, but with the advantage of having read Gustav's book before seeing the movie, I felt cheated that the "Grunts" sequence was never filmed, and I also felt that even though the film was great, there was so much colour and tension and horror and beauty in the book that wasn't being brought out.
-I also wanted to use the theatre medium to pass on the antiwar lessons that Gustav taught me. And it worked. I've read the book over and over and I still haven't gotten sick of it. I would love to find The Phantom Blooper and A Gypsy Good Time, or at least an old hardcover of The Short-Timers.
I'm sorry that Gustav's gone, because I really wanted to talk to him alone, if he would have let me.
Cranbrook, British Columbia
Having sought out your web-site after watching Full Metal Jacket again last evening, I hope you don’t mind my writing to you. I was prompted to do so partly because the film itself never fails to move me, but mainly because, after a bottle of wine as a descant to the movie, I was assailed by nostalgia for an interlude that, it suddenly occurred to me, took place exactly ten years ago.
For several months in 1992 I was living on Aegina and when Gus fetched up on the island he became part of our cosmopolitan group of sedulous imbibers, errant souls, intermittent truth seekers and masters of the fine Mediterranean art of indolence.
I detect an underlying melancholy in your brief account of his situation at the end of his life. If that is what you intended to convey, it would be inaccurate and wrong of me to represent it as wholly otherwise. Both in our cups or out of them, there were times when he confessed to what I imagine might be characterised as the psychic equivalent to the 1000-yard stare – a sense of distance from both people and events. There were occasions, too, when he was given to either protracted introspection or guarded and somewhat uneasy revelation. It may have been that there was something in the ambience of Aegina that was, for him as for others, conducive to reflection on the contrast between the infinite malleability of the past and the brute intractability of the present.
On the other hand, when he arrived on the island, he pronounced himself entirely at home in Aegina and averred, proleptically as it sadly turned out, that he’d never willingly leave the place. Certainly we had many days and nights of companionable over-indulgence (he accorded an unfortunately low priority to issues affecting his health) during which I enjoyed his often wry conversation enormously. He spoke about his work in progress, about living on Aegina, about international events, about American politics; and he was happy, when circumstances were right, to share liberally with any audience his thoughts on literature and just about anything else. Even at this substantial remove I remember only too clearly the ferocity of the hangover that accompanied me back to Scotland on Boxing Day 1992 after he and I staggered heroically out of the Avli Bar at 5.30a.m. that day – three hours before my ferry was due to leave for Athens.
In short, anyhow, I wouldn’t want to convey a falsely dark impression: much of that time was, indeed, great, and I know that there are plenty of people from that now thoroughly broken circle who still remember Gus with deep affection and continuing admiration. I was devastated when, back in Edinburgh early in 1993, I received a telephone call from Greece to tell me Gus had died. My wife and I returned to the island shortly afterwards and the US embassy in Athens was kind enough to let me have such details as they could.
I sent a letter of condolence via the embassy to Gus’s mother at that time. Writing this now, so much after the event, has afforded me the sort of intense flash-back that can ordinarily be realised only in movies. I hope that doesn’t sound self-indulgent. Much more importantly, I was delighted to find that you – and no doubt many others – keep the flame tended.
My family still spend time on Aegina and when we’re next there I will, as usual, light a candle for a man by whose friendly inscription in my copy of The Short Timers I will always be flattered.
Kind regards, and apologies for writing unannounced and at such length.
Fantastic website you have there! What a great tribute to Gus and what a great resource for people like me. I am a playwright/screenwriter/poet/revolutionary who hasn't seem much action, but a lot of conflict. You can find some of my stuff up on KickAssScripts.com, KickAssPoetry.com, and FairChoice.org. To give you an idea of what I like to write about and where I'm headed; my script =TAGS= about animal liberators has been getting a bit of attention recently in LA.
I've been considering writing an adaptation of Gus's The Phantom Blooper. I believe that it would work very well as an animated film, I'm especially thinking of Japanamation. I don't know if you've ever seen the stuff, but it's quite realistic (perhaps more than most movies) and doesn't mind controversy. What's usually missing is a good story and realistic characters. Myself, I'm more interested in things like Joker's choices and all he represents - but I think there might be some really good synthesis here, and the freedom to tell it like it is.
Thank you very much once again for your site.
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