Place of Birth: Haleyville, AL
Personal Information: Family: Born November 28,
1947, in Haleyville, AL;
died of complications from diabetes, January 29, 1993, in Greece; son of
Hassell Gustave (a factory worker) and Hazel (a librarian; maiden name,
Noblett) Hasford; married Charlene Broock (a librarian), September 1, 1978.
Education: Attended Santa Monica City College, 1972. Politics: Socialist.
Religion: "Beer." Military/Wartime Service: U.S. Marine Corp., 1966-68;
became corporal; served as combat correspondent in Vietnam. Memberships:
Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Career: Writer. Worked as hotel clerk in Longview, WA, 1970-71.
WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:
The Short-Timers, Harper, 1979.
(With Stanley Kubrick and Michael Herr) Full Metal Jacket: The
Screenplay, Knopf (New York City), 1987.
The Phantom Blooper, Bantam Books (New York City), 1990.
A Gypsy Good Time, Washington Square Press (New York City),
Contributor to periodicals under pseudonym George Gordon.
Gustav Hasford's book, The Short-Timers, met with both critical
derision. Walter Clemons called it "the best work of fiction about the Vietnam
war I've read." He added, "The Short-Timers is a study of brutalization,
narrated with a fastidious nonchalance that only a careless reader will mistake
for lack of feeling." However, a critic for New Republic claimed, "The
Short-Timers may be an effective purgation, but as a novel it not only fails to
move but to interest." The same critic also cited Hasford for his excessive
violence. "One reads on from morbid motives only," declared the New Republic
The Short-Timers was the basis for director Stanley Kubrick's 1987
War film Full Metal Jacket, for which he shared an Academy Award
nomination as coscreenwriter. The novel and film draw on the author's own
experiences as a combat correspondent with the U.S. Marine Corps during the
war. Hasford also wrote the books The Phantom Blooper, a sequel to The
Short-Timers, and A Gypsy Good Time. In 1988 he added a measure of
infamy to his reputation when police charged him with grand theft for taking
more than seven hundred books from American and English libraries; Hasford
was ultimately convicted of a lesser charge, possessing stolen property.
Hasford told CA: "Lao-Tze pointed out that nothing worth saying
can be said
with words. Words are crude and clumsy things, objects of ink, ultimately
imprecise. And writing is as much fun as giving birth to a Howard Johnson's.
Writers learn to live with that fact the way a soldier learns to live with fear or the
way a doctor learns to live with death. When the battle is lost, the soldier
attacks. When the case is hopeless, the doctor operates. So writers write. And
whereas soldiers and doctors are allowed to bury their mistakes a writer is
expected to publish his.
"Being a writer was not my first choice for a profession. I would
much prefer to
be an archaeologist, a sculptor, or a country-western singer. But then I had all
these ideas for books which came to me in a vision. Since then, I have been
convinced that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people
would simply do as I say. Yet my work remains a personal statement--I speak
for no groups or social factions. I have no goals beyond the completion of my
next story. The praise I seek from my readers is that they finish my books. After
being alternately damned and praised for equally invalid reasons, I am content to
trade fame for accuracy of interpretation. Fame, for a writer, is like being a
dancing bear with a little hat on your head."
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE
Jenkins, Greg, Stanley Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation: Three
Novels, Three Films, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1997.
Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1979.
New Republic, January 27, 1979.
Newsweek, January 1, 1979.
Obituary and Other Sources:
Los Angeles Times, February 3, 1993, p. A12.
Source: Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 1999.
Gale Database: Contemporary
© 1999 THE GALE GROUP.