American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood

Marc Eliot

Sometimes, the sloppiness of writers and editors is almost shocking. Take, for instance, this gaffe in Marc Eliot’s new biography of Clint Eastwood. Writing of Eastwood’s early days in Oakland, Eliot describes the jobs young Eastwood worked to run his 1932 Chevy. “To pay for … the gas and repairs, Clint took extra after-school jobs on top of his paper route. He worked at the local grocery and as a caddy at the golf course; he baled hay on a farm in nearby Yreka, cut timber near Paradise….” Eliot has written a bunch of celebrity bios. He divides his time between New York City and L.A., but it’s clear he doesn’t know much about Northern California, and he’s a little disinclined to check a map to find out that Yreka would be a pretty long after-school commute for a high school kid in Oakland. When a writer commits such glaring sloppiness so early in an account of his subject’s life, he forfeits “author-ity” for nearly everything that follows. Eastwood’s an interesting guy who’s led an interesting life. In order to enjoy reading about it, readers have to trust the scrupulousness of the writer. In this case, we can’t.