Slow Fade


Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1984

Pan Books Ltd, London 1985

Christian Bourgois, Paris, 1990

New audio book read by Will Oldham (Drag City 2011)

Wesley Hardin has directed almost forty films, a body of work that is consistently ranked with the best of Ford and Hawks and (these days) Peckinpah. Once again he’s on location, shooting a western (remember Bitter Creek, the one he made with the Duke?), only this time he’s beginning to lose it, to feel played out, a judgment that everyone around him seems to share . . . the studio execs who’re screaming about his being five million over budget . . . his increasingly restless young wife . . . his son, who’s just back from India, bearing bad news and nursing some old, private grievance . . . even A. D. Ballou, the sometime musician and full-time hustler who’s crashed the set and managed, in spite of himself, to make a deal— maybe the score of a lifetime—with the Great Director.

Slow Fade is a profound and utterly convincing portrait of a man whose career, whose life, has been devoted to the manipulation of images—on the screen and at the conference table, with actors and technicians, even (and especially) with those closest to him—and the story of how, in his seventy-first year, he tries to divest himself of illusions, to make peace with his demons and his past. With a geography as diverse as the streets of Beverly Hills and the charnal grounds of India, a Mexican beach resort and the Russian Tea Room, it is also a spare, eloquent, and deeply informed novel about the world of the movies.

"Slow Fade comes out of the space between real life and the movies and closes it up for good. A great book: beautiful, funny, and dangerous."                             — MICHAEL HERR