Here, at last back in print, is the classic dual biography of Ross Lockridge and Thomas Heggen, two authors who achieved sudden fame and fortune and then self-destructed. Ross Lockridge, the author of the spectacularly best-selling "Raintree County, " and Thomas Heggen, the creator of "Mister Roberts, " both were thrust in the 1940s into unexpected fame and money. Each was young and inexperienced in the ways of the world. John Leggett explores their lives, their loves, their friendships, and their writing and publishing experiences to discover what ultimately and tragically failed them. "Ross and Tom" portrays two gifted writers and their final descent into that Fitzgeraldian crack-up where "in the real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning."
Ross Lockridge (Raintree County) and Tom Heggen (Mr. Roberts) were both Houghton Mifflin authors where Leggett once worked as an editor - a factor in his exhumation of their lives and one-book successes before they committed suicide. Lockridge, a hard worker and upright family man, finally completed his prolix, grandiose novel which he also aggressively and sometimes petulantly hustled (this account is otiosely overburdened with his heavy correspondence with his publishers anent the various Life, MGM and BOMC deals). Heggen, from diffident youngster to campus maverick to moody, broody writer determined to get 40,000 words on paper, is a much more likable and vulnerable figure - ambiguous not only in his relationships with three young women but particularly with Joshua Logan who collaborated with him on his modest book and converted it into the spectacular Broadway winner. For Tom, however, it was a gutting experience which left him with little except a writing block and the booze and barbiturates he needed to obliterate it and himself. Leggett's no Alvarez and for all the patient, prosaic application of facts, he summons up little interest in Lockridge; Heggen matters considerably more. Still one wonders to whom the dual biography will appeal 25 years after Ross and Tom's foreshortened lives and just about forgotten books. (Kirkus Reviews)