Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

My friend, William Goldman

Thank you, William Goldman.

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“My father was a stuffy man.” That was the first line from William Goldman’s very first novel Temple of Gold. It blew me away. I was only 14 and Goldman had just transported me from my banal grey existence (where the highlight of a winter day was looking at a bird’s shadow on the snow). Before Goldman, I knew little adventure, except for the sad day that our dog Samson almost got hit by a car. In referring to his father, Goldman continued: “That is not meant as criticism but rather to be the truth. It is the word that best fit him.”

So while others may remember William Goldman for his string of brilliant screen plays (including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid AND Marathon Man), I remembered the hero of Goldman’s first book Temple of Gold, Raymond “Euripides” Trevit, and his friends, including Zachary. The scene where Zack first hands him a sheet of paper, saying “Let me know what you think”…is classic:

It read:

“So seize the moment

While there is a moment yet to seize.

Take it now.

Else faceless Time

Creep in on little cat’s feet

To take it.

While I love you; while my love falls

Like love shaken from a petal.

Take me now.”

Thus begins what was the greatest adventure story of my young life. It no doubt shaped who I became, someone who not only imagined adventure, but readily sought it out. Like Houdini breaking from a straightjacket, I was able to break out of was to be my predestined future (when my grandmother told me, “You’re gonna BE somebody, you’ll be a doctor, a lawyer…).

Temple of Gold was Goldman’s first book, written in three weeks the summer after college graduation. Like J.D. Salinger, Goldman was able to embrace the young voice that somehow spoke to most of us, our fantasies and ultimately or freedom. Perhaps for me this book laid the foundation for me.

Ray flunks out of college, and leads a life of bumps and grinds; he drinks vociferous amounts of alcohol; joins the army; and drives the car in which Zack is killed. Most of all he has the courage to rebuild his life.

Few books rock you to the core. For me, Temple of Gold was one of them. I began sketching my backyard, not lifting the pencil from the paper until I was done. I began learning to drive, avoiding red lights so that I would drive without stopping. I fell in love at 14 accompanying a 17-year old singer, who sang “Cry Me a River” and acted affectionately to me. I became a night watchman at 17 in Falmouth Heights Inn ( Massachusetts) and encountered a team of massive football players, who were totally drunk and convinced me to crash in the lobby. Elderly women awoke to male bodies strewn on the floor along with dozens of beer cans. I was fired!… One adventure after another.

William Goldman became my silent friend because I developed the courage to mold and shape my life, no matter what the odds were. Somehow the crazy book Temple of Gold gave me the internal courage to seek out the impossible, and to rebound, no matter what.

So William Goldman, I want to thank you for showing me the way!  You were a true friend when I needed one.

About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.