Luck & Pluck

Doubleday  ISBN 0-385-03366-4

Pocket Books  Standard Book Number 671-77287-2

Click here to read the first pages of Glendon Swarthout’s wacky comedy set on an American-Indian pueblo in New Mexico and the wilds of the City of Angels. Charlie Merriwell is a direct descendant of that All-American Boy, Frank, and in Luck & Pluck, Charlie proves that with true grit and an indomitable spirit, virtue and clean living can conquer all, even in Los Angeles. 

Luck and PluckCan a poor but honest young man still find fortune and happiness in the big city through hard work and strength of character? Charlie Merriwell, a direct descendant of the famous Frank, believes he can -- believes it enough to leave his $75 a month job with YARF (Youth to the Aid of our Red Friends), a branch of the Office of Economic Opportunity, to join the Establishment.

From an Indian Reservation in New Mexico, our hero journeys to Los Angeles, uniformed in a crew cut and a Brooks Brothers suit and armed with a pouch of cornmeal and complete faith in the System. There, as an idea man in the advertising business, he wins instant success as well as an assortment of "friends" who sorely test his creativity, his karma, even his chastity. But luck and pluck enable Charlie to overcome adversity and, in the end, to really rip off a good life. He acquires big bucks, but gives it away to others less fortunate. And rather than marrying into the Establishment, he holds himself chaste from with hot tunas too numerous to mention. In the last 30-second commercial he writes, to introduce a new anti-perspirant, Charlie perpetuates a gigantic hoax. It ruins the advertising agency, but the Reservation Indians become rich beyond their dreams and young Merriwell, the innocent abroad, achieves his heart's desires.

Loosely based on his son, Miles's experiences as a VISTA Volunteer in the late 60's at the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, Glendon also used some of his own background as an advertising copywriter early in his career to weave into this comedic satire of the self-absorbed, mercenary hippies of the Love Generation, who probably didn't appreciate the ribbing.

Screenplay adaptation available from Hoodwinks Productions (310-578-5404).


"This ribald farce is a light concoction full of bright, topical gags -- and isn't that what a ribald farce is supposed to be? . . . Looks like a natural for the screen, providing they can find some really zany people as the cast."  Associated Press

"A playful ambush of a pair of long-sitting ducks: namely the Establishment and the Counterculture…a high quota of chuckles."   Martin Levin, the New York Times Book Review

". . . spoofs everything from hippies to hairdressers, sometimes with a satirical rapier, sometimes an ax . . . one riotiously funny situation after another."  Joe Bennett, Pittsburgh Press

"An irreverent, bawdy and lusty take-off . . . crackerjack reading."   Portland Oregon Journal

"Essentially a rollicking spoof laced with a bit of eroticism, of the American economic system, sexual mores, counterculture, and other aspects of the U.S. way of life."  The Booklist, American Library Association

"Every now and then one comes across an unknown novel by an unknown author that is a delight to read because it is so refreshingly different. This short, sharp fantasy is one such . . . A compulsive and genuinely funny novel."  Liverpool, England Daily Post