The film The Whole Wide World is based on the memoir One Who Walked Alone, the story of Novalyne Price’s relationship with Robert E. Howard. It stars Renee Zellweger and Vincent D’Onofrio in the lead roles.
It’s a good little movie. I was surprised, as I don’t usually like romances. But then I am a fan of Howard and his writing.
This is a man who in twelve short years of writing single-handedly invented the sword-and-sorcery genre with his tales of Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn. But he wrote so much more.Hundreds of poems, stories, a number of novels.
But he was a troubled man, devoted to his ailing mother, socially inept, living in a small Texas town whose inhabitants thought him odd because he wrote for a living instead of working. He had few friends and didn’t see them often. Then one introduced him to Novalyne Price, a teacher, who accepted him and enjoyed his company. She fell in love, but at the time, he was incapable of accepting another woman in his life.
She goes off to Louisiana to work on her Masters.
Three weeks later, Howard’s mother slips into a coma from which she’ll never recover. He types a brief poem, then goes out to the garage and commits suicide. He died eight hours later and his mother passed the next day.
Robert E. Howard was only thirty years old.
The movie is worth a look. As a love story, it fills in those last few years of Howard’s life, giving some insights into what drove the man some people, myself included, consider one of the greatest writers this country has produced. It’s a film and not being a big expert on Howard’s prtvate life, I can’t tell exactly what is real and what was made up for dramatic effect.
Check it out though.