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Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Wednesday, December 28, 2005 [1:26 am]

by Cameron Crowe

Classic book that inspired a classic film.

What most people do not realise is that Fast Times is a true story (not just inspired by a true story, but actually a true story). Cameron Crowe, at the still-green age of 22, re-entered high school under cover. He posed as a transfer student coming into Ridgemont's senior class, and he kept the gig going for an entire school year.

During that time, he would duck out of social scenes periodically to scribble down every precious drop of teen dialog that he could remember. None of his "friends" at Ridgemont ever suspected that he was not one of them. Only the principal of the school knew about the project.

After the year was over, he revealed his identity to his supposed friends. They were impressed with his project ("You're writing a book about our school? Cool!") and helped him to flesh out the details according to their own recollections of events that had transpired during the year.

If you have seen the movie, there is really no reason to read the book. If you have read the book, there is really no reason to see the movie. They follow each other faithfully.

Why did I read the book (given that I have indeed seen the movie)? I was shocked to find out that Fast Times was a true story and enthralled by the idea of Mr. Crowe's under cover work. I had to get the whole story, and reading the book (with its forward by Crowe about his experience) was part of that quest.

For those of you who do not know, Cameron Crowe wrote for Rolling Stone while he was still in high school himself and went on to become a semi-respected film writer/director (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, and Vanilla Sky).

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