Gump and Co.
|Preceded by||Forrest Gump (1986)|
Gump & Co. (or Forrest Gump and Co.) is a 1995 novel by Winston Groom. It is the sequel to his novel Forrest Gump (1986), and the Academy Award-winning film of the same name released in 1994, with Tom Hanks. It was written to chronicle Forrest's life throughout the 1980s.
On the first page, Forrest Gump tells readers "Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story," and "Whether they get it right or wrong, it don't matter."
However, the character is not an idiot savant, as in the first book, but more similar to Tom Hanks' "warmhearted dope." The text purposely contains frequent grammar and spelling mistakes in order to indicate the character's deficient education and cognitive difficulties.
The story suggests that the real-life events surrounding the film have affected Forrest's life.
In 1980, the shrimp market has exploded, and Forrest cannot keep up with the demand. Adding to Forrest's troubles, Lt. Dan sells off his share of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in order to fund a swanky retirement, and the company endures labor disagreements. Forrest comes to the docks one morning to find unoccupied trawlers and is met by only Bubba's father, who sadly reports to Forrest that "I am afraid to say you have been ruined".
To make ends meet, Forrest takes a job as a janitor in a strip club in New Orleans. By chance, one of the club's best customers is a rough football player for the New Orleans Saints known as "Snake" (quarterback Ken Stabler), who used to play football for the University of Alabama alongside Forrest. Snake fears for his career as the Saints are having a horrible season, and recruits Forrest for the Saints. Forrest is unsure of playing in the NFL, citing how the players are much bigger than in college and how, "with all that gear, you look like a man from Mars or something".
Forrest is astute about health issues, noting that, as he has aged, some of his famous running ability has been sapped, but agrees to run the basis of providing for himself and his ailing wife, Jenny. Forrest does have a somewhat successful career in pro football, but is soon subject to the tactics of sports agents. In the middle of a game, Forrest is told that Jenny has died; he tells the Saints that he cannot be at the next game so that he can deliver the eulogy at her funeral. The Saints' management believes this to be a holdout tactic, and he is cut from the team.
Again unemployed, Forrest sells encyclopedias door-to-door, working for a questionable man known as "Slim". Little Forrest points out the encyclopedias are inaccurate, but when Forrest points this out to Slim, he is told just to make sales, not check for verification. On his sales route, Forrest comes across a manor owned by the Hopewells, where Mrs. Hopewell hopes to begin an extramarital affair with Forrest, while her husband is occupied by research and development work.
When told to help himself to anything in the kitchen, Forrest sees cans of Coca-Cola, but they do not taste like what he is used to, causing Forrest to experiment with different foods to better the recipe. This gets noticed by Mr. Hopewell, but Forrest cannot remember the ingredients added, and Forrest is given a new job in Coke's research and development department. This proves tiring, as Forrest is hounded to recreate the formula.
Jenny's ghost appears, telling Forrest this job is not for him as he is simply being used for his bosses to climb the promotional ladder, and his original concoction was a fluke. Forrest decides to feign rediscovering the formula to their satisfaction, and the premiere of New Coke is a gala event in Atlanta, Georgia. People admire the formula until one little boy says it is awful, inciting an angry displeased crowd. Forrest escapes the fracas by jumping aboard a train in the switch yard, which he rides out into the country.
Forrest and his son get jobs at a pig farm owned by Mr. McVicker. Little Forrest notes how pig feed can get expensive and recommends using something that no one else wants; garbage. Forrest takes note of how much garbage a nearby army base produces and offers to remove it. To his surprise, the base's command sergeant major is a black man who served with Forrest and Bubba in Vietnam, known as Sergeant Kranz. The pig feed idea soon becomes a means of solving the energy crisis by using pig dung as power, with Little Forrest helping a team of engineers to build the world's first pig power plant.
However, on the day of the ribbon cutting, the power plant suffers a "meltdown" of sorts when an explosion leaves the audience covered in dung. Forrest escapes by himself, hopping another train to Washington DC. He is visited again by Jenny's ghost, where he admits the meltdown was due to his failure to pay attention to detail and check the regulator valves. Jenny says that Forrest will have to swallow his pride and admit to Little Forrest that he has messed up, but Forrest protests it may make him a bad parent to do so.
Once at Union Station in Washington, Forrest sees a homeless, handicapped man, who says he is Lt. Dan, who had fallen in with those who took advantage of him and absconded with his retirement money, leaving him bankrupt. On top of that, Dan has become half-blind. Forrest, not wishing to see Dan homeless, says they will work something out. Forrest soon meets with a Marine colonel who recruits Forrest into a clandestine mission to Iran. They meet with the President, who Forrest thinks might've been a cowboy or an actor. President Reagan congratulates Forrest on winning the Medal of Honor, and when Forrest simply states "I just ran", the President remarks "the report said it was while you were rescuing six or seven of your fallen men". On the mission itself, they meet Ayatollah Khomeini. The mission is discovered, and everyone disavows responsibility save for Forrest, who is jailed.
Some time later, Forrest and the other prisoners are eligible for a work release program, to which they are put to work under a "religious rehabilitation" at Holy Land, a religious-based theme park, where all the attractions are based on Bible stories. Due to his size, Forrest is cast as Goliath in a daily reenactment of the famous fight, but he finds the work harmful as he is constantly hit with rocks from the guy who plays David, and who "keeps muttering about Jodie Foster." Finally deciding he has had enough, Forrest one day takes matters into his own hand; throwing his rival across the arena. In doing so, he accidentally causes the park's circuitry to go haywire, resulting in mayhem and the reverend to be exposed having an affair with his secretary.
Forrest is spirited away by a man, whom Forrest thinks is "Mr. Bozoski", and put in a nice section of New York City. Forrest's new boss say he has been studying him for some time and wants him to push papers on Wall Street. Forrest is suspicious of making $250,000 a year just to sign papers, but figures he can take care of Little Forrest. While at one restaurant frequented by celebrities, Forrest and his son are talked up by one young celebrity filming Big who makes remarks such as "life is a box of chocolates" or "stupid is as stupid does", which both Forrest Sr. and Forrest Jr. consider strange. Forrest is also given an attractive brunette secretary. Forrest fails to see the intended reason for his secretary, at first treating her as an employee, but eventually gives in to her advances when she plays herself as lonely. One night after lovemaking with his secretary, Forrest is visited by Jenny's ghost, who is not upset that he slept with another woman considering she is deceased, but in that he has not taken the time nor the effort to read what he is signing, and that trouble is ahead.
Soon afterwards, Forrest's boss, along with his compatriot, "Mr. Milkhead" are arrested and put on trial. It is then revealed to Forrest that he was going to be the fall guy as he signed the paperwork for all the shady deals. The three are persecuted by an overzealous lawyer, whom Forrest thinks "acts like he is the mayor". The trial is soon disrupted with news of a crash, and pandemonium ensues. Forrest is knocked out in the mayhem, wakes up in his penthouse to be met by two MPs, who tell him that due to an error in being medically released while in Vietnam, his enlistment has yet to expire and he is back on active duty. He is taken from New York to a remote post in Alaska, while his son stays behind.
Forrest considers Alaska a nice change of pace from the superficiality of Manhattan, but is worried about being separated from his son, and pays exorbitant shipping fees to send Little Forrest an Inuit totem. By chance Forrest also runs into Mr. McVicker, who lost his pig farm due to Forrest's dung power accident and has moved to Alaska. McVicker is surprisingly forgiving, saying he wanted to be near the sea, but is also a heavy drinker, and after a riotous party with Forrest, the two commandeer an oil supertanker. Forrest accidentally crashes the tanker when trying to subdue McVicker. In the environmental hoopla that ensues, the Army spirits Forrest out of the States and decides to quiet his involvement, as court-martialing a Medal of Honor recipient would look bad. Forrest is then assigned to the reputed worst job in the Army: cleaning mud off tank treads in West Germany.
While in West Berlin, Forrest is reunited with Sergeant Kranz, who is now working alongside him, and he is now known as Private Kranz as he suffered a separate misfortune. Kranz said that back in Alabama, they used Forrest's idea of selling organic trash to the local farmers and made a windfall budget, celebrating with a new club and hiring a famous exotic dancer. The commanding general stood atop a table and had his hair lopped off by a ceiling fan, getting him in an awkward explanation with his wife. Similar to Forrest, the Army decided to toss away Kranz by reducing his rank and sending him to Germany. Forrest, however, is glad to be reunited with his Vietnam war buddy, and both men laugh at their turn of events.
Forrest also meets an attractive blonde woman named Gretchen, who works in a beer hall. Originally from East Germany, Gretchen was spirited to the West, but her family still remains in the Soviet zone. Forrest and Gretchen start dating, but when Forrest suggests buying Little Forrest an oompah horn, Gretchen thinks he cannot afford such a gift on a private's salary and suggests better rapport could be built through writing letters explaining his situation in Germany. Despite Gretchen's concerns, Forrest shells out $800 for the horn (but considers it a better deal as he did not get ripped off for shipping as he did in Alaska).
When Forrest's background in pro football is discovered, he gets recruited for the Sour Krauts, the unit's football team, to play against an intelligence unit, the Wiesbaden Wizards. Forrest certainly does not consider it the extent of when he played with the New Orleans Saints, but noted the Wiesbaden Wizards sure knew every play pattern. During the game, Forrest punts the ball, which flies over the Berlin Wall, causing another turn of events where people in both East and West Berlin start breaking the wall with sledgehammers. Gretchen is overjoyed to be reunited with her loved ones, but Forrest is chewed out by the base commander. Forrest protests it should be celebrated that the Cold War is ending peacefully, only to be told the Cold War provided the backdrop for choice postings and espionage events, which Forrest has ruined the rationale for.
Forrest is deployed for the Persian Gulf War, where his tank crew captures Saddam Hussein. Norman Schwarzkopf is shocked at this, while privately praising such initiative, he remarks they got all of them in trouble with President Bush as it was not in the orders to get Saddam, and orders Hussein returned. They do so, taking Hussein to the outskirts of Baghdad. However, right afterwards they are hit by friendly fire. Forrest and Kranz flee to safety, but not Lt. Dan, who says his time has come like all his ancestors who died in an American war.
Forrest starts harvesting oysters and builds it into a very successful business with the help of Forrest Jr. and all his old contacts. Dan's death is ironic given his oft-mentioned enthusiasm for oysters. The office decor includes the Jonathan Swift quote "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster". When thinking about investing the proceeds, he meets Bill and Hillary Clinton at Whitewater. The business had been threatened by locals angry that the competition was racially integrated, and Forrest defends Kranz against the bullies. The final chapter deals with Forrest arguing with Forrest Jr., who has taken up to adolescent rebellion by clandestinely drinking beer, and Forrest Sr. laying down the law in an old-fashioned way. Forrest also marries Gretchen, and his story gets put into film, causing Forrest to remark "Well, you know that one".
A sequel had been in the works, due to the success of the first book and film, but was delayed after the September 11 attacks and languishes in development hell; the script for the sequel was submitted on September 10, 2001, a day before the attacks.
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- Groom, Winston (1996). Gump & Co. Pocket Books. p. 1. ISBN 0-671-52264-7.
- "Book Review: Gump & Co". Entertainment Weekly. August 18, 1995.
- "Gump and Co. Summary - Winston Groom - Magill Book Reviews". Enotes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- Delarte, Alonso (February 2004). "Movies By The Book: Forrest Gump" (PDF). Bob's Poetry Magazine: p. 24. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
- "Movies: Gump & Co". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- Sciretta, Peter (December 7, 2008). "9/11 Killed the Forrest Gump Sequel". /Film. Archived from the original on January 9, 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
- Tyler, Josh (March 7, 2007). "Forrest Gump Gets A Sequel". Cinema Blend. Archived from the original on November 3, 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
- "Gump and Co. by Winston Groom - Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists". Goodreads.com. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- "Gump & Co. | Book by Winston Groom - Simon & Schuster Canada". Books.simonandschuster.ca. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- Plunket, Robert (September 10, 1995). "If He Only Had a Brain". The New York Times.