Finding 'Fast Times At Ridgemont High'

Courtesy of Everett Collection

The first time Cameron Crowe based a movie on a true story was nearly 30 years ago, when he wrote a screenplay from his first book, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story. The Amy Heckerling-directed film became a sleeper hit and a cult classic. At 22, Crowe had spent a year as a senior at Clairemont High School in suburban San Diego, chronicling the experiences of his "classmates." Typical of Crowe, the book played both funny and sweet. But if you want to read that book, be prepared to open your wallet: Fast Times has been out of print since the early '80s, and copies can be found on eBay and other sites at prices ranging from $125 to $345. And Crowe tells THR he likes it that way:

Why hasn't Fast Times been republished?

It's the one thing that I still have the rights to, and I like that there's one thing that's not readily available. I like knowing that if you really want it, you can find it, but nobody's pushing it in your face. I have been approached about republishing, but I haven't done it. I like it too much as a kind of bootleg.

Are you surprised about the prices?

I like those prices.

How do you feel about the book now?

I love the book. It's one of my favorite things that I've ever written. The book opens the door where all the stuff I learned as a journalist can be applied to a non-celebrity and it's just as interesting. You can interview a kid sitting in his room, and it's more interesting than Rod Stewart. It very much opened a door to being a screenwriter because it let you know that it was a level playing field, story-wise.