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Posts Tagged ‘cormac mccarthy’

Men's Book Club Summer Reading List

This post is mostly for my readers who are men in the Twin Cities, but if you’re having fun with a book club where you live, dear reader, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

For the last three months, I’ve been leading a new men’s book club at my local church and what follows is my Craigslist ad. Email me if you want to join.

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Our new men’s book club is growing and we’re inviting you to join us. Our members are currently men between the ages of 29 and 75 who enjoy getting together for coffee, snacks, and good discussion of great books. We’ve set up our summer reading list and schedule and hope you’ll contact us.

Join us on the third Monday evening of the month at 7:00pm at Excelsior United Methodist Church (881 3rd Ave. Excelsior, MN 55331). Any man ages 18 and up is welcome to join us whether they’re reading their first or their fiftieth novel, and regardless of whether they’re members of the church or not.

Our Summer Reading List:

The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry
Discussion on Monday, June 22 @ 7:00pm

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Discussion on Monday, July 20 @ 7:00pm

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Discussion on Monday, August 17 @ 7:00pm

Our Past Selections:
May, 2009 – Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
April, 2009 – The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
March, 2009 – The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Please email me to let me know if you plan to attend or if you need a copy of the books ($10 apiece).

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Your Friday Recommendation #24

A few weeks back I wrote about Cormac McCarthy’s The Road being turned into a film that will be released this Thanksgiving, and in the process of doing some research for that blog post I stumbled across a new steelbook edition DVD of The Proposition, an excellent film which led me to McCarthy in a very roundabout way.

In this gritty western, a lawman (Ray Winstone in a pre-Beowulf / The Departed / Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull role) convinces an outlaw (Guy Pearce) to hunt down and kill his older, sadistic outlaw brother in order to save his up-and-coming young outlaw brother from hanging. The morbid theme of robbing Peter to pay Paul by sacrificing one’s evil kin to grant life to one’s innocent-yet-becoming evil kin carries an appropriate amount of weight and intrigue in this Nick Cave-scribed script. Cave also provides the soundtrack and while I’ve never been one to say, “Man, I better go pick up the latest Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds record today!” kind of guy, but Cave knows the mood of his script well and composes appropriately.

The film isn’t for the weak-stomached. The killings are gory, the outlaws’ deeds are horrific, and the characters are filthy, I think Pearce’s skin is at least 85% coated in greasy dirt for the entire film. If one can get past subject matter that could make one squeamish (which, to me, should never be a reason to skip a well-made film), they’re going to find a well-crafted morality tale that never lets up on the suspense, beautiful scenery, or impressive acting. All of these positives must be what led Roger Ebert to think of this movie in terms of Cormac McCarthy.

In his review, Ebert writes, “Have you read Blood Meridian, the novel by Cormac McCarthy? This movie comes close to realizing the vision of that dread and despairing story.” This was the second mention I’d heard of McCarthy after reading Stephen King’s mention of the writer and a brief passage quotation from Blood Meridian as an example of great writing in his memoir on the craft, On Writing. It was enough to get me interested to check out both The Proposition and pick up a copy of Blood Meridian, and that’s how I found a new favorite writer.

My guess is this re-release is timed to help create buzz for the film adaptation of The Road which is directed by The Proposition director, John Hillcoat, and features The Proposition star, Guy Pearce, (his breakout role was as goody-two-shoes turned hardened cop Ed Exley in L.A. Confidential, though you may know him best as a tattooed Forgetful Jones in Memento) in a supporting role. Hillcoat is a director who knows how to create the right mood based on his source material and I for one am glad some studio executive was smart enough to hand The Road to a director who will likely do something appropriate and great.

The film came out in late 2005 and I caught the very last screening in the very last movie theater showing the film in Minnesota in the spring of 2006. I’m glad I made the effort to catch it, because it’s not an underrated film by any means (those who see it tend to enjoy it), but it sure is under-known. I hope more and more people see it, and this new, well-priced at $10 steelbook edition may help The Proposition gain a second life on DVD.

FYI, if you have the previous edition (which I had on my Amazon wishlist for nearly two years but never indulged myself in picking up) on DVD already, everything appears to be the same aside from the packaging. Steelbook DVDs are regular DVDs in a steel-lined case. The cover is etched into the steel and the package is lined with common DVD holding plastic innards. It’s neat, and some DVD nerds track these down like delicious cookies but for me, if it was no different than a regular DVD edition except for a higher price, I’m not sure I would be all that enticed. For the record, this is my first steelbook DVD and while I’m not going to go out and hunt them all down, it sure is pretty.

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s the trailer, complete with moody Nick Cave music:

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Good Books = Good Movies?

One of my MFA compatriots, Bryan Johnson, recently wrote about film adaptations of novels and this week a few new publicity photos and an “insider scoop” about two novel-to-film adaptations coming up got me thinking this week…

Two of my favorite modern novels, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, have film adaptations coming out this winter. Both are bleak, emotional stories with subject matter the public-at-large may find difficult to witness on the screen even if they were both bestsellers (The Road scored McCarthy the Pulitzer Prize, and I think both are Oprah Book Club selections). Sometimes when I hear a studio is turning a book into a movie I cringe because the end results could be pretty disastrous. In these two cases, solid directors have me confident and eager to see the movies: John Hillcoat (The Proposition) is taking on The Road and Peter Jackson’s made The Lovely Bones his pet project all year.

Some good books have had some pretty bad adaptations. Elmore Leonard’s The Big Bounce was pretty awful and Be Cool really could have benefited from the great director+screenwriter combo that Get Shorty got with Barry Sonnenfeld and Scott Frank. Stephen King adaptations are hit (The Shawshank Redemption) or miss (Maximum Overdrive). My thoughts on Jaws are in the comment section of Bryan Johnson’s blog post. The one movie that is hands-down better than its novel counterpart? Last of the Mohicans. That book can go die.

How about you? Have you read The Road or The Lovely Bones? Does the prospect of film adaptations frighten you away or keep you intrigued? Do you have favorite books you know would make a great (or terrible) film? Is anything in the pipeline that makes you cringe?

And if you think there are books out there that should never be adapted into a film, check out this list of what shouldn’t be a movie, according to Cracked.

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