I look for some of the same qualities in a movie that I expect in a book—interesting story, engaging dialogue, depth of character—with the added attraction of a great cast. The Ides Of March has it all, but it was the cast that led me to buy the tickets. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti are two of my favorites. George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, and Marissa Tomei deliver fine performances as well, so you don’t have to be a political junkie to enjoy the movie. The story of a young, idealistic, hot-shot press secretary getting his first seriously hard knocks in a presidential primary is timely, and while the theme of one man against the machine isn’t new, I really enjoyed some of the plot twists I didn’t see coming. We chose this one over J. Edgar for the cast, but the trailer for the Hoover biopic convinced me to put that one on my list just to watch Leonardo Dicaprio do another amazing transformation. That’s after we take in Hugo with the grandkids as soon as it comes out. The oldest adored Hugo Cabaret when her class went through the Caldecott winners, which is the annual winter project for the 2nd grade in their school.
Now, two books. I’m loving Elizabeth Hoyt’s very sexy “Maiden Lane” historical series. I missed the first one, but I think I’ll go back for it because while the second, Notorious Pleasures, is quite pleasurable, the new one—Scandalous Desires—is a knockout. The hero is an irresistible pirate no less. What I appreciate most—well, besides good dialogue and bad boy hero—is the way the setup and the characters for the next story are deftly woven throughout, not as a teaser, but as an interesting subplot to the main story. Good reading. And did I mention sexy?
But my highest recommendation is for the anthology SEAL Of My Dreams. My copy arrived this week—here’s the Amazon link if you prefer—and I’m savoring story by story. Perfect for my bedtime reading—good for 18 nights. I love a good short story collection—love the short story as a literary form for its laser focus—and this one has two obvious missions. First, to entertain readers, and second, to raise money for the non-profit Veterans Research Corporation, a foundation supporting veterans medical research. All proceeds from the sale of this book have been pledged to the foundation. That’s 18 authors, one publisher and its staff contributing their time and talents for the cause. And the eye-catching fellow on the cover? His identity is classified. He’s really a Navy SEAL.
Raising money is one thing, but I think these stories raise something at least as important—maybe more—and that is awareness. While waiting my turn at the dentist’s office yesterday I picked up this week’s Time magazine and read the cover article, which describes the way the military is a smaller piece of American life than ever and that America’s wars are out of sight and largely out of mind for most Americans, certainly in comparison with 20th century wars. I was a military brat, and my generation fought the Vietnam War. If you didn’t have a family member who was involved, you had a close neighbor. You saw graphic footage on the news every night, and the draft gave almost everyone a real physical stake in what was going on. Not so today.
The stories in SEAL Of My Dreams bring the reader closer to lives and relationships touched by military action. They’re set at home and abroad. There’s more action in some, more romance in some, but so far (I’m not finished) they’ve all touched me emotionally. This book goes on my gift list. Hope you can find a place for it on yours.
Have you seen a movie lately? What have you been reading? Tell us about it.