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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rescued from oblivion - Crazy Heart, the novel

Am reading "Crazy Heart," by old friend Tom (Thomas) Cobb. The story behind the novel is interesting in itself. Tom sold Crazy Heart through his very powerful N.Y. agent in the mid-'80s. Rhode Island College hired him, partly on the strength of the book, to come here from Texas and teach writing - that's how I met Tom. At the time Crazy Heart was published, I was books editor at the Journal. It got a lot of good advance publicity, and we gave it a strong review (I'm pretty sure friend and fellow-writer Bill Reynolds reviewed it). I stayed in touch with Tom from time to time over the years. The book did okay, but languished as so many do - but Tom did sell the film rights. They were renewed every year or so, bringing him a little steady stream of extra income - but he hit kind of a publishing drought (a real shame - I read one of his unpublished novels, about a guy teaching in a prison in Arizona, and thought it was great). Amazingly, they finally made a film of Crazy Heart more than 20 years after initial publication. At first, the distributor wanted to send it straight to video, i.e., into oblivion, but it got rave notices at a film festival and they changed their plans - and now it's up for 3 Oscars (and will probably win 2 of them), and to Tom's delight it's back in print. I hope all his books go into print and into film, too! Crazy Heart is a really good read, you learn a lot about music, esp. country music (not my thing, but kind of interesting to be immersed in that world). Mainly, it's a story of a guy (Bad Blake) down on his luck and ready for redemption. Yes, it's been done before, but there's a lot of dark humor here and credible inside knowledge of the backwaters of the music business. It's obvious that Bad Blake is a great film character, and it's amazing it took so long for the world to see that.

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