Thursday, May 03, 2007

Book: Robbie’s Wife, by Russell Hill (2007)

Hard Case Crime has won me over with their reprints. Not a dud in the bunch. I’ve found their original titles to be hit-and-miss.

Robbie’s Wife belongs in the hit category. It starts with what may be the quintessential noir premise: a man, a woman, her husband. But Hill updates it into something quite special. There’s the setting, the English countryside during an outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease. The characters, a failed Hollywood screenwriter in his sixties and a fortyish dancer-turned-farmwife, are older than the ones typically caught up in a love triangle, giving their actions an edge of desperation. Hill experiments with form, too, rendering parts of the story as scenes in his protagonist’s screenplay. Above all there’s the extraordinarily fluid writing. Hill is also a poet, and that comes across in his prose. This book is one of Hard Case’s best yet. Don’t miss it.

Miscellaneous: Casting Call

One of the joys of spring and summer, as I’ve said before, is listening to the great Vin Scully call baseball games for the L.A. Dodgers. During Tuesday’s showdown with Arizona, Vin recounted the amazing story of D-backs’ pitcher Livan Hernandez’s defection from Cuba with the aid of a mysterious figure known only as “El Gordo,” or The Fat Man (in actuality sports agent Joe Cubas). Vin began speculating on the cinematic possibilities of this tale, casting Antonio Banderas as Hernandez. He was torn on who should play “El Gordo,” however. Sydney Greenstreet was the obvious choice, Vin said, “or, going back a few more years, Akim Tamiroff.”

I was holding out for Thomas Gomez myself. Still, I want to live in Vin’s world, where such a movie would be possible.

It turns out there was a film on this subject in the works several years ago that would have starred Banderas – only as “El Gordo,” with then newly-minted Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. playing Livan’s brother and current Met Orlando.

Miscellaneous: Links

Can I buy tickets to this movie right now? Just asking.

The remodeled and expanded Seattle Art Museum looks like a hit.

Slate offers a slideshow chronicling Spider-Man’s journey into darkness in both comics and film. Don’t miss the list of Spidey’s victims, including the separate category of “sentient robots Spider-Man has killed.”