Uncategorized | February 13, 2005

From our Hollywood bureau chief, Faith Kurtyka (yes, it’s come to this):

At this year’s Oscar party, be the snob who says, “The book’s better!” by checking out the little books that inspired this year’s critical darlings.

Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner is the first collection of short fiction from F.X. Toole, who was 69 years old when the collection was first published in 2000. The story of a scrappy girl fighter and the grizzled trainer who takes her on is brought to life via Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood in the boxing drama Million Dollar Baby.

The Motorcycle Diaries is Che Guevara’s buoyant recounting of a road trip in his youth. Read the book for hints of the beginnings of Guevara’s revolutionary spirit; see the movie for Gael Garcia Bernal’s electric performance as the man himself.

If you were drunk off Sideways, try Rex Pickett’s raucous and redemptive debut novel of the same name. (Perhaps the book explains Paul Giamatti’s Oscar snub!)

A recent article in Publishers Weekly notes an interesting common denominator between Rope Burns and Sideways, this year’s only book-based Best Picture nominees. Both books come from an unlikely place: the “midlist,” which is publishing jargon for quality books by lesser-known authors, books that would be dependent upon word-of-mouth marketing, and would garner a modest but faithful following. It’s a telling shift after a period when franchises like Lord of the Rings dominated. Said Rope Burns publisher Dan Halpern, “The fat midlist is where the narrative lies. I think moviemakers are starting to pick up on that.”

And don’t forget to tune into The Big Show itself, Sunday, February 27.