Reel Good Reads: From Print to Film

Elegy for Iris

By John Bayley

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Iris Murdoch's husband guides us through the contemporary writer's early life, her brilliant career, and her battle with Alzheimer's disease. This is truly a poignant love story as well as a biography of a remarkable woman. This book was also made into a film starring Judi Dench and Kate Winslet.

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Father Goose

By William Lishman

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"... this heartwarming story tells of William Lishman, a reclusive sculptor, who adopted a gaggle of geese, flew with them in an ultralight glider, and actually taught them to migrate--earning himself the nickname 'Father Goose.'"

Later, his book was made into the movie Fly Away Home, starring Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin.

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Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo

By Hayden Herrera

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This engrossing biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bear children; her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and intermittent love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky; her association with the Communist Party; her absorption in Mexican folklore and culture; and her dramatic love of spectacle.

On Film:
Salma Hayek delivers one of the best performances of her career in Frida, a vividly imaginative film based on Herrera's biography of the fascinating Frida Kahlo.

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Gods and Generals

By Jeff Shaara

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"...Jeff Shaara traces the lives, passions, and careers of the great military leaders from the first gathering clouds of the Civil War. Here is Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a hopelessly by-the-book military instructor and devout Christian who becomes the greatest commander of the Civil War; Winfield Scott Hancock, a captain of quartermasters who quickly establishes himself as one of the finest leaders of the Union army; Joshua Chamberlain, who gives up his promising academic career and goes on to become one of the most heroic soldiers in American history; and Robert E. Lee, never believing until too late that a civil war would ever truly come to pass."

 

On Film:
Historical fiction doesn't get any closer to home than this! The Gods and Generals movie is a must see for locals.

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House of Sand and Fog

By Andre Dubus III

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An émigré Iranian colonel has spent most of his savings trying to enhance his daughter's chances of a good marriage. Once she is married, he spends the remaining funds on a house at an auction, unwittingly putting himself and his family in the middle of a legal tussle with the house's former owner. What begins as a legal struggle turns into a personal confrontation, with tragic results. 

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How Stella Got Her Groove Back

By Terry McMillan

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Stella Payne, a 42-year-old divorced investment analyst, takes a vacation in Jamaica where she meets a Jamaican man half her age. Through this relationship, she soon realizes that she must confront her hopes and fears about love and about life and the way she lives it.

On Film:
Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, and Whoopi Goldberg star in this 1998 film adaptation. If you can't make it to the islands yourself, check out this movie for breathtaking Jamaican scenery with some self-discovery on the side.

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Jackson Pollock: An American Saga

By Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

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Take an in-depth look at the life of Jackson Pollock, one of the most influential and controversial artists of the twentieth century.

On Film:
Pollock, the 2000 film based on Naifeh and Smith's biography, stars Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Ed Harris delivers one of the best performances of his life and Harden's portrayal of Pollock's wife, Lee Krasner, earned her the 2001 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. For more on Jackson Pollock, be sure to watch the documentary Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

By John Berendt

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Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.
Available on audio as well as in a movie version starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story

By John Berendt

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Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.

On Film:
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a must see. Against the back drop of this charming southern city, great performances by Kevin Spacey and John Cusack bring Berendt's fascinating story to life.

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Mosquito Coast

By Paul Theroux

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Rebelling against the horrors of modern American existence, a father moves his family to the remote jungle of Honduras to make a better life. Things start to go wrong, and the father, unable to admit he is wrong or that he might need help, brings tragedy upon his family.
Also available as a downloadable audio book and as a film, starring Harrison Ford.

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