Saturday, January 14, 2017
Today I am grateful for tortured writers. Himself has been ensconced in front of football games for hours, leaving me to my own, welcome devices. So I just watched a movie he would have hated. “Genius” – It is the bromance story of writer, Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) and editor, Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth). It is currently running on HBO at various times and I’m sure available on Netflix, too.
Set in the late 1920’s, during the days of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway, the moody film is certainly not for everyone. For a while I wasn’t sure it was for me. But I stayed the course because I am a sometime fan of Jude Law and I would watch Colin Firth read the phone book anytime.
I poked around on line and read a brief review and it was not good. Did I like it? Did the review, read after the fact change my fickle mind? Nope. Did the film boast of great filmmaking or perfect characters? Hardly. There wasn’t much perfection on any count.
Writers love words. Most of us love them way too much. We balk whenever some pagan editor wants to cut even one of our precious babies. Editors love words, too, but recognize the importance of brevity and proper placement to engage the reader and capture the mood. That push-pull is the stuff of great books. You can’t get one without the other.
I knew how Wolfe felt when Perkins wielded his red pencil, scratching out page after too-long page. I knew how Perkins felt when Wolfe showed up and dropped five cartons of “book” at his feet.
So did I love it? I’m still not sure. But I do know that the story, the characters, the acting and the general feel of true-friendship-love will stay with me for a long time. For this tortured writer, it’s enough.