During last night’s Academy Awards telecast, director Robert Altman was given an honorary Oscar for his lifetime achievement in film. Although Altman only thanked his doctor during his acceptance speech, I was thinking about Barry Hannah.
Most of you probably know Hannah in relation to his fabulous short story collections such as Bats Out of Hell and Airships. Or you might be fans of his novels, including Ray and Geronimo Rex. But you may not be aware of the fact that King Barry left behind his beloved South in 1980 and moved to Hollywood where he wrote screenplays for Altman. Unfortunately, none of Hannah’s visions was ever filmed, but one particular screenplay was published in a limited edition book. Power and Light: A Novella for the Screen from an Idea by Robert Altman is out of print, but worth the search if you can find it. abebooks has several copies for sale, ranging from about a hundred bucks to three hundred.
And while we’re talking about the Oscars, although the fashionistas are going to skewer Larry McMurtry for pairing a tuxedo shirt, coat, and bow tie with blue jeans and cowboy boots, I say kudos to him for thanking the booksellers of the world. As he pointed out, from the smallest stall in a market somewhere to the largest, snazziest store, booksellers really are important “contributors to the survival of the culture of the book.”