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My Man Billy Bob Starring with Brad

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[Originally posted Friday, June 17, 2005]

The Washington Post picked up a Reuters report that Billy Bob Thornton and Brad Pitt have signed on to perform in the flim version of Peace Like a River. The 2001 novel, written by Leif Enger, was a favorite of independent booksellers everywhere. Jim Harrison, Rick Bass, and Frank McCourt all blurbed the book and it showed up on many year-end-best lists.

Here is a bit of text from the Grove Press website to tell you a little about the book: “In ‘lyrical, openhearted prose’ (Michael Glitz, The New York Post), Enger tells the story of eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy who has reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and its remarkable conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates. Leif Enger’s ‘miraculous’ (Valerie Ryan, The Seattle Times) novel is a ‘perfect book for an anxious time, a book of great literary merit that nonetheless restores readers’ faith in the kindness of stories’ (Marta Salij, Detroit Free Press).”

I’m a huge Billy Bob Thornton fan, vials of blood foolishness aside. I particularly appreciate something Thornton said when he was asked about being typecast into southern redneck roles due to his accent. He said that this was a problem early in his career, but that he finally realized that if he didn’t want to play the same old roles over and over again, then he just needed to write better roles for himself. He said that anyone who feels their ethinic, religious, cultural, or whatever group feels like they’re being stereotyped should write their own movies and their own roles. Don’t wait around and hope someone gives you an opportunity to do something different. Instead you should take the initiative to make something different happen.

Having said all that, as much as I like Billy Bob, I detest when they replace book covers with the movie stars. So hurry up and get your copy of Peace Like a River here before the cover starts sporting Billy Bob’s ugly mug and all you can think about when you see the book is his lower jaw jutting out and “them biscuit, uh huh.”