Monday, March 22, 2010

Review & GIVEAWAY: Washed-up cowboy boots

And after that discussion on the book versus the movie, I move on to a recent example—Thomas Cobb's Crazy Heart. Jeff Bridges just won the Oscar for his portrayal of Bad Blake, an aging country music singer, so this one's timely.

Bad Blake epitomizes the stereotype of a washed-up country-western star. He drinks too much, he eats too much, he's on the road too much. He hasn't written a song or cut an album in five years; he's booking bowling alleys and rural bars; he has a handful of divorces under his belt. Bad is past his prime. But he is who he is, and singing is what he does. Enter Jean Craddock, a reporter for a local paper in Phoenix looking for a story on the man behind the singer. She's younger than Bad, a single mom, and her life is pretty much the antithesis of Bad's. When the two strike up and friendship that develops into a relationship, Bad begins to question his way of living and must decide if he can settle down in a life off the road.

I'm very glad I didn't see the movie prior to reading this book, because the reading experience wasn't tainted with the images of the actors in my head. Bad is a wonderfully crafted complex character. Cobb did a great job describing the conflict within Bad and garnering up some sympathy for him, despite the fact that Bad has brought his decades-long downfall upon himself. Bad knows he is on a self-destructive course, and at times finds the inspiration to change, but his weaknesses seem to prevail and he seems to just accept the fate of a has-been.

The language was strong and the liquor flowed like water in this book, but I loved everything about the atmosphere of this story. The setting seems so familiar to me that I feel like I can smell the stale cigarette smoke of a dimly lit nightclub, taste the warm beer, hear the applause for a singer the audience didn't even realize was still alive. You start to feel tired reading it—worn out like someone who's been too many places, seen and done too many things. It's neon lights reflecting on a windshield in an otherwise empty parking lot, the hum of an air conditioner in a roadside motel, the crackle of the radio as you start to leave the station's range. It's like Los Angeles (or in this case, Houston, or for country music in general, Nashville) at its finest, a city that never quite throws out the stars it created.

Oh, and I almost forgot! Harper Perennial has generously offered ONE lucky reader a copy of Crazy Heart! To enter, just leave a comment below with your email address. Contest will end Monday, April 5th at 11:59 PM EST. The winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

But don't let this discourage you from discussion! Have you read the book or seen the movie??

Review copy provided by publisher.


Sasha said...

I just saw the movie a couple of days ago, and I had so many preconceptions of it--but it blew me away. Really really loved it, it's just so subtle and tender and AWESOME.

Like I blathered on in your post about movies and books, I love it when good movies lead me to books. And judging from your great review of Cobb's book, I'm definitely looking for this.

halfpintlady said...

Cool! I'd love a chance to win a copy.

hsfargis said...

I already wanted to see the movie, now I want to read the book! I would love to win a copy! hsfargis @ bellsouth . net.

Novelwhore said...

I had been debating skipping the book and just watching the movie (which I NEVER do, but felt like this would be a good one to start with, Oscar quality and all), but you got me at "liquor flowed like water in this book" - now I want to read first! Pretty please pick me!


Sue said...

I'd love to read the book! Thank you for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

christine said...

Would love this one! Thanks you!


tarynwanderer said...

Haven't seen the movie yet, but would love to (and would love to win the book)! :)

My email address is: pretty.little.unicorns AT Good luck to all!

Karen @ Planet Books said...

Me Me Me!!! Please put my name in the hat for this drawing. Thank You!!