Barbara – I’ve heard about Salman Rushdie in connection with his Satanic Verses and the threats to his life after writing it, but had no idea that he has written so many novels, mostly magical and otherworldly, nor that he was so humorous! I went as part of the Arts and Letters Live Series to hear him talk about his new book, Quichotte, a different take on the Don Quixote and Sancho characters of Cervantes’ work. The Quichotte of his novel is an eternal optimist, a salesman living in a world where “anything goes.” He falls in love with a TV host and starts off on a drive across country to prove his love and win hers. Mr. Rushdie is a delightful speaker and I can’t wait to read the book, which I imagine will highlight his personality and the magical worlds he creates in his works.

2 points – Movie Theme: ETHICS

Laura: The Rainmaker, a 1997 film starring Matt Damon and Danny DeVito, follows a young lawyer who, in his first court case, encounters ethical issues by the handful as he tackles a large insurance company for a bad-faith denial of insurance claims for a young man dying from leukemia. From the unethical practice of ambulance chasing to solicit clients (which also entails hanging out at hospital cafeterias and approaching patients in casts) to greed, shady dealings and heartless corporations, the film hammers home how quickly one’s ideals can become tainted, leading to the inevitable corruption of both lawyers and judges. Clearly, the legal profession is not admired by John Grisham, on whose book this film was based. My daughter is an attorney, so the constant negativity against the legal profession got on my nerves. Aside from taking the hits personally, I was also disappointed that there wasn’t a more insightful message. Sometimes when we view films from the past, they might seem a bit trite, perhaps due to the passage of time and the changes that 22 years can bring.

2 points – Book – Bohemian Flats by Mary ELLIS

I’ve never been as keen on historical fiction as I am on straight up fiction but I found this book on my book shelf so gave it a try. I’m really glad I did. The author paints a very vivid picture of the area called The Flats in Missouri circa 1890 and through WWI. I knew nothing about this place, populated by many different nationalities of immigrants forming a tight knit community. The characters drew me in as well through several generations. I’d rate it highly. Just goes to show me that I sometimes need to step out of my comfort zone and may just get a pleasant surprise.

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