Thursday, January 5, 2012

Doc and The Descendants

     I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately. Some of it has been admittedly mindless, but one exception was Mary Doria Russell's Doc, the story of Dr. John Henry Holiday, frontier dentist and professional gambler. Why this book? There is an old adage which states, "Never just a book by its cover."To me, that is senseless as it is the cover which often draws one to a book, and so it was in this case. On the cover there was a photograph of an old, upright piano and next to it a worn, wooden chair with a dark western hat resting on it. I purchased it along with a number of other books at the Borders closing sale.
     The history of the American West has always fascinated me. As does all good historical fiction, this book transports the reader to another time and place, in this case Dodge City, Kansas, in the year 1878. Though it was a slow read at first, I kept going and was gradually drawn into it. The characters are fascinating from the erudite main character, Doc Holiday, to Kate his on and off again companion and lady of the evening, and finally two young laymen,  Morgan and Wyatt Earp. This story takes place three years before the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, which has become the stuff of legend. Overall, it was a very good read.
     This afternoon I went with friends to see George Clooney's powerful new film, The Descendants. He portrays an anguished husband keeping vigil at the bedside of his dying wife. The film deals with some troubling family dynamics, but there are also a few light moments. The acting is superb, perhaps one of Clooney's strongest performances, but do beware this is a very, very sad movie.

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