- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 10, 2005

Stone’s 9/11?

“Is Oliver Stone really the person to direct a big-budget film about the rescue of Officers [John] McLoughlin and [William] Jimeno from the rubble of the World Trade Center? Stone has shown he has trouble leaving history alone (most famously in ‘JFK’, 5); he’ll probably have some wacky, conspiratorial left-wing theory to add into the script.

“The McLoughlin rescue is a surprising, moving, and patriotic story if you just tell it as it happened. Do you trust Stone to do that? I don’t.

“Is Hollywood so out of touch it thinks Stone’s version of 9/11 is what America is clamoring for? After ‘Alexander,’ at that?

“Stone should be free to say what he wants. But it might be useful for Paramount’s Brad Gray to hear that many Americans … aren’t eager to provide Stone with a paying audience.”

—Mickey Kaus, writing on “Keep Oliver Stone Away from 9/11!” Saturday in Slate at www.slate.com

Christian classic

“C. S. Lewis’ … seven-volume classic, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ … [was] written with children in mind, even though Lewis had none of his own. … And they may be best experienced as children, though their aims are as mature as anything found in literature.

“That’s because the fundamental purpose of the Narnia stories is to convey the reality of Christian truth — a project that became Lewis’s lifework following his conversion in 1931, after his friends Hugo Dyson and J. R. R. Tolkien convinced him of it during a nighttime walk. … Then, in 1949, he began writing the Narnia stories in earnest, adding to his reputation.

“One of the reasons they succeed as children’s literature is because they are rollicking good stories full of talking animals, dastardly villains and climactic sword fights. They can be enjoyed as if they were nothing deeper than dashed-off fairy tales. But there’s actually much more than rousing adventure going on in Narnia. If war is the continuation of politics by other means, then Narnia is the continuation of Sunday school by different devices.”

—John J. Miller, writing on “Back to Narnia,” Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Chick lit history

“Do you read chick lit? It’s become such a bookstore staple that it’s hard to believe it didn’t even exist a decade ago. British journalist Helen Fielding is widely credited with having invented the genre with ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary,’ which was published in 1996. That book was such a sensation that women writers stopped trying to emulate Jackie Collins’ and Judith Krantz’s over-the-top romantic confections and started writing stories about neurotic single women trying to have a cool career, lose a few pounds and find a man. …

“After ‘Bridget Jones’ hit it big, American publishers began looking for their own version of the ‘neurotic single woman looking for love’ novel. Candace Bushnell’s ‘Sex and the City’ came out in 1996, about the same time as ‘Bridget Jones,’ but it didn’t become a cultural phenomenon until the TV series started two years later. Since it takes a long time to write and publish a book, trends can take a while to blossom, and it wasn’t until 1998 that American chick-lit novels began to appear. There was ‘Animal Husbandry’ by Laura Zigman, and then, in 1999, there was ‘The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,’ by Melissa Bank. I can’t remember if the term ‘chick lit’ was in use by then, but I do remember Bank being promoted as the more literary version of Helen Fielding.”

—Laurie Muchnick, writing on “Literary bonbons,” June 26 in Newsday

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