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Book Fair Blog

Every book has a story

Every book has a story.

Check in frequently to read the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Newberry’s popular Book Fair. The blog is maintained by “Uncle Blogsy,” otherwise known as Dan Crawford, Book Fair Manager.

Next Year's Best Screenplay

I suppose the rest of you were guessing the outcomes and keeping track of how many Academy Awards you predicted correctly. I never do such things, because quantification has so little to do with true art. (Yeah, only got six right.) And some of you were memorizing the hairdos and costumes and keeping tabs on THAT branch of art.

One of the things about the show which intrigued me, though, was the Walmart series. If you didn’t mute all the commercials, you must remember it: directors were given the same customer receipt from Walmart and told to make a movie based on it. These were necessarily short films, since they were shown during commercial breaks in the Oscar presentations, dealing with baby monitors, bananas, batteries, and such like.

I haven’t heard yet which of the three rather bizarre short subjects was chosen as the winner. (And you WILL look closely at the envelope, won’t you, Walmart?) But of course I couldn’t help but wonder if we might not make similar artworks by taking a random box of books from among our donations.

Some, I suppose, wouldn’t offer much to work with: the story is self-evident. That box last week which was all business texts and law texts and John Grisham mysteries tells its story. Perhaps more poignant is that box from a couple of years back, which had the stack of books on how to play bass guitar, and then—a little newer than those—a small stack of books on accounting and bookkeeping. Another musician gone over to the dark side: nothing particularly new in that scenario. And there is at least one donation every year which consists primarily of books on golf, with a book or two on choosing the best single malt whiskey.

It’s not that these stories might not be interesting. But if moviemakers want a chance at next year’s awards, they’ll want something more challenging.

Here’s one: six paperbacks on existential philosophy, two biographies of Princess Diana, two Great Courses sets (one on Beethoven, one on Western Art), and the cookbook 365 Recipes for Hamburger. Make me THAT movie.

How about this box? Three Harry Potter books, eight books on cats, and fifteen well-thumbed paperbacks of true murder investigations. Or you could open THIS box: two Bibles, a hymnal, a grocery store counter booklet on baby names, and five books containing the True Facts about UFOs.

The movie could center on the life of the person who had that particular collection and why, OR it could, to be fair, recall the fact that these books were cleaned out of a collection and given away. What were the circumstances that led to a person suddenly deciding they could discard this reference book on Greek mythology, these Arlo Guthrie CDs, a travel guide to Iceland, and twelve teen romances of the late nineties?

There would have to be rules. I can’t let a moviemaker just wander in and pick up ANY old box, or the result might be half a set of World Book Encyclopedia. And moviemakers would have to take note of whether that set of Fifty Shades books has been opened, or is still sealed in the shrinkwrap: makes for a different movie. Boxes which include broken crayons, Legos, and a penny might give someone an unfair advantage (that penny can make a big difference to a beginning filmmaker’s budget.)

I’m still undecided on whether the movie should take note of whether the books were donated in a banana box or a fertilizer bag. We’re not going through all this trouble just for another installment in the Dumb and Dumber series.

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