What We Are Reading: February

As You WishAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes, with Joe Layden
Review by Aaron Downey

After watching Cary Elwes’s panel at the 2014 Phoenix Comicon (at which he hugged literally every single fan who asked for it) and hearing his stories about the filming of The Princess Bride, I couldn’t wait to read this book. After reading this book, I couldn’t wait to rewatch the movie. And after rewatching the movie, I felt a little bit better about the world because every once in a while they get it right.

One of the later themes of Elwes’s fantastic memoir, As You Wish, is the idea that when making films, you never really know what you’re going to end up with. The cast and crew of The Princess Bride all felt sure that they were part of something special. They bonded like a family. But when the movie came out, it was not financially successful. The powers that be didn’t know how to market it, and few moviegoers went to see it. Then slowly and surely, like recovering from being only mostly dead, it received new life and eventually became an oft-quoted and beloved classic.

This book is a love fest from start to finish. During the filming of the movie, Elwes was in love with his cast mates, the film crew, the job of acting, his fans, and maybe most of all, Andre the Giant. It would seem that the fairy tale film about true love was an endeavor of true love on the parts of all involved. There is enough gushing that one can get the sense that the rose-colored glasses are a powerful prescription. But who cares? To fans of the brilliant 1987 Rob Reiner film, the book’s recollections are wonderful bits and baubles that you never knew you needed to know: Wallace Shawn’s nerves, Andre’s drinking habits, training for an all-time great sword fight, strange noises during filming, R.O.U.S troubles, broken bones, and much more.

Another nice touch to the book is that several other cast members are quoted throughout, so many situations are remembered from multiple perspectives.  And the hardcover dust jacket pulls double duty as a poster by the “Obey Giant” artist, Shepard Fairey. Highly recommended to fans of the film. I suggest reading it while enjoying a nice MLT, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe.

15793067Rage Against the Dying, by Becky Mastermind
Review by Susan Lowell Humphreys

According to Tucson resident Becky Masterman, the original title of her first thriller was One Tough Broad, which is very appropriate but maybe … not broad enough. Retitled Rage Against the Dying and published by Minatour in 2013, it has been nominated for many awards in the mystery-writing business. The main character is a feisty retiree, a former FBI agent called Brigid Quinn, who can’t seem to stay either retired or out of serious trouble. She is a strong character with a memorable voice, and the Tucson setting is well described. Brigid has white hair and a bad back but Miss Marple never had Black Ops training, such gruesome and horrific crime to solve, or such a vocabulary.

This is definitely a PG-13 experience (language, violence, sexual situations). The male characters tend to blend into one another, but once the novel gets going, the pace is quick and the plot is no more unbelievable than any thriller, whether on film or on paper. And Tucsonans will enjoy the local color. A sequel called Fear the Darkness has recently been published. (Actually the original title might have been the best of the three.)

This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.