Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Angling for an Oscar

I went to see Brokeback Mountain yesterday and must be in only person in the world who hated it! It was SO boring. I felt no sadness at the end, while both the daughters who came with me were visibly moved, because I didn't believe in Ennis and Jack for a minute. What I saw was two Hollywood stars fishing for awards by obviously Acting. This is done mainly with the mouth, in Heath Ledger's case as if eating a big handful of pebbles.

I had wondered how a short story would make a fully-fleshed out 90 minute movie but the answer is that it hasn't. The characters are two dimensional and the situations predictable. It looked very fine but that's a tribute to Wyoming (?) and the cinematographer, rather than Ang Lee or the scriptwriters, who have all won awards for it already.

The two men are inarticulate, uneducated and utterly without any inner life or outer aspirations.They are both selfish and yet not selfish enough to dare to be together. It takes a great writer, as great as Joyce, to make that interesting and neither E. Annie Proulx nor her adapters are that. While I went all prepared to be moved by a story of necessarily covert love between two men (from 1963 for 20 or more years but in real Hicksville) what I got was acres of achingly dull stuff, in which almost nothing happened. The only moment of surprise was an unexpected grizzly bear.

Am now wondering whether to bother with the similarly hyped Walk the Line or Good Night and Good Luck. Don't think I could face Capote, for which my namesake Philip Seymour Hoffman has already won a Golden Globe and Bafta and is tipped to pip Ledger for the Oscar. But I don't mind if he does now.

Work wise, the good news is that my agent rang - on a Sunday - to say how much she loved The Falconer's Knot. Still waiting to hear from Bloomsbury. I gave a talk at a Carnegie/Greenaway dicussion day with a group of 130 librarians. And I was allowed to sit in on a discussion group whittling their Carnegie shortlist down to one nomination. That was absolutely fascinating.

Ever since then I've been researching a-stereotypical princesses and am nearly there with Princess Grace. And I've done something that has been waiting for months: putting together a batch of writing tips for my website. Now I'll be able to direct the fans there. It's incredible how many of them want to write their own fantasies or have done so and would like me to read them.

But nothing beats the teacher from the States who began by asking me if there was an activity book on Amazing Grace and, several e-mails later, asked me to write him a teaching unit. Is it so hard to understand that what a writer does is write the books?


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