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Crazy chase to the big screen

Many of you will have seen the fresh copies of Cormac McCarthy's The Road on the bookshelves, with a picture on the front cover of Viggo Mortensen and the wee fella who looks like a mini-me of Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit McPhee, pushing the shopping trolley.

Well, expect shelves to be groaning soon under the weight of a book called Crazy Heart, by Thomas Cobb, with a grizzly Jeff Bridges on the cover strumming what looks like a fairly makey-up chord way up around the 11th fret -- just to make sure they got his left hand in on the shot and to show he can actually play.

Bridges -- one of my favourite actors and a legend to all the stoners out there after his Oscar-nominated role as The Dude in The Big Lebowski -- has been tipped for an Oscar award in his role as a "washed-up country singer" (are there ever any other types of country singers?), playing gigs for his supper in dingy bars with fizzling neon Budweiser signs (are there ever any other bars for country singers?), crooning heartbreaking country songs such as My Son Calls Another Man Daddy (are there ever . . ?)

In walks Maggie Gyllenhaal as a journalist who sets Bridge's character Bad Blake (are there ever any good guys?) on the country road to redemption.

It took Thomas Cobb 21 years of 'options' before his debut novel was commissioned for the screen. In that period he only produced one book of short stories, Acts of Contrition (2002) and the western, Shavetail (2008), which will be released here in May in paperback, no doubt to capitalise on the predicted success of Crazy Heart.

Cobb, when writing Crazy Heart, had the big screen in mind, but was hoping for an actual singer to play the part, envisioning Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings in the role. Despite the break, the writer, in typical country fashion, says that he has "no expectations for Shavetail. I've learned better".

And off he goes singing "At the gas station of love, I always get the self-service pump."

Personally, I'll be shouting for a Bridges Oscar and, to do my part for country, I'll go and buy, rather than blag, a copy of Crazy Heart. All's well that ends well, even in the great blue yonder.


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