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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Wednesday, September 25

The Family

I thought black humor was a thing of the past, like Theatre of the Absurd. But I just saw a film that was as absurd as Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story, two absurdly funny plays from over sixty years ago. And it was as black as the dark humor of Heller’s Catch 22. I’m talking about The Family, a flick with a family as unfamilial as it could get. It's a loving family unit on the surface, with a wife who cooks like a French chef, or maybe that should be an Italian chef, a daughter and son who are bright and good looking (you may know the beauty of Dianna Agron from her role on Glee), and a father who loves his wife and kids, just as they love him. But under the surface is the underbelly of the beast. It’s a sort of comic put down of that larger family from our past, the Mafia. Giovanni Manzoni (Robert DeNiro) is an ex-mob boss now on the run in the witness protection program after he ratted out his Brooklyn compares. The film begins as Manzoni, now known as Fred Blake, and his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and daughter Belle (Dianna Agron) and son Warren (John D’Leo) move into a seedy house in a French village somewhere in Normandy. We learn early on that it isn’t wise to wise off to this family of wise guys. When a grocery store owner and his clerks make snide remarks, in French, about Maggie, the stupid American, she gets back by dousing a small natural gas container with lighter fluid, then dropping a match on it. Goodbye grocery store. When four of Belle’s male high school classmates pick her up after school and drive her to a park for a romp in the grass, she beats the leader bloody with a tennis racket, then drives off in their car. Maggie has called a plumber to fix a problem they have with brown water spewing from their faucets. The plumber doesn’t show up for two scheduled appointments. Deniro finally gets him there, but when the plumber insists that they need all new pipes, DeNiro beats him nearly to death with a baseball bat, then drives him to the hospital, telling the physician that the guy had had an accident on his motorcycle. Funny, right? But the smile on my face was sort of frozen, very similar to my reaction to the humorous brutality in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The family’s CIA handler is Robert Stansfield, played by a droopy-faced Tommy Lee Jones, but he can’t seem to control the family he’s supposed to protect. The godfather Manzoni sent away accidentally learns where they’re located and sends out about a dozen of his goons to take out the entire family. The body count goes up and up and up. And my smile remained frozen throughout.
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