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Books, Etcetera with Lynn Carey: The Soloist moves from page to screen; Northern CA Reviewers Awards

Written by a local boy done good, Lynn looks forward to seeing his flick.

I love it when a book I enjoy is turned into a movie. Sometimes. A few disappointments include The DaVinci Code (and I could care less about Tom Hanks hair, it was the constant lecturing that put me to sleep); The World According to Garp (Robin Williams? I think not); and Bonfire of the Vanities (but I really do like Tom Hanks in movies quite often!). That’s just a few I can think of at the top of my head, but there is a great website if you want to play this game yourself, www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/readers/movies/

I’m thinking about this now because The Soloist came out this weekend. As I write this, I haven’t seen it, but the buzz is good. And really … it’s starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, so what could go wrong? Well, a lot, actually (see above). But I’m hoping this one is fantastic.

The Soloist is based on a book by Steve Lopez, an East Bay boy. He grew up in Pittsburgh in a close-knit family; his younger brother, Johnny Steele, is a comic who still performs locally. Steve worked in newspapers all his life, and is now a columnist at the LA Times. That’s how he came upon the subject matter for The Soloist … a homeless man who is an amazingly talented musician.

I met with both of the brothers last spring at Jupiter in Berkeley. The Soloist had just come out and Steve was doing readings in the area. While Johnny is more in-your-face funny, Steve holds his own in the humor department. It must have been fun at their dinner table back in the day. Here’s hoping the movie is a huge hit and that it sells more books!

Speaking of which: It was a big week for the East Bay in book news. Lots of our authors won Northern California Book Reviewers awards announced on April 19.

Berkeley’s Sylvia Brownrigg won the fiction prize for The Delivery Room. Sylvia is one of those authors who is going to be buzzed about more and more with every book she writes. She’s lovely in person, too; I met her when she hosted a book release party for Ann Packer when “Songs Without Words” came out. Sylvia’s husband is Sedge Thompson, Sedge Thomson, host of West Coast Live (also a great guy!).

Other local winners include:  For general nonfiction, Berkeley’s Richard A. Muller won for his Physics for Future Presidents; Berkeley composer John Adams won in the creative nonfiction category for Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life; Richmond-based Omnidawn publishing house founder Rusty Morrison won the poetry prize for “the true keeps calm biding its story;” Berkeley’s Katherine Silver won the translation prize for Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness; and Oakland’s Pamela S. Turner won the children’s literature award for A Life in the Wild: George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts.

Congratulations to all!

For 12 years, Lynn Carey has run the Times Book Club, which now appears in the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers. For the past 17 years, she's lived in Lafayette with her husband, Lamorinda Sun columnist Mike Zampa, and their two teenagers.