March 23, 2008

"Died With His Boots On"

This most recent Oscar season featured--as I saw it--a duel between two similar pictures. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood painted peopled at war with their landscapes. In the antelope plains of south Texas and the eastern California desert, your heart rate is up every hour. The aging sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones in No Country can barely keep a smile sitting in the kitchen with his father. Likewise, the protagonist of Blood can never fill his heart, no matter how many oil wells he drills.

One of the things I like most about the work I have done on the Chiles book and what's ahead is that in his world the landscape is a friend and a refuge always. From the Cook Shack in the woods to camping in Osceola National Forest to hunting Polk County's Green Swamp, Florida rain or shine is a place to take big breaths that set every cell free.

If a movie were filmed on his last years in the same vein as No Country and Blood, surely the title would be "Died With His Boots On."

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