One thing leads to another

I love how one thing will lead to another, and another, and suddenly I’m exposed to things I never sought out, things I never would have stumbled upon.

Especially with books and movies / shows.

I recently read an eerily current thriller about a global pandemic called The End of October (review: When I looked into the author, Lawrence Wright, I found that he won a Pulitzer in 2007 for his non-fiction book The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

Well that caught my eye, but when I looked it up I discovered it had also been made into an acclaimed tv series on Hulu. I decided to try that first.

Intense is one way to describe it. The Looming Tower is an incredible 10-part series that examines the buildup to 9/11 from all sides. It incorporates real footage along with the scripted scenes, and does a great job of displaying the petty rivalries between the FBI and CIA. It’s embarrassing to watch at times, when you see how these smart men and women behave (as though they don’t have a brain in their head.) Egos and silos cost lives, there’s no doubt about it.

It was a happy surprise when I realized that Jeff Daniels was a lead in the show. I remember seeing him in Terms of Endearment and absolutely hating his character, and thus him as an actor. It was his stint as the newscaster in Aaron Sorkin’s show The Newsroom that won me over 100%. He’s just as good in this role, utilizing his skills at playing oversized egotistical smart guys to bring the real-life persona of FBI agent John O’Neill to life.

My library doesn’t have the print book, The Looming Tower, only the audiobook and download. I’ve never done either so I guess I’m going to choose and see how it goes. I’ll let you know! (Do you think I should just get a Kindle or some other e-reader already?!)

One of the main players during this time is Richard Clarke, a government official caught between the FBI, CIA and politics. He tried to warn about what was coming and in the end, he apologizes to the American people. It made me want to know more about him. He’s written some thrillers and some non-fiction books with scary titles like Against All Enemies and Your Government Failed You, which normally would appeal, but…

What with everything going on – global pandemic, political unrest, attempted coups – I’m not in the mood for fictional thrillers. Real life is enough these days. Too much. But Clarke’s Twitter feed @richardclarke is interesting and he calls attention to articles and ideas that I want to know about.

Back to Lawrence Wright. In addition to writing books, he’s a journalist and long-time writer for The New Yorker. They just devoted an entire issue to an article written by Wright – a super long article called The Plague Year. It meticulously takes us back through the past year and shines a bright light on the things that we did wrong. The magazine lets you read a few free articles a month and I recommend this one.

Have you been led to a book or a movie or show that then led you somewhere else, somewhere unexpected?


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