Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For a chaotic year, I'm offering a chaotic "Best Books" list — but I think my list is chaotic in a good sense. These books zing off in all directions: They're fresh, unruly and dismissive of the canned and contrived.

You can't go wrong with any of these books. As one of Dashiell Hammett's dangerous dames might have said: They're all the bees' knees.

If they are to successfully make the jump to light speed, Star Wars movies require a precisely calibrated fuel mixture: one-third epic space battles, one-third narrow escapes and duly buckled swashes, one-third hooded beardy dudes standing around looking pained while solemnly intoning the cheesiest hokum about Darkness and Light as if it's Hamlet's Yorick speech (which in a way, it is).

If you need an escape from the holiday whirlwind, these three romance novels — featuring a duke with an epic library, a young girl finding herself in the big city and a proper lady finding love where she least expects it — won't disappoint. Forget the shopping and holiday prep and treat yourself to these happily-ever-afters.

Screenwriter Scott Frank has written movies in a all kinds of genres, including crime noir (Get Shorty), thriller (Malice) and action/adventure (The Wolverine). But despite his extensive list of credits, he always felt there was one genre missing.

"I wanted to write a Western at some point in my career," he says. "I kept putting it off and putting it off, because they were very difficult economically to make in Hollywood."

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