A few weeks back, I wrote about my pal, professional ranter extraordinaire Bart Baker. I have developed a new theory that his ranting probably serves him well as a professional writer. Unlike most writers who stare at the blank page, Bart dives in with a passion. And that passion comes out in his works that keep pouring out of him. And they do pour.
Only about three weeks ago, in fact, Bart was back in Los Angeles on one of his periodic “stay-in-touch with producers” visits. We were having lunch when his cell phone rang, and he excused himself. (He normally wouldn’t take the call, but he recognized the number as being important.) A few minutes later, he came back to the table with a beaming smile. “I just sold a script!” The final details of the deal haven’t been signed yet, but let’s just say it’s for a cable TV movie tied to an extremely popular song. So popular you’d know it, even if you don’t follow music today. But the best news about all this were the words that followed. “Lunch is on me!”
In fact, lots more words have followed. The guy’s on a roll. Bart just published his second novel, What Remains. It’s pretty remarkable, as well. Again, I’m biased, having served as editor on an early draft, but he subsequently did his own thorough rewrite that it has its own life. But just like his first novel was so widely praised, I’m right about this one, too.
(Side note: my editing the early draft brought forth one of my favorite “Hollywood negotiations” when we argued about money. But it’s not what you think. As a friend, I refused to take any. And Bart wouldn’t give me the manuscript until I agreed to accept his check. The debate continued all the way through lunch. In the end -- hey, I’m a nice guy, but not an idiot.)
I’m sort of in awe of Bart’s writing style. It’s powerfully aggressive, but wild with humor and heart-breaking romantic tenderness. I don’t have a clue how he does it. I know of few other writers who can do it. But he does all the time. What Remains falls right into that. A disgraced ladies man whose life crashes and burns has to move in with his gay brother. When the brother’s life hits its own crisis and falls apart, the slacker is aghast to have responsibilities dumped onto him – forcing him to take a journey to the jungles of Colombia and complicated further when he falls in love with their mixed-race nanny with her own, unsuspected and dangerous problems. As they say, complications, hilarity, and serious angst ensue. How Bart gets hilarity out of this deeply emotional drama, and he does, that’s his magic trick
I keep looking forward to the next thing Bart writes. I don’t mean just novels or movies, I include rants. They’re as good as his other works. And the great thing about the rants is that I don’t have to wait six months for them to come to fruition. If I’m feeling devoid of good Baker reading material, I can just send him an email and ask, “So, what do you think about…?”, and sit back to wait for the rant to arrive.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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