Realm + Conquest

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My husband and I saw Michael Clayton on Friday night.  I was surprised that the theater was so crowded; hadn't this movie been out for awhile?  [Yes, since October 5, 2007.]  Oh, but wasn't it nominated for a bunch of Academy Awards? [Yes, seven of them, including Best Picture.]  I blame my lack of prior knowledge or interest on the boring title, because it's an excellent movie.  A smart, grownup, and very writerly one.  It reminded me that I really like reading books for grownups, too.  Must do more of that.

But Michael Clayton the movie also features something that I think is supposed to be a middle-grade fantasy novel titled Realm+Conquest.  I'm not sure whether the novel is based on a computer video game or vice versa, but Henry Clayton (Michael's nine-year-old son) is obsessed with it.  Early in the movie, he has a lengthy, mostly one-sided conversation about Realm+Conquest with his dad, in the car on the way to school.  My husband and I looked at each other knowingly:  Henry reminded us of Leo!  And maybe Michael, not really paying attention, reminded me of me.  I have to confess I didn't really pay attention in the movie, either; but I should have, because Realm+Conquest turns out to be important.

The prop book itself was made by Praxis Bookbindery (see the Daily Hampshire Gazette, 10/17/2007).  It's beautiful, taller and narrower than you might expect, with an embossed dark red limp leather binding.  In short, it looks nothing like a middle-grade fantasy novel--or rather, it looks like what Hollywood thinks a middle-grade fantasy novel should look like (the same could be said of George Clooney and your average lawyer, I suppose.  Note:  I'm not complaining).  Looks aside, writer/director Tony Gilroy, who was inspired by his own son's reading, gets Henry's response to the book exactly right.  Now I have to work on mine.