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Posted at 8:01 AM on September 6, 2006 by Euan Kerr

I always used to look forward to watching movies on transatlantic flights. No more though, as sleep becomes more important as I prepare for the rigors of the impending trip. I now try to ignore the siren song of the screen to concentrate on the printed page, enjoying the long period of time when you can actually read through an entire book if you put your mind to it.

I just crossed the pond yet again (I am writing from Edinburgh) and took the opportunity to blast through Dai Sijie's charming little novel "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress." As I reached the end, my groggy mind registered the fact that it would make a really good movie, and I then convinced myself I had heard it was going into production soon too.

A few moments on the computer showed I was off by a couple of years and reminded me Sijie's film of his own book was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2003. Sijie is a Chinese film maker now living in France, who decided to write a novel on the side, and it became an international bestseller, in part because of its cinematic approach.

(Speaking of fim makers turned novelists, I recently finished Ruth Ozeki's incredible novel "My Year of Meats." Now THERE'S a novel that someone should film.)

On the plan I have to admit I occasionally looked up to see how things were progressing on "X-Men III," but I kept going back to the other book I was reading, an advance copy of Neil Gaiman's collection of short stories "Fragile Things" which is published in about a month. Gaiman, the English fantasy writer who now haunts a far flung edge of the Twin Cities conurbation has no fewer than three films in production and scheduled for 2007 release, "Coraline," "Beowulf," and "Stardust."

Short stories are good for trips like this because you can finish a story and drift off to sleep without feeling guilty. I had done just that when a flash of bright light woke me. I saw it was actually a scene at the end of the credits which I had missed when I saw the "X-Men" in the theater. Someone was in a hospital bed and was clearly waking up. I didn't see who though. I suppose I'll just have to watch out for whatever sequel it presaged.

September 2006
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