Friday, April 24, 2009

Reaper Goes Hollywood

So Variety reports that Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper is going to the big screen. The writers of Ocean's Thirteen (Brian Koppelman and David Levien) will adapt the murderously funny ER-set debut novel as a vehicle for...Leonardo DiCaprio? As a hitman whose real name is Pietro Brnwa?

Myself, I think the role needs somebody with a little more heft, humor and menace (see: Clive Owen). But we'll see how it turns out. DiCaprio is producing, so due credit to him for picking up on the book's lurid appeal.

I just have to say, I called this one real early on. I ought to get a finder's fee.

"The past comes knocking for a physician with a fistful of secrets.

Medical resident Bazell opens his debut novel with a bone-crunching interlude between Manhattan ER doctor Peter Brown and a mugger whom he beats senseless, then treats for injuries. Brown soon confesses that his real name is Pietro Brnwa. He's a former hit man whose lethal trade drove him into the witness-protection program, where he reinvented himself as a pill-popping trauma physician. "It's a weird curse, when you think about it," says the killer turned doc. "We're built for thought, and civilization, more than any other creature we've found. And all we really want to be is killers." The past catches up with Brown when a terminal patient at the hospital recognizes him as the mob assassin called "Bearclaw." The patient threatens to out Brown if he does not work to save the man's life. Bazell's profane, hyperactive novel is readable and fun, and no fan of shoot-'em-ups or medical dramas can afford to miss it. Among the book's highlights is a riotous set of doctor's rounds that find Brown making out with a cancer patient, chasing down a wheelchair-bound fugitive and suffering a particularly vile needle stick.

A wildly funny mashup between genres that makes ER and St. Elsewhere look tame." - from Kirkus Reviews.

See also last year's Bookslut column "Power and Responsibility" and Josh Bazell's site for more coverage.

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