Two very different childhoods were remembered fondly at the final “Evenings With . . .” program at Miami Book Fair International Friday. Both were intriguing, both notable. One involved chickens. One did not.
Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights activist and peaceful resistance advocate who worked with Martin Luther King Jr., spoke about growing up in rural Alabama. His life is chronicled in the new graphic novel March, the first in a three-part series about his life as a civil rights pioneer.
Lewis, introduced by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and accompanied by his co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell, got a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd, and he told them he was “not just lucky but blessed to be at the book fair.”
He talked a little about his days on his father’s farm — “I fell in love with raising chickens,” he said — and more about his hero Dr. King and how he was inspired to become a Freedom Rider. He was arrested in 1960 for the first time but not the last; he has been arrested 40 times over his career, most recently in the cause of immigration reform.
“My folks told me, ‘Don’t get in trouble.’ I got in trouble,” he said, urging the crowd to get into “necessary trouble” to make the world better. Co-authors Aydin and Powell echoed his remarks.
Actress Anjelica Huston’s life in Ireland, London and New York was worlds away from Lewis’ rural existence, more likely to involve riding ponies than feeding chickens. In her new memoir A Story Lately Told, she writes about growing up around the globe with her famous father, John Huston, and the rest of her family.
In conversation with Miami International Film Festival director Jaie LaPlante, Huston talked about weaving images and memory into a book, which she wrote in long-hand.
Of course, the audience wanted to know about the movies and the TV musical drama Smash, in which she co-starred.
She got a kick out of playing a swordswoman in Ice Pirates, Huston said, and making Prizzi’s Honor “proved to be a really great experience. My father and Jack [Nicholson] were madly in love. I was incidental to the whole thing.”
She misses Smash, which was canceled after its second season, and equally sorry she couldn’t take a role in Wes Anderson’s upcoming film The Grand Budapest Hotel due to Smash’s schedule
“I’m jealous that Tilda Swinton got the part,” she said.