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Thanksgiving is upon us once again. Time to get together with family and reminisce, eat turkey and stuffing, and of course, give thanks for all the blessings of the past year. I am thankful for becoming a grandfather, good health and being married to a wonderful woman for 40 years. As the wise Joe Walsh sang, "I can't complain, but sometimes I still do." Life has been good to me, so far.

But a recent press release from the author, Lee Child, gave me even more reason to be thankful. Lee Child is the pen name of James D. Grant, a British writer best known for the Jack Reacher novels, of which there are now 23, not counting a couple of short stories. The first book was published in 1997, and Child puts out a book almost every year.

The books are literary heroin for me. Jack Reacher is an ex-military wanderer with no real roots. He is 6 foot, 5 inches, and 230 pounds. He is tough, not attractive, introverted, smart, and tries to mind his own business. However, he seems to find trouble everywhere he goes, and has no problem applying his own personal brand of justice. Reacher is, according to a female friend and avid Lee Child fan, what every man dreams of being, and every woman dreams of finding. His character strikes a chord in the heart of the everyday man trapped in a life of mundane work and mediocrity. Reacher has no home, no car, no suitcase. He carries only a toothbrush. When his clothes are dirty or worn he simply buys what he needs to wear and tosses the old clothes in the trash. He answers to no one and has no set goal or ambition other than to be free.

In 2011, Lee Child negotiated the rights to have the Reacher series made into movies. This news was met with great approval until it was revealed who would be playing the part of Jack Reacher. For some reason, Tom Cruise, all 5 foot, 7 inches of him, was chosen to play the part of the hulking, brooding Jack Reacher. The uproar was furious, as Reacher's appearance and size were critical in developing the character, and I contributed my share of disbelief in the choice. Nevertheless, two films were produced with Cruise playing the role. I resisted viewing the for a long time but finally did so when they hit the cable channels. I had to admit, it was better than I thought, but still, it was hard to match up the boyish good lucks of Cruise with the picture of a brutish Reacher I had developed in my mind.

So, where is the thankfulness in all this? Lee Child finally came to his senses, listened to his readers and agreed that Cruise was "too short" to really portray the character of Jack Reacher. The next movies, which will come out on Netflix, will not have Tom Cruise. Child is even asking for input from his readers in choosing who will be the "new" Jack Reacher. I do have my own opinions. Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings), Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels), or Ray Stevenson (Dexter, Thor), could all portray the large physicality that is Jack Reacher.

If you have never read a Reacher novel, take some time to read a couple of them over the holidays. Then imagine seeing the character brought to life on your television next year.

Thank you, Lee Child!

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to devin.houston@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 11/21/2018

Print Headline: Too short for Reacher

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