Gary Ross has penned and directed some big Hollywood hits like Big, Pleasantville and The Hunger Games. But for the past 15 years, his obsession has been something much more personal: a Dr. Seuss-ian children's book called Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind.
It started when Ross got a call in 1996 from fellow screenwriter David Koepp. Koepp was up against a tight budget and approaching deadline with his debut directorial effort, The Trigger Effect. Its heroine had to read an as-yet-unwritten bedtime story to her child.
Five years ago, Paul Young was working three jobs outside Portland, Ore., when he decided to write a Christian tale of redemption for friends and family. He went down to an Office Depot and printed off 15 copies of the story he called The Shack.
The manuscript was never intended for broad publication, but it eventually caught the attention of two California-based pastors. They took it to 26 different publishers but got rejected each time. So the pastors set up their own publishing company and started a whispering campaign among churches.
For thousands of years the Jewish people have been forced to move around — fleeing bigotry, slavery, pogroms, famines and tyrants. But words are portable, and to Jews — who are among those known as "the People of the Book" — they are precious possessions. As Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, write in their new book, Jews and Words, "Ours is not a bloodline, but a text line."