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And by 1990, with the release of his highest-grossing movie, the Macaulay Culkin sado-slapstick comedy which Hughes wrote and produced but did not direct, he had the means to put Hollywood and the movies behind him. The one normal aspect of this period for him, consistent with the rest of his life, was the compulsive writing. He wanted to be at liberty to spend as much time with his family as he pleased, to work the farm he owned 75 miles northwest of Chicago, and to exult in the resolutely uncoastal ethos of his beloved Midwest.James and his wife are now in the process of relocating to Chicago.Among the first things John and James showed me was a little red Moleskine pocket notebook, three and a half by five and a half inches in size.Each page within was covered in their father’s neat, extraordinarily tiny handwriting—the cursive equivalent of three-point type.In his later years, Hughes never went anywhere without one of these notebooks on his person, the better to record anything that popped into his head at any time he wished: observations, incidents, editorials, inventories, theories, vignettes, overheard conversations.Even James’s little boy, eight weeks old at the time of his grandfather’s death, has a stack of letters awaiting him.Hughes, his sons say, reveled in grandfatherhood; he relished the concept of growing old and shifting into the role of eccentric paterfamilias.
In his view, the boomers did not know when to step aside and cede the stage. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”At some point, Hughes stopped and looked around, and he realized that he didn’t want to make movies anymore. The answer, to some degree, lay in the wisdom of Ferris Bueller, who, as played by Matthew Broderick, delivered the most epigrammatic of Hughes-isms: “Life moves pretty fast.“He was kind of upset not to see more people of his generation passing the baton,” John III said.“He wanted to give youth a voice.”Hughes’s own youth has been the subject of much speculation.