Sometime soon, I will write a blog post about Ruth Ozeki, who, ages before we met, changed my life in nearly all the important ways it has been changed. It's a pretty remarkable story, so stay tuned for that. Her new book, A Tale For The Time Being, has the greatest title ever and comes out in March, and really you'd think I'd have read an advanced copy by now because honestly I'm just not sure my patience can hold out much longer. Meanwhile, long after she changed my life in all those important ways, we met and became friends, and I'm very honored to be tagged by her in this bloggy-internet-y game of, well, tag. One author answers a list of questions on his/her blog, tagging at the end a handful of other authors who answer the same questions on their blogs, tagging a handful of authors in turn.
In her toss to me, Ruth mentioned that she hoped I'd talk about Goodbye For Now, even though the questions here are really about one's brand new or forthcoming or in progress work, and I shall. For several reasons. One, she asked me to. Two, my new, in progress work is just barely either one and not ready for discussion yet except by people married to me. Three, though I've answered these and similar sorts of questions on lots of other people's blogs, I haven't done so on my own blog. So here's theGoodbye For Now overview right where it belongs.
Right, so tagging. Remember freeze tag? Remember TV tag? Man I sucked at TV tag. Anyway...
My friend and mentor, Jennie Shortridge, has her fifth (!) novel coming out this April, Love, Water, Memory. Great title, great book, great person all around. She blogs here.
My new friend Tara Conklin's debut novel, The House Girl, releases next month. I've read it, and it's wonderful. She blogs here.
I've been getting a lot of questions about the movie of Goodbye For Now. And I've been more or less evading them, not because it's not a good question (it is!) but because a) said movie may or may not ever happen and I don't want to jinx it. And b) the movie is not my project. Some wonderful, talented, enthusiastic, lovely people are at work on it. Here's a little film they did previously. Maybe you heard of it.
It's not my place to tell their tales about Goodbye For Now. That said, the details I know are exciting, promising, and the whole idea of one day seeing one's book turned into a movie...well, it's totally thrilling.
The thing everyone wants to know is who I would cast in the lead roles, also a good question, but not one I can answer. Again, actual real people have been floated as possibilities, and now I can't get them out of my mind, nor do I want to hurt anyone's feelings or piss anyone off. Also, I can name like four actors off the top of my head. But really it's this: when I write, I'm not picturing people. Which is weird. My characters become so real to me that they speak for themselves. They demand things I never intend and am sometimes even reluctant to grant them. But can I see what they look like? I cannot. They exist someplace that's not visual for me. Generally, sight is considered our strongest, most relied on sense. When I write, I feel like I use it very little. Sometimes it's because it's telling not showing. Sometimes it's because it's one of the things I find very distracting and distancing when I read (Don't tell me what it looks like. I have a very clear picture in my head of what it looks like, thank you very much, and when you tell me I'm wrong, I just pisses me off.) But mostly it's this: I don't know what these people look like. Not really. If I ran into them on the street, I wouldn't recognize them. Pretty amazing for folks who spend hours upon hours whispering in my ear. It's kind of awesome actually.
Anyway, to solve the "who would you cast?" problem, I've chosen dead actors to be in my would-be movie. Since the book is about recreating and reanimating dead people based on their archival footage, casting the movie with dead actors seems actually just about perfect. Here is a blog piece where I wrote about this for the lovely Marshal Zeringue.
I'd take this cast (Philadelphia Story) straight up:
Jimmy Stewart as Sam (you can picture Jimmy Stewart as a computer genius, right?), Katharine Hepburn as Meredith, Cary Grant as Dash? Yes please.
I also like Paul Newman, circa right about here...
...for Sam's dad. (Or circa right about anywhere for anything at all.)
Anyone have other thoughts? Casts you'd like to see? Living actors you'd like to suggest for the (fingers crossed) film version of Goodbye For Now?
I was in tenth grade the first time I read The Great Gatsby. In many ways, it was my first love. I'd been a big reader since, well, I learned to read. I had favorite books and literary obsessions. I made my parents read me the same books over and over and over again as a child. I was not a new book lover. But Gatsby was different. I was in love with it. I carried it around with me all the time, read passages over and over again during algebra and physics and other classes which, frustratingly, persisted in not being English class. I thought about the characters all the time as if they were my friends. I journaled about them. I talked about them to everyone I knew. I was so obsessed that, at my ten year high school reunion, almost everyone said something to me about the book, convinced, apparently, that that kind of love could not possibly have waned in the intervening years. When I told them I was in graduate school studying not American Lit but Shakespeare, many of my high school compatriots refused to believe me. They couldn't imagine the fifteen-year-old I was ever getting over that book. That's how in love I was.
I have not seen the Robert Redford film. I couldn't imagine that it would live up to the thing in my mind, and I wanted to keep the thing in my mind, not supplant it with something else. I didn't see it when Seattle Rep did it live a few years ago. I have concerns about staging novels, but let's leave that for another post.
But I will see the Baz Luhrmann. In fact, I almost can't wait until Christmas to do so. 1) I will see anything Baz Luhrmann does. Anything. 2) Look at it! It's gorgeous and so different. I know a lot of people -- like, all of them -- prefer movies to stay very close to the book, but I don't really see the point of that. In the same way that novels are not plays, books are not movies and vice versa. They are different mediums, good at and for different things, with different strengths and weaknesses. We already have The Great Gatsby in book form. What Baz Luhrmann is giving us is something new and different, adding to what's already there, to what we've already learned from the book, giving us more. Who doesn't want more? The book cannot be reproduced on film, so why try? Its strength is being something else instead, a different Gatsby riff. Show me who thinks this book and these characters are too small to be yet more.
But 3) is best of all. Baz Luhrmann's films have a look about them. Baz Luhrmann's films sometimes star Leonardo DiCaprio. This one preserves that look and that star. And that means we cannot help but get a story wherein Romeo grows up to be Jay Gatsby. And he does! Of course he does! Impetuous, obsessed, lovelorn Romeo who moons about, whose whole world must revolve around love, who must, but must, give up everything for it OF COURSE grows up to be Jay Gatsby, still lovelorn and obsessed, still revolving his whole world around love but without seeming to do so, replacing the impetuousness with a more careful, more measured, more determined approach, more outwardly successful, still that heartsick, lovesick little boy inside.
Both are undone by love, both victim to circumstances they have a hand at perpetuating but did not kick off and cannot possibly control, both are more sinned against than sinning (esp. in the Baz version where Romeo does not in fact kill Paris), neither can choose anything but love. Gatsby has all this experience, learning, worldliness, power, ambition, perspective, connections, and money that Romeo does not, a much much wider world, and he falls into exactly the same trap. It is so awesome. I could not love it more. And what percentage of high schoolers will read both of these texts and see both of these films? Um, like 95%? How great is it to be fifteen in the Age of Baz? So great!
About The Author
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and makes good soup.