It’s been a long week but the books keep on coming. In this installment of the Awards Circuit book nook, I have a review of a book which needs to be adapted ASAP, as well as a few recommendations worth checking out.
I Wish It Was Coming to a Theater Near You
This section of the column continues to drift further away from its intended purpose, but you try working your way through several books in a week! Christopher Moore is an author whose name is bandied alongside Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, authors who combine the historical with the fictional. Moore’s books have never been adapted and I have to wonder if it’s because Moore is a smart man who understands Hollywood will never do right by him, but I can dream, right? “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” is one of the funniest books I’ve read in awhile (and I have no good reason to explain why I haven’t read it earlier). The tale of the lost gospel of Jesus’ best friend humanizes Christ as a young man who had desires, but was forced to live vicariously through his best friend; conversely, Biff has to help Jesus out of all his scraps and realize people will never love him as much as they do his friend (culminating in a love triangle between the two boys and Mary Magdalene). The book attempts to explain the gap in the Bible from Christ’s childhood to his crucifixion in a way that’s hilariously irreverent and respectful to those who believe in him. It’s easy to figure out why this hasn’t been adapted; “The Passion of the Christ” it’s not (although it isn’t offensive with regards to religion and preaches a world of tolerance for all religions), and its doubtful middle America would grasp the humor. I won’t throw out too much armchair casting because who can come up with a decent Christ to please the masses, but dare I say Oscar Isaac? I hope Moore’s work is adapted at some point, but “Lamb” should be first!
New on Bookshelves
I’ve devoured every book in Collins’ Nathan Heller series, and each one gets better and better. Another author known for mixing the historical with the fictional, “Target Lancer” is the first of a series of tales looking at the assassination of JFK (conveniently released a few months before the 50th anniversary). All of Collins’ work is riveting with a steady mix of action and drama; this one is downright cinematic already with a plot which never lets up. I’ve heard the book’s sequel is already out, so hopefully it continues on the journey which is expertly set up here.
Worthy of an Adaptation: Hell, yes! I’m surprised these books haven’t been adapted previously, especially in light of Ben Affleck directing Dennis Lehane’s own throwback to the past, “Live by Night.” Come to think of it, Affleck could detail the gritty underworld of some of Collins’ slick locales such as Boston (we already know Affleck loves anything associated with Bean Town) and Los Angeles. I wouldn’t say Affleck could be a good Heller, but he’d be fairly strong. I’d throw Josh Brolin into the mix as a potential Heller, but sadly I think Gangster Squad killed that dream.
“The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville” by Clare Mulley
Here’s a book Hollywood needs to read and adapt ASAP. Clare Mully pens an exhaustively comprehensive biography about Christine Granville, a well-known British secret agent during WWII. Granville’s life is nothing short of spectacular. Not only was she a Jewish Polish citizen working as a British secret agent, she also excelled as a parachute jumper, and skied her way into Polish through treacherous mountain passes. The woman did it all, and yet her gender prevented her from continuing on within the British secret service, as well as garnering the same medals given by male war heroes. The book recounts her life, and tragic murder (ironically enough, connecting back to gender themes) with vigor and reverence. It is difficult to follow the general story at times, considering several characters have the same names – Andrzej is apparently a very popular name in Poland during WWII – as well as several characters whose name and connections can become jumbled. However, this is a book with a strong female hero who would inspire women; a female James Bond!
Worthy of an Adaptation: Most definitely! Mulley herself has already come up with a dream cast, and while she imagines Rachel Weisz or Eva Green in the role, I kept seeing Rooney Mara; both actresses are slight with big smiles (especially in the photos Mulley includes). As for Granville’s fellow partner/lover Andrzej Kowarski, it’d be tough for Hollywood not to turn him into a dashing leading man and while George Clooney wouldn’t work, I kept seeing him as part of the cast; maybe because the book touches on themes Clooney’s worked with before?
“The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
Talk about a Hollywood tragedy. Everyone who’s anyone has been subjected to Tommy Wiseau’s atrocious epic, “The Room,” but do you know what happened behind the scenes? Sestero, who played the Lothario character of Mark in the film, composes a hilarious ode to a disaster, but oddly enough leaves you understanding Wiseau himself. Interspersed, but never stepping on any toes, alongside the making of the film and Sestero’s struggles with gaining a toehold in Hollywood, is the story of a man who placed up a thick wall from which no one could broach. The relationship which is composed between Sestero and Wiseau is a brotherly one where each provided something the other lacked: encouragement and friendship, respectively. Yes, it’s funny to hear the seriousness Wiseau had for his acting, including taking 3 hours to record seven seconds of footage, but you end mystified at how devout Wiseaus’ hype for himself is. Part Hollywood bomb, part biography, and part character study, The Disaster Artist is one of the best books about the making of a Hollywood production you’ll read. If anything, you’ll want to watch “The Room” just to take note of all the little things Sestero mentions.
Worthy of an Adaptation: I’d say we already have one in the finished product, but wouldn’t it be surreal and amazing to have Wiseau adapt this material? He’d probably revise everything to show himself as the victim and make Sestero a mustache-twirling villain who laughs at the pain of babies or something like that.