The Much Talked About 'Big News'
Okay. So I'm finally in the clear in a legal sense to divulge the promised information: I've optioned the film rights to Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine by Stanley Crawford, and will be writing the screenplay.
A little back story: On recommendation of Blake Butler and others, I bought the book. As soon as it arrived in the mail I sat with it. I read it in two (unfortunately two -- it would have been one if not for having to drive somewhere) sittings, and from really what was the fifth page in it began to percolate and pool within me. I was viscerally struck. Less than halfway inside I began to think 'This would make a beautiful film.' A few moments after I finished reading I felt I had to bring the story to a wide audience and a new medium. Patrick Welborn, my friend and agent, read the book and agreed. And now I, with the help of many many others, will do just that.
I have to thank a few people for bringing me this far: Blake! Thank you. I cannot thank you enough, really. I think you're a brilliant and hardworking artist, a wonderful friend, and a diligent and kind patron of the arts and artists. Patrick! Nobody works harder for me and mine. We've got a long road ahead of us, and I couldn't find a better partner. Stanley! Thank you for encouraging my folly. And everyone else! Hey! Thank you for the support. I fully expect you to nag me and question how I'm doing with the process. Hold me responsible for the cinematic parenthood of this wonderful story. I'd like the pressure.
Alright. That's all for now.
More info about Log here.
Novellas, A Bunch of Them
John Madera recently emailed me asking for a list of my ten favorite novellas and a little commentary on each. I obliged. Little did I know, what John was compiling was something massive. Here's a bit from his introductory essay:
In his introduction to Different Seasons, Stephen King also called the novella “an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic.” In an effort to expand the dialogue, clarify, and even muddy the waters further regarding this renegade, this outlaw called the “novella,” I contacted over sixty writers and editors and asked them to list and comment on their favorite novellas. Below you’ll find J.R. Angelella’s heartbreakers, soul dissectors, and sentence pugilists, Nick Antosca’s border-crossing list, Ken Baumann’s fractured dioramas, Matt Bell’s beautiful strange selections, Crispin Best’s lots of things happening in little places lot, Daniel Borzutzky’s “only works translated into English” list, K. Kvashay-Boyle’s heartstruck aweswellings, Blake Butler’s expectedly unexpected, Tobias Carroll’s Moody mood piece, Jimmy Chen’s trinity, Jackie Corley’s knife’s edge list, Matt DeBenedictis’s five is alive list, Nicolle Elizabeth’s fire ants, Scott Esposito’s primarily Latin-American tour, Brian Evenson’s obsessive confessionals, Brandon Scott Gorrell’s favorite novella, Amelia Gray’s time machine, Jim Hanas’s trip West, John Haskell’s “random and scattershot” list, Jamie Iredell’s reverse-chronological personal survey, Jac Jemc’s soul-crushers and mindbenders, Shane Jones’s “lucky eight,” Sean Kilpatrick’s unhinged list, Lee Klein’s humans being human more or less list, Catherine Lacey’s meditation involving “the bottled embodiment of an economy at its most opulent,” Reb Livingston’s list to reread, Sean Lovelace’s screw-ups, Lorette C. Luzajic’s bridge and tumble crowd, Josh Maday’s unbearable heaviness of being list, Carole Maso’s fractured sprawl, Ben Myers’s mad bastards and quiet recluses, Ben Pester’s curatives, Cooper Renner’s perfections, Adam Robinson’s brainy bramble, Bradley Sands’s bizarro fiction-heavy list, Tim Russell’s grisly and sexy list, Christine Schutt’s one, Matthew Simmons’s pretty accretions and misdirections, Joe Stracci’s pillars, Justin Taylor’s eros erosions, William Walsh’s top twenty!, Kevin Wilson’s list that, if you took out the references, could be read as a recombinant short story, John Dermot Woods’s books that live inside him, and Leni Zumas’s weird and worried wonders. Paul Kincaid and Clayton Moore redress two genre gaps by offering, respectively, science fiction and mystery lists. And you’ll also find lists from Steve Almond, Timothy Gager, Molly Gaudry, Renee Gladman (her introductory paragraph is an incisive mini-primer of the contemporary novella), Christopher Higgs, Lily Hoang, Michael Joyce, Michael Kimball, Gary Lutz, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Michael Martone, Kimberly King Parsons, Kathryn Regina, Peter Selgin, and David Shields. You can also find mine HERE.
I left out a bunch of really incredible books in my list, and have since added to the comments section of my own post.
Make sure to go and explore. Contained within is a compendium of great literature and great dialogue about the nature of the 'novella.'
On Light Boxes
I feel it's hard today to find a work of art that is earnest, that is compassionate. (Michael Kimball's Dear Everybody comes to mind). I was startled by Shane Jones's novel because it is so painfully both; it bleeds itself, and bleeds for others.
Light Boxes is a story about a community, about a man's quest to rid his community of February, a bitter and long spell of cold that haunts the the town and its people. I don't want to speak explicitly of the 'narrative' here, only because I think there is magic in discovery; it's a sensual work. Many of the images affected me viscerally, and will stay with me for a long time. Dead bees pour from the sky, a broken father sits in the middle of a snow-covered street, a body surfaces in a river covered in text... I could list all the beautiful, and often tragic, images contained within for awhile.
To go deeper: The characters, the people, in Light Boxes breathe true. I really felt them living, and felt them dying. They seem warm, hot & cold all at once, much like the seasons that surround them. The story also functions on a level outside its own prison, outside the printed page, but, again: I'd like to keep quiet. I'd like you to discover the layers yourself.
Shane has crafted a fine myth, one I hope lasts for a very long time.
Buy and read Light Boxes.