As you now probably know, New Yorker James Franco plans on directing the film adaptations of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying AND Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Known to be a modern-day Renaissance man (“movie star, conceptual artist, fiction writer, grad student, cipher”), Franco seems undeterred by the pressure… and undeterred by the fact that As I Lay Dying consists of multiple narrators, fluctuating chapter lengths (“My mother is a fish” being the shortest chapter), and Faulkner’s classic “stream of consciousness writing.” (With its blood-soaked violence, Blood Meridian won’t be a piece of cake either.)
We’ve seen (and talked to!) Franco, as he’s prone to wandering around this city (squatting in Starbucks, hanging around school libraries, taking late-night strolls, etc.). But as dashing as he is, from what we’ve perceived and heard about his intelligence, writing, and directing skills (from friends who have had classes with him), his decision to take on two titanic novels like this is a bit frightening. These projects will either make him or
break completely obliterate him, and for the sake of Faulkner and McCarthy, we’re praying it’ll be the former. Let’s hope he’s not doing all this just to tack a few more things onto his resume.
What do you guys think about all this?
Five books to look forward to in 2011, all by New York writers. (We’ll keep you updated on this list as we discover more that might interest you.)
The Kid by Sapphire
Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor
Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Abandon by Meg Cabot
And here are five great books from 2010 (again, all by New York writers).
Great House by Nicole Krauss
The Ask by Sam Lipsyte
There’s a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From by Bryan Charles
Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart
Point Omega by Don DeLillo
I should say what I loved and lost, what I pine for with my starved senses, my bereft body torn from its Dean Street roost by this decision by my traitorous brain: tilted slate underfoot, juices of this or that sandwich dripping down my chin, sentimentalized abuse by this or that shopkeeper or civil servant (oh, I love a New York parking ticket! Awarded at precisely 8:31! And even better with some pigeon shit on it! I think I’ll wear it as a badge on my forehead today!), the geometric intimacies and odor-cornucopia of a brutally overfilled subway car. But it doesn’t really operate that way, the NYC self-and-place machine in my head. I love and hate, disgorge and devour, exalt and revile my old-and-always home just as fiercely and the same way each time I’ve fled, only to find it stalking me around any mental corner. Truthfully, I’m the worst traitor precisely while standing on those akimbo sidewalks. (My favorite sandwich in Boerum Hill lately was full of Montreal smoked meat. I do miss those platters. Please send.) I pledge allegiance best from afar (I’m writing about Queens these days). Oops, self-regard back in picture. There’s the rub. Possession is nine tenths of the law? Well, I’m possessed. Too mixed up with the place to love it without loving myself (ditto hate). Admit it: You too. —Jonathan Lethem
Lethem, author of Chronic City and Motherless Brooklyn, recently moved from Brooklyn to take over David Foster Wallace’s position at Pomona College in California.
(This is from a New York issue that came out a few weeks ago, but we wanted to share it with those of you who haven’t had the chance to check it out.)