Every month or so another news story brings to mind a basic question I pose in my novel: Should we be judged by the worst thing we may have done in our lives? Joe Paterno at Penn State not pursuing sex abuse allegations against a former coach. Gen. Petraeus, director of the CIA, carrying on an affair with his biographer. Their distinguished careers seem to count for little once they are snared in the 24-hour news cycle that thrives on scandal.
There’s something about Reunion at Red Paint Bay hat seems to be attracting the French (think Dominique Strauss-Kahn). A year before publication in the U.S. the French film company ARP Selection (http://www.arpselection.com/accueil.asp) optioned my book for a major motion picture, and I hear that the director and lead actor are set. French translation rights have been bought by Michel Lafon Publishing (http://www.michel-lafon.fr/). I’d love to fly to Paris for the premiere!
I’ve been through the film-option routine before with my literary mystery The Spinning Man (Penguin Putnam, 2003). After it received a great review in The New York Times, which called the novel “elegant and unnerving,” A-list Hollywood actors (Clooney, DiCaprio, Willis) had their representatives inquire about film rights. Once they read the novel they realized that it was more literary than mystery or thriller (some philosophy, no car chases). The film production company Anonymous Content did option the rights for three years but couldn’t line up financing and actors. Then Ruby Films in London gave it a go as a television series. No luck. There are still possibilities on the horizon.
“The 5:22” is the first of my stories to be adapted for the screen. Chicago filmmaker Bernadette Demisay made a beautiful short film of about 22 minutes that played the festival circuit in 2006 and 2007. I talk about how it is for a writer to see his words come alive on the screen in an interview with Spoiler Alert Radio (http://www.podcast.com/TV-and-Film/I-205199.htm) in Providence, Rhode Island. One surprise: the filmmaker found symbolism where I hadn’t consciously intended it—such as when my main character presses his ear to the tracks to hear if a train is coming. (You can read “The 5:22” to see what I mean).
What is “noir” in fiction? Makes me think of Garrison Keillor’s private eye Guy Noir. But apparently the answer is very broad, given the scope of stories in “Boston Noir 2: The Classics” (Akashic Books). Authors include David Foster Wallace, Joyce Carol Oates, Andre Dubus and others (the group that includes me). My story “The 5:22,” which I wrote in 1999 and was chosen for Best American Short Stories that year, was picked for its Twilight Zone feel. In reviewing the anthology the Boston Globe described “The 5:22” as “like a ghost story…with a delightful twist.” That’s a take on it I hadn’t heard before. The launch party was Nov. 10, 2012 at Newtonville Books in Newton, Mass. with Dennis Lehane and others reading.