Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gayle Brandeis's "Self Storage"

Last March, Gayle Brandeis applied the Page 69 Test to her novel, Self Storage.

Here she develops some casting ideas should the book be adapted for the big screen:

The day after I received the email asking me to participate in this blog, I received an email from a producer asking if my novel Self Storage had been optioned yet. The timing still makes me smile—it's almost as if the invitation to cast my book ushered in the possibility of a real movie. I know the film world is just as unpredictable and uncertain as the publishing world, if not more so, so who knows if an adaptation will actually come to light, but it's great fun to dream about the potential cast.

The main character of Self Storage is Flan Parker, a young mother who goes to self storage auctions and sells the winnings at yard sales in her family student housing community at the University of California in Riverside. Flan is a searcher, guided by Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," and a bit of a daydreamer. Her life is forever altered when her path collides with Sodaba's, her Afghan neighbor who wears a full burqa. I promised my friend Dewi Faulkner (doesn't she have the greatest name?) the role of Flan if the book were ever to make it to the screen, but in the event that Dewi is unavailable, I can easily picture a couple of other actors as Flan: Maggie Gyllenhaal would bring a wonderful wistfulness to the role, and Mary Lynn Rajskub would capture both Flan's humor and her frustration. As young mothers themselves (in Mary Lynn Rajskub's case, a young mother-to-be), I think they would connect with Flan's heart.

I'd love to see Peter Sarsgaard (Maggie Gyllenhaal's real life partner) as Shae, Flan's stoner husband who should be writing his dissertation but spends the day watching soap operas. Other possibilities would be Ryan Gosling, Brendan Sexton III, maybe Paul Rudd. Someone who can be scruffy and exasperating but charming all at once.

Patricia Clarkson would be perfect as Julia, the artist who Flan tracks down after she finds the word YES inside a self storage box. If Ms. Clarkson's not available, Frances Conroy would be great, too (yes, I do miss Six Feet Under.)

Even though Sodaba is under a burqa the whole time, and we barely hear her voice, I'd love for an Afghan actor such as Parwin Moshtael to play her. I'd also love for an Afghan actor such as Fahim Fazli to play her husband, Raminullah.

I lived in family student housing at UCR when my kids were little, so it would be a treat to see the place immortalized on film, especially since it's slated to be razed in a few years. Plus, if the movie were filmed on location, it would give my daughter, a budding filmmaker, the chance to watch a production in action. If we could shrink her back to her two year old self, she'd be a perfect Nori, but that's probably not possible (even though we're dreaming wildly here)—I'm sure there is an adorable curly headed girl out there ready to step into the role, and a six year old boy with long blond hair ready to play Noodle. I hope I'll get to meet them some day.

Learn more about Gayle Brandeis and Self Storage at her website, at her blog, or at one of her MySpace pages or the other.

The Page 69 Test: Self Storage.

--Marshal Zeringue