Friday, December 26, 2008

Lydia Millet's "How the Dead Dream"

Lydia Millet is the author of Omnivores, George Bush, Dark Prince of Love, My Happy Life, a winner of the 2003 PEN-USA Award for Fiction, Everyone’s Pretty, and Oh Pure and Radiant Heart.

And How the Dead Dream, about which she has some ideas for cast and director should the book be adapted for the movies:
The book tells about a businessman, a young real estate developer named T, who runs over a coyote in his car, begins to lose people he loves, and then spins out and starts breaking into zoos to be near animals that are on the brink of extinction. From the pantheon of available faces and styles, I see T as Christian Bale. I like the blank and cold yet soulful handsomeness of Bale's face -- perfect for this character and for the mood of the piece.

There's a mother character, T's mother, fraying and graying at the edges and a little WASPY despite being Catholic, who's suddenly abandoned by her gay husband and begins to disintegrate. Blythe Danner, hands down.

Then there's Casey, a girl in her twenties in a wheelchair, stubborn, foul-mouthed and gutsy. She deserves great casting but she's harder. Maybe someone like Kirsten Dunst. Or that beautiful Natalie Portman, if she can still act. Did the Star Wars movies kill her acting forever? She was great in that Ted Demme movie from the 90s.

The funnest to cast might be the pig of the book, a sexist, dog-hurting cartoon of a guy named Fulton. He's often played by Chris Penn. But you could give him more charm than that if you wanted to, and ask, say, Alec Baldwin to do it. Besides being a perfectly timed comic actor Baldwin can do a great villain.

Directors are harder. Spike Jonze?
Read an excerpt from How the Dead Dream. Learn more about the author and her writing at the How the Dead Dream publisher's website and Lydia Millet's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: How the Dead Dream.

--Marshal Zeringue