Friday, March 13, 2009

Jennifer Boylan's memoirs

Jennifer Finney Boylan is a widely praised author and professor. Her memoir, She's Not There, was one of the first bestselling works by a transgendered American and is currently in its eighth printing. Her 2008 memoir, I'm Looking Through You, is about growing up in a haunted house.

Here she shares her thoughts on the cast for a film adaptation of the memoirs:
Any memoirist who says she hasn't thought about who'll play her in the movie is lying. But then, maybe all memoirists are liars anyhow. Writers who are overly dedicated to truth-telling are usually writing fiction.

I have to say that the thought of a film of my two memoirs, She's Not There and I'm Looking Through You, has long delighted me, considering the fact that both of these books have a male-to-female transsexual at their center. It seems to me that the chief delight in making a film of either of them would be the initial, before-the-main-titles credit: Starring Brad Pitt AND Gwyneth Paltrow AS--

The My Book, The Movie game is sort of a relative of the "What Celebrity Do You Look Like?" game, at least if you're a memoirist. Back when my band used to play in bars, occasionally I'd get, "Did anyone ever tell you you look like Laura Dern?" I think this is a come-on version of "You have a big nose," and ought not to be given a whole lot more credence than the other line I once got in a bar, "Hey was your daddy a Thief?" (No, why?) "Cause someone must have stolen the stars and put them in your eyes!" Oh baby!

(It is a sad fact of life that, back when I was a guy, I might imagine such a line to be a sweet, kind, lovely, flattering thing to say to a woman. Now, on the other side of the divide, I know that the only possible response to such an inquiry is, "Say, why don't you go fuck yourself?"

There is a line in She's Not There, "I was born on June 22, 1958-- the second day of summer. It was also the birthday of Meryl Streep and Kris Kristofferson, both of whom I later resembled, although not at the same time."

Meryl Streep would make a fine Jennifer Boylan, but then, Meryl Streep would make a fine anything, wouldn't she? Young James Boylan was not really very Kris Kristoffersonesque; he was more John Lennon. Or, to be quite honest, Peter Tork.

(This seems a good place to mention that, as a child, when I heard about pirates hauling someone off to "Davy Jones' locker" I presumed they were talking about the short, English member of The Monkees. These days, I think of my young transgender boy self as having been carried off to "Peter Tork's locker." And what would you find in Peter Tork's locker? Four inch heels? A copy of The Feminine Mystique? I don't know, man, you tell me.)

Back to She's Not There, the movie. My friend Richard Russo could be played by my former roommate, Charlie Kaufman. As Charlie Kaufman: Richard Russo.

(Let us interrupt the narrative once more to note that recently Russo and I were at a party at Don McLean's house. When things broke up, I went inside (this was a garden party) to check out the house, which was gorgeous: one of the most jaw-droppingly tasteful and beautiful places I'd ever seen. There was a bust of Don McLean inside a parlor, which made me smile, and later, when Rick and I were out to dinner, I noted that there wasn't a bust of Russo in HIS house. I said, "Russo, some day soon, you're going to say to yourself, "I gotta get a bust!" Without pause, our man raised his glass and said, "Well, Boylan. You did.")

As my loving and long-suffering spouse: Peggy Lipton. As my resolute, charming mother: Blythe Danner. As my judgmental, cruel, unforgiving sister: Oh, I don't know. How about Willem Dafoe?
Visit Jennifer Boylan's website.

The Page 69 Test: I'm Looking Through You.

--Marshal Zeringue