Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gayle Brandeis' "My Life with the Lincolns"

Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), Dictionary Poems (Pudding House Publications), the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change, Self Storage (Ballantine), and Delta Girls (Ballantine).

Here she sketches out some casting ideas for an adaptation of My Life with the Lincolns (Holt), her first novel for young readers:
My Life with the Lincolns tells the story of 12-year-old Mina Edelman who thinks her family is the Lincoln family reincarnated and it’s her job to save them from their fate. The novel is set in 1966 Chicago, when Martin Luther King, Jr. brings the civil rights movement north to focus on housing discrimination. Mina and her dad get involved in the movement, with consequences for the entire family.

Since Mina is at the center of the story, she needs to be played by a young actor who can exude a blend of innocence and intelligence, curiosity and anxiety. I think Christina Robinson, who plays the step daughter on Dexter, would be a great choice. I can easily see Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper on Mad Men, as Mina’s younger sister Tabby (maybe because Tabby, like Sally Draper, has a lisp). I can also imagine Alison Brie, who plays Trudy on Mad Men and Annie on Community, as Mina’s uptight (at least at first) 18-year-old sister, Roberta.

Ever since I read an interview where she confessed to having a crush on Abraham Lincoln, I’ve been picturing Julia Roberts as Mina’s mom, Margaret, who is more interested in modern furniture than civil rights. And even though they’d make a somewhat strange married pair, I can totally see Zach Galifianakis as Mina’s dad, Al; he has the beard, of course, plus Al is much rounder and shorter than Abe, so he’s the right body type, too. I also think he’d be able to capture Al’s almost manic and sometimes misguided enthusiasm for the Chicago Freedom Movement. Viola Davis would be wonderful as Carla, the activist he becomes intrigued with. And I think Will Smith would make a fine Martin Luther King, Jr. (although it would also be cool for the movie to include archival footage of the real Dr. King.)

I loved seeing My Life with the Lincoln’s in my mind’s eye as I wrote it; it would be so much fun to see it on the screen now (especially with this cast!).
Learn more about the book and author at Gayle Brandeis' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue