Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Janice Eidus's "The Last Jewish Virgin"

Novelist, short story writer, and essayist Janice Eidus has twice won the O. Henry Prize for her short stories, as well as a Pushcart Prize, a Redbook Prize, and numerous other awards.

Here she develops some ideas for the cast of an adaptation of her latest novel, The Last Jewish Virgin:
In my ideal film version, Lilith will be played by Zooey Deschanel, who will look lovely and seductive dressed in Lilith’s various ensembles: vampire seductress; Middle East harem girl; casual jeans/T-shirt/sneakers girl; madcap, bubbly ingenue in polka dots and heels, and whose urgent, blue-eyed intensity and doe-eyed prettiness I find extremely compelling.

As for Baron Rock, the black haired, blue-eyed, art professor/is-he-or-isn’t-he-a vampire/is-he-or-isn’t-he Jewish, 40-something male lead, I’ll have him played by the (mostly) indie actor Eric Stoltz, whose early career includes Some Kind Of Wonderful -- in my opinion, the best romantic teen movie ever made.

Over the years, Stoltz has inhabited a wide range of complex roles in such films as Pulp Fiction and The House of Mirth. Blue-eyed Eric would have to dye his gorgeous red hair black to play Baron Rock, but he recently did just that for the Syfy Channel’s series Caprica, the “prequel” to Battlestar Galactica, in which he played a wealthy, ruthless technologist who somehow also manages to be incredibly vulnerable, loving, and sexy as hell.

For Lilith’s mother, Beth Katz-Zeremba, I’d cast Sarah Jessica Parker, because I adore her face – those beautiful, Semitic-style angles and lines. Beth, a complicated, multi-faceted woman, is deeply concerned about how to make Judaism a truly feminist and multi-cultural religion. In other words, her concerns are very different from Carrie’s in Sex and The City. Playing Beth would help SJP to break free of the confines of those tight, surely-bunion-causing, Manolo Blahnik shoes – shoes that Beth, a fierce feminist, would never be caught dead in (at least not until one climactic scene toward the end of the novel).

Colin Abel, Lilith’s other love interest, the young, socially idealistic artist, would be played to perfection by Jesse Eisenberg. He strikes me as very smart and genuinely well-meaning, and he was absolutely amazing in Noah Baumbach’s bittersweet film, The Squid and The Whale, about a brilliant, dysfunctional, artistic family from Brooklyn, where I currently live (just over the bridge from downtown Manhattan, where much of The Last Jewish Virgin takes place).

So… I’m ready for some popcorn, as well as to kick back and relax in the theater and watch Deschanel, Stoltz, Parker, and Eisenberg bring The Last Jewish Virgin to life. Want to join me?
Read an excerpt of The Last Jewish Virgin, and learn more about the book and author at Janice Eidus's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Jewish Virgin.

Writers Read: Janice Eidus.

--Marshal Zeringue