Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Matthew Parker's "Larceny in My Blood"

Matthew Parker recently earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has been drug- and crime-free since 2002. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he now lives in New York City.

Here he shares a suggestion for the lead in a big screen adaptation of his new book, Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education:
There are a several reasons why I’d choose Sean Penn to play me in a film of my book.

First off is we are close in age, both of us being born in 1960. Penn is also, like myself, a natural-born iconoclast, and often portrays such characters in film; from the perpetually stoned Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High to his Oscar-winning portrayal of in-your-face gay activist Harvey Milk in the critically acclaimed 2008 film Milk.

But his performance in the 1985 film The Falcon and the Snowman is the most analogous with me and my book. In the film Penn plays drug addict and larceny opportunist Andrew Daulton Lee who, with the help of childhood friend Christopher Boyce, went from part time dealer and smuggler (hence his moniker “the Snowman”) to espionage in an effort to support his habit. Lee was given life in prison for his crime. After serving 22 years, he made parole and is now out and working as Sean Penn’s personal assistant, in tune with the rehabilitative power of art and creativity which is a major theme in my book.

But perhaps the most striking parallel is that I was in prison with Lee in 1988 and 1989. It was in the medium security Federal Correctional Institution located just north of Phoenix, Arizona. He lived in Navajo Unit while I was housed in Pima, the building next door (I have yet to fathom the reasons why many of the buildings, along with a good deal of the prisons themselves, are named after Native American tribes, and not just in Arizona). I didn’t know him personally, but I used to see him around the recreation yard. Lee was a quiet prisoner who, like me, stayed out of the mix. Most often he could be found on the tennis courts where, by all accounts, he was an exceptional player.

The deciding factor, however, is that Penn and I are both altruistic, left-leaning liberals. He is a bit too far left for my tastes on occasion—embracing the civil rights-crushing regimes of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, for instance—but his opinions, political or otherwise, are his own, and only underscore the themes of freedom and its most extreme antithesis, prison, which are both hallmarks of my book.
Learn more about Larceny in My Blood at the publisher's website, and visit the Larceny in My Blood Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Larceny in My Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue