Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jessica Soffer's "Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots"

Jessica Soffer earned her MFA at Hunter College. Her work has appeared in Granta, the New York Times, and Vogue, among other publications. She teaches fiction at Connecticut College and lives in New York City.

Here Soffer dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, her debut, Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots.
In Apricots, I obsessed over characters’ particular, stray details, the weird ones, but I left out more overarching physical attributes. At least, I meant to. I believe in letting the reader fill in the blanks. Something fantastic happens when you’re reading and all of a sudden you realize that you’ve imagined Macbeth as the guy you see every morning at the coffee shop. That probably means that my version of Lorca (one of Apricots’ narrators) is not your Lorca. And my Victoria (another narrator) is not your Victoria. There might be mountains between us, which makes for tricky casting.

That said, I imagine Lorca as a breakthrough star. Remember Thirteen? How Evan Rachel Wood came out of nowhere and knocked our socks off? That idea—a face, a voice, a gesture that no one has seen before and has no expectations about—is what I’d hope for in a Lorca performance. I’d want to have no sense of how it could be done until it was done, and then boom. Spot on.

For Victoria, Lena Olin and Shohreh Aghdashloo come to mind, but they’d need to be made to look significantly older, and less glam. Their strength is what is attractive to me, and their takes on English, on ego, on vanity, on regret. I feel they could do all those things right. Victoria-ized. And I imagine they know what they’re doing in the kitchen, which would help.

There’s something Ron Rifkin-y about Joseph, but without the chic glasses. He’s endearing first and foremost. That’s the thing.

I’d love for Sofia Coppola to direct—of course of course of course—because she’s a master of sweetness undercut by torment. Melancholy gone awry. Endearment with a side of angst. Think: The Virgin Suicides. I love how she hits the off notes and that she hits them and they make the weirdest sound. No one else does that quite like her.

Her work (even Lost in Translation) feels more Los Angeles than Apricots, which is set in New York City and about it too, in a way. I think that has something to do with the measured charm of her characters. How they’re wringing their hands beneath the table as they’re carrying on with perfectly nice conversation. But you don’t see beneath the table until late in the game. In Apricots, there’s more wringing in plain sight, and early on. In New York City, everyone’s crying on the street. In Los Angeles, people cry in their cars. That’s the difference.

But I’d pack up the pages and move Apricots to Los Angeles in a second for Sofia. I’d move to Los Angeles in a second for Sofia. I’d move to the end of the earth, if she asked.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessica Soffer's website.

Writers Read: Jessica Soffer.

--Marshal Zeringue