Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dale M. Kushner's "The Conditions of Love"

Dale M. Kushner grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, but the forested landscape of her adopted state, Wisconsin, is an inspiration. The natural world, Carl Jung, and Buddhism have been major influences on her work. She is on the faculty of The Assisi Institute, a Jungian think-tank in Vermont and will become the Poetry Editor for The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling in the fall of 2013. Her most recent collection of poetry, More Alive Than Lions Roaring, is currently looking for a home.

Here Kushner dreamcasts an adaptation of The Conditions of Love, her debut novel:
Once upon a time, movies shaped my education. Fiction held first place as a guide to life’s vicissitudes, but the classic movies of the thirties, forties, and fifties I watched repeatedly on our old Admiral TV. The actors of those films had a presence that refused to fade after the movie ended. Their characters and the situations they managed were archived in my mind as cautionary tales to be revisited when the occasion arose. Mern, one of my central characters in The Conditions of Love, is also infatuated with movie stars. Her greatest ambition is to go to Hollywood (the Hollywood of the fifties) and be discovered at Schwab’s drugstore like Lana Turner. One of my favorite lines in the novel is when she tells a friend, “Why be Betty Crocker when you can be Betty Bacall?”

With nostalgia in mind, here are my choices for actors to play in a film version of my novel.

For Eunice, my narrator, as a young girl, Natalie Wood as a child star. Eunice in her older years, Lauren Bacall.

As Mern, Eunice’s quirky and sometime malicious mother, Shelley Winters age 25.

As Eunice’s charming and dangerous father, Frankie, a young Frank Sinatra.

As Rose, the mysterious woman who rescues Eunice, Colleen Dewhurst or Ida Lupino.

As Sam, Mern’s devoted boyfriend, Karl Malden.

As Fox, Eunice’s older lover, Richard Burton in his youth.

Happily, there have been some film folks sniffing at the book and if anyone’s looking, here are some contemporary actors I think would be smashing in the film:

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Mern.

Daniel Day Lewis as Fox. (If only Jeremy Irons was a tad younger!)

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Sam.

Juliette Binoche as Rose.

John Hawkes as Frankie.

Young Eunice, Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men fame; the older Eunice, Naomi Watts.

It’s been great to have the opportunity to imagine characters I love embodied on film. Mern is over-the-moon happy about the attention.
Learn more about the book and author at Dale Kushner's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Dale M. Kushner.

The Page 69 Test: The Conditions of Love.

--Marshal Zeringue