Monday, May 26, 2014

Anna Godbersen's "The Blonde"

Anna Godbersen, author of The Blonde, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things. She grew up in Berkeley, California, graduated from Barnard College, and lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.

Here Godbersen dreamcasts an adaptation of The Blonde:
One of the challenges of writing The Blonde was that I knew I was going to have to write love scenes between two of the most charismatic people of all recorded history. But they are also, to us, such ciphers, such pure images, and one of the pleasures of the book (I hope! Certainly one of the pleasures of writing it) is that it goes deep into the desperate inner lives of people who we are accustomed to viewing as shiny objects. Movies aren't as deft as novels at getting into consciousness, and we already know how Marilyn and JFK look, how they move, how they sound, how they flirt. So that would be a real handicap in making a movie out of my book -- in the hands of a literal-minded director it would be a disaster! But I actually thought about Inglourious Basterds a lot when I was writing this, about the loony latitude that Tarantino allows himself with history and storytelling, and I think if someone adapted The Blonde with that kind of wild, gonzo spirit, it would be crazy cinematic and awesome! It's already so much about the movies, about imagination, about what sleight of hand movieland storytelling (all storytelling, really) relies upon.

And who to play the leads? It's such a fun question, but again, tough to cast, even in the imagination, because those are such famous faces, and anything short of the real thing risks coming across as camp. Michelle Williams was of course incredible in My Week with Marilyn -- she obviously went to the crossroads in order to portray the Monrovian essence. But that performance emphasized Marilyn's sensitivity, her artistry, her pain; and the Marilyn I was imagining is canny, hungry, furious. In pain, for sure, but also illuminated by a life force that has allowed her to survive abandonment and negation and abuse that would have crushed many souls. I was more interested in the power that has us all talking about her half a century after her death. I picture an actress who has played fierce creatures already -- like Charlize Theron, who is believable as a killer, or Jessica Chastain, who can flash from vulnerable to fierce in an instant. I could picture Michael Fassbender as JFK -- he doesn't really look like him, but he could do the rapacious entitlement, that sun-kissed ease. Plus, he's such a babe. And Garrett Hedlund is exactly how I pictured Walls, the FBI agent who is listening in on Marilyn's phone, because he manages to be boyish and predatory at the same time. Why not ask for the stars? as Marilyn might have said.

© 2014 Anna Godbersen, author of The Blonde
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The Page 69 Test: The Blonde.

--Marshal Zeringue