Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jeff Somers's "We Are Not Good People"

Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and regrets nothing. His books include the Avery Cates series of novels published by Orbit Books. He sold his first novel at age 16 to a tiny publisher in California which quickly went out of business and has spent the last two decades assuring potential publishers that this was a coincidence. Somers publishes a zine called The Inner Swine and has also published a few dozen short stories; his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006, edited by Scott Turow and his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris.

Here Somers dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new book, We Are Not Good People:
Let’s talk about Scoot McNairy.

First of all, his name. Jesus Christ, Scoot. I want anyone not only named Scoot but named Scoot and a survivor of that adolescence on my team. I pledge my troth to Scoot, to all the Scoots of this world.

Second of all, everything Scoot’s ever been in. Seen him in Halt and Catch Fire? Not a good show. Scoot, however, is fantastic in his role as an alcoholic, angry programmer. Mess him up a little, and he would be a fantastic Lem Vonnegan – who is also a sort of alcoholic, angry programmer, although his programs involve a magical grammar fueled by blood. Lem is “good with the Words,” meaning he can quickly and adroitly piece together a spell using an economy of words, quickly casting something efficient and effective. Usually while drunk and anemic and on the verge of passing out from blood loss. Thus, Scoot McNairy.

Any film of the book would have to keep the magic subtle except for a few set pieces. This isn’t the sort of story where amazing things happen as actors on a green screen pretend to be amazed, this is a story where awful things happen and then you’re amazed and simultaneously horrified when things go south from there. The awe and amazement of the magical aspect is soured and mixed with awfulness.

It’s also the sort of film where every scene would be shot in dim, washed-out lighting, and everyone except for the main villains would be dressed sort of shabby, in ill-fitting clothes. There are very few people in the story who would qualify as “glamorous,” and of course most of those are glamorous thanks to the liberal use of magic. Which is, of course, what I would expend my own magical energies on: Looking good. And possibly casting a spell so theme music played every time I walked into a room, probably "Princes of the Universe" by Queen.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: We Are Not Good People.

--Marshal Zeringue