Sunday, December 7, 2014

Stephen Policoff's "Come Away"

Stephen Policoff has taught writing at Wesleyan and Yale and is currently Master Teacher of Writing in Global Liberal Studies at NYU. His books include the novel Beautiful Somewhere Else, the memoir Sixteen Scenes from a Film I Never Wanted to See, two YA books, The Dreamer’s Companion and Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens (co-authored with Jeffrey Skinner), and the children’s book Cesar’s Amazing Journey.

Here Policoff dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Come Away:
I do think Come Away would make a great movie, though it would probably take a Bold and Fearless director/producer to try to get it done. A dark domestic comedy with a mild buzz of the supernatural? A film featuring a small green girl who may or may not be a hallucination of the main character, the loosely-wrapped Paul Brickner? Sure! Bring it on.

I have always thought Edward Norton would be a great Paul (who is the main character also of my first novel, Beautiful Somewhere Else). He has the right blend of intensity, goofiness, and vaguely endearing inhibition which I see in Paul, not unlike the character he played in Moonrise Kingdom. Paul’s wife Nadia is harder; maybe Olivia Wilde, who is both beautiful and still somehow real-looking, and seems to like appearing in indie films (which, come on, this would probably have to be); the character she plays in the under-rated Drinking Buddies suggests to me she could pull-off the down-to-earth-yet-quirky Nadia.

My college friend John Rothman would be a fine Dr. Maire. John often plays slightly foolish but somehow charming character roles; I think he would be able to present Dr. Maire’s pomposity and his not-entirely-convincing heroic gestures, and make them believable. And I think that Robert De Niro would make a wonderfully unlikely Dr. Grunwald, who has to be seen both as slightly menacing (hello! paging half of the roles De Niro has ever played!) and slightly clownish as well (ditto).

As for a director…well, I think Michel Gondry would be really interesting; I don’t love all his stuff but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is quite brilliant in its melding of the plausible and the fantastical, which is Come Away’s milieu. Wes Anderson, with his stylized painterly vision might be appropriate too.

My fear is that the ambiguity of the novel—Is the green girl a hallucination? A changeling child? Is Paul losing his mind or is he onto something about the nature of what we call reality?—might be turned into an M. Night Shyamalan kind of farrago, which I would hate (though I guess I would cry all the way to the bank).
Visit Stephen Policoff's faculty webpage and Facebook page, and learn more about Come Away.

Writers Read: Stephen Policoff.

The Page 69 Test: Come Away.

--Marshal Zeringue