Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tawni Waters's "Beauty of the Broken"

Tawni Waters is an award winning writer and poet, and her work has been featured in The Best Travel Writing of 2010. She teaches creative writing in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Beauty of the Broken, her first novel:
Beauty of the Broken would make a kick-ass movie. My agent says so, which is sort of like your mom saying you’re special, but still.

The book’s protagonist Mara Stonebrook is a quirky, tortured girl growing up in an abusive family in the small, bigoted town of Barnaby, New Mexico. In a fit of drunken rage, her daddy beats her beloved brother Iggy so badly, he gives him brain damage. Mara’s depressed, alcoholic mother does nothing to protect Iggy, leaving Mara responsible for his welfare.

To make matters worse, Mara finds herself falling in love with Xylia Brown, a beautiful, hip transplant from San Francisco who worships goddesses rather than a male version of God. Mara’s lesbian ardor is so not cool in her hyper-religious community. Let’s just say the townsfolk frown on homosexuality. Emphatically frown. Sometimes, with weapons.

Enter Henry Begay, who moves to Barnaby from his home on the nearby reservation, spouting “blasphemous” religion and sporting braids, thick glasses, and white-freckled clothing because his father is obsessed with squirting things with bleach.

Mara, Henry, Iggy, and Xylia form an alliance of soulful rejects. The fiery, hateful Reverend Winchell is not amused by the influx of heathens, and his son, the pimply, self-righteous Elijah Winchell takes it on himself to torture them. Hijinx ensue. And by hinjinx, I mean mayhem and death, with a generous side-helping of forbidden love.

On the chance that Hollywood agrees with my agent, my dream cast for Beauty of the Broken:

Jennifer Lawrence as Mara: She reminds me of Mara in so many ways. Down-to-earth, sassy, irreverent, and beautiful.

Emma Stone as Xylia: She’s funny, doesn’t give a shit what people think, and could totally pull off looking like a rock star in a small town where most people dress up like the cast from Leave it to Beaver.

Jesse Eisenberg as Iggy: He has that intense, powerful, other-worldly aura Iggy has. Also, Iggy is described as having “see-clear-through-you” eyes.” Check.

Matthew McConaughey as Daddy: He’s one of the best actors alive, as demonstrated by his breathtaking performances in Mud, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and True Detective. He has also frequently showcased his ability to play hillbillies, which would serve him well were he to play drunken, nasty, downright backwoods Daddy.

Cate Blanchett as Momma: I love her, and this is probably the only way I’ll ever get to tell her. Also, she’s freaking brilliant and was made to play a drunken, tortured ex-beauty-queen. I’m misty thinking about the moment when she placidly gets up from the table to get Iggy ice for his bruises after Daddy beats him. I bet her hand would tremble just so as she wrapped the ice cubes in a washcloth.

Taylor Lautner as Henry: The only young, uber-famous Native American actor I could think of was the kid from Twilight. I thought I was just being dense, but when I Googled “young Native American” actors, he was the only one I recognized. That absolutely has to change, America. Get with the program. He’s a great actor, but he’d have to ditch the super model muscles to play Henry. Taylor, it’s you and Medifast for a few months. Sorry.

Jeff Bridges as Reverend Winchell: He’s awesome, and I’m pretty sure he could go real dark, real scary, and real fat real fast if he had to.

Tom Felton as Elijah: Throw a few pimples and some greasy hair on him, and Draco Malfoy is Elijah.

Bonus: Johnny Depp as the weird schoolteacher, Mr. Farley, who shows creepy slideshows featuring toe fungus and cadavers.
Visit Tawni Waters's Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue