Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ed Ifkovic's "Café Europa"

Ed Ifkovic taught literature and creative writing at a community college in Connecticut for more than three decades and now devotes himself to writing fiction.

His new book is Café Europa, his sixth Edna Ferber mystery.

Here Ifkovic dreamcasts a miniseries based on the Edna Ferber mysteries:
In my Edna Ferber mysteries, my amateur sleuth/novelist solves murders over the course of her long lifetime, as early as 1904 when she is nineteen and a nosy small-town reporter, until the 1950s, when she is in her seventies and covered with fame and fortune. Early on, writing about Edna in her seventies in Lone Star, I actually envisioned veteran actor Elaine Stritch embodying the feisty, tart-tongued Ferber as she watched the movie production of her novel Giant in Hollywood, socializing with the likes of James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. Stritch had, indeed, played the take-no-prisoners Parthy Hawks in Showboat, many years before. But Stritch died last year, and so went that idea.

Nevertheless, there is one actress who repeatedly comes to my mind as someone capable of embodying Ferber at different stages of her life: Mayim Bialik. Now I’d never seen one episode of her first hit series on TV, Blossom, but as a recurring character on The Big Bang Theory, playing Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon Cooper’s brainy and dedicated girlfriend, Bialik epitomizes everything I believe would work for a film or TV version of my mysteries. Indeed, Bialik reminds me of Ferber: a small, slender woman, not a beauty in the classic and tired Hollywood mode, but rather a woman with an intense, striking face, alive with intelligence and wit, a personality that is alternatively crisp and acerbic yet also extremely kind and sentimental. Like Ferber whose father was an Hungarian Jew, Bialik had a grandparent from Hungary. Not an important consideration, but an intriguing one, I submit.

In watching Bialik’s evolving craft over many seasons, I can easily envision her portraying the young, impassioned Ferber, tackling the world and especially the male hegemony that tries to define her, but, as well, displaying a talent to capture Ferber as an older (in fact, old) woman, whose keen acumen and logical analysis cuts through all the mess that surrounds any murder—in order to deliver the solution. Bialik, like Ferber, projects the soul on fire.

In moments of utter fancy I can see Bialik playing Ferber at different stages of her life (the wonders of Hollywood makeup!) in a mini-series on PBS. Maybe six of seven episodes to flesh out Ferber’s character and sleuthing. It’s nice to think so. I’d watch it.
Visit Ed Ifkovic's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ifkovic.

--Marshal Zeringue