Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Annie Liontas's "Let Me Explain You"

Annie Liontas' debut novel, Let Me Explain You, was selected by the ABA as an Indies Introduce Debut and Indies Next. She is the co-editor of the anthology A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors and the recipient of a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

Here Liontas dreamcasts an adaptation of Let Me Explain You:
It’s scandalous to imagine your debut as a film—but the truth is that that is how Let Me Explain You has always played out in my head. When I’m writing, I feel my eye as the gliding lens of a camera, and all I have to do—all I can do—is record the intimate gestures and conversations of my characters. I’m just as surprised as you are when Marina rebukes Litza for acting like an animal: the slap hangs in the air, and Litza stomps off-screen.

If Let Me Explain You were a movie, here’s whom I’d cast:

Haluk Bilginer as Stavros Stavros Mavrakis
When I encountered Haluk Bilginer as Baba Akbar in Rosewater, I got this funny feeling that I had seen him before. In fact, he may be the closest shape to the domineering patriarch that rules my novel. My only requirement? He grows a mustache the size of a ferret. Perhaps Arshad Warsi could play Stavros as a young man?

Joan Allen as Carol
Loved her since The Contender and that she is, by self- admission, a bit “quirkier than the ingénue leading lady.”

Kate Mulgrew as Marina
No one else could carry the weight and dignity of Marina. Or the irreverence. I fell in love with Kate Mulgrew as Red on OITNB, but she also, of course, has the distinction of being the first female captain on Star Trek. Before her, a woman hadn’t been cast in the leading role. Mulgrew says of her contribution, “It’s good. I used myself well”—which makes her that much more Marina.

Gaby Hoffmann As Stavroula
I’ve admired Gaby Hoffmann’s brooding intensity since Now and Then. I can’t resist her fearlessness—crushed and tactile—in the groundbreaking series Transparent. Serious enough to be Stavroula, perfectly unsure of who she is in the world.

Jenny Slate As Litza
She can pull off badass, vulnerable, and resilient, all at once. Litza is admittedly a little messy, very complicated. She suffers with dignity, has no time for your pity. I’ve never forgotten Jenny Slate’s character in Obvious Child, who lives life on her own terms. A little lost, but not forsaken, and all the better for it.

Dianna Agron as Ruby
Dead on.

A Swedish Actor As Hero
I literally call Hero out as not being more Swede than Greek. “His face was not strong like a Greek face, it was more flat, and gentle like bread. His skin was pink, like a ghost or a flower. On top of all this, he adored his wife like an American or Northern European would.” Whoever plays Hero just has to have one of those big Greek noses.

Edie Falco as Dina
Tough, devastating; altogether sharp and wounded.
Visit Annie Liontas's website.

The Page 69 Test: Let Me Explain You.

--Marshal Zeringue