Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Brendan Jones's "The Alaskan Laundry"

Raised in Philadelphia, Brendan Jones took the Greyhound west at the age of 19, ending up in Sitka, Alaska. He graduated from Oxford University, where he boxed for the Blues team, then returned to Alaska to commercial fish. He was a general contractor for seven years in Philadelphia, before heading back to Sitka, where he now lives, commercial fishing and renovating a WWII tugboat.

Here Jones dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Alaskan Laundry:
When Winter’s Bone came out in 2010 I was prepared to be disappointed, as so often happens with books you love. But then there was Jennifer Lawrence, red-nosed beneath her blue-knit skull cap, oily blond hair framing her face. A far cry from my dark curly-haired Italian-American protagonist Tara Marconi in The Alaskan Laundry—but still, there was a quiet, frustrated grittiness and pluck in Lawrence’s performance I loved. Watching, I knew she’d be great as Tara, and imagined Lawrence getting hold of the screenplay, saying Yes, yes, of course. I could see her standing up to Fritz, stalking away from the Coast Guard, laughing it up alongside crazy Newton Scarpe on the breakwater. But also being alone, hiking along the flume into the woods, cooking a fish over the fire, scooping out guts from a king salmon.

Plus I think Lawrence wouldn’t be afraid on the set. I’ll digress for a moment and say Sean Penn grossly miscast Christopher McCandless in his film Into the Wild. Emile Hirsch does nothing to capture the ecstasy of McCandless, his humor and jubilation—plus he’s a wimp, it’s not difficult to see. No surprise he needed Sean Penn to canoe the rapids before he’d jump in. It wouldn’t be so with Lawrence. She’d fly out to Alaska for the shooting (or British Columbia, as the case may be) and soak in every minute, insisting on doing her own stunts. I just know it, you can see it in her eyes.

In the years since Winter’s Bone has come out, of course, Lawrence has turned into a great superstar. But I don’t think her acting ability has been diluted. She still has that ability to pivot from seriousness to goofy on a dime. And, after seeing her in American Hustle, it’s clear she can do the Philly/Jersey thang just fine. Put it together with that Appalachian mettle, and boom. Tara Marconi in Alaska. Jennifer Lawrence, starring in The Alaskan Laundry.
Visit Brendan Jones's website.

Writers Read: Brendan Jones.

--Marshal Zeringue