Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jaime Clarke's "Garden Lakes"

Jaime Clarke is a graduate of the University of Arizona and holds an MFA from Bennington College. He is a founding editor of the literary magazine Post Road, now published at Boston College, and co-owner, with his wife, of Newtonville Books, an independent bookstore in Boston.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his Charlie Martens trilogy, now complete with the release of Garden Lakes, a novel that the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding called "Complicated and feral ... thrilling, literary, and smart as hell":
The last novel in my Charlie Martens trilogy, Garden Lakes, is an homage to Lord of the Flies and so Hollywood could potentially fill the cast with the latest, up-to-the minute stars, of which I’m oblivious, sadly. I’ve reached that midpoint in life where I no longer recognize the faces on supermarket magazine covers and the names of hot young movie stars don’t register. But I’d happily sit in the front row and watch a film adaptation of Garden Lakes, especially if it captured the menace of life in the Arizona desert, a place where I spent my formative years.

The Martens trilogy begins with Vernon Downs and my wife and I once spit-balled a film version that I still think about from time to time. The title character in the novel is based on the novelist Bret Easton Ellis, and Charlie’s girlfriend is a fan. But when she dumps him and disappears back to her native England, Charlie concocts a plan to go to New York City and get close to Vernon Downs to impress and win back his ex. He becomes obsessed with Downs and insinuates himself into Downs’s life, ultimately impersonating Downs when Downs goes on a writing retreat and asks Charlie to apartment sit for him and organize his archives.

In our idea for the film adaptation, my wife and I kept the premise but radically changed the narrative. In our film, which we dreamed would be called Ensemble, a washed out wannabe actor would be obsessed with Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper, who I think all moviegoers can agree is always the best part of any film, and often the glue in big ensemble movies. And here’s the hook: Chris Cooper would play both parts, the wannabe and himself. The plot would revolve around a biopic being made of a famous but reclusive author, who resembles Chris Cooper. (Cooper actually portrayed J.D. Salinger in a small indie film, so the idea was inspired by that real life fact.) Our man the Fake Chris Cooper cons his way into the Real Chris Cooper’s New York apartment while the Real CC is away on location and intercepts a phone call from the reclusive author about a meeting to talk about the author lending his support to the biopic. So Fake Chris Cooper meets the reclusive author (again played by Chris Cooper) and is pulled into a Body Double sort of plot involving the reclusive author’s stalker, whom the reclusive author sets up to be murdered (the stalker claims the reclusive writer stole his idea for the book that made the reclusive author famous), with the unwitting help of Fake Chris Cooper, whom he initially believes is the Real Chris Cooper. Wild, right? If you’re a Hollywood producer reading this, the answer is Yes. You’ll just have to convince Chris Cooper.
Visit Jaime Clarke's website.

--Marshal Zeringue