Wednesday, August 2, 2017

David Burr Gerrard's "The Epiphany Machine"

David Burr Gerrard is the author of The Epiphany Machine and Short Century. He teaches creative writing at the 92nd Street Y, The New School, and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop.

He lives in Queens, NY with his wife.

Here Gerrard dreamcasts an adaptation of The Epiphany Machine:
I’m always afraid when movies are books are made of movies I love. I’m afraid that the filmmakers will get the book “wrong.” (By which I mean, of course, I am afraid their vision of the book will be different from mine.) When I see a film version of a book I’ve read many times, when I get to see actors I admire speak lines I’ve underlined, I grab my popcorn, take my seat, and think: “Oh, this is going to suck.”

You might think that those feelings about a potential movie made from a book I wrote would be enhanced many times over, and that I would be utterly terrified that a film or television of adaptation would get my book “wrong.” But I feel nothing but giddy, earnest excitement over seeing how a filmmaker would interpret my work, if I’m lucky enough for that to ever happen. Maybe I should not speak too soon, but the more “wrong” any film or television adaptation gets the book, the better.

My new novel, The Epiphany Machine, is about a device that tattoos epiphanies on the forearms of its users. Everyone in the book has a different opinion about what their tattoos mean, and about where the tattoos come from—whether they are messages from some kind of god, or whether they are simply the ravings of the man who owns the epiphany machine, Adam Lyons. Over the course of the novel, many different people tell their stories about what their tattoos have meant for them, how their tattoos have enhanced their lives or destroyed them.

I’m interested in stories that are told from many different angles, different perspectives. As a reader, I feel a jealous, dictatorial desire to impose my reading of a given book. As a writer, I consider my contribution to be only the first of many contributions.

Of course I have some ideas about what I would like the film or television show to look like. I have some ideas about who I would like to play various characters. When I was writing the book I sometimes imagined Adam Lyons, who is big in body and personality, played by Paul Giamatti or by John Goodman. Ever since I saw the trailer to The Last Jedi, I have been imagining Mark Hamill in the role, a casting choice that would make my Star Wars-obsessed childhood self very happy.

But it seems to me that be true to the spirit of my book, a filmmaker would have to bring something to the book I could not yet imagine. I hope that one day I get to find out what it is.

And of course I hope it doesn’t suck.
Visit David Burr Gerrard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Epiphany Machine.

--Marshal Zeringue