Friday, August 25, 2017

Michael Poore's "Reincarnation Blues"

Michael Poore’s short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Southern Review, Agni, Fiction, and Asimov’s. His story “The Street of the House of the Sun” was selected for The Year’s Best Nonrequired Reading 2012. His first novel, Up Jumps the Devil, was hailed by The New York Review of Books as “an elegiac masterpiece.” Poore lives in Highland, Indiana, with his wife, poet and activist Janine Harrison, and their daughter, Jianna.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Reincarnation Blues:
Reincarnation Blues is the story of Milo, a man (sometimes a woman, or cricket, or turtle, or…) who has lived almost 10,000 lives. This makes him the oldest soul in the galaxy, and the wisest. But now he has been given five more lives to achieve some kind of perfection, or face oblivion. The movie version of the book would take those lives in turn, with Will Smith as my ancient, soulful hero.

Milo has to be extraordinary…smart and groovy, full of snappy understandings and deep wisdom, but he also needs to be someone we like and identify with. That’s Will Smith! I’m thinking of Hancock, here, where he’s a superhero, but a cool, kinda scruffy superhero. That’s Milo, in many of his lives (including one where he’s an actual superhero, Captain Gworkon). Smith would need to be able to play Milo as everything from a highway sniper to a student of the Buddha.

In between lives, we’d accompany Milo into the afterlife, and meet Suzie, his girlfriend of eight thousand years. Suzie also happens to be Death. “Earthly” souls aren’t supposed to get romantic with divine incarnations, but the two of them have been cozy for some time now. I would cast Maggie Gyllenhaal in this role, which calls for an actor who can be fun and girlfriend-y, while also having a slight vampire thing going on. Suzie is a gentle, sympathetic Death (she really wants to open a candle shop), but she is Death. She tends to bite during sex. She also tends to almost shred and absorb Milo’s whole existence, if she’s not careful.

Suzie isn’t the only divine superbeing in Milo’s life. He has two teachers (gods? angels? We don’t really know), in the afterlife: Mama, an earth-mother type is generally supportive, and Nan, a crazy cat-lady type who is more critical, and who has a lot of cats and television sets and smokes Pall Malls. For Mama, I can’t see anyone but Queen Latifah. She is everything her name implies. In my movie, she could be earthy and divine…a goddess you can hang out with, a goddess who will lend a kind ear when you’ve just died of decapitation in medieval Scotland.

For Nan, I see Helen Mirren. I know I could trust her to take the crazy cat thing into that mysterious Helen Mirren-country that only she inhabits. Nan is slightly seedy and not overly-friendly, with overtones of Florida trailer park. Helen Mirren could play that with a streak of bluesy sensuality, like a cat that sometimes bites because it’s trying to quit cigarettes.

And then there’s the Buddha. Milo goes looking for some great, hard-core teaching at one point, and gets himself born into the life of an Indian seeker. He becomes a student of the Buddha just when the Buddha is nearing the end of his long life. Milo discovers, to his anguish, that the Master’s mind is not what it used to be. Some days he’s fine, other days he thinks he’s back in the palace, sixty years ago, getting ready to marry his cousin. I see Irrfan Khan as Buddha. They’d have to age him quite a bit, but he’s got those eyes. Know what I mean? He could drink you like a glass of water just by looking at you.

This cast would be a trip to hang out with, wouldn’t it? Fingers crossed.
Visit Michael Poore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue