Thursday, January 2, 2020

Lars Iyer's "Nietzsche and the Burbs"

Lars Iyer is a Reader in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, where he was formerly a longtime lecturer in philosophy. He is the author of the novels in the Spurious Trilogy, and more recently the widely acclaimed Wittgenstein Jr.

Here Iyer dreamcasts an adaptation of his newest novel, Nietzsche and the Burbs:
My title character, Nietzsche, is dark, remote and brilliant. He’s also touched by madness. As such, he’s the perfect lead singer for Nietzsche and the Burbs, the band at the heart of my novel. Could we persuade a young James Duval, who’s appeared in so many great Gregg Araki films to play him? I’m sure he could master the posh English accent.

Paula, the band’s rock-solid bassist, tough but sensitive, open to love, could only be played by the queen of cool, Kirsten Stewart circa the so-so Adventureland. Kirsten would need a Mohican, though.

Art, who thinks of himself as the ideas-man of the band, is a leader of teens, but not conventionally comely. He puts me in mind of Leo Fitzpatrick, who’s fantastic in those terrific Larry Clark films, Kids and Bully. Leo’s an artist, too, so he could do some set-design for us.

For Chandra, guitarist and narrator, I’d like to persuade the infinitely cool Alap Momin, AKA Oktopus, who used to be part of the great hip hop act Dälek, to try his hand at acting. We’d have to reverse-age him, à la The Irishman, but he could give musical advice too. He really knows how to use drones – important to the band.

Merv, marimba player extraordinaire, is a genuine Dostoevskian innocent, a holy fool. I think we could approach my namesake Lars Rudolph to play him, following his brilliant turn as János Valuska in Belá Tarr’s The Werckmeister Harmonies.

Bill Trim, who becomes the band’s drummer, is a thug with a queer heart. Following his performance in Hail Caesar!, can I elect Channing Tatum to play him?

I’d like to persuade two other musicians to play Noelle and Tana, friends of the band: respectively, the Billie Eilish, so funny, so sad, so bored-eyed, and my current favourite, Clairo, whose woozy, gauzy, dreamy album Immunity is on repeat in my office. I think she could summon up all of Tana’s sadness.

Who would direct the film? There’s Terry Zwigoff, who made Ghost World – one of the teen films by which all other teen films should be judged. He’s been quiet of late; we need to get him out of enforced retirement. There’s also the magnificent Catherine Hardwicke, who made another electrifying teen classic, Thirteen. She should be given the opportunity to go wild again. But I think Gregg Araki is my man, the director of Nowhere, of Mysterious Skin, of Now Apocalypse, with his outsider teens, full of queer energy, looking for love but making do with friendship. No one does teen apocalypticism better. His soundtracks are great, too.
Visit Lars Iyer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Nietzsche and the Burbs.

--Marshal Zeringue