Thursday, April 30, 2020

Matt Gallagher's "Empire City"

Matt Gallagher is the author of the novels Empire City and Youngblood, a finalist for the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Esquire, The Paris Review and Wired, among other places. He’s also the author of the Iraq war memoir Kaboom and coeditor of, and contributor to, the short fiction collection Fire & Forget: Short Stories from the Long War.

Here Gallagher dreamcasts an adaptation of Empire City:
If Empire City were turned into a film ...

Though it's set in an alternate America, Empire City is very much concerned with modern issues of war and peace and the relationship between a republic and its military. There's only been one great post-Vietnam war film made, in my opinion: Three Kings, written and directed by David O. Russell. So he's my dream director, because I know he can walk the line between sincerity and dark humor so important to stories of armed conflict, and I know he understands the character nuances and ambiguities inherent to compelling soldier leads.

Speaking of those leads...

In a perfect world, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (of McLovin fame) plays Sebastian Rios. Sebastian's a goofball, but deep down possesses the heart of a lion. I think Mintz-Plasse could tap into that range fundamental to Sebastian's arc.

I got Anne Hathaway playing the role of Mia Tucker. This one was easy - a few years ago, I was assigned a piece at The Intercept that involved watching Hathaway play a drone operator in a one-person drama. Hathaway was so good, from her pushups to her lingo to her total presence, I've had her in mind for Mia Tucker from the day I started writing Empire City. Dream big, right?

And then there's the character of Jean-Jacques Saint-Preux, the heart and soul of Empire City. He's a layered man, full of contradictions, a Haitian immigrant who joined the International Legion to earn American citizenship and has turned himself into a rugged, devoted warrior in the years since. One actor comes immediately to mind who could crush the role: Michael B. Jordan, whose work and complex characters I've admired since he was a teenager on The Wire.
Visit Matt Gallagher's website.

The Page 69 Test: Empire City.

--Marshal Zeringue