Thursday, June 11, 2020

David Philip Mullins's "The Brightest Place in the World"

David Philip Mullins is the author of The Brightest Place in the World, a novel, and Greetings from Below, a story collection that won both the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and the International Walter Scott Prize for Short Stories.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of The Brightest Place in the World:
The Brightest Place in the World opens with an explosion at a chemical plant in the Nevada desert, on the outskirts of Las Vegas. The novel then traces the lives of four characters who are directly affected by the disaster, and by the death of an employee of the plant: Andrew Huntley. Russell was Andrew’s best friend—an anxiety-afflicted bartender with a marijuana habit. Emma is Russell’s wife, a blackjack dealer who was having an affair with Andrew, unbeknownst to Russell. Simon is another employee of the plant, and could have saved Andrew’s life during the explosion but drove away in fear, leaving Andrew to perish. Lastly, Maddie is Andrew’s daughter, a brainiac teenager who takes off with Russell on a secret road trip through the Nevada desert, during which she develops a penchant for shoplifting that leads to the novel’s climax.

I like the idea of Brad Pitt playing Russell. I’m thinking of the Brad Pitt of True Romance—Floyd, the stoner. For Emma I’m envisioning Andie MacDowell, one of my favorite actresses. Here I’m thinking of the Andie MacDowell of Short Cuts—Ann Finnigan, the grieving mother. I can see someone like Adam Driver playing Simon. His performance as Charlie Barber in Marriage Story comes to mind as an example of his mastery as an actor. And as for Maddie, it has to be Brighton Sharbino, whom I thought of while writing The Brightest Place in the World. An odd choice, perhaps, since I’ve seen her only as Lizzie Samuels in The Walking Dead, but there you have it.