Monday, September 21, 2020

Annie Lampman's "Sins of the Bees"

Annie Lampman is the author of the novel Sins of the Bees and the limited-edition letterpress poetry chapbook Burning Time. Her short stories, poetry, and narrative essays have been published in sixty-some literary journals and anthologies such as The Normal School, Orion Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, and Women Writing the West. She has been awarded the 2020 American Fiction Award in Thriller: Crime, the Dogwood Literary Award in Fiction, the Everybody Writes Award in Poetry, a Best American Essays “Notable,” a Pushcart Prize special mention, a Literature Fellowship special mention by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and a wilderness artist’s residency in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness through the Bureau of Land Management. Lampman is an Associate Professor of Honors Creative Writing at the Washington State University Honors College. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a bevy of pets (including a tabby named Bonsai and a husky named Tundra) in Moscow, Idaho on the rolling hills of the Palouse Prairie in another 1800s farmhouse. She has a pollinator garden full of native flowers, herbs, berries, song birds, squirrels, butterflies, bumble bees, solitary bees, and honeybees.

Lampman applied the Page 69 Test to Sins of the Bees and reported the following:
Sins of the Bees begins with main character Isabelle who is an artist who has disappeared into a religious doomsday cult to complete commissioned paintings of child brides called the Twelve Maidens, and also “to make sense of my past, to understand myself, to make amends for the wreckage of my own life.” Main character Silva is Isabelle’s granddaughter who is trying to find and track Isabelle down in order to remake a family for herself. But both women are asking the same questions of themselves on the path of their separate journeys—trying to understand who they are after suffering trauma and loss. And unbeknownst to them, they are both mourning two specific things: the loss of the same man—Isabelle’s husband and bonsai artist Eamon, who after Isabelle abandoned him, raised Silva by himself; and the trauma of suffering sexual assault that resulted in pregnancy. And tied into both Isabelle and Silva is character Nick Larkins—an outfitter and beekeeper and Silva’s eventual love interest.

My dreamcasting for Sins of the Bees would therefore include four main actors: Nicole Kidman for Isabelle, Scarlett Johansson for Silva, Daniel Day Lewis for Eamon, and Ryan Gosling for Nick.

Since Isabelle and Silva—grandmother and granddaughter—are twin representations of one another, yet also worlds apart, it is a little tricky picking two actresses who both resemble each other’s “wild, red-headed, artist look” as well as act in roles representational to Sins of the Bees. Both Kidman and Johansson have acted in traumatic dramas with power and emotion—particularly Kidman’s role in Rabbit Hole and Johansson’s role in Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Daniel Day Lewis’s role in The Last of the Mohicans demonstrates the heartbreak and devotion needed for Eamon, and Ryan Gosling in his more serious roles like Drive would fit well with Nick Larkins’ persona of power and suffering coupled with a sort of fatal romanticism.

Further, Daniel Day Lewis and Nicole Kidman would make for the great fated-love-story chemistry needed to represent Eamon and Isabelle, and likewise, Ryan Gosling and Scarlett Johansson would also have the kind of complicated chemistry needed to reflect Nick and Silva’s love story.
Visit Annie Lampman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sins of the Bees.

--Marshal Zeringue