Sunday, March 21, 2021

Nicola DeRobertis-Theye's "The Vietri Project"

Nicola DeRobertis-Theye was an Emerging Writing Fellow at the New York Center for Fiction, and her work has been published in Agni, Electric Literature, and LitHub. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she was the fiction editor of its literary magazine Ecotone. She is a native of Oakland, CA and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Here DeRobertis-Theye dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Vietri Project:
I have to start with a dream director: Greta Gerwig, who is from Sacramento, like my main character. My book is about a young woman’s search, in Rome, to discover the life story of a man she’s never met who ordered hundreds of mystical and esoteric books from her bookstore; it’s also about being twenty-five and learning to make your way in the world. I think her ability to capture intelligent but perhaps a bit wayward young women at a moment when they are searching or striving for something, even if they don’t quite know what that something is, would be the perfect fit. I’ve seen Ladybird twice, and sobbed through most of it both times. There’s a sequence in Ladybird that features a series of clear eyed but lingering, loving shots on some of the nostalgic places in Sacramento for the film’s main character; can you imagine this ability to capture a sense of place turned out on Rome? She also is able to capture character dynamics in a way that would really be able to handle the larger family scenes that come when Gabriele reunites with her large Italian family.

As for my main character, Gabriele, I would cast Florence Pugh, who of course has already worked with Greta Gerwig as Amy in Little Women: her face is so expressive and she has the right self-contained but emotive quality that could really carry a role where there is so much interior character change. She’s also the exact right age—so much of the book is about the difficulties of being twenty-five—and she has the searching quality most important to Gabriele.

For Andrea, her cousin and the first family member she reaches out to, I’d cast Timothée Chalamet. He has the right impish quality for what is at times a difficult relationship between the two cousins, and I could see him capturing the ironic distance and passivity of the young Romans adrift after the financial crisis.

For her two aunts, Giulia and Settimia, they are perfectly different types: I would cast a middle aged Sophia Loren as Settimia and Tracy Ullman as Giulia.
Visit Nicola DeRobertis-Theye's website.

--Marshal Zeringue