Thursday, October 21, 2021

Bethany Ball's "The Pessimists"

Bethany Ball was born in Detroit and lives in New York with her family.

She is the author of What To Do About The Solomons.

Here Ball dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Pessimists:
My first choice for Virginia Powers, my main protagonist, is Uma Thurman. I wanted to explore an idea of fading American middle-aged beauty. I’m a little ashamed of the fact that this beauty is very cisgender, blonde, and white. I know it’s changing. But I’ve experienced having a close friend who was blonde and tall and walking down the street with them and feeling utterly invisible. I always wondered what it would feel like to have all eyes on you, to be a “ten” and then to watch as that sort of beauty faded or was actually, as in Virginia’s case, taken away to some extent. My mother would never buy me a Barbie doll because, as she said, she was quite certain I wouldn’t look anything like one. The American or maybe even world obsession with the tall beautiful white blonde is a strong one and my character Virginia has been sort of drifting along on the power of that myth.

Rachel is a transplant from New York City to the suburbs and she was in part inspired, at least physically, by a woman I went to high school with who I see from time to time in New York City. Miriam Shor. She is famous for playing the uber trendy managing editor Diana Trout on the TV show Younger. There’s a line in the first chapter of the book: “She was tiny and dark and cool in a black sheath and heels, like the city was still in her pocket.” That’s how I think of Miriam. She shares Rachel’s down to earthness and just sort of oozes cool. And like Rachel she is open and real.

Richard is a big American jock. He wants an orderly house, some women to ogle (or maybe a little more than ogling), and sports. At the same time, he has a tender side, he likes to read and he likes poetry. He isn’t ashamed of it, there’s just no room for it in his suburban day to day life. I can see a Liev Schreiber kind of actor playing him. I used to see Liev around Miami when I lived there and he has this big man way about him but there’s something vulnerable in his face too.

Tripp is another big American jock type, but much darker and more tortured than his pal Richard. He is a hard, cold guy. Maybe Christopher Walken in his soul but a little Bradley Cooper on the outside. He’s beautiful, like Virginia. I never think it’s a good idea for two truly beautiful people to hook up. One has to be beautiful and the other has to be on the plain side, for balance. That’s part of Virginia and Tripp’s problem, maybe.
Visit Bethany Ball's website.

The Page 69 Test: What To Do About The Solomons.

Q&A with Bethany Ball.

--Marshal Zeringue