Friday, April 22, 2022

Taylor Brown's "Wingwalkers"

Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. His books include In the Season of Blood and Gold (2014), Fallen Land (2016), The River of Kings (2017), Gods of Howl Mountain (2018), Pride of Eden (2020), and Wingwalkers (2022). You can find his work in The New York Times, The Rumpus, Garden & Gun, the North Carolina Literary Review, and many other publications. He is a recipient of the Montana Prize in Fiction and the founder of He lives in Savannah, GA.

Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of Wingwalkers:
I tend to have what seems like a cinematic imagination, in that I often "watch" my stories unfold as I write them, as if I'm watching a film. In my opinion, Wingwalkers would make a great movie. It follows the story of a husband-wife barnstorming duo, wingwalker Della the Daring and her former WWI ace husband, Zeno Marigold, as they attempt to coax their aging biplane across America during the Great Depression, living quite literally on a wing and a prayer. Their story alternates with that of none other than William Faulkner, following the legendary novelist and thwarted fighter pilot as he comes up in the world, both in terms of his work and flying pursuits.

I think actor Tom Hardy would make a perfect Zeno. He's burly and swarthy, like Zeno, and he can exude a physical menace that speaks to the violence and trauma that hovers beneath the surface of Zeno's charismatic exterior. Also, Lawless showed us that Hardy can do a Southern-ish accent. As for Della, I think Jessica Chastain would be a dead ringer. Not only does she have red hair and a statuesque look like Della, but she plays tough female characters so well -- and she can do a Southern accent, too, as we learned in The Help!

Now, who would play Faulkner? Oh, that's a much tougher question. Of course, there would have to be multiple actors, as the book starts when Faulkner is just 10-11 years old, and ends when he's not quite 40, but let's focus on him as an adult. There remains a boyishness to Faulkner, which I think Ryan Gosling could play well, but to me, getting Faulkner's voice right would be important, and I don't think Canada-born Gosling could handle that big, soft, long-drawled Mississippi accent. Texas-born Tye Sheridan comes to mind -- I loved him in Mud, and he's getting old enough now to play this role. But neither seem ideal. Honestly, I'd need to keep thinking on this one...

For directors, my top three dream directors would be Jeff Nichols (Mud, Shotgun Stories, Midnight Special), the Coen Brothers, or another one of my very favorites, Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven). It's funny to think how different each film would turn out!
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

My Book, The Movie: The River of Kings.

My Book, The Movie: Pride of Eden.

Q&A with Taylor Brown.

--Marshal Zeringue