Thursday, June 23, 2022

Alex Jennings's "The Ballad of Perilous Graves"

Alex Jennings is a writer/editor/teacher/poet living in New Orleans. He was born in Wiesbaden (Germany) and raised in Gaborone (Botswana), Tunis (Tunisia), Paramaribo (Surinam) and the United States. He constantly devours pop culture and writes mostly jokes on Twitter. He loves music, film, comix, and even some TV. He has two of the best roommates on earth (one of whom is a beautiful beautiful dog named Karate Valentino).

Here Jennings dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, The Ballad of Perilous Graves:
Dream casting is such a strange process because I’ve been working on this book for so long that the project has grown beyond its original bounds to take over every aspect of my imagination. I only just admitted to myself last week how much I would love to see Spike Lee, Barry Jenkins, or Regina King direct an adaptation of The Ballad of Perilous Graves. The director would need to understand this story as one that features children and whimsy, but is not aimed at kids. The book was conceived as something of a musical—a blaxploitation Pippi Longstocking adventure for adults set in an alternate New Orleans where music is a kind of magic. It’s full of living graffiti tags, jazz and blues songs come to life, talking animals, and there’s even a carefully curated Spotify playlist to go along with it, which you can find here.

Ideas of the supporting characters are the ones that come to me first. I imagine Clark Peters playing Daddy Deke, the patriarch with a secret he keeps even from himself. Regina King herself would make an excellent Mama Lisa. I imagine Brian Michael Smith playing both Casey Ravel and Casey Bridgewater. I first noticed him in Queen Sugar, and I would love to see Casey portrayed by a trans actor. I’ve imagined several actors in the role of Stagger Lee—Kofi Siriboe, Bokeem Woodbine, John Boyega…! Bryan Tyree Henry would make an excellent Jaylon Bridgewater, and Jon Batiste would be perfect for Dr. Professor. I have two options for Lafcadio Hearn, which are very different from each other, but I think they would both be amazing: Jason Mantzoukas, the comic actor/improv master, and Paul F. Tompkins, comic genius. Both of them have an air of distinction and intelligence coupled with the sense that they could do… anything.

I’d love to see Daniel Kyrie from Chicago Fire as Bee Sharp, and Charles Baker (Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad) as his arch nemesis, Tha Hanging Judge. I’d love to see Danny Boyd, Jr. from Bruised as Perry himself.
Visit Alex Jennings's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Alex Jennings & Karate Valentino.

--Marshal Zeringue