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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Stiller’

Searching for Haruki Murakami’s Old Jazz Club, and Other News

February 11, 2014 | by

peter cat jazz

Photo: oldworldwisdom, via tumblr

  • The Iowa Writers’ Workshop: brought to you by the CIA. (Also herewith: Frank Conroy’s derisive pronouncements on everyone from Melville to Pynchon. “Of David Foster Wallace he growled, with a wave of his hand, ‘He has his thing that he does.’”)
  • Haruki Murakami had a jazz club. It closed in 1981. What you’ll find there today: “A drab three-story cement building. Outside … a restaurant had set up a sampuru display of plastic foods. Above it, an orange banner advertised DINING CAFE.” Jazz!
  • Tracking the fluctuating sales of Library of America classics: “Who would have thought that Ben Stiller’s movie remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty would triple sales of the LOA’s James Thurber edition. Or that the film version of On the Road would increase sales of the Kerouac volume that contains the novel by more than thirty percent?”
  • While we’re on Kerouac: a German college student took all the locations from On the Road and plugged them into Google Maps. The resulting driving directions—On the Road for 17,527 Miles—are available for free. My personal favorite part is “Take exit 362 to merge onto I-180 N/Interstate 25 Business/US-85 N/US 87 Business toward Central Ave.”
  • A must for your reference shelf: every Prince hairstyle from 1978 to 2013, in one easy-to-read (and purple, of course) chart.

 

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Paul Maliszewski on ‘Prayer and Parable’

January 17, 2012 | by

Paul Maliszewski is a friend of mine. He recently published a short-story collection called Prayer and Parable. Around the end of last summer, I asked him if I could interview him about it. We exchanged questions by e-mail for a week. Several times I said that I was incompetent—forget the whole thing—but Paul reassured me I was doing fine. What I especially like about the book is that Paul doesn’t compromise when it comes to portraying reality. He’s a little like Fellini in 8 ½: he preserves the confusion, meaninglessness, suddenness, and asa nisi masa of the everyday.

I have a question that might be a little bit unanswerable. I know you think a lot about individual sentences, and I wondered what makes a good sentence. Am I right in thinking that you give a lot of time to them?

I do give a lot of attention to sentences, but mainly because they don’t come out right for me on the first go-round, or the second, or the eighth, or the thirtieth. Revising takes me a lot of time. I drive myself crazy. I’ll just stare at lines. There are sentences in this book where I had a page, back and front, of all the different versions I was at one time trying. One sentence I’m thinking of was not particularly long or complex, but it was at the end of a story, and I didn’t want it to seem too ending-y, or pat. So there I was, scratching out, writing something new, circling back.

Reading like that is a hard thing to turn off. I catch myself revising e-mails and I think, What are you doing? When I’m working on a story or essay, if I find something messed up, I make myself start over and read it through again. If I find something else wrong, I start back over, and I keep starting over until I can read it without stopping, until I don’t suffer any doubts. That takes a long time, Worse, sometimes revising one sentence throws things off further down the page. It’s like I’m working on a pipeline and making a repair at one point, and whatever fix I make feels right, but it twists things around so that they get gummed up later. Read More »

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O. and I

November 7, 2011 | by

My interest in Owen Wilson (American actor b. 1968) is admittedly creepy, undoubtedly perverse, and possibly based on nothing more than the fact of our shared last name. For I, too, am something of a Wilson.

A shared Anglo-Saxon surname, however, is merely the first parallel between our lives. To wit: Like O., I was born into an artistic family (our mothers are visual artists, our siblings work in film); I too was a self-proclaimed “troublemaker” in my youth; I too once wore blond hair that hung to my shoulders; I too have a large and distinctive nose; I too have a younger brunette brother; I too have struggled with depression; and I, too, consider myself primarily a writer, though like O., I would happily accept any acting job offered regardless of script quality, assuming the pay is substantial. Did I mention we have the same taste in women? He has been romantically linked to Kate Hudson, Demi Moore, and Sheryl Crow; I have not. But I have often imagined those three in erotic concert, Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” winnowing from my iPod dock as their cougar paws explore my body’s nooks.

But, though we’re both Wilsons, only one of us (O.) is of true Anglo-Saxon origin. I come from a small clan of Jewish Wilsons née Wilsick née Wilczyk, and my true self is apparent under even the dimmest bulb of scrutiny. Read More »

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Joe Dunthorne on ‘Submarine’

June 3, 2011 | by

Craig Roberts plays Oliver Tate.

Novelist Joe Dunthorne’s delightfully British debut, Submarine, is told from the point of view of teenager Oliver Tate, whose twin mission is to lose his virginity by his sixteenth birthday and to salvage his parents’ ailing marriage. The film version, which was adapted by Richard Ayoade, was picked up by Harvey Weinstein and Ben Stiller and opens today in the U.S. I spoke with Dunthorne not long ago about his experience working with Ayoade and the process of adaptation.

Harvey Weinstein is notorious for cutting films to make them more palatable. Have there been any significant changes to the film ahead of the American release?

One thing they’ve added is a card at the start saying something along the lines of “Dear Americans, I am Oliver Tate. I come from a country called Wales, which is near England. You may have heard of famous Welsh people like Catherine Zeta Jones and Anthony Hopkins. You have never invaded Wales, and for that we are thankful” and so on. It’s a kind of introductory card, which is written by Richard Ayoade, the director, at Mr. Weinstein’s suggestion, and the idea seems to be that it needed signposting as a comedy. Whether that’s a judgment on the book, or the film, or American audiences, who knows!

At least they didn’t do a Trainspotting and subtitle it …

The Welsh accents weren’t quite thick enough to warrant that. Trainspotting is an interesting link though, because it showed that something may be key to the novel but that doesn’t necessarily make it key to the film. You know how in the book of Trainspotting there’s that absolutely crucial scene where Begbie meets his father down by the train tracks—which is where the title comes from—well, Danny Boyle did away with that. There was something I felt was key in Submarine the novel, namely the revenge of Zoe, the fat girl whom Oliver and his friends bully, but with the film script, it suddenly became expendable. In the book, it’s when Oliver gets his comeuppance for being a bit of a shit, so it’s important in terms of his “coming of age,” but for the film it felt too peripheral.

What you end up asking yourself is, is there room in a film for something that sits at that sort of tangent to the narrative? A scene that’s somehow faraway from the story but remains important. Maybe not. Maybe it’s something to do with the linearity of film, or maybe simply the two or so hours of viewing time doesn’t allow for those sorts of digressions.

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