Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Ten books I'd Like to see made into films

The people at Broke and Bookish are asking for a list of ten books people would like to see made into films. Here's mine, in no particular order:

The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken - a gentle, offbeat love story about the friendship between a very tall boy and a librarian. It could be made into one of those subtle, beautiful American films along the lines of The Station Agent.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. A sprawling, crazy, satirical novel with a cast of grotesques. It would make a great film. There have been plans to make one but they seem to have come to nothing.


Candide by Voltaire. It has been made into an operetta by Leonard Bernstein (using a libretto based on a script for a play by Lilian Helmann according to my friend Wikipedia, and including lyrics from Dorothy Parker, though later performed with a book by Hugh Wheeler.) But it has never been made into a film. It's a short satirical book but it's episodic so it would also suit TV, though it would be expensive to make because of the multiple locations and period costume. It's free for the Kindle, though I read it in French in paperback years ago and I have no idea if the free digital English translation is any good - it's worth downloading a sample to check.

The Li
ars' Club by Mary Karr. It's one of my all-time favourite books, a memoir of the author's extraordinary childhood. Mary Karr is a brilliant story-teller who writes beautiful prose so the film might need a voice-over, much as screenwriters hate writing them because it feels like cheating; you're supposed to tell the story in pictures and dialogue when you make a film. But a good director could show the poverty, the madness and the beauty of the story, so long as he or she could find the right actor to play Mary as a child.

All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman. A very sweet novella-length love story. Take a look. Do you like sweet, charming, quirky books? If you do and you haven't read it, I'm sure you'll love it. It's written by a screenwriter. I'm surprised it hasn't yet been made into a film.

Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel. This is an odd, entertaining story of a medium. Can she really see ghosts? It's by Booker Prize-winning Hilary Mantel and it's beautifully-written, as you would expect. It would make an amusing film.


My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen. A wonderfully funny time travel book that goes between 19th century Copenhagen and present day London. There would be lots of scope for the costume designers and the set designers to impress, and some great comic roles for the actors. It would make a brilliant play, as well. The people who made Lost in Austen would make a good job of it for TV.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. This would make a fantastic play if adapted as a monologue that stays true to the book, with only one actor, rather like David Hare's production of Joan Didion's adaptation of her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking which was performed by Vanessa Redgrave in 2007/2008. But I'd like to see it as a film, too. This is one of my favourite books: part thriller, part fable, part satire. And it could make a brilliant, compelling film.

Straight Cut by Madison Smartt Bell. A crime story that's really a book about friendship. I'd also like to see Save Me, Joe Louis made into a film. That's also a book about friendship. I was crazy about Madison Smartt Bell when I first discovered him, 20 years ago or whenever Straight Cut was first published in the UK. I used to go and look in the new releases section of the book store and then on the general fiction shelves approximately every year or so (checking under both S and B 'just in case'), hoping that he'd published another one. This was in the days before Amazon/Google. Fortunately he was a prolific author and the bookshops I visited stocked his books in those days, so my patience and loyalty were rewarded. Straight Cut, Save Me, Joe Louis and Dr Sleep are my favourite books of his. I'm counting this as one item on the list but I'd be very happy to see any of them made into a film (and so would MSB, no doubt.) It would be a great first step if his publisher(s) were to make them available for the Kindle.

Mr Vertigo by Paul Auster. I have read almost everything Paul Auster has written (or so I like to claim) and this is one of my favourites of his. It's about a boy who learns to fly. This one is available for the Kindle. It's a charming adventure story and it would make a wonderful film.

Please visit Broke and Bookish for links to other blogs that are posting their book-to-film wish lists. Which ones would you choose?

15 comments:

Misha said...

Great list, Helen! I'd love to see The Liars' Club as a movie too.I love the book!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

This is an amazing list. Reluctant Fundamentalist was such a thoughtful book. I'd love to pass it along to others or have it made into a movie for the less bookish.

Here's my post for today's Top Ten Tuesday.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

There are so many great books out there that would make wonderful movies, but Hollywood is determined to keep making the same old things. How many versions of Batman, Supperman, Spiderman must we have? The same thing goes for all the Jane Austen movies, Jane Eyer, etc. There are other--unique--stories that are just being ignored.

Catherine said...

Yes, yes, yes! Loved your list. A Confederacy of Dunces is a brilliant choice. I'm kicking myself for not including it on mine. Beyond Black I would love to see as a movie. Mantel is a great novelist. I just loved Everyday Is Mother's Day. Some of the books on your list I'm not familiar with, but I'll be checking them out soon.

JohnnyFox said...

Candide exists as a French movie, from memory in black and white, because we were made to sit through the thing when studying the book for A Level ... but maybe not in English except for the Bernstein staging which was also filmed.

Helen Smith said...

Jennifer, remakes do seem to be very popular...

JF, you sound as if your school was far superior to mine if they actually found you a film version of Candide to watch in French. I'll see if I can hire it somewhere. I like watching the subtitles and pretending that I can understand what's being said.

Trish said...

Hmm I was interested to see Reluctant Fundamentalist on your list. I have that book on my TBR shelf but have yet to read it. Sounds so interesting!

Helen Smith said...

It's a really gripping story, Trish. I had some preconceptions about it but they turned out to be wrong. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when you get to it.

Phaedosia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phaedosia said...

Thanks for the list. I never would have thought of THE GIANT'S HOUSE as a movie, but you're right, that could work. (I loved THE STATION AGENT.)

@Trish--THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST is really good. Not what I was expecting when I picked it up. You can probably read it one sitting, it really sucks you in.

1girl2manybooks said...

I haven't actually read a single novel on your list but Confederacy of Dunces is one of my husband's fave novels and is on my TBR list for this year. I have read of numerous attempts to adapt it for film but they never quite come off. Hopefully one day (after I've finished the book!).

Helen Smith said...

1girl2manybooks - I love lists like these because other people always recommend books that I haven't read/haven't heard of.

I only read Confederacy of Dunces last year. It's one of those that people often recommend but I had just never got round to it. Possibly it's because people always say it's funny and humour is so much a matter of taste. But it turned out they were right and I really enjoyed it.

Phaedosia, thanks. I just read your blog and see that you're a librarian. I think that Elizabeth McCracken was also a librarian before turning to writing full-time. I had a little run of librarian books last year as I read The Giant's House shortly after reading American Wife, whose main character is also a librarian. Reading both made me think more deeply about the job and what it entails.

Phaedosia said...

I didn't realize that McCracken had been a librarian! There have been a whole spate of non-fiction books by librarians lately, too. (Quiet, Please by Scott Douglas; Free for All by Don Borchert, Running the Books by Avi Steinberg, and This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson.) Does 4 books on a topic officially qualify it as its own genre? :)

Helen Smith said...

Phaedosia - yes! I'm sure it does.

Girl Parker said...

I just have two suggestions: Bel Canto by Ann Patchet. I jthought it was so cinema-graphic. Is that a word?

Also, The Year of Fog, by Michelle Richmond. So tense!!

Love your list, Helen. Some books I missed reading - must catch up.