October 15, 2007

Guest Blogger: Lauren Cerand of Lux Lotus

Our first mystery guest this week is perennially stylish Lauren Cerand from LuxLotus.com, who muses on her favorite adaptation--of the moment--and throws down the gauntlet to screenwriters everywhere with a wish list of the stories she'd like to see given the treatment. --Kim

When Kimberley asked me to contribute a guest post for Romancing the Tome’s third anniversary, I was naturally thrilled. Not only have I been reading RT since she was a wee lass, but adaptations, and their tip of the rarified chapeau of your choice to mash-up culture, have always had a soft spot in my heart. I immediately thought of my favorite films (was That Obscure Object of Desire adapted? Belle du Jour? Do I like any films not directed by Luis Buñuel? The answer is yes on all counts), as well as those already released that I’ve been meaning to see, such as The Virgin Suicides (novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, film by Sofia Coppola), and those due in theaters soon, like Beowulf.

And of course I wanted to come up with an homage to something achingly erudite, but as I lingered on the topic, I realized somewhat to my chagrin that the adaptation that’s probably brought me the most pleasure is Pride and Prejudice (the most recent adaptation). There was the two-week period after a boyfriend and I broke up and I watched it every night while I fell asleep, more for continuity than entertainment but a source of contentment nonetheless. And then of course drinks with a friend wherein we quoted entire passages of the film while simultaneously discussing loftier concerns. Not to mention the consolation that one could have any number of awkward encounters with a sexy but taciturn man that would not preclude making out in a sunny field, which is no small triumph when most of the men you date live in New York and work in publishing. That matter aside, one of the most endearing forms of adaptation is the exaltation of that simultaneously revered yet perennially maligned form, the short story. When made into a short film, it’s chocolate and peanut butter. A couple of years ago I publicized one such project, Craig Macneill’s Late Bloomer, “about 7th grade sexual education class gone horribly wrong. Loosely based on the dark tales of HP Lovecraft,” that went on to screen at Sundance and around the world. Not too long ago, a friend sent me the first issue of Wholphin, the McSweeney’s DVD magazine, which features The Big Empty, a spectacularly lavish short film starring Selma Blair and based on a short story by Alison Smith.

As for adaptations not yet realized, I’d love to see cinematic expressions of Maureen Gibbon’s astonishingly frank first novel, Swimming Sweet Arrow, and The Sisters, Mary S. Lovell’s biography of the extraordinary Mitford family. I’m currently publicizing 1000stories.com, an online project by a Berlin-based filmmaker, Florian Thalhofer, traveling across the United States on motorcycle, for one month with no set itinerary other than the stated purpose of interviewing Americans about their lives. As he posts rough cuts and daily updates to the site, one of the things that strikes me most is how much people’s accounts of their own experiences sound like disjointed journal entries if recent, or have the burnished, lyrical quality of having occurred in the distant past, and how intrigued I am by storytelling in all its forms. And how fascinating it is to watch them in action!

Lauren Cerand writes about art, politics and style at LuxLotus.com.

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