We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Books have been adapted into films for about as long as the medium has existed. It might be difficult for twihards to believe, The Twilight Saga isn't the first group of books to make it from the pages to the screen. But we're making this list as an ode to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which hits theaters June 30. Some adaptations been successful (Gone with the Wind, No Country for Old Men the Harry Potter films) some less so (The Time Traveler's Wife, Confessions of a Shopaholic). Still, despite Hollywood's spotty record with some excellent books, there are certain novels I read that seem to be calling out for the big screen treatment. These are the TOP 7 books from my bookshelf that would be fast tracked tomorrow if I ran a studio.
7. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Recap: In a world where fact and fiction blend, literally, the oddly named Thursday Next works in the literary crimes division of the Special Operations Network. It's 1985 and Jane Eyre has been kidnapped from her titular novel. It's up to Next to catch a dangerous criminal before literature is changed forever. Reason: The first in a series, The Eyre Affair is incredibly imaginative and could be a fun summer movie. Famous literary figures like Eyre and her Mr. Rochester share the pages with Fforde's serious minded gumshoes. I'd love to see Rob Reiner take a stab at it, he was excellent at mixing comedy and fantasy in The Princess Bride. Any Hollywood actress would be lucky to get the role of Next, who's British and in her mid-thirties, but otherwise could be anyone. She's a tough, no-nonsense kind of woman who could be played by anyone from Angelina Jolie to Kiera Knightly. Plus, if it's successful, you have at least four sequels written plus more on the horizon. Harry Potter will be over by next year and the Twilight series soon after. This could be a great new fantasy series for Hollywood to exploit!
6. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Recap: Portland's own Dunn wrote a killer novel back in 1989 that still hasn't seen the light of day as a film, despite being optioned. It tells the story of Lili Binewski who ingests various illicit and poisonous substances while pregnant in the hope of having children to populate a freakshow. She gets her wish with Arty (a boy with flippers for limbs), Iphy and Elly (Siamese twins) and our narrator, Oly, who happens to be a hunchbacked, albino dwarf. Then there's the only normal looking member of the family, Chick. However, this is just the beginning. The book really details how the family unravels when Arty begins a cult, the twins become whores and Oly tries to protect her daughter who doesn't know she's her daughter. It's complicated and fascinating and awesome. Reason: Tim Burton's been bandied about for years as a possible director for this film. But personally, I'd love to see someone like Sam Mendes, someone known for dramatic work. Because the thing that makes this book work is that the characters aren't treated like freaks, they're treated like any dysfunctional family. With the advances in CG, it would be easy to make a believable Arty or Oly.
5. Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
Recap: A fictionalized biography of a real 1920's magician, Charles Carter, the book centers on a rivalry between Carter the Great and his rival, Mysterioso. But that doesn't describe how meaty and interesting and fun the novel is. There's no real magic, a la The Prestige, it's more about an illusionist trying to make sense of his past while falling in love with a blind woman and keeping an elderly pet lion. You know, the usual. Reason: There's such a good story, it feels like it could easily be translated into film. At one point Tom Cruise was attached to star, but now it's sort of up in the air. I'm glad it's not Cruise, you need more of an everyman guy for Carter. Maybe Steve Carrell or Zach Galifianakis, someone who could handle the funny bits but also add some dramatic heft. It would be kind of awesome if Wes Anderson directed it.
4. The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz
Recap: Zadie Roberts, a teacher who was recently jilted at the altar is forced to attend her cousin's bachelorette party. Much like the film The Party things start out normal but end up slowly getting out of hand. Reason: This is Lutz's only novel, she's one half of the screenwriting duo behind Legally Blonde and The House Bunny. That's probably why the book, more than any other film on this list feels like a movie waiting to happen. There aren't a lot of films right now about women who are friends, that void is mostly filled by TV shows. The Bachelorette Party reads like a female Hangover. I'd love to see comedians in the film, like Amy Poehler and Lisa Kudrow. For a director, how about Beth McCarthy-Miller, who's done SNL for years and worked on 30 Rock as well. This could be next summer's fun and dirty Girls Night Out movie.
3. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Recap: This Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of two Jewish immigrant cousins, Joe Kavalier and Sammy Klaymen, who become partners in the creation of a comic book character called the Escapist. But the two face problems as well, like Kavalier's concern for his family back in Prague under Nazi rule, and these real-life concerns bleed into the comics. Reason: According to IMDB, this movie has a 2012 release date, however it's had release dates before and never made it there so I'm leaving it on the list. There's a lot going on in this book, some of it would have to go for a film. In fact, it would probably be better as a miniseries on HBO. But it's got to be made into a film at some point, especially with every other comic book character ever having been optioned already. There are no lack of filmmakers who claim to love comic books but you'd need a great storyteller to keep this from becoming a hot mess. I'd love to see Christopher Nolan on this, he can tell a story like no one's business. I'm sure every young actor in Hollywood would be going for the parts of Kavalier and Clay, and I'm not sure who I'd pick. I'd really like to see guys who aren't really big yet, someone like Aaron Paul or Vincent Kartheiser.
2. The Scar by China Mieville
Recap: Set on a mysterious floating city that is made up of thousands of ships but affiliated with no nation, the novel follows characters like the remade, criminals who've been punished by having their bodies altered through industrial and magical means, often to make them better at menial labor, and vampires. While in the city, a woman named Bellis Coldwine discovers a plot to destroy her old country, New Crobuzon, by raising the avanc, a murderous sea monster. Reason: The plot is incidental, what's amazing about the work of China Mieville is how fully he creates the world of the floating city. Armada is a steam punk world, one that never developed the internal combustion engine and therefore all their advanced technology derives from steam power. Mieveille creates a fully, immersive world full of strange and terrible creatures and people, but it's also one that you won't want to leave. He almost belongs in his own genre, I can think of no other author who does anything similar. I have no idea who could direct this, it would be a tall order. Maybe Darren Arnofsky working in Fountainhead mode. However, if it did work, it would be the best Sci-fi movie since the Matrix.
1. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Recap: Hiro Protagonist is a high speed pizza delivery driver living in a future US that's been carved up by businesses into autonomous enclaves. When he loses his job, he goes to work with a young skateboard "kourier" named Y.T., selling information to government agencies. Using his connections in the metaverse, a virtual reality offshoot of the internet, he attempts to find out the truth behind "Snow Crash", a drug that is both a computer virus and one that alters the mind in reality. Reason: One of the most entertaining and influential Sci-Fi novels in the past 20 years, Snow Crash is second only to Neuromancer in it's place in cyberpunk history. The only difference - it's better. I originally read the book for a college class and have since recommended the book to many different people. What's not to like? It's a cool hacker story where the protagonist (er, Protagonist) is literally in the computer and running around doing things rather than staring at a screen and hitting buttons. Plus he knows his way around a samurai sword. How about John Cho in a Ridley Scott film?