Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, the only screenplay Coppola wrote that wasn’t an adaptation, is one of the finest films to come out of the 1970s (better, I would argue, than the first two Godfather movies). But does the film’s taut narrative structure and grand ethical questions make for meaningful television? How many variations of “He’d kill us if he had the chance” can be said over the course of 22 episodes before the mystery unravels? (via Lee Goldberg)
Thomas Quinn on the Rebus books and Rebus’s possible death. There’s a big ballyhoo over how a guy like Ian Rankin could possibly be thinking about killing his bread and butter off. But I suspect that it’s easier for Rankin to effect than most people think. Perhaps Rankin is tired of writing in Rebus’s metier or would rather annihilate his hero after having said everything he’s needed to say through him. I suspect, however, that Rankin’s Quandary will turn out similarly to what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle went through. (via Jenny D)
“Who knew Joyce Carol Oates would be so funny?” That’s the lede by a bemused staff writer for The Beacon News, who apparently isn’t aware of Oates’ long history of dark comedies and mysteries. It’s understandable. These are often occluded by her literary reputation. Even so, I’m getting really tired of the generalization that anyone who is considered “literary” is incapable of being funny. One of the great joys in talking with John Updike was being able to reveal that, contrary to the way people reacted to his BEA fulminations, the guy was a jester. For those who insist that Oates is “too serious” because she turns out too many books or Updike is “stiff” because he expresses his concerns about digital books, I wonder how you can seriously suggest that authors who regularly delight us with their sentences and who express their great powers of invention are without a sense of humor. Aside from the notion that anyone who associates as adeptly as Oates and Updike has to be concocting some pretty amusing shit in a drafting phase, it also takes a certain off-kilter person to become a writer. It takes an even more idiosyncratic person to stick with it and become successful, whether through sales or reputation. Anyone contending with multiple paychecks of varying dollar amount arriving in their mailbox at strange intervals has to have a sense of humor about it, if they want to stay sane and keep pushing forward.
Perhaps in response to Sara Gran’s Brooklyn article, the Associated Press makes the case for upstate New York. My own essay on the overlooked literary Meccas of Bakersfield and Peoria will be appearing in this week’s PennySaver.
The Scotsman: “I had high hopes for the two titles under consideration here, by novelists Ali Smith and Nick Hornby. Suffice to say that one is going on the shelf, and one is going to a charity shop.”