By Jeff Salter
In these recent five years of networking with numerous authors, I’ve read more books – and a greater variety of types – than at any time in my past… with the possible exception of three years I served on a literary award committee of the Louisiana Library Association (early 1990s). In fact, there have been so many titles in this recent period that I struggle to remember them unless someone could show me a list. [Wish I’d kept a list.]
A good many of these would easily make very nice movies, if properly adapted. I had to add that caveat because so few good books ARE properly adapted by the folks who make movies. Don’t get me started.
Walker Percy’s novels
I’ve been waiting several decades for someone to make a film adaptation of one of Walker Percy’s eight best-selling and widely acclaimed novels. His is not a household name, unfortunately, but I knew him from my hometown of Covington LA, where he was a friend of my parents’. I’ve read all of his novels, some twice, and have enjoyed every one. My least favorite was Lancelot, but even that one would make a good movie. My favorites would likely be Thanatos Syndrome (his last), The Moviegoer (his first), and perhaps The Last Gentleman and Love in the Ruins.
Many years ago, I read that actress Karen Black had purchased the film rights to The Moviegoer, but as far as I know, no project has been undertaken. I’d love to see it. Certainly, I’m influenced by knowing the man (and some of his family) personally when I was a youngster, having corresponded with him when I was grown-up, and having reviewed his final novel for the LLA Bulletin. But there was something about the depth and complexity of his characters (and the dilemmas they faced) that captured my imagination. On one hand, I could often “see” Walker Percy in some of those protagonists… but on another hand, I could sometimes see myself.
I stumbled across this book in the $1 rack at a discount store and bought it only because I needed something to read during a long wait for an appointment. Wow, what a fascinating story. It’s Daniel Stashower’s “The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder.”
Folks, this would make a terrific movie. If I were filming it, I’d probably have to choose whether to focus on the sensational 1841 Manhattan murder case itself – of the popular cigar girl, Mary Rogers – or if I’d focus on Stashower’s fascinating biographical development of Edgar Allan Poe, a writer whose work I admire. Not sure a movie could do justice to both… within a typical two hour timeframe. A third approach, one taken by Stashower in the book, would be to show how this actual murder (and bungled, sensationalized investigation) influenced Poe’s development of the modern day murder/detective mystery tale. Perhaps it could work as a mini-series.
This week’s topic is one of those which can make your brain freeze. You might have 360 days a year in which you think, “Gosh, that would make a cool movie!” But when there are five days you really need to pick one or two of those titles, suddenly your brain goes blank and none come to mind.
I’ll be kicking myself the rest of the year for not remembering those worthy titles for this blog, but another author I DO recall is Duffy Brown, whose books set in Savannah are really excellent. I read the second one (Killer in Crinolines) first and it’s my slight favorite over the first (Iced Chiffon), though either would do very well on the screen. There are at least two others in that Savannah-set Consignment Shop series I haven’t had a chance to read yet, but I’m betting they’re as good as the first two. Duffy also has a new series (The Cycle Path Mysteries) set on Macinac Island (MI) which I’m eager to read.
My Wife’s Picks
Just to offer another POV, I asked my wife this question. Denise would like to see movies made of the early Mitford Series books (by Jan Karon) and the Miss Julia Series (by Ann Ross).
What about you? Which books (that you’ve read) would YOU like to see on the silver screen?