Monday, October 29, 2007

Words Fail Me

Publishers Weekly reports from the Frankfurt book fair:
The Eggers book, an adult novel based on Maurice Sendak´s classic Where the Wild Things Are was actually acquired by Ecco last winter, but kept quiet until now. Foreign rights are in play at Frankfurt and Ecco publisher Dan Halpern is predicting, "I think it`s going to be his biggest book. I think it´s going to be huge." Ecco is publishing the book in fall 2008, to coincide with the Spike Jonze movie adaptation based on Sendak´s book, for which Eggers wrote the screenplay.
Other, rejected titles for this post: 'Um, What?', and 'I've Never Read Anything By Dave Eggers and Now I'm Glad.'

(Link via Maud Newton)

6 comments:

Alison said...

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another... know what I mean, eh? Say no more, squire. No, I mean it, say no more.

Fred said...

Maybe it's that I have no cherished childhood memories of Sendak's book, but I'm not sure I understand why this is such a word-failingly awful thing. A dumb idea, sure, but not ridiculously bad.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

I'd say the idea's badness inheres in its dumbness. Where the Wild Things Are doesn't really have a plot. Max misbehaves, is sent to his room, runs off with monsters (or imagines that he does), misses home and goes back. It's about as straightforward a story as you can get (morally so, too), and it's told not through words but through the absence of words, through Sendak's haunting artwork. The notion that this tale can be translated into a prose novel is ludicrous, unless Eggers tells a revisionist version, an approach which works well enough for fairy tales, but which, I suspect, will be less successful when applied to a work less complex than Cinderella.

Foxessa said...

McGuire's Wicked comes to mind, and Now! A! Successfull! Broadway Musical Too! Film to follow.

I.e. a franchise.

Based on someone else's original idea.

The Age of Appropriation Considered As Art ....

Love, C.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Wicked, though, isn't even a retold fairy tale. It builds on a story that is at least one level of complexity above Cinderella - longer, more densely populated, and exploring a more diverse and elaborate invented universe.

(I passed on the musical while in New York last month because I was so deeply unimpressed by Maguire's novel, but now I'm wondering if this isn't a case of bad book/good musical.)

Foxessa said...

Not a fairy tale, no -- originally a political allegory, or so they say. The child who read The Wizard of Oz and was delighted was educated enough in the arcana of that era's political divisions and nomenclatures to even notice.

Nevertheless, appropriation really does seem the name of the game.

It is muchly back on my mind since we were on the Guggenheim guest list of Numero Uno Appropriator Enormous Big Bux Artist, Richard Prince, for the dinner celebrating the museum's retrospective show of his career. Walking about the levels and peering at all those works taken -- from advertising yet! -- brought freshly back how much I resent this art movement, and its lateral trickle into other 'arts.'

Others may feel differently, of course, and it is their right.

Love, C.

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