It’s a curious thing hearing about books being adapted into films. You wonder how closely the director will stick to the book, and what gets cast aside in favor of making the story more film-friendly. There’s no formula for making a successful film adaptation, so the results are wildly uneven when it comes to representing the source material. Adapters have different intentions for undertaking this kind of project, running the gamut between striking while the iron is hot and bringing a story to a new audience in earnest. As an idea, though, it makes sense, either for purposes commercial or artistic. Twilight on the one hand, No Country for Old Men on the other. Either way, I’m curious to see where the recently-announced Ender’s Game film falls on this continuum.

 

It got me thinking about books I’m curious to see adapted into films. Watching the action on the page play out in my mind’s eye is something I’ve always enjoyed about reading, and I can’t help but wonder what certain books would look like on the screen. Here are a couple books I’d be curious to see adapted:

  • Valis, by Phillip K. Dick. Dick’s stories have lent themselves well to films in the past: Minority Report, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, it’s a long list. Blade Runner managed to capture the spirit of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep without sticking right to the letter, and is an essential companion to Do Androids Dream (and vice versa). In the right hands, Valis could be just as fun. I picture John C. Reilly as a poker-faced Horeslover Fats, the protagonist who becomes something of a prophet after he’s shot by pink lasers from space. He’s subsequently plagued by the sight of history literally superimposed upon itself, and then has to make sense of some of the craziest theological/historical conspiracies this side of Dan Brown. Of course, he teeters on the edge of sanity, alienating his family and friends in pursuit of some Truth.
  • Stone Arabia, by Dana Spiotta. Few people have written as astutely about rock music as Spiotta in Stone Arabia. It’s clear that she loves it, but that she understands part of that love is not being afraid to be deeply critical. She has an eye for the aesthetic, and an ear for the sound. She also has an ear the Rock n’ Roll Lingo, and as it relates to the way people actually talk and behave. Rock music aside, Spiotta’s characters lend Stone Arabia the kind of gravity that, paired with the book’s Rock chic, could really work. Someone who has a similar sensibility to hers (your guess as to who) could do great things with Stone Arabia.

 
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss novelizations here. They’ve always perplexed me, honestly. That said, I haven’t read much in the way of novelizations of films or video games (unless Shadows of the Empire counts, but I never got through it). Here’s a novelization I’d like to read:

  • Anaconda. Reframed a little bit, it could be like Moby-Dick, but with a snake instead of a whale. And J-Lo as Ishmael. And Jon Voight as a snake-hunting, two legged Captain Ahab. This novelization would abandon the film’s conceit of a poacher (Voight) commandeering a group of documentarians on the Amazon so he could find, kill, and get rich off of the Anaconda. Instead, they’re a pack of strays looking to tangle with the Gods of the swamp (and then sell their remains), no quarter asked and none given. An epigraph for Anaconda (or the Whale):

“All men will be sailors then / until the sea shall free them / or until they’re eaten by poisonous snakes.”

-Leonard Cohen


 

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