Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. (Give ’em a read!)
The subject of this week’s list is the top ten books that you’d like to see adapted to television or the big screen. Barring the potential disaster that adaption sometimes creates, let’s give it a go.
1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – Starting things off here with the most ambitious (and arguably my favorite) novel. House of Leaves is a textbook-sized exercise in experimental literature. The novel includes several subplots that weave in and out of each other over the course of over 700 pages. The many foot notes and typographical variations may present a challenge for accurate adaptation, but I think the stories are interesting enough that it could make for compelling television not unlike the way in which Game of Thrones and its simultaneous stories have been adapted by HBO. House of Leaves’ style would be a perfect candidate for something like an HBO series whereas a movie would handicap the telling of such an intricate story. High-risk, to be sure, but also high-reward.
2. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer – Another shared favorite with Julianne, and for good reason! Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy would make for a compelling trilogy of films with its science-fiction conventions complete with a dystopian presence. Ever-changing, the many twists and turns of Annihilation would make for a fantastic first film and can provide a breath of fresh air amongst a relatively saturated sci-fi film market.
3. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn – How they would pull this off, I have no damn idea, and I imagine it would face a lot of harsh criticism due to its subject matter, but, as is the case with House of Leaves, the story told by Geek Love is intriguing enough to overcome any difficulties in adaptation as long as the spirit remains true. A tragedy on a Shakespearean scale, Geek Love is the story of a nomadic clan of circus freaks who grow in ambition and never fail to show their unfaltering humanity.
4. Man Walks into a Room by Nicole Krauss – Probably more of a fit for something like a Lifetime movie (though I thought it was brilliant), I feel that Man Walks into a Room could end up winning someone (paging Leo) an Oscar. It’s the story of a man who, following the removal of a brain tumor, struggles to reassemble his life amidst amnesia. It’s a look at the nature of memory and what it means to be human.
5. The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne – Another weird entry on this list. See a trend? The Girl in the Road is equal parts sci-fi, adventure, and mystery with an incredible, jarring (and violent) twist at the end. The interwoven plots may cause confusion amongst viewers, but it will all depend on a skillfully-created screenplay. The novel’s depiction of the patriarchal societies that the narrators attempt to escape could serve as a base for compelling discussion about societies around the world, but a lot of the magic lies in Byrne’s prose. If it can be adequately transferred to the big screen, the adaptation could be incredible. Despite some marketing attempts, the novel is anything but a chick-flick.
6. The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia – A debut novel by an author with a pretty incredibly first name (if I may say so myself), The People of Paper is an experimental novel that is “part-autobiography, part-lies,” but the novel is entirely fascinating, full of fascinating little details. As is the custom with my selections, the novel features interwoven subplots. One one hand, there are people waging a war against Saturn, attempting to block out his ever-watchful eye. There is also the author himself, a writer attempting to work on his novel and work through a disastrous break-up. How these stories come together, well…I’ll let you read and figure it out, but the point in which the characters literally rise from the page would make for an incredible cinematic moment.
7. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – Has this been done before? Not to my knowledge. In my opinion, Shirley Jackson is a queen of scream, but the screams she provokes are internal and subtle, but not lacking in volume in the slightest. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deeply unsettling story of a family poisoned save for three–uncle Julian, Constance, and her younger sister, Merricat. The villagers hardly hide their suspicion of Constance and mock the remaining Blackwoods. The arrival of a relative shatters the relative peace that the fragmented family is able to muster despite the scorn of the local villagers. Yet, Merricat sees through the act and sets off a chain of events culminating in a shocking climax. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is one of my favorite novels, and it’s an incredibly unsettling read that stays with you for a lifetime.
I can only imagine a chorus of children mockingly singing “Merricat, Merricat would you like to go to sleep? / Down in the boneyard six feet deep?”
8. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut – One of my all-time favorites. A playwright-turned-propagandist for the Germans during WW2 is on trial for his crimes, but he claims to have been spying for the U.S. the entire time. The question, of course, is whether or not Howard Campbell Jr. is guilty, but, as Campbell tells his story, the reader is assaulted with several twists and turns. An incredibly novel complete with Vonnegut’s black humor, Mother Night would make for an intriguing film.
9. Jar of Fools by Jason Lutes – I wonder how effectively a graphic novel could be transferred to a movie screen. Watchmen certainly did an admirable job by most accounts (though I’ve neither seen the film nor read the novels), so it seems to be possible. Whether animated or live-action, Jar of Fools would be an interesting selection.
Jar of Fools tells multiple stories: 1) that of two magicians: one an alcoholic named Ernie dealing with demons of his past, the other an elderly man seemingly to be in the midst of dementia, 2) A waitress struggling to come to terms with the suicide of Ernie’s brother, and 3) a grifter living in his car with his daughter. I’m sure you know by know that their lives come together in an unlikely way. It’s the overall message of a kind of fractured fraternity that’s powerful in Jar of Fools.
10. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – Now, I’m not really one much for YA lit, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson was a really fun read. The novel features two teenaged characters of the same name, one created by Green and one by Levithan. Predictably, the lives of the two Will Graysons intersect, but in a rather unorthodox manner, and both attempt to navigate romantic relationships…one with a female crush and one with a male crush (who happens to be a huge football player named Tiny Cooper). The novel culminates in a musical number, and while it sounds absolutely ridiculous (and in some ways is), the novel is a lot of fun and would speak to a variety of audiences.