Category Archives: Fiction & Literary

Paul and Me [reboot]

In remembrance of Paul on his birthday, I bring back an updated post from the past.

NOTE: This was supposed to post a week ago on January 25, but I messed up. Sorry.

~~~

This is about the first novel I had published, La Desperada.

It’s about the script adaptation I wrote that was based on that novel.

It’s about Paul Newman.

It’s about a lot of things.

But mainly, it’s about how (if I want to do the Hollywood stretch) I almost wrote a script for Paul.

Or if you want to do the reality check, it’s about how I maybe almost talked to him on the phone. I think.

Mainly, it’s about my writing, my western, my attempts to get it made as a movie, and my new efforts to bring out the ebook, and finally see it in print again.

And it’s about a book by Gwendon Swarthout called The Homesman.

Some years ago one of the producers on the film UNFORGIVEN read my western script, liked it a lot, and said to me, “You know, as I was reading this, I thought, this is the writer who needs to adapt THE HOMESMAN for Paul Newman.”

That is a moment. A Moment. Somebody actually tied me as a screenwriter to a project for Paul Newman. Not that he was in position to do anything about it, mind you. But still. It put an idea in my head. (Dangerous place for ideas, my head.)

I read THE HOMESMAN and loved a lot of it–except for (no spoiler here, I’m restraining myself with great difficult) how the female protagonist dealt with her loss near the end. And I knew, yes, I could write the hell out of this script, but not if Paul (he was Paul in my mind by this point) wanted THAT to happen!

Brace yourself.

I wrote Paul (well, it was official correspondence so I called him Mr. Newman as it didn’t seem right to call him Paul) and told him what I’d been told, and that I’d love to offer myself up for the task of adapting The Homesman for him.

Yes.

I really did that.

And-

It gets worse.

I did that knowing–KNOWING–that the script he’d been shopping around trying to get made was supposedly causing all sorts of problems because everybody “knew” that despite whatever name was on the script, Paul had written it himself. And nobody wanted to say, “Paul, this script is bad.”

So it didn’t get made, it kept getting passed around, and…

I wrote and offered my services as a screenwriter.

*takes a bow*

Yes, that is chutzpah.

Of course nothing came of it.

Until many months later, I came home from somewhere to find a message on my answering machine. A voice said, “Call for Patricia from Mr Newman.” And when I didn’t answer, there were murmurs and then a voice continued, “Mr Newman wanted to thank you for your interest in The Homesman, but he isn’t looking for a writer at this time. If his plans change, he will let you know.”

I almost fell flat on the floor. ON the FLOOR, people.

First of all, it sounded distinctly as if–had I been home–I might have actually spoken to MR NEWMAN my own sassy self! (That murmuring in the background? I am sure it was Paul-murmurs. Seriously. I could tell.) (Okay, maybe in retrospect I decided I could tell.) (Okay, I have no idea, but it had to be, didn’t it? Oh hush.)

At any event, his asst had called to pass verbally, and so nicely and–

Well, I eventually started breathing again.

And that was the end of it.

My brush with almost maybe writing a script for Paul Newman, okay, maybe almost talking to him on the phone.

Moving forward… I’d had a few people tell me that my book reminded them of Unforgiven in several ways (though my book was published first), and then this mention of my potential skill with the material in the The Homesman, and then…

One day I was looking for book comparisons for my new ebook, La Desperada, so I could say, if you like THIS you might like mine, it has been compared to Unforgiven* only with a love story and sex,” and somebody said, “This might be helpful. Unforgiven was written by a guy who was influenced by a novelist, did you know that? He was influenced by Gwendon Swarthout, who wrote The Shootist and The Homesman.”

As comparisons go, it probably doesn’t help me a lot, as these are books which I suggest very few of my target audience will have ever read.

And yet it felt very odd, like a voice from the distant past bring back a producer from Unforgiven and a near-brush with Paul Newman and The Homesman and…

I like to think that if Gwendon Swarthout had ever written a western with love and sex, somebody just might have said to him, “You know what, this reminds me a lot of that book by Patricia Burroughs….”

* I could tell you about the time my script got couriered to Carmel because Clint wanted to read it, but that would just be name-dropping.

The Nicholl Award-winning script Redemption is available as a download here on Book View Cafe, and in print from Amazon.

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Filed under Books, Fiction & Literary, Film, La Desperada, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, Writing

Paul and me.

This is about the first novel I had published, La Desperada. It’s about the script adaptation I wrote that was based on that novel.  It’s about Paul Newman. It’s about a lot of things.

But mainly, it’s about how (if I want to do the Hollywood stretch) I almost wrote a script for Paul.

Or if you want to do the reality check, it’s about how I maybe almost talked to him on the phone.

Mainly, it’s about my writing, my western, my attempts to get it made as a movie, and my new efforts to bring out the ebook.

And it’s about a book by Gwendon Swarthout called The Homesman.

Some years ago one of the producers on the film UNFORGIVEN read my western script, liked it a lot, and said to me, “You know, as I was reading this, I thought, this is the writer who needs to adapt THE HOMESMAN for Paul Newman.”

That is a moment. A Moment. Somebody actually tied me as a screenwriter to a project for Paul Newman. Not that he was in position to do anything about it, mind you. But still. It put an idea in my head. (Dangerous place for ideas, my head.)

I read THE HOMESMAN and loved a lot of it–except for (no spoiler here, I’m restraining myself) how the female protagonist dealt with her loss near the end. And I knew, yes, I could write the hell out of this script, but not if Paul (he was Paul in my mind by this point) wanted THAT to happen!

Brace yourself.

I wrote Mr Newman (well, it was official correspondence so it didn’t seem right to call him Paul) and told him what I’d been told, and that I’d love to offer myself up for the task of adapting The Homesman for him.

Yes.

I really did that.

And–it gets worse.

I did that knowing–KNOWING–that the script he’d been shopping around trying to get made was supposedly causing all sorts of problems because everybody “knew” that despite whatever name was on the script, Paul had written it himself. And nobody wanted to say, “Paul, this script is bad.”

So it didn’t get made, it kept getting passed around, and…

I wrote and offered my services as a screenwriter.

*takes a bow*

Yes, that is chutzpah.

Of course nothing came of it.

Until many months later, I came home from somewhere to find a message on my answering machine. A voice said, “Call for Patricia from Mr Newman.” And when I didn’t answer, there were murmurs and then a voice continued, “Mr Newman wanted to thank you for your interest in The Homesman, but he isn’t looking for a writer at this time. If his plans change, he will let you know.”

I almost fell flat on the floor. ON the FLOOR, people.

First of all, it sounded distinctly as if–had I been home–I might have actually spoken to MR NEWMAN my own sassy self! (That murmuring in the background? I am sure it was Paul-murmurs. Seriously. I could tell.) (Okay, maybe in retrospect I decided I could tell.) (Okay, I have no idea, but it had to be, didn’t it? Oh hush.)

At any event, his asst had called to pass verbally, and so nicely and–

Well, I eventually started breathing again.

And that was the end of it.

My brush with almost maybe writing a script for Paul Newman, okay, maybe almost talking to him on the phone.

Moving forward… I’d had a few people tell me that my book reminded them of Unforgiven in several ways (though my book was published first), and then this mention of my potential skill with the material in the The Homesman, and then…

One day I was looking for book comparisons for my new ebook, La Desperada, so I could say, if you like THIS you might like mine, it has been compared to Unforgiven* only with a love story and sex,” and somebody said, “This might be helpful. Unforgiven was written by a guy who was influenced by a novelist, did you know that? He was influenced by Gwendon Swarthout, who wrote The Shootist and The Homesman.”

As comparisons go, it probably doesn’t help me a lot, as these are books which I suggest very few of my target audience will have ever read.

And yet it felt very odd, like a voice from the distant past bring back a producer from Unforgiven and a near-brush with Paul Newman and The Homesman and…

I like to think that if Gwendon Swarthout had ever written a western with love and sex, somebody just might have said to him, “You know what, this reminds me a lot of that book by Patricia Burroughs….”

* I could tell you about the time my script got couriered to Carmel because Clint wanted to read it, but that would just be name-dropping.

The novel La Desperada and the Nicholl Award-winning script Redemption are now available in the same download here on Book View Cafe.

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction & Literary, Film, Novels, Screenwriting, Writers, Writing

Just a work of fiction.

SCOTUS Defines Personhood, by Vonda N. McIntyre*.

In an expected decision today, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed its definition of Corporations as persons, and redefined organic beings as unpersons.

Unpersons include nebular avatars, bionic individuals (including biological bodies with computer-assisted intellects, machine-assisted brain preservation modalities, and exoskeleton-assisted paraplegics, quadriplegics, and n-oplegics for any value of “n”, including naturalized aliens), infertile biological entities (whether infertility be caused by chromosomal abnormality, age, illness, sexual orientation, or disinclination to reproduce), naturalized aliens, and natural-born human beings.

The Perfect Union must now be administered as a profit-making organization (Amendment 28 to the Constitution of the United States of America, “National Profitability”). Corporations are the only entities with sufficient financial resources to function as Persons and Citizens… (click here for the rest)

Don’t worry. It’s not true or anything.

Really.

REALLY.

Yet.

Sweet dreams!

* Vonda N. McIntyre’s novels and selected short stories, including “Supreme Court of the United States Defines Personhood,” Nebula Award winners Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun, can be found at the Book View Café ebookstore.

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction & Literary, Politics, Satire

Thou shalt not covet.

But books don’t count. (wink)

Found this on tumblr, from someone who found it on Amazon.

Since my tumblr account is A Book in the Hand, this picture is one I can ❤ but not reblog, so I have to share it here.

Lucky you!

Yes, this is definitely a lovin’ the shallow kind of post. Books as objects of beauty. Even the bookcase or cubby hole or whatever it is? Is lovely.

The Penguin Classics Hardcover Collection.

I guess it’s obvious. I need a new category.

ETA: I stood strong. I did not order a Penguin Classic Hardcover.

I ordered The Annotated Alice in Wonderland.

Ooops.

8 Comments

Filed under Books, Building My Library, Fiction & Literary, Lovin' the shallow, Reading

A filthy, trashy book.

I don’t believe in banning books.  I believe in ignoring books I don’t like or find offensive but I believe in free speech, even when I hate the speech itself. Lucky for me, I live in the United States of America where this is law.

That doesn’t mean that books have never been banned on a local level, though, and so today I will begin my week of banned books I love.  Most of these are slam-dunk no-brainers. They are the easy ones, the ones you trot out to make the banners look foolish.  Some are tougher to defend, and I’m not sure I’ll try. I’ll simply say that every book on this list is a book I’ve read, used and loved.

Number one: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Oh, how I love this “filthy, trashy novel” and the “filthy, trashy” (I would assume?) movie, too. I was seventeen years old when I saw the movie and it shook me to my core. I then found the book at the school library and read it. I can’t imagine a school library without it.  The subject matter was heavy for me at the time, especially the stark racism to which I had never been exposed, even though my maternal family was from south Mississippi.  The rape, the segregation, the lynching attempts. And yet there was such beauty in that book. Atticus Finch is one of the most perfect characters ever crafted, too perfect some say. But we see him through the eyes of his daughter, and yes, I do think it was an accurate portrayal of what he must have seemed to her in those dark days, her knight in shining armor. He is what we all need in dark days, the glimmer of hope that good might prevail, that one good man or woman can make a difference, and must make an effort…

If you are a parent who finds the subject matter or the language too harsh, my most sincere suggestion would be for you to let your son or daughter read it and then discuss it with them, find out what they’re thinking about it, do whatever damage control you think is necessary. You might be surprised by their responses.  If that is something you are simply unable to consider, then I’d insist that you take action to excuse them from the assignment (if it’s an assigned book) but for goodness sake don’t ask the school to ban the book.  Understand that you have the responsibility and the authority to monitor and control what your kids see, but if you truly value your American heritage, you will understand that your responsibility and authority are to your own kids, not mine.

In my efforts to build my library I have discovered a gaping hole where this book should be, so I just ordered it for my shelf of beloveds.  This makes me very happy.

What the American Library Association reports about this book:

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Challenged in Eden Valley, MN (1977) and temporarily banned due to words “damn” and “whore lady” used in the novel. Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980)  as a “filthy, trashy novel.” Challenged at the Warren, IN Township schools (1981) because  the book does “psychological damage to the positive integration process” and “represents  institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.” After unsuccessfully trying to ban Lee’s novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory  council. Challenged in the Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the  word “nigger.” Challenged in the Kansas City, MO junior high schools (1985). Challenged at  the Park Hill, MO Junior High School (1985) because the novel “contains profanity and  racial slurs.” Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list in the Casa Grande, AZ  Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National  Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use. Challenged at the Santa Cruz, CA Schools (1995) because of its racial themes.  Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book’s language and content were objectionable. Challenged at the Moss Point, MS School District (1996) because the novel contains a racial epithet. Banned from the Lindale, TX advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book “conflicted with the values of the community.” Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) School Board member because of profanity. The novel was retained. Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, OK High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text. Challenged in the Normal, IL Community High School’s sophomore literature class (2003) as being degrading to African Americans. Challenged at the Stanford Middle School in Durham, NC (2004) because the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel uses the word “nigger.”  Challenged at the Brentwood, TN Middle School (2006) because the book contains “profanity” and “contains adult themes such as sexual intercourse, rape, and incest.”  The complainants also contend that the book’s use of racial slurs promotes “racial hatred, racial division, racial separation, and promotes white supremacy.”  Retained in the English curriculum by the Cherry Hill, NJ Board of Education (2007).  A resident had objected to the novel’s depiction of how blacks are treated by members of a racist white community in an Alabama town during the Depression.  The resident feared the book would upset black children reading it.  Removed (2009) from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger.”

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Filed under banned books, Building My Library, Fiction & Literary, Film

I don't read much litrachure.

I’m a genre reader. Tell me a story, entertain me, have some logic and reason that holds together and an end that makes sense. I don’t read a lot of literature. So when A Visit from the Goon Squad was announced today as the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner, I felt jazzed. Wow, I’ve read that. I liked it. I read a Pulitzer Prize winner before it even won the prize.

Go me.

First time that might have happened was Lonesome Dove: A Novel. I got it for Christmas. It’s inscribed something like, “Merry Christmas, we love you, Sam, Douglas, James, Scott, Larry McMurtry.” I’ve always wondered whether he wasn’t paying attention when he autographed it by adding his name to the column or whether it was intentional, and whether this would stand up in court as “He treated me like family, of course I’m an heir,” someday. Anyway, I read it, loved it, went to see him at Brookhaven College in Dallas and heard him speak and got it autographed and then, a few months later, my son came out of his bedroom one morning and said, “Where’s that book we gave you for Christmas? It just won the Pulitzer Prize.”

I dug it out from under the pile of newspapers and put it on the shelf of honor where it belongs.

I’m pretty sure it happened again. I’m pretty sure I had already read Breathing Lessons when Anne Tyler brought home the Prize for it, but my only reaction was that I loved The Accidental Tourist so much more.

Finally, I have mulled over The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Middlesex and can’t claim to have discovered them before Chabon and Eugenides were honored.

But I look back at all of these books, save one, and I see they all have the same things in common. They told stories, they had logic, they had beginnings and middles and ends, and they entertained me, and they ended in satisfying ways. They did the same things that my genre books do. Which is why I tell classes, I don’t read “literature” and I can’t tell you how to write it, but there is nothing I teach in my classes that can’t be used in writing “literature.”

And then, there is A Visit From the Goon Squad, which is a collection of tangentially connected short stories that doesn’t exactly fit that description. It fascinates and entertains, but it jumps from place to place and goes off in unexpected directions and skips huge gaps in time, following an unexpected trail around the edges of rock and roll.

I loved it.

Read any of these books and I think you will find much to love, too.

Which Pulitzer winners have you read? Were they assigned or did you read them on your own? Love, hate, meh? Page-turners or DNF (did not finish)?

Tell me.

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Filed under Books, Fiction & Literary, Novels, Pulitzer

I don’t read much litrachure.

I’m a genre reader. Tell me a story, entertain me, have some logic and reason that holds together and an end that makes sense. I don’t read a lot of literature. So when A Visit from the Goon Squad was announced today as the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner, I felt jazzed. Wow, I’ve read that. I liked it. I read a Pulitzer Prize winner before it even won the prize.

Go me.

First time that might have happened was Lonesome Dove: A Novel. I got it for Christmas. It’s inscribed something like, “Merry Christmas, we love you, Sam, Douglas, James, Scott, Larry McMurtry.” I’ve always wondered whether he wasn’t paying attention when he autographed it by adding his name to the column or whether it was intentional, and whether this would stand up in court as “He treated me like family, of course I’m an heir,” someday. Anyway, I read it, loved it, went to see him at Brookhaven College in Dallas and heard him speak and got it autographed and then, a few months later, my son came out of his bedroom one morning and said, “Where’s that book we gave you for Christmas? It just won the Pulitzer Prize.”

I dug it out from under the pile of newspapers and put it on the shelf of honor where it belongs.

I’m pretty sure it happened again. I’m pretty sure I had already read Breathing Lessons when Anne Tyler brought home the Prize for it, but my only reaction was that I loved The Accidental Tourist so much more.

Finally, I have mulled over The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Middlesex and can’t claim to have discovered them before Chabon and Eugenides were honored.

But I look back at all of these books, save one, and I see they all have the same things in common. They told stories, they had logic, they had beginnings and middles and ends, and they entertained me, and they ended in satisfying ways. They did the same things that my genre books do. Which is why I tell classes, I don’t read “literature” and I can’t tell you how to write it, but there is nothing I teach in my classes that can’t be used in writing “literature.”

And then, there is A Visit From the Goon Squad, which is a collection of tangentially connected short stories that doesn’t exactly fit that description. It fascinates and entertains, but it jumps from place to place and goes off in unexpected directions and skips huge gaps in time, following an unexpected trail around the edges of rock and roll.

I loved it.

Read any of these books and I think you will find much to love, too.

Which Pulitzer winners have you read? Were they assigned or did you read them on your own? Love, hate, meh? Page-turners or DNF (did not finish)?

Tell me.

2 Comments

Filed under Books, Fiction & Literary, Novels, Pulitzer