Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lovely Bones & the Auteur of the Surreal

Alice Sebold {MFA '98} and I were contemporaries at UC-Irvine, but in very different corners of the campus.  Years later when I took up co-authoring screenplays avocationally, I remember reading one summer her memoir, Lucky {1999}, and Paolo Coehlo's Veronika Decides to Die.  I recall the buzz about Sebold's The Lovely Bones {2002} and read in a Powells.com interview how she started it, but went back to write Lucky::  
"Right. Though I did take notes for Lovely Bones - infrequently at best, I would say - while I was working on Lucky. 
As weird as this sounds, I think that after writing the first chapter of Lovely Bones, in which Susie is raped and killed, there was some urging on Susie's part that I get my own business out of the way before writing further into her story. When I say 'on Susie's part' I mean: the demands of her wanting to tell her story and using me to do so meant that I had to unload my story someplace else. It wasn't going to fit into the book I wanted to write for her.  
So I went ahead and wrote Lucky. But whereas in Lovely Bones the rape and murder scene was the first thing I wrote, in Lucky it was the last; the first chapter in Lucky is the last part I wrote. 
I definitely feel that Lucky was part of the process of writing Lovely Bones. I think it exists on its own, but I don't think I'd have written it if not for the demands of writing the novel."
I get interested in the creative process, particularly as it relates to separate components in one's body of work.  Lucky was an intense read.  It taps into the feelings of being betwixt and between being an adolescent and an adult and how hard it can be for those around us to deal with emotions in tragic situations.  I did read Lovely Bones, but it didn't stick with me like Lucky, but I've followed the news of its film adaptation, to be directed by Peter Jackson {LotR fame}.  What struck me about Sebold's writing is how deftly she moves between these of brutality in the world and the everyday, in a way that strikes me as genuine, as true to the emotional turmoil inherent in pain and wanting to restore a "normality." 

I remember seeing Jackson's Heavenly Creatures {1994}, starring Kate Winslet, and how he creates these fantasy worlds within the real worlds::

In Heavenly Creatures, there's a mad world of obsessive love clashing with the real world of a provincial New Zealand, complete with a gruesome ending.  I remember thinking he'd be a good fit for Lovely Bones, but wondered how he would depict the interstices of the "supernatural" realm of the dead girl and the real world of the survivors, in a seamless way.  

I thought the trailer was interesting, in terms of setting up and framing the story, starting with the dramatic and segueing squarely into the suspense genre, which has been a hot ticket for writers for a few years now.  In the trailer, the song is the Cocteau Twin's "Alice" {below}, which is one of my favourites and I could go on forever about their 4AD cover art.  I wonder if whoever cut the trailer used it as a homage to the novel's author.

Twitterversion:: newblogpost::Only handful fall/holiday films catching my eye.Curious RE::PeterJackson's adaptn of Sebold's Lovely Bones. http://url.ie/2dzt  @Prof_K

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