Sunday, January 05, 2020

Five top NYC-set novels that became NYC-set films

Christian Blauvelt is an entertainment and culture journalist, who serves as the managing editor of leading film and TV industry website IndieWire. He regularly appears on CBS New York to give previews of upcoming films and awards season analysis; has hosted films on Turner Classic Movies; and has presented at South by Southwest and San Diego Comic-Con. Blauvelt is the author of books including Star Wars Made Easy and Cinematic Cities: New York - The Big Apple on the Big Screen. He lives in New York City.

At Book Marks he shared, with Jane Ciabattari, five NYC-set novels that became NYC-set films, including:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I find that the best New York stories are quite short. And of the books included here, only Washington Square is over 200 pages. Perhaps it’s because New York City’s energy encourages such restlessness it’s best to try to tell a story set in its environs with a little more brevity. The New York Minute and all that. Gatsby pulses with that energy—and you can read it in just about the time it takes to watch any of its movie adaptations. Fitzgerald could find mystery in a billboard, could capture desire in the soft glow of an electric light, could revel in the sensuality of a room at The Plaza hotel. If those aren’t skills suited for conveying the unique verve of New York City, I don’t know what skills are.

JC: Gatsby is one of the most visual of American twentieth-century novels, its physical descriptions and urban landscape of the Jazz Age, with its careless wealthy and disposable ones honed to the last detail. It’s set nearly a century ago, but it’s timely still, wouldn’t you say? What makes it stay with you?

CB: You can tell I really love novels about desire unfulfilled! Sigh, there’s nothing more poignant than having risen to the point where you have attained a luxurious swimming pool only to end up floating facedown dead in it. (Billy Wilder must have at least thought of Gatsby when writing Sunset Boulevard.) The perils of respectability particularly underscore Baz Luhrmann’s extraordinary 2013 adaptation, a film destined to win more admirers with each passing year. Produced by Jay-Z, who himself “graduated to the MoMA, and did all of this without a diploma,” it pulses with the desperation one can feel to make real the most feverish dreams.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Great Gatsby appears among Kate Williams's six best books, Jeff Somers's ten best book covers...ever and seven most disastrous parties in fiction, Brian Boone's six "beloved classic novels whose authors nearly cursed with a terrible title," four books that changed C.K. Stead, four books that changed Jodi Picoult, Joseph Connolly's top ten novels about style, Nick Lake’s ten favorite fictional tricksters and tellers of untruths in books, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of five of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books, Elizabeth Wilhide's nine illustrious houses in fiction, Suzette Field's top ten literary party hosts, Robert McCrums's ten best closing lines in literature, Molly Driscoll's ten best literary lessons about love, Jim Lehrer's six favorite 20th century novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature and ten of the best misdirected messages, Tad Friend's seven best novels about WASPs, Kate Atkinson's top ten novels, Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition, Robert McCrum's top ten books for Obama officials, Jackie Collins' six best books, and John Krasinski's six best books, and is on the American Book Review's list of the 100 best last lines from novels. Gatsby's Jordan Baker is Josh Sorokach's biggest fictional literary crush.

--Marshal Zeringue