Tag Archives: zeroville

Zeroville Optioned for Film

This could be interesting:

It looks like James Franco has been reading again, because he has bought the film rights to Zeroville, Steve Erickson’s darkly comic novel about Hollywood.

The famously literate actor, who is studying for a PhD in English from Yale University and, according to Pineapple Express producer Judd Apatow, could often be found leafing through heavyweight classics such as The Iliad on set, has plans to direct the film of the book himself, Variety reports.

Erickson’s 2007 novel tells the story of a film fanatic’s adventures in the movie industry from the late 60s onwards and contains characters called Robert De Niro, Brian De Palma and Margot Kidder.

Here’s how John Domini explained Zeroville in his essay “Against the Impossible to Explain: The Postmodern Novel and Society” in The Quarterly Conversation:

The protagonist’s psychology, barely functional, drew a lot of comment in the reviews. None, however, noted that similar issues afflicted nearly everyone in Zeroville. Nearly everyone’s an obsessive, so that the feel is stylized; the repetitions, the movie chatter, actually contribute to the pleasure and momentum of the reading. More than that, with so many one- or two-note characters, and with the settings of some later episodes quite out of this world, the two people of genuine depth can’t help but insinuate something like, yes, a social value. These are two women: first Vikar’s mentor in the editing booth, sick and old and drinking more each time we see her, and later the teenager at risk, a punk girl with family issues and perspicuity. Vikar has a personal agenda, in taking the girl under his broken wing; his own obsessions included her mother, also broken. More than that, the struggle of both the actual parent and the stand-in dramatizes how these halcyon ’70s could be anything but for women. Says one of the more reliable fanatics in Vikar’s circle: “It’s really not a business for broads.” . . .

Related is a structural gambit that might’ve been cooked up at a meeting of the arch-experimental OULIPO. I mean the numbering of the chapters. These can be very brief (one is a blank) but more often run a few pages, and Erickson counts first forwards to chapter 227, then backwards to 0 again. The turning point falls midway along the overall length, too, and calls attention to itself in the voice of the same unnamed Author who engineers the skillful flashes forward and back. Now, if the watershed number has some special significance in filmmaking, it eludes me. But I do think of the loser’s bookkeeping in Allen Ginsberg’s “America”—”America two dollars and 27 cents January 17, 1956″—because I do see how the reset occurs at the peak of Vikar’s success. He’s just been handed the Blue Eyes project, and the film’s to be featured at Cannes. What follows is the downside, inevitable it would seem, given his tenuous connection to the practical. But in Zeroville, the fall is complicated, first by a rise in nobility. Vikar sacrifices himself to save the girl. Moral growth like that allies the novel to a classic tradition, but its latter half also makes an audacious move into the surreal.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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