First Book You Loved: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. I think I should have known then I was doomed destined to be a screenwriter. I still have it, the spine is falling apart.
Favorite Adaptation (book > film): Fight Club. For many reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. It is unapologetically set in Wilmington, Delaware (home of my high school), features one of my favorite Tom Waits songs (“Goin Out West”), and made me love Brad Pitt in ways I didn’t think I could. However, the book gives the characters, especially Marla, more heart. Also, and I think this makes me the only person in the world to say this (including the Venerable Mr. Palahniuk), I prefer the book’s ending. The line, “Yeah. Whatever. You can’t teach God anything,” is one that sticks with me always and has become a resource for one of my current projects.
Favorite Adaptation (film > book): I think I’d have to go with The Age of Innocence; it’s perfectly cast, I can live with what’s lost, and like the others, it’s a book I read after seeing the movie. While you can say that certain scenes or characters are missing, Scorcese goes after the essence of the story (the story, not the plot), to give the audience everything necessary to understand the characters, and more importantly, the complicated world they inhabit where every action is driven by meaning, and every sentence has many layers. Unrelated, it’s an absolute delight to see such a delicate story come from the man responsible for Taxi Driver and The Departed. You know?
Favorite Screenplay: This is way harder than I thought it would be. (That’s what she said?) I think it’s a tie between The Royal Tenenbaums and Four Weddings & A Funeral. When I work on my own screenplays, I try to write somewhere between those two. Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson will tell you every little detail about a room and what someone wears. Richard Curtis tells you only what is relevant to a particular instant. And both of them tell stories I enjoy experiencing and characters I love to visit, albeit for very different reasons.
Favorite Place to Read: Trains. Amtrak, not the subway. I need to put in a lot of time when I read.
Most Recent Favorite Book: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore is a recent favorite and a font of research.
Canon: The Divine Comedy – above all else. Catullus, Tom Jones, The Stand, Much Ado About Nothing, The Real Thing, and of course, Lucky Jim.
Favorite Poet: Edna St. Vincent-Millay. Without question. And Catullus.
Three Reasons Everyone Else Should Love Tom Waits:
- His phenomenal turn of phrase, like so: Out there like a slave ship, upside down / Wrecked beneath the waves of grain, / When the river is low they find old bones, / When they plow, they always dig up chains. (“Don’t Go Into the Barn”)
- If you don’t like his voice, plenty of other people cover his work so you can still enjoy it. (see: The Boss, Bette Middler, Rod Stewart [egh], and… ScarJo?)
- He can sing when he feels like it. (see: any album before Rain Dogs, and “The Day After Tomorrow” and other such songs.) Or, just listen to him talk. (e.g.: “What’s He Building in There?” or “Nirvana,” which is actually a reading and not original. And my favorite ever.)
Which is better: the movie, or the book? The movie. Unless Steve Kloves adapted it.
Current Occupation: Receptionist.
What You Can Do Later: (Screen)Writing, I think… for starters. After that, you know, seeing my words come to fruition. If that isn’t meant to be, I wouldn’t mind asking unsuspecting students why they think only reading Inferno qualifies as sufficient understanding of Dante.
Brooklyn: Is it Really Hipster Heaven? Sure. What else do you wanna know?
Favorite Method to Get Michelle’s Goat: As a sacrifice by her way of apology. Or playing devil’s advocate for Steve Kloves.
Any final (borrowed) words of wisdom? “I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.” – Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing.
Courtney grew up in the magical land of New Pennsylware, where her father read Treasure Island to her at age five, her mother taught her how to watch films by age thirteen, and her brother bequeathed his awesome taste in music by the time she could drive. At age eighteen, she sallied forth to Sarah Lawrence College, where she and Michelle proceeded to decorate their room with their own iterations of the muses, Apollo (Shakespeare), Hermes (Tom Waits), a select pantheon (Archangels, really), and Orson Welles for no apparent reason.
Today, she spends her days answering phones and chatting up clients at a post-production house in Midtown, and her nights hunched over her beloved laptop, Ichabod, penning the great American screenplay. Or hunched over the same tomes so beloved by herself and former roommate – in hopes of getting a degree in literature by proxy, while Michelle gets a real education in Philadelphia. Courtney’s lack of resources and focus on words as a whole make her the prefered choice in analysis of text over theory. She hopes you enjoy Withering Bites as much as she enjoys clacking out its entries.