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Frey Free Friday

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Try to say that five times fast… Anyway, I think we all need a break, so today is free of all things expose related.

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I first heard about this months and months ago. I was afraid to get too excited about it since these things have a tendency to fall through, but it looks like this project might actually come to fruition. Yesterday, Variety reported that Picturehouse and New Line International are kicking off production later this year in a film adaptation of my old teacher Mark Richard’s Ice at the Bottom of the World. Charlize Theron has shown impeccable taste in controlling the film rights to the script, written by Richard himself, for several years now. Once again turning her beautiful back on gorgeous portrayals, Theron is set to star as a heroin addict.

This is fantastic news. Studying with Mark Richard, learning his techniques of building pressure, of crucial moments, and of pushing the bounds of language is one of my most cherished experiences. It was an honor to be in his class and I can’t wait for this film version to hopefully bring more attention to his work.

If you want it before they put a movie cover on it, pick up the collection of short stories here.

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And while we’re talking about movies, I just have to wonder aloud if there’s a better, more literate film than Cool Hand Luke. So many lines and quotes from that movie have permeated our culture that if you watch this film for the first time, you’ll constantly be saying “ahhhh, that’s where that came from.”

The cast is amazing. Paul Newman as Lucas “Luke” Jackson. George Kennedy in his Oscar winning role as Dragline. Dennis Hopper as Babalugats. Anthony Zerbe (who later earned my eternal respect for appearing in 1978’s Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park) stars as Dog Boy. Wayne Rogers, long before his MASH role appeared as Gambler. Harry Dean Stanton, before being the befuddled father of Molly Ringwald, starred as Tramp. Strother Martin ruled as the Captain and Clifton James maintained order as Carr. And of course, Joy Harmon washed that car and launched the cliche that Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson use to this day.

I think my favorite thing about this movie is the almost call-and-response rhythm of the cons asking for permission, matched immediately by the guards giving that permission.

“Smoke ’em up here, boss?”

“Smoke ’em up.”

Donn Pearce wrote the novel form of the story and he also worked on the script to Cool Hand Luke. Pearce was recently profiled in Esquire and he recalled some advice that a fellow inmate gave him that remains useful words of wisdom to all us aspiring authors today. “In Raiford [a state penitentiary in Florida where he did a two year stretch for breaking and entering and grand larceny],” Pearce told the magazine, “there was this old guy, an old newspaperman, an obvious drunk. And he said, ‘You’ll write a million words before you publish your first thousand.’ That always stuck in my head.”

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I’ve fallen a bit on the fine Unbridled Books blog, but here’s a post that’s worth catching up with. Fred describes a bit of the life for an editor at a sophisticated publishing house and how they’re doing everything they can to “break the one-nation/one-designated-book stranglehold. Last winter Harry Potter sucked up all the printing capacity in the country; we had a three-week production delay as a result of all that.” Obviously, a book like Potter or Da Vinci can dominate sales, but I never realized it could actually affect the physical printing of other texts.