Zeroville - Wikipedia
Zeroville begins in on Hollywood Boulevard, when a Greyhound bus drops off It lost one star for the ending, which I wouldn't usually do—by "ending" here, .. I have been experiencing a strange and thrilling serendipitous relationship. Editorial Reviews. realestateforms.info Review. "Erickson is as unique and vital and pure a voice as Erickson: The whole novel wrote itself from beginning to end, including the film stuff. though ambiguities in his relationship with this enigmatic pair, along with a recurring dream of his, derail this black comedy toward the end. Zeroville is a novel by Steve Erickson on film's upheaval in the s. It has been of his head which he keeps shaven, his appearance is anachronistic and jarring to most of the people he encounters in end-of-the-'60s Los Angeles.
It wasn't mother, father, teacher, lover, friend. Is the artistic side Liz? Is the sporty side Montgomery, or is it the other way around? Is the light side the Liz side that waits in the bed under the sheets in a pin up pose of out of reach if you could only have me?
Too late, time to go to work. I haven't seen her so all I've got are magazine perfume samples of White Diamonds that doesn't last enough or linger too long, depending on if you like the fragrance or not. Or is the dark the Montgomery Clift side that has waited all his life for you? I think I would remember the wolf. Stitch it together for the mask. I think I would have remembered Shelley Winter's cow eyes.
The fat tongue is edible and through the hole in the mask mouth. I haven't seen A Place in the Sun but I know that Alice, the poor girl he knocks up and would kill to be rid of, has cow eyes because Shelley Winters was like the go-to gal for cow eyed women see: Night of the Hunter or Lolita. John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons said that education is never a waste. I want to see A Place in the Sun and discover if Dotty the film editor is right that we want Monty to kill Winters so that he can reappear between Liz's sheets.
I never know if I'm going to want what someone else wants, though. She may be the most beautiful woman that Vikar has ever seen but I am self taught and self raised on movies.
Do movies show people that thing that they will never, ever have and then they have to step out of the darkened theater and back out under the sun where that place doesn't exist? I feel like I wouldn't have anything, wouldn't know anything, if it weren't for movies. I guess it is kind of fucked up because they aren't real.
Zeroville (film) | Revolvy
I definitely don't trust my own take on anything, if that makes it any better. Hey, that's why I felt at home mostly in Zeroville. Vikar is the same way. We don't know anything! We would understand the Elephantman and his other's voices in the only out of body he can get. You could see a smile in one movie and then when it reappears again in another you would know that he was thinking about the father that left him long ago. Does Joan hear the voice of God showing her the way?
Does it really matter when that's what you've got? They are voices, people who sweat and tears, making these things and then those things walk across your dreams now without them and now with you. So what if I'm getting to where it can't possibly be enough? That's who will talk to me. I could pick from dozens of examples way more than that for this and I'm going to go with Adrienne Shelly because for some reason I was thinking about her a lot today.
You may remember that she was tragically murdered not too long ago. Would that I were good at explaining away the "It" screen presence thing then I could explain away why some look that John Turturro had on his face in Unstrung Heroes made me believe that there was this husband and wife and family who really did love each other.
One look and it was true. Sure, it's fake and movies and written to be that way. It's something when you can make that decision together to just go with it and watch and give a shit about this thing for that time, right? Since her first films The Unbelievable Truth and Trust both Hal Hartley films Shelly had a stylized way of speaking that I don't really know how to explain. She's even got a bit of a little girl voice vulnerable thing going on in a way that has more to do with how she looks at you and not how you look at her maybe that too.
Well, she also wrote her own films and starred in them and she was just as good without Hal Hartley damn straight! I would believe that she could walk off the screen and deliver these witty lines and break your heart on her sleeve just like that.
Zeroville is a who's who of film references and is truly a treat for anyone who loves the movies. Erickson, who is also a film critic for Los Angeles Magazinereally knows his shit, and it is evident on every page. It literally took one email and I was put in touch with Erickson, who graciously agreed to the interview. He spoke in great depth about Zeroville, the publishing industry, his love of film and his writing career.
There are a number of films important to the characters and to the storyline of Zeroville. Are these films as significant for you as they are for the characters? What are some other films that are important to you?Friends With Kids Official Trailer #1 - Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm Movie (2012) HD
Well, in the end the movies in the novel had to inform the story and characters. The book couldn't just be a compendium of films I happen to like. Some -- Last Year at Marienbad or, for that matter, Alphaville, where the novel gets its title -- just naturally lent themselves to being part of the book, without necessarily being any more special to me than real favorites -- The Third Man, say, or Jules and Jim -- that are mentioned in passing or barely at all.
Most of this was instinctive rather than anything I worked out in a calculated way. They're important because there's something about them that's deeply irrational and even rapturous -- sometimes in a horrific way -- which suited the story and the main character.
I want to ask you about the portrayal of real life people and events in Zeroville. Many of the famous actors and directors you use as characters in the novel either go nameless, or have partial or made-up names.
Was this for legal reasons? Because to me, figuring out the references was part of the fun. How much of their portrayal was made up and how much was based on fact, if any? Legal reasons weren't involved. Maybe they should have been. I'm relying a lot, I guess, on some of the people in question having a sense of humor, and on people recognizing the good faith of my intentions.
And I just think the characters have a greater chance of becoming their own characters, and the story-telling has more resonance, when the people in the story are defined in the story's terms rather than explicitly. Sometimes the explicit is more evocative.
Zeroville by Steve Erickson
It's more evocative to, from the outset, identify Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift tattooed on the head of Vikar, the main character. Other times it's more evocative to let the reader fill in the blanks.
I took the facts I knew and more or less made up my own versions of these people, but in the end I have no idea how much they resemble the actual people or don't. Was the character of Vikar in any way based on real life persons or events?
I couldn't really place him, or his Oscar nominated film, Your Pale Blue Eyes, other than it possibly being a Velvet Underground reference. I like the bit about him finding The Passion of Joan of Arc in a janitor's closet at an Oslo mental institution, which actually happened in real life. Vikar is pretty much a whole creation. I certainly don't know of anyone like him in the movie business, or probably anywhere else.
It's never clear if he's a savant or socially arrested or maybe just a bit dim. Someone says he's not a cineaste but "cineautistic. I would have to double-check to be sure, but I believe Your Pale Blue Eyes is the only movie in the novel that's made up, and yes, of course you're right, the title comes from the Lou Reed song.
Every other movie in the novel is real, including Nightdreams, the porn picture. Also, as you say, The Passion of Joan of Arc really was discovered, long after everyone assumed it was lost, in the early Eighties, in Oslo, in a janitorial closet in a mental hospital.
It's just too far-fetched not to be true. Being both a critic and a fan of film, what are your thoughts on having your own work adapted for the big screen? Have the rights to any of your books been optioned? Are there any directors you would like to see interpret your material? Two of my novels have been optioned, another came close before I pulled the plug for reasons I won't go into here.
Until Our Ecstatic Days I always thought my first, Days Between Stations, would best translate to film -- both have core stories that are inherently cinematic.
One is a love story; one is about a mother trying to save her kid. Alfonso Cuaron comes to mind for Days Between Stations, because he's a filmmaker who's at once emotional and strongly imagistic, and I can see someone like Jane Campion making Our Ecstatic Days. In either case a studio would have to be willing to put up some money because both would be moderately expensive movies even if the stories are simplified.
I think perhaps the most instructive adaptation of a modern literary novel is The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I read Kundera's book before the film was made and like a lot of people thought it wouldn't work as a movie, but the director Phillip Kaufman broke down the material of the story and built his own version, which no longer resembled Kundera so much in form yet completely caught the book's essence.
The English Patient is another example. What is it that Minghella told Michael Ondaatje when he bought the rights to the novel? You need to understand that your novel is your novel and the filmmaker's film is his or her film, and not get too precious about it or too invested.
This is why, at least so far, I've resisted invitations to write screenplays of my books. It's better for both me and the movie if someone else does it. If Zeroville ever were made into a movie it's likely to be by either a particularly film-conscious director or an actor who sees a good part in Vikar.
Obviously someone like Scorsese would get Zeroville. Whether he would like it, let alone want to make a movie, is another question, but he would understand it. Some Coppola or other -- Francis or Sofia -- would understand.
Right now there's a well known young actor who's interested. In Hollywood, "interest" and four bits gets you a morning newspaper. Zeroville initially appeared as a short story in a McSweeney's anthology. A lot of key elements from the novel were already present in that story. What made you decide to expand the idea into a novel? Was this always your intention?
Actually I think the short story and novel are pretty different. The plots share a similar "secret," if you will, and the main character in both is a film editor, but other than that they're very different characters and the tone of the two things is different.
- Steve Erickson
- Zeroville (film)
I wrote the story as a bargain with Michael Chabon, or what I thought was a bargain -- I approached him about writing for Black Clock, the literary magazine I edit, and he cannily roped me into writing for McSweeney's, in what I assumed would be a reciprocal arrangement.
So I holed myself up at the Rio in Vegas for five days and knocked out the story. Chabon, sneaky bastard, never came through on his end. I wasn't completely satisfied with the short story because I never got a grasp of that central character. It was later when Vikar came so sharply into focus that the novel fell into place. What was so important about these characters that you felt the need to go back to them?
Jefferson and Hemings are just great characters, and they embody the great contradiction of the country. I wrote Arc d'X six years before science more or less proved the two had a relationship, but the fact of their love affair was always clear to anyone who looked at the historical evidence honestly -- it doesn't say much for supposedly reputable American historians who for two centuries insisted so vehemently otherwise, offering only the argument that Jefferson just wasn't, you know, that kind of guy.
So I was fascinated with the people involved and also with a landscape where it was considered more scandalous that Jefferson slept with a black woman than that he owned one. The idea of the female martyr, both literally and figuratively, seems to be a recurring motif in your work.
Joan of Arc and immolation are referenced in Arc d'X as well as Zeroville. The character of Zazi in Zeroville also has that potential. I know this is something you have been criticized for in the past. Yet, despite what your female characters go through, many of them seem to retain a certain amount of power.
How do you respond to the criticism of your portrayal of women? Well, I'll have to take your word for it about the criticism. I'm sure there's no getting around the fact that I see my female characters through the prism of a heterosexual guy even when I try not to, with all the hangups and lack of comprehension that go with it.
I think I'm drawn to female characters because generally women are more interesting emotionally and psychologically, whereas with guys the train tends to pull into the station by the time they're thirty -- that's as far as they're going to go.
Zeroville by Steve Erickson
Whatever else is true about the women in my books, they're almost always defiant figures, and up until Zeroville they've increasingly dominated my books, particularly The Sea Came in at Midnight and Our Ecstatic Days. If someone wants to read those two books back to back with an open mind, I'm happy to accept whatever conclusion they reach about the way the women are presented.
While you're right that Sally in Arc d'X assumes the role of martyr, I don't see it much in the other books except Rubicon Beach, and I must say I don't see it at all in Zazi in Zeroville. I just don't think martyrdom is in her future.
Her mother, Soledad, maybe. But only if self-destruction counts. In addition to the aforementioned martyrdom, certain other motifs show up throughout your body of work: These recurring themes make it feel as if your characters all inhabit the same world, that they could almost all be a part of the same story. Is this purposeful or unavoidable? Do you feel you are trying to tell variations of the same story, or are using familiar themes to express different ideas? The recurrence of characters and themes began by accident, or what seemed an accident.
It's certainly true that these characters all inhabit the world in my head, and often it's been true that one book would grow out of something that later felt to me incomplete about an earlier book. You're not the first to suggest its all one book, and to the extent it's a single story I think of it as a round one, where any entry point is good as the other. You are known for your non-linear narrative style. Seemingly disparate storylines that share certain characters and ideas, stories which overlap and circle back on themselves.
Yet, Zeroville is one of your most linear novels to date. Was this a conscious effort on your part? Do you generally share Vikar's lack of need for narrative continuity? I tell the stories in the way that feels natural to tell them. It's not particularly conscious or unconscious. I never try to be difficult, and rather naively I'm always surprised when some people find the books hard.
Sometimes I think people give me too much credit. In the case of a novel about the movies, and I mean a novel that's really about the Movies, rather than a "Hollywood" novel about the business of making movies, it just seemed it should have the pop energy and momentum of a movie, and follow a movie's narrative laws, if you will -- linear, told in the present tense and in the externals of action and dialogue and movie references, short scenes that cut from one to the next, with some Godardian numbers thrown in just to make you think I'm smarter than I am.
Most of your novels up until now have been published by major publishers or imprints of majors. Europa is a true independent. How did you wind up at Europa? Were the other publishers finally fed up with you? I find it ironic that coming off the dreamlike narrative of Our Ecstatic Days Simon and Schusteryour first novel at an independent seems to be your most accessible. The novel is submitted to a handful of publishers -- a couple of the usual corporate behemoths, a couple of the more mid-level places that you would know, and one independent that's only been around a year or so but already has a reputation for really getting behind their books.
The bigger publishers say, yes, the novel is great, we'll make an offer next week, and the next week turns into two or three or four, because one of the things that's happened to publishing in the last decade is that no editor has autonomy to buy anything anymore. A decade ago certain editors had that autonomy -- it might be limited by what they could pay, but still they could pretty much buy a book on their own that they were excited about.
Now even someone as high up in the company as the publisher has to get his paperback guy to sign off on it. So the book works its way through the food chain and as it does the enthusiasm for it gets whittled away by people whose job it is to whittle away enthusiasm -- the paperback department, the marketing department, publicity department -- and a month later the companies are still dragging their heels because none of them knows anymore how to publish fiction, and all of them are desperate to find reasons to turn books down.
In the meantime, while these people are trying to muster up the will just to make a decision, the independent, Europa, is saying, we want it. We want it, we love it, we've already thought about how we're going to publish it.
So no sooner does Europa sign the book than it's got out a press release about it, because for them it's a Big Deal, and for three novels and ten years I've been telling myself I'm going to stop worrying about my advances, even if I really can't afford to, and go with someone who acts as though publishing my book is a Big Deal.
I remember when my first novel was published, it was around the time of White Noise and my editor at the time told me, "See, this is how it works -- DeLillo had to write nine novels before he broke through. They give you maybe three. I can understand it seems ironic but, counter-intuitive though it may have been, it was precisely because this novel might find a larger readership that it made all the more sense to go with a publisher that was passionate about it even if they don't have the resources that the big publishers have but never use anyway.
So I don't know if the big publishers are fed up with me or I'm fed up with them or, most likely, of course, it's a bit of both. There was a terrific woman there in production named Gypsy who was more conscientious about getting the text right than I was, which I wouldn't have thought possible.
Was the decision to go with Europa a gamble? So far I haven't been sorry. When you mention the difficulty of printing Our Ecstatic Days, I assume you're referring to the continuous sentence that starts on page 83 and runs through the text of the remaining pages, for the duration of the book.
Can you tell us a bit about what led to that creative decision? It was purely spontaneous.
In the story, a lake suddenly has appeared in the middle of Los Angeles and a young single mother becomes convinced the lake has come to take her three-year-old son. And on the page you mention, she dives down into the water and to the hole at the bottom that the lake is coming from, and she goes through the hole and "swims" through the rest of the novel in a sentence that cuts through the remaining text and remaining story and the next twenty-five years or so -- and the idea just came to me when I got to that point in the story.