I feel like Tony Shalhoub's character in Galaxy Quest: "Heh heh," he chuckles, mentally adding up the squad of enemy alien soldiers guarding the [whatever], the rock monster the crew had encountered on a recent visit to a desolate planet, and the ship's transporter mechanism. "I just had this really interesting idea."
I've just done a little idle internal arithmetic myself. I read a lot, right? Mostly kids' and YA books. It's ridiculous. And it's gotten to be I kind of feel like I'm cheating when I take time out for the essentials: Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue, September Vogue, and Go Fug Yourself. Your essentials may not be my essentials. There's room for all of us here.
But my consumption of gossipy fashiony stuff means that I do kind of keep an eye on the traffic at the intersection of these two interests of mine - namely, when YA (and sometimes kids') novels are made into movies. Like... Ooh there goes Oscar nominee Viola Davis again - she's going to be in the movie they're finally going to make of Ender's Game. Hm. I wonder just exactly where Viola Davis fits into Ender's Game. Ugh here's another mouth-breathing Hemsworth: which YA heartthrob part is he going to be panting all over this time? You know. Everybody does that.
And you can't help wondering, you know, if you somehow found yourself sharing a First Class row with say Brad Pitt (I could get bumped up, it could happen!), what would you end up talking about?
Well first of all it depends on whether he has a haircut or not. I'm not sure I could even look at that man if he was in one of those self-abasing hair phases.
But given decent hair, I totally know what we would end up talking about. Just like everyone else, as soon as Brad Pitt learned I was a librarian, he'd be picking my brain for what to read. He'd be all like, "I read this book about baseball and it was really interesting. Can you tell me another book like that?" It's an occupational hazard for librarians, especially once you start writing book reviews. I get asked on Facebook, in parking lots, at parties, everywhere. I once got approached in the middle of a swimming pool and asked for book recommendations. And I don't mind it, not at all. Thank god I'm not a dermatologist, right?
So I'd probably graciously suggest to Brad Pitt that he read The Long Tail, because Moneyball is as much about numbers as it is about ball, and possibly the Buzz Bissinger book that Friday Night Lights: The Complete Series is based on. Friday Night Lights, I guess that's what that book is called. Those are both fine nonfiction titles to recommend to teenagers too, by the way. And then I'd go out on a limb and suggest Now Is the Time for Running, a breathtakingly suspenseful refugee novel with a sports angle. Maybe he'd read that book and then decide to sponsor the Homeless World Cup, an international sporting event that forms part of the climax of the book.
I WOULD BE A FORCE FOR GOOD.
Unfortunately, I can't just hang out at airports and hope to get bumped up all the time, much as that sounds like kind of an awesome/nightmarish life, so I'm going to start my career as Librarian to the Stars right here on Pink Me. And frankly, even though I am an all-ages librarian, my core competence lies in kids' and YA books, so I should probably concentrate on providing Reader Advisory to those actors and actresses who have starred in movies based on books written for kids and teens.
Here we go. Let me concentrate for a second... I'm settling in to my comfy First Class seat beside a blue-eyed girl with a moon face and long blonde/brown hair...
...doodle-doot doodle-doot doodle-doo (Waynes World special effect)...
Your Neighborhood Librarian: Hi! Excuse me, pardon me. Watch that banjo. Hey, do you want your complimentary First Class blanket? Because my feet always get cold.
Blonde: Hi. Quite all right. No sure, take the blanket, I don't need it. I'm so hot right now.
YNL: Thanks. Er, did you just quote Zoolander? Does that mean that you're Christine Taylor? Or... wait! You're Mystique! I didn't recognize you with your clothes on! [Dream Me is apparently a bit shrill.]
Jennifer Lawrence: Yeah, hi. I'm Jen, nice to meet you. I actually wear clothes almost all the time.
YNL: Of course you do. You know, it has always bugged me: what the hell was with that movie that all the women had to be naked or in lingerie? And they put hot-stuff Mr. Rochester in lumpy sweats!
JL: Mr. Rochester? You mean Fassbender?
YNL: Dude, I'm a librarian. For us, it's once a Brontë man, always a Brontë man.
JL: A librarian, huh? Are you going to tell me how much you loved The Hunger Games and how I'm not the right actress to play Katniss?
YNL: No no, I'm cool. I never fell in love with those books the way everyone else did. I thought the love triangle business watered down a perfectly good action story. Ehh, maybe I think you look too healthy to play Katniss? but at least you're not Taylor Lautner cast as Finn in Incarceron. There's no way that kid is going to pass as a crafty, half-starved inmate of a vast metal prison. Besides, have you seen your trailer?
Anyway, Jennifer Lawrence and I will maybe not turn out to be soulmates on our coast to coast plane ride, but we will be pleasant company for each other, and she will eventually get around to asking me if I have any suggestions for books she might like.
You need a little background when you answer this question, and here's what I know about this kid:
Jennifer Lawrence, 21 years old, came to national attention for her role in Winter's Bone, a movie about my father's meth-cooking white trash cousins (kidding Dad!), based on the book by Daniel Woodrell. Next, she slipped into the blue body paint vacated by Rebecca Romijn to play the shapeshifting mutant Raven Darkhölme in X-Men: First Class. A bold move, especially considering the fact that she was supposed to actually act while being a) naked and b) not really naked but covered with pieces of latex that took like 21 hours to apply. Romijn got away with that part by playing Mystique all grim and expressionless, but in X-Men: First Class the character had not yet developed into an uncompromising mutant freedom fighter and Lawrence had to project emotion while wearing my friend Billy's Miss Gay Ohio 1972 gown superglued to her face and body. Respect the craft.
So now she's in Hunger Games, due to release March 23, a movie that is hotly anticipated by many of my peers, colleagues, offspring, neighbors, close personal friends, and my producer at the radio station. What should Jennifer Lawrence read while she is cooling her heels in the many greenrooms, limos, and airports in which she is going to find herself while promoting this blockbuster?
Maybe she got a taste for tights when she did the X-Men movie, but also enjoyed the evil family affairs in Winter's Bone. In that case, she should take a look at The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell, about a boy raised by his supervillain mother who suddenly discovers that the villainous life he has prepared for all his life may not be his destiny after all. Funny and crass, with smart insights about the nature of good and evil.
When I do book recommendations, I kind of follow the rule I learned about setting your camera's aperture in my high school photography class. We don't do this anymore, because everything on a camera is automatic, but I can't unlearn it. You use your light meter to determine the proper exposure, and then you take three shots, adjusting the aperture: one on, one over-exposed, and one under-exposed.
So if The Rise of Renegade X is the One Under - a very likable common-denominator book - I'm going to pick the Graceling books by Kristin Cashore as the One On. This series concerns a strong female main character who is good with a sword and who reluctantly falls in love with a hot guy. Girls who like The Hunger Games like these books. No exceptions.
But the One Over for Jennifer Lawrence is the book I hope might just hit the spot for this keen actress. According to IMDB, she's in the forthcoming movie of The Silver Linings Playbook, playing Tiffany, the young widow of the main character's best friend. That main character, played by Bradley Cooper, has recently been released from a mental hospital but is certainly far from normal, engaging in distance running, competitive dancing, and extreme devotion to the Philadelphia Eagles in a quest to make himself into the perfect man for his estranged wife, Julia Stiles.
Lawrence's character is none too stable herself, fixating on this goofball and trailing him on his runs. You'd think, given the fact that she looks a little bit like La Stiles already, she'd just maybe steal his contact lenses and get him drunk if she wanted to win him. But that's probably why they never let me write these things.
Anyway, The Silver Linings Playbook was the debut novel of Matthew Quick, who went on to write the YA novels Sorta Like a Rock Star and Boy21, due in March from Little Brown. Sorta Like a Rock Star is my pick for Jennifer Lawrence. The novel's titular 'rock star' is a teenaged girl living in the back of a school bus with her alcoholic mom and loyal dog. Regardless of these reduced circumstances, Amber fills her days with good deeds - good deeds done with style. It has just the mixture of grit and optimism, plus sharp humor and freespiritedness.
Well damn, that was fun! I'm totally going to do this again. What star of kids- or YA-lit-based movies should I help out next? Asa Butterfield (he was Hugo and he's going to be Ender)? Or Scotsperson Kelly Macdonald (Nanny McPhee, HP8, and the forthcoming Brave, which I totally assumed was based on Cornelia Funke's Igraine the Brave but which apparently isn't)? Or let's go totally off the wall and give me the chance to tell Paul Bettany (Inkheart, The Secret Life of Bees) what to read!
YES. A sit-down with Paul Bettany. That's why I went into librarianship in the first place. WORTH ALL THE STUDENT LOANS.