Just saw Beastly...ummm...somebody give me the script and a week and I can revise the whole thing and make it like 27 times better. I mean the whole story of Beauty and the Beast is such a classic but this screenplay didn't really bring out all the magical, fairy-tale potential it could have had. First off...the "beast" not beastly enough. Second, what dad (as scum bag as he may be) will just hand off his daughter to some stranger for her safety? Well, maybe a complete psycho dad would, but nothing really showed her dad was that crazy. And so she's off to rich hideaway with her dad's consent and her "social media" page. Ok...enough. It was worth the Redbox dollar, though. But what injustice to the novel Beastly by Alex Flinn. Please, screenwriters and movie producers...stop messing up books! The writer knows best so why mess up a story that works? Now, I can see a druggie dad willing to trade his daughter to save his own messed up life as a last ditch effort to see another hit up his vein. That's in the book.
I suppose I really don't have much to write tonight. This is sort of a venting blog. Which brings me to another movie with our "beast." But first the book...I Am Number Four. I'll admit my son wanted to buy it, but I would not let him for writing sake. I read a few paragraphs and that was all I had to read to see somebody with a pretty good plot idea just sat down and wrote it and didn't put much thought into the craft of writing. Just plain, boring, generic stuff in there. This sci-fi? This is publishable with a pretty sizeable media promotion, movie deal, and all? Disheartening. But on the bright side, the movie did a much better job! I'd rather see the movie any day than endure a few paragraphs of the book.
You know what I need? I need a very well written novel right now and nothing is coming my way and nothing is really grabbing my attention. Of the 20 or so books on my desk (the ones I brought home this summer to read), only about 2 or 3 of them will be "wow." And those 2 or 3 have not been promoted by many book reviewers or YA blogs. Why? 'Cus there's no magical spell or demonic angels or devouring shadows that want a mortal soul. Just go to Target. There is a whole aisle of "dark" YA.
Enough! Give Matt de la Pena a chance!
First chapter of I Will Save You...amazing writing. Real writing.
So, here is a portion of a letter he wrote to all potential readers and posted on his own blog...
Dear Potential Reader:
This past Sunday I was playing ball in Brooklyn. A bunch of guys like me, older now, still trying to get to the rim or drain jumpers from the corner. At one point the ball rolled out of bounds and two dudes disagreed about who touched it last. Others joined in. Fingers were pointed. Things were said about people’s mothers. I stood back and watched the argument build and thought about the absurdity of our lives. All of us dressed up, dressed down, trying to be somebody, hoping they say good things when we’re not in the room. Like me, standing at half court all stressed out, wondering: Will anybody like my new book, I WILL SAVE YOU? It’s sad. Maybe people don’t like sad books. I like sad books, but I like sad everything – though technically I’m not a sad person.
YOU CAN READ THE ENTIRE LETTER ON HIS BLOG..Here.
But I will skip to the end of his letter.
Or maybe the connection is a more personal one. Maybe when you read one of my books you’re coming into my home, drunk on my wine, and sticking a small piece of me in your pocket (so much of these stories are pulled from my past). And maybe when you move me all around – from the table by your bed, to your office desk, to your padded computer bag – you’re giving me a small peek into your world. And maybe after you turn the last page you’ll even lend me to a friend, and I’ll get even farther in my travels. And ultimately you may even come to an epiphany similar to mine, and you’ll sneak up onto my front lawn, months from now, years even, and set that borrowed piece of me back on my welcome mat in the form of a letter, or an email, or a Facebook message, telling me what you think. That’s easily my favorite thing in the world...I would be honored if you gave I WILL SAVE YOU a read. It really is kind of a sad book. But it’s hopeful, too. And it’s my heart.
Matt de la Peña
Matt de la Pena
About Matt de la PenaIt’s raining in Brooklyn today, and I’m at a coffee shop, writing.
Man, I always seem to be writing these days. I’m here at a coffee shop, or I’m at the Writers Space, or I’m solo in my room late at night, in the dark, writing inside undecorated white walls, writing under a Brooklyn-style skylight that's more tar than starry sky.
Guess I've traveled a million miles from how I was as a kid. Used to be just me and basketball. Pick up games and talking head with the fellas. But these days hoop is a little smaller in the rearview mirror. The jumper isn't quite so trustworthy. The first step doesn't hurt as many feelings. Instead of hip hop and R&B, it's Sufjan Stevens, M Ward, Iron & Wine. Elliott Smith. These days come a little more literary, a little more solitary.
But early this morning I went back in my head for a sec. Went back to the face of the first girl who told me she loved me. Jen. This was way back in San Diego. We were both 15 and fresh-faced, sitting on my buddy's couch–his parents' couch. We were so awkward, so overwhelmed by having just kissed for the first time. Man, I hadn't seen her face in years. But there she was. In my mind. Every beautiful detail. Her eyes so big and brown and pure, dark hair so straight and long. And the look on her face . . . man, this girl actually dug me!
We were like that for a good 15 minutes. Silent. Unaware of how to act in our brand-new romantic skin. She circled a finger around my right kneecap, cleared her throat and brought her face up to mine. “Guess what,” she said.
She took the basketball out of my hands and set it in her lap. She spun it around and pointed at the “I” in “Spalding.” She looked up at me and smiled, then pointed at the “L.” She shifted the ball around to the word “Official,” pointed at the “O.” She searched and pointed, searched and pointed, until she had completely spelled out the phrase “I love you.”
I felt something move in my chest and asked her if she wanted to be my girl. She blushed, nodded. We grabbed a hold of each other and kissed again, this time a little less awkward.
This morning, when I woke up remembering this, it hit me how deeply rooted the game has been in my life. Here I was holding my basketball while I kissed my first girlfriend. She used it to spell out that she loved me.
No matter how far I move away from the game, into this new life as an author, no matter what strange direction my literary interests lead me in next, or where I go, or who I meet, I will always carry the game of basketball in my chest. This game was my best friend growing up. It was my confidant. My passion. My ticket to college, to education, to books and words, the rhythms of poetry.
Soon the day will come when I can no longer dunk, when I can no longer scoot around the skinny kid at the Y with the big head. Eventually my skills will deteriorate to the point that a basketball court stops feeling like a haven and starts feeling more like a prison cell. But I will never forget you, Basketball. You were with me every step of the way. You gave me the confidence to try and be somebody (an author!). You gave me this incredible life.
NOTE TO TEACHERS
Please click on the link to download the PDF.
Download a PDF of the Teacher's Guide