Monday, October 22, 2007

The Book that Got Away

When I used to teach a university honors seminar on The Ancient World, I enjoyed screening the Coen brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? This helped set the mood for the Odyssey, which, in my opinion, is one of the greatest adventure stories of say the last 2,600 years. I would have shown Raising Arizona or The Big Lebowski, too, if I could have worked them in between Aeschylus and Euripides.

At any rate, one story that Joel and Ethan Coen have not been able to bring to the big screen is James Dickey’s novel, To the White Sea, which centers around a B-29 gunner downed in Japan at the end of World War II, who proceeds to walk from Honshu to Hokkaido. One other thing: the lead character does not know any Japanese, and there’s no dialogue after the first five minutes. Discussion with collaborator Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) and journalist Lev Grossman in the October 29 issue of Time.