The Inner Life of Martin Frost: A Film
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The Inner Life of Martin Frost: A Film

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by Paul Auster
     
 

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A Picador Paperback Original

A new movie written and directed by Paul Auster, starring David Thewlis, Irene Jacob, Michael Imperioli, and Sophie Auster.

From The New York Trilogy to The Book of Illusions and Travels in the Scriptorium, Paul Auster is one of America's most spectacularly inventive novelists.

Overview

A Picador Paperback Original

A new movie written and directed by Paul Auster, starring David Thewlis, Irene Jacob, Michael Imperioli, and Sophie Auster.

From The New York Trilogy to The Book of Illusions and Travels in the Scriptorium, Paul Auster is one of America's most spectacularly inventive novelists. Smoke, Blue in the Face, and Lulu on the Bridge established him as an award-winning filmmaker. The Inner Life of Martin Frost brings together his talents as a novelist and filmmaker with a work that is tender, moving, and funny.

Searching for solitude, the writer Martin Frost borrows a friend's country house. Waking up one morning, he is shocked to find a nearly naked young woman beside him in bed. She also has a key to the house and claims to be the owner's niece. Martin's initial annoyance at Claire's intrusion is rapidly forgotten as he falls passionately in love with her. Even when it is revealed that Claire is not who she claims to be, their idyllic passion continues--until she suddenly falls ill.

The Inner Life of Martin Frost is based on an imaginary film that appears in his novel The Book of Illusions. Unlike the fictional Hector Spelling's "lost" 1946 black and white film of the same title, Auster's luminous celebration of the mysteries of love, art, and the imagination will be released in 2007.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312427030
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
05/15/2007
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Inner Life of Martin Frost


By Paul Auster, Tim Squyres

Picador

Copyright © 2007 Paul Auster
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8718-9


CHAPTER 1

1. INT. A COUNTRY HOUSE — DAY

A slow, methodical tracking shot through the ground floor of a country house. The camera skims along the walls, floats above the furniture in the living room, and eventually comes to a stop eight feet from the door in the entrance hall.


NARRATOR (voice-over)

The house was empty.

The door opens, and in walks MARTIN FROST, a man in his early forties. He is carrying a suitcase in one hand and a bag of groceries in the other. As he kicks the door shut behind him, the voice-over narration continues.


NARRATOR (voice-over)

His friends Jack and Diane Restau were going to be gone until the end of the year. If Martin felt like getting out of New York for a while, Jack said, he could camp out at their place any time he wanted.

MARTIN puts down the suitcase and then exits the frame with the grocery bag.


NARRATOR (voice-over)

Martin had just spent three years writing a novel, and his brain was tired, in need of a rest. He had no plans. All he wanted was to spend a couple of weeks in the country and do nothing, to live the life of a stone.

As we listen to the NARRATOR'S voice, we see MARTIN wandering around in various parts of the house. He carries the groceries into the kitchen, but the moment the bag touches the counter, the scene cuts to the living room, where we find him inspecting the books on the shelves. As his hand reaches for one of the books, we jump to the master bedroom, where MARTIN is opening and closing the drawers of the bureau, putting away his things. A drawer bangs shut, and an instant later he is sitting on the bed, testing the bounce of the mattress.

It is a jagged montage, combining close and medium shots in a succession of slightly off-kilter angles and cuts paced at varied, unexpected tempos.

The camera fixes on the photograph of a young girl. As we listen to the last words of the opening monologue ("to live the life of a stone"), the image begins to blur. Silence follows. For a beat or two, it is as if everything has stopped — the voice, the sounds, the images — and then, very abruptly, the scene shifts. Cut to:


2. EXT. THE GROUNDS OF THE HOUSE — DAY

MARTIN is walking in the garden. A long shot is followed by a close shot; MARTIN'S face, and then a languid perusal of the things around him: trees and shrubs, the sky. When the camera finds him again, MARTIN is crouching down to observe a procession of ants. We hear the wind rush through the treesa prolonged sibilance, roaring like the sound of surf. MARTIN looks up, shielding his eyes from the sun, and again we cut away from him to another part of the landscape: MARTIN is walking slowly, deep in thought. He approaches the camera and then exits the frame. Meanwhile:


NARRATOR (voice-over)

But what did he know? A few hours of silence, a few gulps of fresh air, and all of a sudden an idea for a story was turning around in his head. That's how it always seems to work with stories. One minute there's nothing. And the next minute it's there, already sitting inside you.

A wide shot of the trees. The wind is blowing again, and as the leaves and branches tremble under the assault, the sound amplifies into a pulsing, breathlike wave of percussiveness, an airborne clamor of sighs. Then, once again, the scene shifts abruptly. Cut to:


3. INT. THE HOUSE HALLWAY — DAY

MARTIN walks down the hall and opens a closet door. He looks inside, immediately shuts the door, and then opens the next door. He reaches in and pulls out a fifty-year-old Olympia typewriter. Shutting the door behind him, he carries the typewriter into a small study across the hall.


4. INT. THE STUDY — DAY

MARTIN is sitting at the desk with the typewriter in front of him. After a moment, he begins examining the contents of the drawers. The first drawer is empty; he slams it shut. In the second drawer he finds some ballpoint pens, some pencils, and a pad of yellow legal paper. One by one, he puts these items on the desk, then slams the drawer shut. In the third drawer he discovers a stack of blank white paper — about two hundred sheets. He pulls out the whole stack and puts it on the desk beside the typewriter, then slams the drawer shut. A brief pause as he surveys the objects in front of him. After a moment, he begins to arrange them: centering the typewriter on the surface of the desk, aligning the paper, putting the pens and pencils in a neat, orderly row. Finally, he removes the top sheet of paper and rolls it into the machine. He begins typing.


NARRATOR (voice-over)

It might not have been the newest equipment in the world. But it worked.

Close-up of the sheet in the typewriter. We can read: "It might not be the newest equipment in the world ... but it works." Cut to:


5. INT. MASTER BEDROOM — NIGHT

MARTIN is lying in bed with his eyes open. The bedside lamp is on.

NARRATOR (voice-over)

It wasn't going to be a long story. Twenty-five or thirty pages, forty at the most. Martin didn't know how much time he would need to write it, but he decided to stay in the house until it was finished.

MARTIN leans over and turns out the light. Darkness.


NARRATOR (voice-over)

That was the new plan. He would write the story, and he wouldn't leave until it was finished.


6. EXT. THE GROUNDS OF THE HOUSE — DAY

A close shot of a leaf, trembling in the light, followed by a close shot of wild-flowers jutting up from the grass in the garden. Early morning.


7. INT. MASTER BEDROOM — DAY

A tight shot of MARTIN'S face shows him to be asleep, his head resting on a pillow. Sunlight pours through the slatted shutters, and as we watch him open his eyes and struggle to wake up, the camera pulls back to reveal something that cannot be true, that defies the laws of common sense. MARTIN has not spent the night alone. There is a young woman in bed with him, CIAIRE MARTIN.

As the camera continues dollying back into the room, we see that she is asleep under the covers, curled up on her side and turned toward MARTIN — [her left arm flung casually across his chest. As MARTIN gradually emerges from his torpor, he notices the bare arm lying across his chest, then realizes that the arm is attached to a body, and then sits up in bed, looking like someone who's just been given an electric shock.

Jostled by these sudden movements, CIAIRE groans, buries her head in the pillow, and then opens her eyes. At first, she doesn't notice that MARTIN is there. Still groggy, still fighting her way into consciousness, she rolls onto her back and yawns. As her arms stretch out, her right hand brushes against MARTIN'S body. Nothing happens for a second or two, and then, very slowly, she sits up, looks into MARTIN'S confused and horrified face, and shrieks. An instant later, she flings back the covers and bounds from the bed, rushing across the room in a frenzy of fear and embarrassment. She is dressed in nearly nothing — at most a skimpy, sleeveless T-shirt. She snatches her bathrobe from the back of a chair and hastily thrusts her arms into the sleeves.

MARTIN

(Beside himself) Who are you? What are you doing here?

CLAIRE

(Equally beside herself) No — who are you? And what are you doing here?

MARTIN

(Incredulous) Me?

He climbs out of bed, picks up his pants from the floor, puts them over his boxer shorts, and begins walking toward CLAIRE. She grows increasingly frightened — but holds her ground.

CLAIRE

(Raising her hand) Uh-uh-uh. That's close enough.

MARTIN

(Angry) I'm Martin Frost — not that it's any of your business — and unless you tell me who you are right now, I'm going to call the police.

CLAIRE

(Astonished) You're Martin Frost? The real Martin Frost?

MARTIN

(Angrier still) That's what I just said. Do I have to say it again?

CLAIRE

(Flustered; talking rapidly) It's just that I know you, that's all. Not that I really know you, but I know who you are. You're Martin Frost the writer. Jack and Diane's friend.

MARTIN

You know Jack and Diane?

CLAIRE

I'm Diane's niece.

MARTIN

(Beat; absorbing this information) What's your name?

CLAIRE

Claire.

MARTIN

Claire what?

CLAIRE

Claire ... (Hesitates) ... Martin.

MARTIN

(Snorts with disgust) What is this, some kind of joke?

CLAIRE

I can't help it. That's my name.

MARTIN

And what are you doing here, Claire Martin?

CLAIRE

Diane invited me. (Beat. She reaches for her purse, which is lying on the chair) Look, if you don't believe me ... (She opens the purse, fumbles through it. Finally, she pulls out a key and holds it up to Martin) You see? Diane gave it to me. It's the key to the front door.

MARTIN

(Digs into his pocket and pulls out an identical key. He holds it up to her, jabbing it right under her nose) Then why would Jack give me this one?

CLAIRE

Because ... (Backing away from him) ... because he's Jack, that's why. I mean, you know them. He and Diane are always doing things like that.

MARTIN is defeated. Understanding that CLAIRE has just as much right to he in the house as he does, he turns away from her and begins pacing around the room.

MARTIN

I don't like it. I came here to be alone. I have work to do, and having you around is ... is ... well, it's not being alone, is it?

CLAIRE

Don't worry. I won't get in your way. I'm here to work on my thesis.

MARTIN sits down on the edge of the bed and lets out a sigh.

CLAIRE (cont'd)

I have a lot of reading to do.

MARTIN

(Staring down at the floor) Reading is bad for your health.

CLAIRE

Only high-cholesterol books. I read low-fat, vegetarian stuff.

MARTIN

What's your field? The history of the boiled turnip?

CLAIRE

Philosophy.

MARTIN

(Muttering under his breath) Philosophy. (Beat) Chewy, but not much taste.

CLAIRE

This week I'll be reading Bishop Berkeley. (Pronounces the name "Bark-lee")

MARTIN

If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound or not?

CLAIRE

More like: Is the tree really there? Berkeley's the one who said that matter doesn't exist. That everything is in our head.

MARTIN

But you're not in my head, are you? You exist, and I have to share this house with you.

CLAIRE

I'll be very quiet, I promise. I'll move my things into another bedroom, and you won't even know I'm here.

MARTIN

(Accepting total defeat; slaps his knees and stands up) Okay You stay out of my way, and I'll stay out of yours. Deal?

CLAIRE

If that's what you want, that's how it will be.

MARTIN

Good. (Starts to leave) I'm going to work now. See you later.

CLAIRE

(Amused) But you just said you didn't want to see me.

MARTIN

(Stops) A figure of speech. It means good-bye. (Beat) Good-bye. (He begins walking again)

As MARTIN exits the frame, the camera swings around and slowly pushes in on CLAIRE'S face. It is our first serious look at her in repose, and it should achieve the effect of a visual caress. She follows MARTIN with her eyes, watching him as he leaves the room, and an instant after the camera comes to a halt in front of her, we hear the latch of the door click shut. The expression on CLAIRE'S face doesn't change.

CLAIRE

(Barely above a whisper) Good-bye, Martin.


8. INT. THE STUDY — DAY

Later that morning, MARTIN is sitting at the desk, typing.


9. EXT. THE GROUNDS OF THE HOUSE — DAY

CLAIRE is sitting on the grass under a tree, reading The Principles of Human Knowledge by George Berkeley. The sounds of MARTIN'S typewriter can be heard faintly in the distance, CLAIRE is wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt with a single word written across the front: BERKELEY. She reads the text out loud to herself in a low voice.

CLAIRE

"And it seems to me no less evident that the various sensations or ideas imprinted on the sense, however blended or combined together, cannot exist otherwise than in a mind perceiving them."


10. INT. THE STUDY — DAY

As before: MARTIN sitting at his desk, typing. He comes to the bottom of a page, pulls it out of the typewriter, and then rolls in another sheet of paper.


11. EXT. THE GROUNDS OF THE HOUSE — DAY

As before: CIAIRE reading Berkeley.

CLAIRE

"Secondly, it will be objected that there is a great difference betwixt real fire and the idea of fire, between dreaming or imagining oneself burnt, and actually being so."


12. EXT. THE STUDY — DAY

As before: MARTIN sitting at his desk. This time he is correcting his typed pages with a pencil. Eventually, he puts the finished pages in a drawer and then swivels in his chair to look out the window.


13. EXT. THE GROUNDS OF THE HOUSE — DAY

As before: CLAIRE reading Berkeley, in silence, MARTIN enters the frame with his back to the camera. CIAIRE looks up.

CLAIRE

Hello.

MARTIN

(Stiff; bumbling; awkward) I'm sorry. I wasn't very nice to you this morning. I shouldn't have acted that way.

CLAIRE smiles, accepting MARTIN'S embarrassed apology. A brief pause.

CLAIRE

What time is it?

CLAIRE

A little after six.

CLAIRE

(Holding up her book) I have one more section to go. Why don't we meet up in the living room in about half an hour and have a drink?

MARTIN

Good idea. As long as we're stuck with each other, we might as well act like civilized people.


14. INT. THE LIVING ROOM — NIGHT

MARTIN and CLAIRE are sitting side by side on a large sofa, drinking red wine. The bottle is on a coffee table in front of them, half-empty.

MARTIN

(Reaching for the bottle) A little more?

CLAIRE

Yes, please.

He pours wine into her glass, then refills his own glass as well.

MARTIN

(Putting the bottle on the table) Are you wearing that shirt because you're reading Berkeley this week? (He pronounces the word "Bark-lee") Do you have another one for next week that says "Hume"?

CLAIRE

(Laughs) No, no. (Pointing to her T-shirt) This says "Berk-lee." The philosopher I'm reading is Bark-lee. The words are pronounced differently.

MARTIN

It's the same spelling. Therefore, it's the same word.

CLAIRE

It's the same spelling, but it's two different words.

MARTIN

Are you trying to confuse me?

CLAIRE

(Taking a big sip of wine) You should talk, Mr. Frost. You once wrote a story about two characters with the same name.

She holds out her glass to MARTIN, who obliges by picking up the bottle and pouring her more wine. CLAIRE immediately takes another sip.

MARTIN

(Surprised) So you read that story. You must be one of six people in the universe who knows about it. It was published in a little magazine more than fifteen years ago.

CLAIRE

I've read everything you've written. All four novels and the two plays.

MARTIN

But I've published only three novels.

CLAIRE

You've just finished a new one, haven't you? You gave a copy of the manuscript to Diane and Jack. Diane lent it to me, and I read it last week. (Beat) I think it's the best thing you've done.

By now, whatever reservations MARTIN might have had about CLAIRE have all but melted away. Not only is she a spirited and intelligent person, not only is she exceedingly pleasant to look at, but she knows and admires his work. He pours himself another glass of wine, leans back in his seat, and smiles. It is the first time since the opening of the film that the brooding, ever serious MARTIN FROST has let down his guard.

MARTIN

In other words, Miss Martin approves.

CLAIRE

Oh yes, most definitely.

MARTIN

Miss Martin approves of Martin.

CLAIRE

Yes, Martin. Miss Martin approves of Martin.

MARTIN

And reads Bark-lee at Berk-lee. Or is it Berk-lee at Bark-lee? (Beat) What does that T-shirt say again? Is it the man or the college?

CLAIRE

It's both. It says whatever you want it to say

A small glint of mischief flashes in CLAIRE'S eyes. Something has occurred to her — a thought, an impulse, a sudden inspiration. She puts her glass on the table and stands up.

CLAIRE (cont'd)

Or ... it doesn't mean anything at all.

By way of demonstration, she peels off the T-shirt and calmly tosses it on the floor. She is wearing a lacy black bra — hardly the kind of garment one would expect to discover on such an earnest student of ideas. But this is an idea, too, of course, and now that she has put it into action with such a bold and decisive gesture, MARTIN can only gape.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Inner Life of Martin Frost by Paul Auster, Tim Squyres. Copyright © 2007 Paul Auster. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of thirteen novels, including Travels in the Scriptorium coming from Henry Holt in February 2007. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Brooklyn, New York
Date of Birth:
February 3, 1947
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
B.A., M.A., Columbia University, 1970

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