Gus Van Sant goes from auteur to author in an brilliant, inventive, and endlessly entertaining first novel that reads like a Warholian mix of Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins.
In the town of Sasquatch, Oregon, Spunky Davis, middle-aged maker of infomercials, is trying to find his next assignment, finish the screenplay that he hopes will bring him Hollywood glory, and deal with the death of his friend and favorite infomercial presenter, teen idol Felix Arroyo. Enter two young aspiring filmmakers, Jack and Matt, whom Spunky finds strangely familiar--especially as Jack bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Felix. But Jack and Matt are not what they appear to be; they are messengers from a dimension beyond time known as Pink, and they invite Spunky to join them on their voyage of transcendence and recovery.
Using a delirious array of voices signified by different typefaces, a flip cartoon that animates the novel's action, footnotes and line drawings, Gus Van Sant turns the novel into an explosively visual experience, a captivating combination of texture and text. As original and involving as any of Van Sant's films, Pink is both a hip, comic deconstruction of our image-obsessed culture and a genuinely tender story on the classic themes of love, time, and loss.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.57(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.59(d)|
Table of ContentsFrom "Good Will Hunting" to the remake of "Psycho," Oscar-nominated filmmaker Gus Van Sant has proven himself to be a masterful, original, and daring storyteller. It is no wonder that his debut novel is as inventive, captivating, and explosively visual as his films.
The tale begins in the town of Sasquatch, Oregon, where Spunky Davis, middle-aged maker of infomercials, is trying to find his next assignment, finish the screenplay he hopes will bring him Hollywood glory, and deal with the death of his friend and favorite infomercial actor, the teen idol Felix Arroyo. Enter two young aspiring filmmakers, Jack and Matt, whom Spunky finds strangely familiar -- especially since Jack bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Felix. But Jack and Matt are not what they appear to be; they are actually messengers from a dimension known as Pink, and they invite Spunky to join them on their voyage of transcendence and recovery.
Both a literary and a visual experience, Pink uses every tool the printed page has to offer -- a delirious array of voices signified by different typefaces, a flip cartoon that animates the novel's action, footnotes, and drawings -- to make this novel a captivating combination of texture and text, a virtual visual bonanza. As original and involving as any of Gus Van Sant's films, Pink is at once a hip, comic deconstruction of our image-obsessed culture and a genuinely tender tale built around the classic themes of time, loss, and love.
On Monday, November 30th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Gus Van Sant to discuss PINK.
Moderator: Good evening, Gus Van Sant, and welcome to our Auditorium! Early congratulations on "Psycho," and we look forward to chatting with you about PINK. Before we begin, do you have any opening comments for your online audience?
Gus Van Sant: Hello. I've never done this before, so I answered a question before you introduced me -- sorry. I have no particular statements to make up front, but thanks for having me!
Chad Perman from Seattle: What made you decide to write a novel? Was PINK ever an idea for a screenplay/film, or was it always intended to be a novel?
Gus Van Sant: Hi. There was an earlier novel that I was working on that I called HOW TO MAKE GOOD MOVIES. I put that one down for a while, then I started writing PINK soon after I met Jack and Matt.
Maria from Chicago, IL: Your book is as much of a visual experience as it is a textual one...which isn't surprising, given your background in film. Does this best reflect how you conceive your ideas? Do you think you would ever be able to fully express yourself in text alone?
Gus Van Sant: Well, I think that the different texts are because of computers. It is so easy to write with different typefaces that I began to write screenplays like that, and it extended into my book.
Andrew Schroeder from Seminole, FL: How do you get your ideas for your books?
Gus Van Sant: PINK was something that started out as a series of letters that I began writing to Steve Kokker in Montreal, to amuse him, really, but then I got into it and kept writing this story about Jack and Matt, who are the two fellows Spunky meets in Sasquatch, Oregon.
Saul Goodman from Peekskill: Do you prefer writing or directing?
Gus Van Sant: Well, lately I think that I prefer the solitude of writing, although I am just getting used to it and feel I have a lot to learn about expressing myself in print.
Paul from Morris Plains, NJ: So, are Jack and Matt real people? Could you tell us about them, and how they inspired you?
Gus Van Sant: Yes, Jack and Matt are based on real guys. In the story, Spunky explains that Jack resembles Felix Arroyo so closely that he wants to get to know him better, and as he does, the story unfolds. I had a real experience like that.
Tobie from Chatham, NJ: Did you read the Robert Bloch novel PSYCHO? What was the inspiration behind your movie version, Hitchcock's movie or Bloch's novel?
Gus Van Sant: Yes, I read the original PSYCHO novel. It was interesting that Norman resembled a 60-year-old refrigerator repairman rather than someone like Anthony Perkins.
John from East Village, NYC: How did your writing/creative process for this book compare to your screenplays? How did the editing compare?
Gus Van Sant: Totally different for me. I didn't think in terms of acts, which I usually do when I write a screenplay, and you can go off on tangents at the drop of a hat, which usually you don't try to do in a screenplay. A screenplay is really like a good road map, whereas this novel isn't really.
Craig from Newark, NJ: Who or what inspired the voice in PINK who says, "I am an industrial filmmaker. Once I was good, and now I am shamed. I have turned bad...I've sold out. I was spoiled by the system." This voice sounds so sad and desperate to me. Where did it come from?
Gus Van Sant: Midlife-crisis time, baby.
Charles Mattson from New Jersey: I love your movies. Do you really like making them? The reason I ask is because I know you have to deal with so many horrible types. I got out of the business!
Gus Van Sant: Yeah, I know what you mean, but I try to ignore some of the more distasteful aspects of filmmaking and concentrate on the fun stuff. Now I have help from people to save me from the horrible types.
Lemon Drop from University of Washington: Are you a big fan of all of Tom Robbins's work? What is your relationship to him?
Gus Van Sant: Tom is a huge inspiration to me, and I have grown to know him through our film project of EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES that we made together. He is an amazing writer.
Chad Perman from Seattle, WA: Hey, Gus, I'm a big, big fan of your work, and I just wanted to know who some of your inspirations are, in both film and literature.
Gus Van Sant: I usually say, Burroughs, Beckett, and the Beatles. And there are a few others in there somewhere. Film-wise, I guess just about everyone -- it's hard to single out one filmmaker.
Kielty Abbott from Patchogue, NY: How do you feel about how previous Hitchcock remakes have been handled? Is your film any kind of response to that?
Gus Van Sant: I don't feel that great about the process of remaking films; I always feel that the remake is weird because it changes the film around and ends up not being that great. This goes for almost all of them. The remake of "The Big Sleep" was probably the most disturbing, because I loved the original so much. The process on "Psycho" was to do a remake but let the original film live, rather than changing it too much.
Jennifer from New York: I'm sure you've heard this a lot, but I'm just astounded by your decision to film "Psycho." I have always respected your daring and original film choices in the past, but I just can't understand why you think you could improve upon such a universally accepted master of filmmaking. I would imagine that if you did think that you were more of an auteur than Hitchcock, you would want to prove yourself through original means, instead of retreading perfection. Even perfect copies of the "Mona Lisa" have no value in the art world. Maybe it would be more worthwhile to take a crappy old movie and remake it so it's actually good -- I would imagine that would be more of a challenge. Please help me understand your thinking on this!
Gus Van Sant: Well, I want the original movie to remain, and am trying not to compete with Hitchcock, but let him have a theatrical run again. I realize it is somewhat Frankenteinish, but I'm very curious about this experiment.
Goliath from aol.com: Hi, Gus. When you were filming "Psycho," what were some goals that you kept in mind for the film? I read that you were aiming for a replica, not a remake. Can you tell us about how you went about that?
Gus Van Sant: We left everything relatively open until the last minute, and then the vibe was to stay true to the original. Everyone came up with that on their own. I hoped that it would be the way that things turned out, and they did. But we left it up in the air, because some things were changed a little bit. I didn't want it to be too dry because we were afraid to change a few things.
G. San Vant from Portland: Have you heard from Elliott Smith recently? Do you feel at all responsible for his "sudden" mainstream success?
Gus Van Sant: I haven't heard from Elliott. He was doing really well when I caught up with him. He was getting noticed in New York. I just sort of jumped on the bandwagon. I know that "Good Will Hunting" helped him, but he was definitely on his way before that.
Will from NYC: What is your favorite typeface?
Gus Van Sant: I don't know the name of it.
Scarecrow from Seattle: Hey, Gus, I work at Scarecrow Video (you've been there before), and we have so many videos, but we can't find "Mala Noche"! How can I get ahold of a copy!? Help!
Gus Van Sant: Yeah, "Mala Noche" hasn't been released. Maybe in the future. Sorry.
Ken from California: Gus, I know you're a big fan of Burroughs, so I was wondering what you thought about Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch," and whether you'd ever consider making a film out of one of Burroughs's books.
Gus Van Sant: Now that I'm in the remake mode, I was thinking of doing "Naked Lunch" again. I put that question to the estate and they thought it was a good idea. What do you think?
Eric Jay from Memphis, TN: If a remake was made of any of your own films, which one would you like to see remade and why?
Gus Van Sant: It would be interesting to see any of them remade. I always wanted to do "Drugstore Cowboy" again, but in black and white.
Chad Perman from Seattle: Gus, what film(s) made you want to become a filmmaker yourself?
Gus Van Sant: "Citizen Kane."
Marius from Oakland, CA: What was the most difficult part for you in making the new "Psycho"?
Gus Van Sant: The most difficult things were the same as the other movies I've made: trying to stay on track and focused over the time it takes to do it, two months. Its a mind bender.
Kay Louise from Los Angeles: Gus, another Tom Robbins question. Why did you decide that EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES would make a good film? And how close was your collaboration on the film with Robbins himself?
Gus Van Sant: Tom and I didn't work that closely, although he read the finished screenplay and we worked together on it for a couple of days. The rest was up to me. I always liked it from the first time that I read it, and it was one of my favorite books.
Chad from Seattle: I promise this is my last question, Gus! I was just wondering how much of an influence you think living in Portland, or the Northwest at all, for that matter, has on your films and your novel. Is the Northwest a practical place to live for a filmmaker/author?
Gus Van Sant: I think that it's a great place, especially for a writer, because it's raining all the time, and there are a lot of other writers around to hang with and trade material if you want. I don't know about filmmaking. I have always drawn a lot from the Northwest in my movies -- for the influence it's great -- but I'm not sure about the Northwest as a career move.
Ken from California: I would love to see you do "Naked Lunch"! Cronenberg's was okay, and I love Judy Davis, but I think you could do a great version, especially since you knew Burroughs and all. Who would you picture in the lead role?
Gus Van Sant: I don't know. But I've come under the influence of "Dogma 95," and I think that I would shoot it in video.
Jill from Beverly Hills: What can we expect to see in the works next?
Gus Van Sant: Can't really tell yet.
ABC from USA: Hello, Gus. I was wondering what your favorite film this year has been. And I was wondering what was going through your head on Oscar night!
Gus Van Sant: "The Celebration" by Thomas Vinterberg, for sure.
E. V. from Brooklyn, NY: I am interested in your experiment with remaking "Psycho," and I admire your loyalty to the original. I was wondering if you have felt this same sensibility in writing your screenplay adaptations for novels. Do you feel the same loyalty to re-create in film the book as it happened on the page?
Gus Van Sant: I don't think that I do feel the same, because they are different formats, and people are doing different things when they are reading them. I mean, a person reading a book will spend a long time reading it, whereas a film is usually a one-sitting thing, unless it is a series, and then it begins to resemble a book.
Eric Jay from Memphis, TN: You appear to take uncommon elements from the underbelly of American culture and shed light on their value to our common struggles. How did you find yourself researching these elements for your work?
Gus Van Sant: Mostly these themes in my films were an attempt to put something on film that I hadn't seen done very often.
Moderator: Thank you once again for joining us, Gus Van Sant. It has truly been a pleasure having you, and we wish you the best of luck. Any last words before you go?
Gus Van Sant: Thanks again for the opportunity.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Van Sant's wonderful use of reality grabs you from the first page and never lets you go. the bizarre relationships between his characters is enough to keep one intrigued through multiple readings. the frequent mention of Felix show Van Sant's own inner pain in dealing with the death of a close friend. PINK is a definate must-read for anyone looking for a chance to sit back, relax, and get a little confused.
very interesting, but also repetitive. it's really long, and gets to the point where you have to put it down. not a real gripper. something you have to read in little bits.