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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dalva, Erdrich & Harrison

Jim Harrison is a contemporary author I've wanted to try since enjoying the 1994 movie "Legends Of The Fall" based on his 1979 novella of the same name. Which film adaptations have similarly inspired you to seek out an author? Are you more inclined to try a fresh title from the author's oeuvre or do you usually stick with the book that the movie you liked was based on?    

Since I like to be surprised by books and film plots seem to linger in my memory, I like taking the first approach. A good friend suggested "Dalva" (1988) and considering how successful the movie adaptation of "Legends..." was,  I won't be surprised if "Dalva" makes it to the screen. And mark my words - With Harrison's recent passing, Louise Erdrich will write the screenplay.

The critical backdrop for both "Dalva" and much of Erdrich's work - most notably her prizewinning novel "The Round House" (2012) - is how modern day Native American life has been shaped by a 19th century legacy that still horrifies. Harrison uses Dalva's great grandfather's journal to re-visit travesties like the Dawes Act of 1887 and the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890. Imagining how Erdrich could convert Harrison's bristling dialogue and Dalva's righteous anger into cinematic heat (I see Maggie Gyllenhal in the title role, BTW) is thrilling to me.

But please don't wait for the film version of "Dalva" before reading it. There's more Jim Harrison in my future.

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