Babich Goes Hollywood

You can bemoan the state of the publishing industry all you want; you can lament the recent news that Rupert Murdoch, who already owns HarperCollins, wants to buy up William Morrow and Avon now that the Hearst Corporation has decided to divest itself of those two imprints. Yes, it's a tough world for authors of literary fiction, but you and your unease are on your own as far as I'm concerned. Amy Babich, who regularly writes us letters to the editor advocating the use of bicycles -- one of our few letter writers who inspires admiration and disbelief with equal avidity -- is also Miriam Webster, author of After Math and, more recently, The Age of the Bicycle; she has a movie producer interested in optioning The Age of the Bicycle, and that news has more than made my day. That the product of what is obviously a very particular and rabid imagination should find sympathy from anyone associated with Hollywood (in this case Robert Rosen [Gilligan's Island, A Man Called Horse], himself a recumbent bicyclist who first discovered The Age of the Bicycle in a review of the book in Recumbent Cyclist News), well ... I can only hope it's a match made in heaven. If it's not a match made in heaven, the fantastical nature of the novel, which is "an account of the curious events that took place in and around the Gladiola River and Tinny Waters, Texas at the dawn of the Age of the Bicycle," is bound to end up in the wrong hands.

"He has made the magic too strong," said Maurice.

"And what can we do about it?" asked Rodolfo.

"We must find Fortescue Lymph," said Maurice. "And I must find him anyway. My son Hyacinth, for whose sake I have under taken this acting job, has run away with a wicked river woman. I fear he will ruin his life."

In The Age of the Bicycle, scenes that lay out such considerable depth of intrigue and portent occur at about the rate of one per page, so any film version of the novel is bound to make the head spin around and around and around. But don't think of the novel as a movie until you actually sit down for the opening sequence; producers express interest in optioning titles more often than we get letters from Babich, which is often. And Rosen's call to Babich expressing interest in optioning The Age of the Bicycle is not the same as a call offering an actual dollar amount to option the novel. (Rosen was unavailable to comment on his interest in the novel because he's in Germany making a movie.) "[Rosen] said that he ordered the book just because it was about bicycles but then when he read it he thought it was really, really original, and that's what they were looking for," Babich says. "So I don't really know whether anything is going on with that or not but I sure hope it does!"

Mixed Notes

Literacy Austin expected to raise $40,000 at their annual BookFest last weekend but amassed a record $62,000... A belated congratulations to the six writers awarded Fellowships in Literature from the Austin Writers' League: Fiction winners include Miles Wilson of San Marcos and Karen Stolz of Austin; poetry winners are William Wenthe of Lubbock and Michael Blumenthal of Austin; and creative nonfiction winners are Gwendolyn Wooten Scott of Missouri City and Lee Martin of Denton. The deadline for the 2000 Fellowships in Literature is December 15, 1999.

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More Postscripts
The last time we heard about Karla Faye Tucker, she was being executed; now, almost four years later, there's a new novel about her. Or about someone very like her. And Beverly Lowry's classic Crossed Over, a memoir about getting to know Karla Faye Tucker, gets a reissue.

Clay Smith, Jan. 18, 2002

Not one day back from vacation and the growing list of noble souls who need to be congratulated is making Books Editor Clay Smith uneasy.

Clay Smith, Jan. 11, 2002


Readings, Signings, Claiborne Smith, Amy Babich, Miriam Webster, Literacy Austin, The Age Of The Bicycle

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