Can a non-linear novel with multiple narrators, far-flung locations, and a plot that has something to do with punk rock serve as the basis for a weekly half-hour premium cable series? HBO thinks so. They've optioned Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad--which was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction just three days ago--and intend to turn the novel into a weekly half-hour series. Now the question is: how?
Even Egan has no idea. “I don’t envy them the job, I’ll tell you that,” Egan told Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times Thursday. “But then again, that’s partly because I have no idea how to do it.”
Carolyn Kellogg of the Los Angeles Times doubts anything but a loose adaptation is even possible, given the limits of film as a medium. "Part of the book's resonance is the way it spins out individual stories out of chronological sequence, spanning decades, characters and locations," she explains. "Will those be best threaded together on screen, or could a series work by jumping completely from chapter to chapter, as Egan's novel does?" In particular, she wonders how producers will handle the stylistic flourishes in Egan's book. For example: "And about that chapter told entirely in PowerPoint. How about that?" she says. "Show the story it tells, or let the slides appear on the screen?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.