The not-Western

Regarding my infamous literary Western novel, some people in Hollywood who read it years ago are once again slithering out of the woodwork because they feel the BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN audience will flock to it, particularly women who like stories about men dealing with their emotions even though these men are totally straight.

Now in Hollywood, I know how to pitch this but I have zero interest in selling the script and will not sign with a Hollywood based agency.

My question is - in a query letter would it be appropriate to tie the Brokeback Mountain audience to a novel about de facto father/son relationships among three generations of men and how they can't acknowledge their feelings even after the three of them come together after ten years, and realize one of them has to die and the other two will ever see each other again?

I ask this as someone who is about to submit a literary Western that is fully character driven - and I feel I need all the potential marketing help I can get to get over the - we don't do westerns - mantra. Plus - anyone who does 'Westerns' - is not likely to want to do this Western.

Brokeback Mountain is getting buzz not cause it's a good movie but because it's a movie about gay cowboys (and they don't even get the cowboy part right..the guys are really sheepherders, not cowhands). Unless your book has gay themes, I wouldn't mention Brokeback Mountain at all. I'd mention Plainsong by Kent Haruf, and An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg.

I'd also recommend you take a look at the first season of The Wire on DVD. In it there is a segment with David Simon talking about the pilot. He talks about overcoming the genre label. The Wire isn't " a cop show" even though it has cops as main characters. Your novel isn't a western even if it's set in the West. David Simon is utterly brilliant, and listening to him talk about that show gave me real insight in how to talk about novels. I think every writer who works in the crime novel genre should listen to that commentary.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Every aspiring author in the crime genre should watch The Wire and listen to all the commentaries! (And HBO, there aren't enough of them.)

It's art - it's the most like a real book put to screen, where little things from episode 2 suddenly come up again in episode 11, and once you hear some of the things they talk about, like not using music in the background, you'll notice it all the time with other shows - how much the soundtrack elicits the emotion instead of the acting or the dialogue.

Oh, I'd better stop myself! I'll be getting a chance to hear George Pelecanos next summer and I want to corner him and ask him a zillion things about writing for the show...

Brady Westwater said...

Thank you for your as always on point advice. I had more or less already realized this, but the hype out here on Brokeback is so amazingly strong, every studio is looking for its clone, pun intended. Still, I'm a bit surprised that my far more than even more hopelessly straight (the term my gay friends only semi-endearingly use to describe me) cowboys are suddenly so eagerly pursued by the Hollywood mafia. So you are dead right in that it needs to be pitched to and published by some who wants it for what it is, and not for what it might be deceptively promoted as being.

Pepper Espinoza said...

particularly women who like stories about men dealing with their emotions even though these men are totally straight.

I think it's more probably that women like to see "men dealing with their emotions" in the context of sweaty, hot, possibly forbidden, gay sex.

kitty said...

I wouldn't put too much stock in the latest Hollywood hype considering the bland reception many of the movies receive in flyover country.