Thursday, January 31, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook:Matthew Quick on his book and the movie

It's almost Oscar month! Yes, I'll be obsessed all month long. The big night is February 23rd and naturally the Adapted Screenplay Award category is of special interest, especially when the source material is a book. This year we have two novels, Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi, Lincoln based on the historical nonfiction book Team of Rivals, Argo based on a 2007 article by Joshuah Bearman, Beasts of the Southern Wild adapted from the stage play of the same name. Silver Linings Playbook  is one of my favorites in the Adapted Screenplay award, the director David O. Russell penned the script himself and made a few necessary changes.  I'm always curious as to how a novelist feels about an adaptation ... turning over your baby and standing by helplessly while they rearrange its' DNA! Horrors!
So I was especially interested to read a terrific interview with Matthew Quick by Christine Spears over at Word & Film.
He talks candidly about his own mental health issues and what he thinks about the impact that both his Silver Linings Playbook novel and the movie have had. Quick also reveals that he's written a YA book  Forgive Me Leonard Peacock which comes out in August as well as the fact that his upcoming book for adults, The Good Luck of Right Now  has already been optioned by Dreamworks. It doesn't look like they've scheduled a release date for that one yet. I imagine they'll coordinate somewhat with the film's release. Both books deal with mental health issues and seem bound to stir up controversy and conversation.

Here's a snippet from the interview...click here to read the entirety.
Word&Film: This film celebrates our deepest flaws and failings and how the things that make us seem crazy to the outside world are also the very qualities that make us loveable and human. Was that part of your intention while writing the book?

Matthew Quick: Absolutely. I always say that artists live on the fringe. For seven years after undergrad I was teaching at a very prestigious high school and I was going in every single day and I was playing the role for my students. I was a very good high school English teacher and I was a very good counselor of teenagers. But inside I was very depressed. I was going through a lot of things partly because I wasn’t doing the one thing I wanted to do, which was to write. I was counseling my students to pursue the arts, so I also felt like a hypocrite. The other part was that there were a lot of weird quirky things going on inside of me that I didn’t let show. But when I started to write, I started to explore my psyche and all the things that make me Matthew Quick, or “Q.” And part of that was the fact that I do deal with depression. I do have anxiety issues. I can get overwhelmed with emotions. I had always been embarrassed by those traits but it’s also what fueled my writing. And the more that I came to understand that, most of my heroes who are novelists like Hemingway or Kurt Vonnegut, these are people who know the wild ups and downs. These are quirky people. These are people who are not mainstream. That was a revelation to me. So when I was writing the character of Pat Peoples, everybody thought they knew this guy. But when he gets locked up in a mental health facility and when he comes home he says, ‘That old guy, that’s not me. I’m going to show you the new Pat Peoples.’ Those who know him struggle to wrap their mind around the new Pat and he fights really hard to create this new identity. I was talking about this with David O. Russell. Pat doesn’t have a lot but he does the best with what he has and that’s a beautiful thing.

W&F: People have so many labels for quirky people who don’t follow the social contract of how ‘normal’ people are supposed to behave. Aspbergers. Tourretes.

MQ:  One of the big things for me is that I don’t like to label my characters. I don’t like to come out and say ‘my character is bipolar’ or ‘my character is diagnosed with autism.’ In the film they come out and label Bradley Cooper’s character bipolar early on. But in the novel I don’t do that because I don’t think you know someone just if you know their diagnosis. If you know someone’s diagnosis or label, you don’t know somebody. People are much more than that. Someone who is bipolar, that is just one part of their personality. There is a lot more to Pat Peoples than his diagnosis. And I think people who consider themselves part of the mental health community, and I consider myself a member, we understand it’s important to understand these things so we can talk about them. But you are not your diagnosis. You are much more than that. You are a human being.

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