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Interview - The Bookwoman

The Bookwoman sent word that she has been commissioned to write a screenplay and when we flew out to see her armed with a half rack of her favorite cervesa and a notepad she agreed to grant us an interview. She has relocated to a bungalow near the beach north of San Diego where she says she can better concentrate on her writing. Here's what we found out when we paid her a visit on a recent evening.

TG - How has your life changed since you first appeared to review books for the Goliard?

BW - Not a great deal actually. I'm still toiling away on the stage at night, just at a different place. And, as you can see, I live here in La Jolla instead of off in La County Orange. It's just that a big carrot is being dangled in front of me now with this screenplay thing. I'm trying not to get my hopes up about it but it is definitely cool to have something to focus on. It's not really much of anything yet though.

TG - So what's the screenplay about?

BW - It is a romantic comedy inspired by the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice. My heroine Annie leaves a promising career in publishing in NYC to become a guardian of her four half brothers and sisters after her father and step mother are killed in a horrible boating accident. She meets Will, a man she can't stand at first, there are a series of comedic misunderstandings and, before you know it, a movie breaks out.

TG - That doesn't seem to have much to do with the culture of topless dancing.

BW - Of course not and why would it? I'm well aware that people are always saying write about what you know but I've been thinking about it and decided it's a bunch of BS. Why would I want to come home and struggle to romanticize on paper something that I can barely tolerate doing as it is? And believe me, nobody wants to go see a romantic comedy about what I really know anyway.

TG - We just thought you might have a dancer as the main character who finds happiness ever after.

BW - But that never happens. 

TG - What about Pretty Woman? It happened in that film didn't it? 

BW - That was Julia Roberts and she was a hooker not a dancer.

TG - The distinction escapes us. Hey maybe Julia will want to play in your film. You could call it Pretty Book Woman.

BW - I really doubt she would be interested.

TG - What about Laura Linney then?

BW -  Who?

TG - Just think about it. Pretty Book Woman starring Laura Linney.

BW - OK, maybe when I get this one done we can collaborate on that one. Why don't you go ahead and get started, call Laurie Limey or whoever she is and send me the sketches in a few months. I have to say off the top that the idea sounds pretty crappy though.

TG - The whole genre's pretty much crappy though isn't it?

BW - As Sturgeon said, "90 percent of science fiction is crap but that's because 90 percent of everything is crap." I think the same numbers would apply to the romantic comedy.

TG - Is Pride and Prejudice a romantic comedy?

BW - Yes, I think you could say that it is.

TG - Clue us in to some of the funny parts.

BW - The absurdity of Mrs. Bennett, the obsequious buffoonery of Mr. Collins, the misplaced haughtiness of Lady Catherine, it goes on and on. Didn't you read it?

TG - We did in high school. It didn't seem particularly side splitting at the time.

BW - I suspect you were a little unrefined back then and didn't appreciate the subtleties of the work.

TG - Perhaps, although I doubt many would find us all that more refined now. So, when will it be done?

BW - That's hard to say. So far I just have the outline and characters and haven't really gotten around to much of the dialogue. I'm finding that part surprisingly difficult. I guess the dialogue I hear every day isn't anything I'd want to put in a movie for one thing and I'm having trouble picturing how the characters sound. Maybe I should take a trip up to Frisco and hang out on Nob Hill or in Sausalito for awhile. You know, for research purposes.

TG - Sounds good to us. Hey, maybe your benefactor would pay for it.

BW - I doubt it. I'd probably have to work while I was there and the clubs in that area are pretty hardcore. I can't see myself working at O'Farrells down in the Tenderloin or anything.

TG - For the Mitchell brothers? Or I guess brother. One of them shot the other didn't he?

BW - Yes although I think he's out of jail and back at it now though.  See that's the thing, it just seems like a big time city. It's easy to get by here in So Cal where it's basically drunk real estate agents and insurance brokers stuffing money in your gee and spitting up on themselves. Frisco is big time. You actually have to have an act up there and can't get away with just showing up on stage and moving around a bit.

TG - That's all you do? You don't have a character or a routine or anything. 

BW - Evidently I don't really need one. It's like stealing money anyway. The whole thing is ridiculous. I'd rather not discuss it.

TG - Well how about your writing routine then? Do you write in the mornings or when you get home after work?

BW - Well it's definitely hard to go to sleep right away once my shifts are over so sometimes I open a bottle of wine and try to write in the wee hours. Usually I just end up sitting out here on the porch, listening to the waves and reading. I've been reading all this Hemingway since I moved here and am taking a few days off to go fishing soon. I sort of worry that this La Jolla gig might be stealing my hunger but it's actually nice not to be so hungry for awhile.  Anyway, I usually wake up around noon, take the dogs for a run on the beach, and then try to spend the afternoon getting something down. It's harder work than it seems as I'm sure you're aware. So many people say "I should write a book" or "I think maybe I'll throw together a screenplay" but to actually do it is a huge chore. You have to keep everything straight in your head. It's like a giant logic problem with constant new twists coming at you that you have to either incorporate or keep at bay. And then you have to make it all sound real. I'm sure I don't need to tell you this.

TG - The garbage we churn out doesn't take all that much effort actually.

BW - Well that may be but you guys have written some good stuff. 

TG - Like what?

BW - Well let's see. What happened to that mystery with the bus rider?

TG - That's on hold for now just like everything else. We see what you mean though. It's damn hard to actually finish anything isn't it?

BW - It sure seems like it is. I don't have much experience in it that's for sure.

TG - Did you have breast enhancements done by the way?

BW - No! Obviously I didn't. Although that's another thing you probably would have to consider in order to make it in Frisco. This gal ain't doin it. Why do you ask that all of a sudden. Do you think I need them?

TG - No not at all. Although it's hard to tell from here. The light really isn't very good and....

BW- There. How's that.

TG - Definitely not. Hey keep your shirt on. We don't have money for any cover charge.

BW - Don't be scared. They're just breasts and hey let me ask you this. Did you think we were about to have some sex just then?

TG - Uh not really, Why? 

BW - Well that would be one of the distinctions between a hooker and a dancer. Just so you know.

TG - Not sure we could afford either at the moment.

BW - Well then that dance can be on the house. And thanks for saying the breast thing. Of course you can't really be trusted can you? You're just trying to keep your book reviewer happy. Besides I heard recently that in Brazil the new "in" plastic surgery is breast reduction. Apparently little ones like those popular during the Roaring 20s are all the rage down there. Of course on the other hand, in parts of Texas for high school graduation, boys gets cars and girls get implants, so they can be popular and have fun in college. It's hard to keep up.

TG - Well maybe you could try a reduction then.

BW - What, on a lark? Why don't you go ahead and have a few hunks cut out of your ass for the heck of it? The surgery is far more traumatic than you might think. I've seen pictures. I also learned recently that one researcher investigated 170 cultures around the world and found that in only 13 were breasts considered sexual objects. Katherine Dettwyler told a story of working with women in Mali - one said "I don't understand you white women, you'll let your husbands touch your breasts but not your babies"

TG - Dettwyler? She owes us money.

BW - Yeah, I bet. In the book I was reading, Dettwyler compared the breast obsession (she had quite the collection of implant and advertising photos plus her interviews) to foot binding in China. Apparently there is a huge amount of pornography focusing on the "golden lotus" foot and varied sexual shots that survive from ancient times. So you see, in most cultures the breast was no more sexual than the elbow. The Goliard should investigate the high forehead craze of the Elizabethan era.

TG - The story is yours.

BW - Let me guess. You'll want another picture of me with my hair pulled back tight and my forehead exposed.

TG - I guess you could go ahead and leave your shirt off as well. For full effect.

BW - You really are running a classy cyber rag aren't you?

TG - Very classy. And you must know that you are invited to write for that cyber rag regardless of your other chosen profession, your forehead, your feet, or what you and your breasts look like. You should get an in person look at some of the rest of the staff. Hideous.

BW - I've seen Ella Caliente. Looks like she could make some money working the poles if she ever wanted to.

TG - She's a bit petite but maybe she could.

BW - Really? Petite? She seems statuesque.

TG - Five feet soaking wet

BW - Hmm I guess pictures can be deceiving. When are you going to feature some guys shots on the site by the way. The damn thing is starting to look like a skin magazine. And you know I always said I'd never cash a check from one of those.

TG - Did we send you a check by mistake?

BW - Must have got lost if you did.

TG - Besides, we had the Movie Man.

BW - But didn't you kill him off?

TG - We didn't kill him off. He quit.

BW - Why would he quit a job like that? There was no pressure, no requirement, no agenda...

TG - No money either

BW - But he had a large audience of adoring fans. Some people would kill for that kind of forum.

TG - You need to come to a staff party sometime and meet some of your fellow Goliards. It might clear some stuff up for you. What can we say, he's an odd bird. Say speaking of..  you wouldn't want to review movies by any chance. We're thinking of using a rotating reviewer system.

BW - Maybe some day. I'm trying not to go to movies while I'm writing one for fear of inadvertently plagiarizing.

TG- Well just stick to the Bookwomaning then. We get quite a bit of feedback on your diary by the way. We're sure you do to.

BW - I do, but it never has anything at all to do with the books I review. Just personal stuff.

TG - What? Get out!

TG - You're surprised? You don't think the fact that I don't appear to be a traditional bookworm type is part of the reason people read my column?

TG - It probably is but you are also the smartest person we have. That's a damn shame actually. Maybe we should start using someone else's picture and just have you write the words. Make it more literary. We could get a picture of a librarian or something. Your reading and reviews is what we're interested in. We could pull the picture. Then maybe you wouldn't feel so sullied.

BW - I don't feel sullied in the least by the Goliard believe me. Please, after what I've been through? I was just saying that most of the mail I get doesn't mention anything about books.

TG - But you did meet a benefactor.

BW - That's true, but I can't tell if she is just humoring me or what. She did contact me originally through the Goliard. But she's been hanging out at my shows a lot as well. Not sure what she's up to actually.

TG - Did she give you an advance?

BW - She just pays my rent. Which is easy since she owns the house. It's a guest house so it's hardly a hardship. She lives right over there. You can see her standing in the window. Watching us.

TG - Well, has she made an advance?

BW - Not as far as you know.

TG - You'll let us know what happens?

BW - Absolutely. In less of course I don't.

TG - Alright then. We've got to get back to AZ. Keep us informed about any updates. 

BW - Have a good flight. Catch you on the flip side.

Check out her Screenplay

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