Flashback: published several years ago in preReview, the website that reviews movies before they come out. According to recent Lethem interviews, this project is still in the works:
Motherless Brooklyn
A "loose adaptation" of the Jonathan Lethem novel, written and directed by Ed Norton and set in the '50s rather than the present day. (No, not the Ed Norton that works in the sewers and is Ralph Kramden's best friend.) Norton also stars, as Lionel Essrog, a detective with Tourette's who tries to find his boss's killer. You think I'm kidding about Norton adapting this, but, no, I got all this info off of his personal website. Fans of the novel--stop crying, right now. Blow your nose and look on the bright side. What were some of the cooler things in the book? (1) The comedy of having a big pottymouth lug from Brooklyn entering a post-counterculture Upper East Side Zendo that may or may not be a criminal front, sitting crosslegged on a mat with the Roshi's exquisite disciples, and trying not to swear. (2) The incongruity of a '90s story with many characters and scenes apparently stuck in a weird '40s timewarp. (3) The quasi-generational tension between two brothers, one a Sopranos-style crook and the other a hippie Zen master crook (spoiler, sorry). (4) Smart, funny references to recent pop culture (Mad magazine's Don Martin, Prince) mediated through the main character's ongoing, inner-monologuic obsession with his own very of-the-moment disease. Well, by having it set in the '50s, all that stuff goes away, and/or makes no sense! Isn't that great? Don't you love it that rich Hollywood actors have the ability to destroy interesting books with their vanity projects? I sure do. prereviewer - Tom Moody, 03/09/04

- tom moody 6-14-2007 6:28 pm

Thanks for the info. Ed Norton as Lionel Essrog is quite a funny bit of casting. But how often is the movie ever as good as the book? The only one that comes to mind is Orson Welles' adaptation of 'The Trial'. that being said, I am so curious to see the upcoming adaptation of 'Watchmen'.

As far as Lethem, I've read 'Gun with Occasional Music' and 'Motherless Brooklyn', but my favorite Lethem so far is 'Fortress of Solitude'.
- adrien (guest) 6-15-2007 8:00 pm

Ed's made some crap lately. did you see the Illusionist? Yikes.
I always thought I'd revisit the prereview site after grad school, but now I'm not so sure.
- joester 6-16-2007 10:23 pm

Congratulations, joester. Come back to NY, it's less expensive now (Not--it's tripled). I'm not spending as much time in theatres as I did at the heyday of preReview so I'm not getting the regular jolts of anger from seeing trailers.
- tom moody 6-16-2007 10:36 pm

Adrien, I finally finished Fortress and still prefer Motherless. I never believed the "magic ring" but it kept coming back in the story, even killing one character. The book is good as a collection of observations and stories but to me "detective with Tourette's" was a better premise than "man haunted by his childhood."
- tom moody 6-17-2007 8:44 pm

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