Friday, February 6, 2009

In Which a Link is Provided and Insight is Given

Sandy is smart.

And she's read a lot more Wendell Berry than I have. She's written a few posts about Hannah at her blog site Maple Grove. I find her perspective very helpful as I try to orient myself with Wendell and his ideas and I didn't want any of you to miss her insight.

Maple Grove.


I have a question for you. (Maybe two.) These are general questions that I've been pondering.

Do you think Hannah, as she was written, is an effective narrator?

Does she convince you that she knows the things she's writing/telling?

Do you feel like you know HER by the end of the book? Could you write a summary of the things that she cares about? Could you predict her attitude or disposition in any given circumstance?


Have you weighed in on the casting call options for Burley? Brad (A River Runs Through It) Pitt and Jeffrey Dean Morgan have been mentioned along with a scruffy George Clooney.

I wonder who should play Hannah.

:) Lynn


  1. I guess Hugh Laurie couldn't play Burley, could he? Drats. How about Gerard Butler? Okay, now I am getting distracted.

    I will die on the hill of it not being Brad, though. Too much supermarket magazine exposure...he makes me ill.

    On a more literary note:

    I think Hannah is an effective narrator...but of her own version of the story. We have to believe that another person would tell the story very differently. In fact, in those other books they do. (I promise I have no financial gain in promoting all the books...really, I don't.) Hannah's attention to detail is very appealing to me, and I find her easy to listen to. Yes, even the sad parts.

    I don't, however, feel like I really know her. Only as much as you can really know a reserved person. I think her reactions are fairly predictable, but I am not sure I would know what she was thinking and feeling. So much is held close in her.

    I might be able to write out what is important to her, though, because that is so much more than the thoughts and feelings of the moment.

    I am tired after a really long week, so I hope that is coherent.

    Happy weekend, friends.

  2. Well, Hannah would have to be someone beautiful. Maybe a young Julia Roberts with the accent of Holly Hunter? I guess Angelina Jolie could be considered, but I think she's way too skinny.

    I think Wendell Berry did a pretty good job overall doing a story from the viewpoint of a woman. I liked it well enough to recommend it to a lot of people!

  3. Ah come on, Brad Pitt? I thought of someone like Victor French of Little House on the Prairie being Burley. Not anyone sexy. And Hannah is nowhere in God's country an Angelina Jolie. I'm thinking that lady that played Laura Ingall's mom. These people were tough.

  4. Having high-profile actors/actresses play any characters in Port William would be the penultimate insult.

    The entire premise of the book, and I assume the other stories, is all about the ordinary, common, and plain folk.

    Wendall would prefer unknowns, I think.

  5. About *knowing* Hannah?

    I think I got a good impression of her; I even think I like her; and I dont think she would seem as unhappy in real life as she does in the book.

    I think she is *baring her soul* in the book and that makes one extremely vunerable. In fact, she may be telling things in the book that she would never think of saying aloud to a group of people.

  6. Dana,
    I agree with you about Hannah. I like her and can forgive her her tendencies to disappointment. Most of us keep those unhappy thoughts to ourselves.

    I do not think this would make a good movie at all, oh, btw.

    A movie needs a crisis. A climax.

    It is a bit like Sweetland, but that was too slow for most people.

    But I can see Hannah played by Kate Winslet and why couldn't Nathan be played by Hugh?

  7. I can see Hugh in there somewhere. :)

    Donna--I thought a lot about Sweetland reading this book!

  8. Hugh was, of course, my first thought when Burley came up in the last post but I was afraid my perspective might be tainted. ;)

    I may have mentioned it before, but I felt that Hannah was a very believable narrator (with the exception of a few parts during which my discomfort that it was actually a male author interfered). I felt that she really aged as the story went on.

    I agree with Donna that it would not make much of a movie. Unless, of course, it has Hugh. Or unless they made it a musical like Mamma Mia... but then they'd all have to be happy at times. Yeah... I'm just not seeing it. ;)

  9. I see the actor from "The Visitor" (Richard Jenkins) playing some part. He is so ordinary and normal and was great in The Visitor. I could see him as Mr. Coulter, maybe.

    For Hannah: How about Laura Linney? I'm a big fan of her work. She's probably best known recently for playing Abigail Adams on HBO's John Adams.

    We recently watched the 1941 movie "Sergeant York" with Gary Cooper. The early parts of the movie, set in Kentucky or Tennessee, reminded me of the Port William characters.

    Lynn, you made me blush. Thanks for your kind remarks.

  10. I meant Richard Jenkins could play Mat Feltner, not Mr. Coulter. Sorry. That's what I get for trying to jump right into the conversation after a long day of travel.

  11. my cross-generational dream cast for a few roles:

    Hannah - Meryl. She has a world-weariness about her that works for me. And her daughter, Mamie, an actress, looks a heck of a lot like her and could play her in the younger years.

    Nathan - what about Redford? That man is lovely, but also has aged perfectly - but has still aged - doesn't look pretend. Looks like he's worked hard. Fought hard. works for me.

    Margaret - Kate Winslet [man, i love her. she's a great actress. and i think she would wear the regret well.]

    more to come.. i need to start a list somewhere. As someone who is continually casting movies in her head, this is way fun. [and, I still can't think of anyone else to play me but Rosie O'Donnell. Wish I could!]