Little Shop of Stories, the children's bookstore here in Decatur, Georgia which got me involved in kidslit. One of the folks hired to replace me is Kimberly Jones, a super cool woman with a great sense of books for guys. She knows books for guys--in part because she's got a bunch of brothers, in part because she's got a young son, but also because, I think, at times she's like a 15 year old boy at heart.
One of her recent favorites to recommend to guys is the book Spray by Harry Edge. "It's like the coolest game of 'Assassination' ever, with lots of action and a great underdog character."
Read on for more about Spray and a brief interview with Kim
Spray has lots of characters, in part because you follow along with different people as they participate in a big, city-wide game of assassination using water guns that takes place over several weeks. The narrative jumps from one character to the next, tightening in on a select few as more and more people are eliminated from the game. One of the great things about the book is that it not only is action-packed, suspenseful, and non-stop, but it also is a great tale of brains winning out over brawn. It reads like you're right in the action, and I can easily see this turning into a movie. It's no wonder, then, that it caught Kim's eye; she used to work in development for Miramax films, and one of her jobs was to scout books for movie possibilities. I thought she would be the perfect candidate for an interview for Guyslitwire.
You're a big fan ofSpray. Why do you love it and what makes it the perfect "guys book"?
I love the book because the organization of the chapters allows you to feel like you're participating in the game. It's an adventurous situation pushed as far as it can go to maintain it's realisim.
You've said to me that you like books for guys more than books for gals. What, in your mind, makes for a great guys book?
A great guys book explores the possibility of life above the reality of life. Even in a non-fiction guys book the author seems to be on an adventure to see what's on the other side of the mountain, whereas books for gals want to explore the feeling of the moment.
When you worked for Miramax, you scouted books for possible movie options. What books make for great movies?
Books that are very visual. Movies are a visual medium, so you can't tell your audience what the character is feeling or thinking in their head - You have to find a way to show it. This is probably why so many fantasy books are made for film because description of make believe worlds has to be external so you can understand where you are and why things are done or appear a certain way.
Are there books that are awesome that cannot be translated into a movie?
Books with a lot of self-reflection and internalized emotions are difficult to translate to film. Horrible screenplay writing sometimes occurs when the character is telling their story verbally or with voice overs instead of letting the audience experience the tale with their eyes.
So, you brought Spray to my attention--what's another book, older or more obscure, that you wish more people knew about?
Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown. A semi-autobiography of a troubled boy who grew up to become a successful man. Again, it's a brilliant tale of not what life is offering but what it has in store. Guys books are filled with adventurous journeys, and this book is one of the best rides I've ever taken.