Promiscuous Materials
March 18, 2007 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Jonathan Lethem's Promiscuous Materials Project invites playwrights and screenwriters to adapt his work for stage or screen. In an essay for Harper's, he explains that, "few of us question the contemporary construction of copyright. It is taken as a law, both in the sense of a universally recognizable moral absolute, like the law against murder, and as naturally inherent in our world, like the law of gravity. In fact, it is neither. Rather, copyright is an ongoing social negotiation, tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation." NPR reports he is also giving away the option to turn his novel You Don’t Love Me Yet into a film, with some caveats. For those of us who aren't filmmakers or playwrights, many of the available stories are posted for our reading pleasure.
posted by joannemerriam (9 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I apologize for this complete & total derail... but before reading the rest of the post I just read that first link way too fast and the name immediately registered in my brain as Jonathan Leitham. 'Cuz I know an amazing bass player who used to use that name but doesn't anymore for obvious reasons. So until I realized I was just being stupid, the idea of her creating something called the "Promiscuous Materials Project" under her old name kind of blew my mind. It was kind of a "wtf? Oh, right. I'm being a complete moron" moment. I have those kinda often, though.

Lord, I need coffee.

posted by miss lynnster at 1:17 PM on March 18, 2007

Great post. Thanks.
posted by dobbs at 1:55 PM on March 18, 2007

Jeffrey Archer used to do something like this. He'd sell the TV and movie rights to his books for one penny, on the basis that that made them more likely to get them produced, resulting in massive exposure leading to more sales.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:20 PM on March 18, 2007

On a semi-derail, I really dug this...
posted by Samizdata at 2:46 PM on March 18, 2007

There's a letter from Lethem in Harper's about this article where he over-explained and apologized. Reminded me of nothing so much as a wussy, thirty-year late verision of detournment.
posted by Football Bat at 3:25 PM on March 18, 2007

Lethem is one of my favorite living wordsmiths, but he's better at writing short pieces than novels. Every so often I'll reread his introduction to his Vintage Anthology of Amnesia in order to remind myself how thrilling writing can be. What a great piece.
posted by painquale at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2007

I always wonder whether it's possible for me to like JL even a little more than I already do. The strange riff here on Delmore Schwartz's "The Ego is Always at the Wheel" ratchets my affection for the guy yet again.
posted by escabeche at 4:27 PM on March 18, 2007

I always wonder whether it's possible for me to like JL even a little more than I already do.

Amen. Great post. Thanks.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:48 PM on March 19, 2007

"Why are you assuming anyone cares to make your novel into a film to begin with, let alone anything further?

Good question. None of my earlier novels have been filmed (so far), but many have been optioned..."

What happened to Motherless Brooklyn with Ed Norton as Lionel? I done thought that was already filmed?

Ah. Perhaps in progress.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:53 PM on March 19, 2007

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