This past week, Oprah Winfrey made some history with her book club. For the first time ever she picked a book that involved post-apocalyptic cannibalism, specifically Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. McCarthy’s a great writer – one of America’s best, without question – but The Road is a change of pace for the man known best for his modern Westerns. For one thing, it’s kind of gruesome, and for another it’s technically speculative fiction. Whatever genre it is, it’s pretty great… although you have to wonder about all these cultureless housewives getting down with some of The Road’s tougher passages.
Being picked for Oprah’s book club is a huge thing for any book – the publishing company pushed up The Road’s trade paperback release to coincide with Oprah – but for this book it also means new life has been breathed into the potential movie adaptation. The rights were bought way back in November, but there hasn’t been much movement – now, with Oprah’s announcement, a writer has been hired. Producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz say that the timing of the hiring is coincidental, but I just can’t believe that – this book is now in the popular consciousness, and that means they’re going to want to take advantage of that fact.
The writer is Joe Penhall, a British playwright who previously wrote the adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love. That’s the script that attracted director John Hillcoat (you remember him from The Proposition). Once the script is written the next step is casting – the producers say they aren’t going to talk to distributors until they have a script and a cast in place. I would bet that we hear casting talk sometime in the next eight to ten weeks.