Friday, June 29, 2012

Adaptation Angst: The Leftovers

Oh, for Christ's sake. According to io9, Damon "never elucidate when you might obfuscate" Lindelof is in talks to adapt Tom Perrotta's novel The Leftovers for an HBO series. Usually the phrase "HBO series" connected with any of my favorite novels is enough to make me all giddy-like. But the phrase "Damon Lindelof" is the antidote to my giddiness, especially when dealing with material as delicate and sadly strange as that found in Perrotta's novel.

The Leftovers was sort of marketed as a "what happens after the Rapture" novel, but that's not what it's truly about. In fact, there is no official explanation, ecumenical or otherwise, for what causes a sizable majority of the population of the planet to disappear one October afternoon. I imagine this is where some genius in production decided to bring in former Lostie, current Promethean Lindelof. "Oooh," I picture said exec thinking to him/herself, "imagine the convoluted, contradictory, and ultimately unsatisfying theories Damon Lindelof could construct around such an inexplicable event!"

Problem is, the point of the book is in no way to explain the disappearance. Instead, and this should come as no surprise to anyone who has read or seen the excellent adaptation of Perrotta's earlier novel Little Children, the story is supremely concerned with how people cope with an apocalyptic trauma. That is, any trauma that shocks the human consciousness with an unbearable loss. That is, any trauma. The "rapture" is the lens not the image. Lost and Prometheus haven't given me the utmost confidence that Lindelof knows the difference.

Angst level: 9

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