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August 23rd, 2006 Karla Starr | Books
 

Loggernaut Reading Series, Thursday, Aug. 24.

Jonathan Raymond on Old Joy and scrubbing toilets

     
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Creative people are not the most organized lot, so it's refreshing to have Loggernaut—the bimonthly reading series founded by local wordies Erin Ergenbright, Jesse Lichtenstein and Heather Larimer—in our back yard.

"But I doubt their ability to consistently bring an eclectic array of notable talent!" you say. Actually, their latest reading welcomes Gina Ochsner, Jonathan Raymond and Matt Yurdana.

"Is that the Jonathan Raymond—author of the novel The Half-Life, associate editor of Tin House—whose short story 'Old Joy' was adapted into a film opening on Aug. 25 at Cinema 21?" Yes, actually. WW cornered Raymond via email to ask him about Loggernaut, "Old Joy" and scrubbing toilets.

WW: What's so special about this reading series to you?

Jonathan Raymond: I love Loggernaut. Heather and Erin and Jesse have done a great job cultivating a devoted audience of really interesting-seeming people, a lot of whom are writers themselves, as opposed to the smattering of an author's friends and relatives who normally show up at most bookstore readings. People know they can go to Loggernaut and see something interesting and also have a chance to hang out with their friends.

Congratulations on the enthusiastic reception of the film, Old Joy. It's opening at Cinema 21....

Yeah, the Cinema 21 thing is really great. I'm not normally sentimental about this kind of thing, but the fact that a feature film that I had some part in is playing on that screen is really special for me. I went to all my teenage art movies at Cinema 21. I worked there as a janitor. And the last scene of the novel I wrote takes place there. It's kind of a temple to me.

I've heard that the difficulty of writing a screenplay is akin to squeezing a novel's worth of material into a poem.

Not with "Old Joy." If anything, it was the opposite. It was like trying to sustain a poem for a much longer duration than one might think possible. And I think the filmmakers really pulled it off. The cinematographer, Pete Sillen, did a beautiful job of capturing the Northwest landscape, and the soundtrack by Yo La Tengo is gorgeous. That said, I have come to think that the ratio of short story to feature film is probably a lot more sound than that of novel to feature film. I don't see how a novel can really be squeezed into that kind of time frame. The scope of a short story just seems to fit the movie better. There are much fewer compromises to make.


Raymond appears with Gina Ochsner and Matt Yurdana for the Loggernaut reading on Thursday, Aug. 24. 7:30 pm. Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895. $5 recommended donation for reading, $10 recommended for reading and Matt Voth concert. Old Joy opens Friday, Aug. 25, at Cinema 21, 616 NW 21st Ave., 223-4515.
 
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