The Arty Semite

'I Think You're Totally Wrong' Goes to Hollywood

By Philip Eil

Photo courtesy Rabbit Bandini Productions

Capital punishment. Bungee jumping. Cormac McCarthy. Waterboarding. Jackson Pollock. “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Abortion. Rupert Murdoch. The Seattle Mariners. The war in Iraq. The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” Disneyland. Balding.

These are just few of the subjects David Shields and Caleb Powell cover in their new book, “I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel.” Or, rather, it’s what they covered in 2011 when the two friends — Shields, a bestselling author of 16 books who teaches at the University of Washington, and Powell, a world-traveler-turned-stay-at-home dad who has published stories in a few literary magazines — headed to a cabin in the mountains of Washington State to verbally joust for four days.

The transcript of those conversations is the basis for the book — and the inspiration for a James Franco-directed film, starring Shields and Powell, scheduled for release later this year. “We can’t faux-argue like Siskel and Ebert,” Powell says as they discuss ground rules. “It’s staged, but it can’t be fake.”

“It’s an ancient form,” Shields says later. “Two white guys bullshitting… you can go all the way back to Plato’s dialogues with Socrates.”

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J.D. Salinger Biopic in the Works

By Forward Staff

Lotte Jacobi/Wikimedia Commons

J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of “The Catcher in the Rye” and “Franny and Zooey,” among other books, will be the subject of a new biography and film, according to the Associated Press.

Publisher Simon & Schuster announced today that they had bought the rights to “The Private War of J.D. Salinger” by author David Shields and screenwriter Shane Salerno. The book is scheduled to be published in September 2013, with a documentary version to air on PBS next January. The biopic will the 200th episode of PBS’s “American Masters” series.

According to Simon & Schuster, the book is informed by “over 150 sources who either worked directly with author J.D. Salinger, had a personal relationship with him, or were influenced by his work.” Salinger died in 2010 at age 91.

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