Patricia Burroughs's Reviews > The Homesman

The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout
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Apr 11, 2010

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bookshelves: american, novel, western
Read on January 01, 1998 — I own a copy

This is not exactly a review, rather, a strange connection for me.

Some years ago one of the producers on the film UNFORGIVEN read my western, liked it a lot, and said to me, "You know, as I was reading this, I thought, this is the writer who needs to adapt THE HOMESMAN for Paul Newman."

I read HOMESMAN and loved a lot of it--except for (no spoiler here, I'm restraining myself) how the female protagonist dealt with her loss near the end. And I knew, yes, I could write the hell out of this script, but not if Paul (he was Paul in my mind by this point) wanted THAT to happen!

And I wrote Mr Newman (well, it was official correspondence) and told him what I'd been told, and that I'd love to offer myself up for the task of adapting this book for him.


I really did that.

And--it gets worse. I did that knowing--KNOWING--that the script he'd been shopping around trying to get made for this project was supposedly causing all sorts of problems because everybody "knew" that despite whatever name was on the script, Paul had written it himself. And nobody wanted to say, "Paul, this script is bad." So it didn't get made, it kept getting passed around, and...

I wrote and offered my services as a screenwriter.

*takes a bow*

Yes, that is chutzpah.

Of course nothing came of it.

Until many months later, I came home from somewhere to find a message on my answering machine. A voice that said, "Call for Patricia from Mr Newman." And when I didn't answer, there were murmurs and then a voice continued, "Mr Newman wanted to thank you for your interest in The Homesman, but he isn't looking for a writer at this time. If his plans change, he will let you know."

I almost fell flat on the floor. ON the FLOOR, people.

First of all, it sounded distinctly as if--had I been home--I might have actually spoken to MR NEWMAN my own sassy self!

At any event, his asst had called to pass verbally, and so nicely and--

Well, I eventually started breathing again.

And that was the end of it.

So, I'd had a few people tell me that my book reminded them of Unforgiven (though my book was published first), and then The Homesman, and then...

Today when I was looking for comparisons for my western, so I could say, if you like THIS you might like my western romance, somebody came back and said, "Unforgiven was written by a guy who was influenced by Gwendon Swarthout, who write The Shootist and The Homesman."

Books which I suggest very few of my target audience will have ever read.

And yet it seems that if Gwendon Swarthout had ever written a western with love and sex... somebody might have said to him, "You know what, this reminds me a lot of that Patricia Burroughs...."

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