What David Grann Thinks of 'The Lost City of Z' Movie
Author David Grann is having a pretty good month. His new book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI—the true story of the 1920s murders of the oil-rich Osage tribe members—is one of the most buzzed-about nonfiction titles of the season. And this week the film version of The Lost City of Z opens in theaters. In his 2009 book, The New Yorker writer set out to discover what happened to British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the fabled Lost City of Z deep within the Amazon.
full interview with Grann that appeared in our April newsletter.
Goodreads: With the movie version of The Lost City of Z about to open in theaters, one reader, Huckleberry, asks: What are your feelings about the film, and have you seen it?
David Grann: I've seen the movie, and I was very happy with it. It's different from the book in that the book is about half of my journey and half about the biography of Percy Harrison Fawcett, and the movie just focuses on Percy Fawcett. So it's a nice complement to the book. I'm hoping people who enjoy the movie will be drawn to the book and people who read the book will be drawn to the movie.
GR: Another reader, Trent, asks: Much of your writing tackles issues about obsession. What are your own obsessions, how do they appear in your writing, and do you find them all negative?
DG: The people I write about tend to have obsessions because they tend to be interesting people, breaking norms or pushing themselves to the limits or chasing something.
I would say I live a very boring, conventional life and tend not to do very adventurous things. So it's in writing about these subjects that I tend to do things that are more adventurous and tend to get outside myself a little bit. That's one of the pleasures of writing and reporting.
DG: I read a lot of fiction. I read so much nonfiction for work and research, so if I spend my days reading history books about the FBI or the frontier or about oil, there's nothing more I like to do at night [than] curl up with a novel.
The best book I read of late was The North Water by Ian McGuire. I also love books about the sea, and this one is set at sea. It's also a struggle between good and evil, so it has certain resonances with me. I devoured it in two days.
I read a lot of detective fiction—Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, Kate Atkinson mysteries, Megan Abbott. Right at this moment I'm rereading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'm working on a story for The New Yorker. It's something totally different, but there's something about that novel, the language and the starkness of it, [and] I often pick up books to try to hear a voice or find inspiration of what I'm working on.
GR: Why are you fascinated by murder and justice—or lack of justice?
DG: I think being a writer or reporter, hopefully, when you have a moral purpose to what you're working on—when you're trying to expose something or wrestle with something—it drives you more. I think that's ultimately why you get into the business. You're trying to do the story justice and do the victims justice. And when you write with that in mind, I think you do your best work. I do have a tendency to be very obsessive about the subjects I research because I want so hard to try to find out everything I can. That's often an elusive quest because you can't know everything about everything, but that process of trying to find that next beat, that next fact, that next detail, that is what consumes me.
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