Susan Minot’s Complicated Hollywood Saga

By Carmen Comment

Then again, almost all Hollywood sagas for novelists are complicated in some form or another, but Susan Minot found out in a special way when her book EVENING was adapted for the big screen by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and screenwriter Michael Cunningham after a nine-year odyssey, which included her own adaptations. Now what would she tell other writers in her situation? “I would tell them ‘let it go’,” she said to the Times’s Martyn Palmer. “Just stand back and enjoy the ride.”

As for the differing screenplays, “If pressed, I think I’m going to say I like mine better but, you know, Michael’s was his. He brought a lot of people to the project and he managed to make the story more accessible.” But in truth, the “collaboration” was fairly amicable – a lot more than what journalists would make out. “I loved Susan’s book and I respect her enormously as a writer and the first thing I did was call and say ‘I don’t know what they’ll be, but I know I’m going to have to make real changes in the story,'” he recalled. “To her huge credit, Susan said: ‘Of course you’ll change it, that’s why they called you. That’s what I want to see happen.’ What works in a novel is not what works in a movie, and off we went.”

Minot is happy with the film but emphasizes that it is definitely a separate entity to the book. “The book stays where it is. The movie is another creation using the book as a base, not even inspiration because inspiration only goes so far, but as a sort of reference point.”