This has to rank as one of my favorite entertainment news items so far this week: Per our most righteous cousins at Bloody Disgusting comes tantalizing news about auteur Quentin Tarantino’s newest project(s) – and it’s not a new film!
Tarantino – rightfully celebrated for such cinematic masterpieces as Jackie Brown and Inglorious Bastards – has just inked a two book deal with renowned publisher Harper. The first book on Tarantino’s Underwood typewriter will be an actual novelization of his smash movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Feel as if you feel into the DC equivalent of Bizarro World, Gentle Readers? After all, most novelizations of hit movies usually drop shortly before the movie it is adapting to prose even hits the silver screen; Once Upon a Time in Hollywood came out back in 2019. For Quentin Tarantino though, who has spent an entire career defying expectations from peers and fans alike, this seems more like business as usual and, in an oddball way, this move fits comfortably into the M.O. of the man who made John Travolta cool again (akin to Lazarus rising from the dead in the Hollywood of 1994) and cast Jack Dawson (A.K.A. onetime Titanic steerage passenger Leonardo DiCaprio) as a nefarious villain in a wonky western. So I’d wager a guess that, when it comes to this onetime Golden Girls background extra, all bets are truly off.
The exciting bit for this film nerd who has all but rotted his brain on back issues of Movieline and Premiere magazines from the late 80s/early 90s and holds Peter Biskind’s history on late 60s early-mid 70s Hollywood – Easy Riders, Raging Bulls – as a sacred text is the news of what Tarantino’s second book will be about: A book filled with essays written by Tarantino about the 1970s film scene. For many, this bit of news is akin to resurrecting Frank Capra and having him record audio commentaries for his films. In other words, pretty intriguing and very cool news.
The title of the book of essays is Cinema Speculation and has been described by hyperbole masters as a veritable “deep dive into the movies of the 1970s, a rich mix of essays, reviews, personal writing, and tantalizing “what if’s”, from one of cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers, and its most devoted fan.”
Meanwhile, Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time novelization, due out next summer, will apparently build upon the characters and situations from the film proper, chronicling the misadventures of Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth even as their creator plies and mucks around with the concepts of time (a regular feature in his oeuvre).
Elaborating even more about the novelization, Quentin Tarantino explained in a statement released today that “in the seventies movie novelizations were the first adult books I grew up reading. And to this day I have a tremendous amount of affection for the genre. So as a movie-novelization aficionado, I’m proud to announce Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, my contribution to this often marginalized, yet beloved sub-genre in literature. I’m also thrilled to further explore my characters and their world in a literary endeavor that can (hopefully) sit alongside its cinematic counterpart.”
So there you have it, kiddies. Make room on that already overcrowded bookshelf – in between Bogdanovich’s The Devil You Know and Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures – for an insider’s (who also happens to be a huge fan himself) take on classic Hollywood. I know I’ll be waiting!