Lit Picks

Son finds closure in deal

With a docu nearing completion, a book deal recently inked, a CD-ROM in the works and a treatment for a feature on its way to Hollywood, Nathaniel Lachenmeyer’s “therapy” is quickly becoming a multimedia undertaking.

Recently profiled in Time magazine, Lachenmeyer grew up with a father who had been an up-and-coming academic but became ill with schizophrenia, eventually leaving his home and family and living off the streets.

After finding his father’s body in a Burlington, Vt., flophouse, Lachenmeyer — who was working as a comic-book writer in Gotham — set out to retrace his father’s life from the time he left home when his son was 12.

While the docu originally served as a way to come to terms with his father, it also started a cascade of film, book and magazine offers, which has made his father’s life and illness a multimedia undertaking.

Broadway Books recently struck a low six-figure deal for the publishing rights to Lachenmeyer’s book, based on his docu, “Cities of Thought.”

“At the time my father died, I was writing a novel about him and his life, but since I didn’t know him that well and didn’t know he was homeless, I decided a film would allow all the people who did know him to piece together his life,” he told Variety.

“But after doing 80 interviews in six states, I decided I also wanted to do a nonfiction book in my own voice, but not some self-help, transformative stuff.”

Lachenmeyer says each chapter of the book, set to be published January 1999, will have some of his father’s delusional writings, which illustrate the illness as well as his father’s brilliance and hostility.

Lachenmeyer also has prepared a treatment for a fictionalized feature film based on his father’s story, which he hopes to send to producers soon. He is also seeking to develop an educational CD-ROM about schizophrenia, using the text of the book and portions of the docu.

“I’m not looking to be a whore,” says Lachenmeyer. “Maybe I will become overexposed, but the subject of schizophrenia will not. It can only help the understanding of mental illness, the feelings of chances missed and the mistakes that are made when a family member is mentally ill.”

Book signings go high-tech

Leave it to “Dilbert” to come up with a way for authors to meet their fans without having to actually be with them.

Using a computer and an Intel Video Phone, “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams will conduct a series of “virtual book signings” across the country this month to promote his latest musings, “The Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century” (HarperBusiness). Bookstore patrons can chat with the author and buy pre-signed copies of the book.

In the tome, “Dilbert” becomes a Marshall McLuhan for the ’90s, predicting key developments in technology, the workplace, politics, economics, social issues and the possibility of life on other planets.

“The Cinema of Martin Scorsese”

Lawrence S. Friedman (Continuum) Pub date: July

Friedman, an English professor at Purdue, begins his analysis of Scorsese’s work with the director’s Catholic background and early plans to become a priest. That religious impulse was channeled into moviemaking at NYU Film School under instructor Haig Manoogian, who produced Scorsese’s first feature, “Who’s That Knockin’ at My Door.” Friedman also notes connections with film noir, Vincente Minnelli musicals and the French New Wave.

“Point Last Seen: A Woman Tracker’s Story”

Hannah Nyala (Beacon) Pub date: June

A young woman from the Mississippi backwoods escapes a vicious husband and moves to the desert to ease her grief. Drawing on hunting skills fostered by her Sioux Indian grandmother, she earns her living as a search-and-rescue tracker for the National Park Service.

Rights: available (UTA)

“Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography”

David Bogle (Amistad) Pub date: June

Film historian Bogle uses extensive interviews with Dandridge’s family, friends and colleagues to spotlight the first black to be nominated for the best actress Oscar — for “Carmen Jones” (1954). Whitney Houston has optioned the rights.

“Laid Bare: A Memoir of Wrecked Lives and the Hollywood Death Trip”

John Gilmore (Amok) Pub date: June

Actor-screenwriter-director-journalist Gilmore has written this tell-all tribute to his halcyon days in Hollywood among such notables as Jane Fonda, Jean Seberg, Ed Wood Jr., Brigitte Bardot and Steve McQueen.

Rights: available

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