From Larry Clark’s lusty visuals to Jodorowsky’s mysticism – we look back on the best, and most rare, film and literature crossovers
Whether you're peering through Miranda July's rose-tinted windows or treading carefully through the perverted underworlds of David Cronenberg, a great director will always be a master storyteller. It's why, when switching up from the camera to the page, the best filmic minds don't really have a lot of trouble. As Guillermo Del Toro sets his spooky sights on the world of YA with his new book Trollhunters, we look back at the other directors that got the film-to-literature crossover right.
GUS VAN SANT – PINK
Released to mixed reviews, Gus Van Sant's first (and only) novel reads more like a colourful, drunken love letter to science-fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut. Set in the heart of the Hollywood dream factory, it details the life of filmmaker Spunky Davis as he tries to break free from infomercials and finish his own screenplay – but not before meeting two meddling messengers from another dimension (obvs). The director of My Own Private Idaho and Elephant keeps things characteristically visual here, playing with typefaces, flip cartoons and line drawings as his own special storytelling devices.
MIRANDA JULY – THE FIRST BAD MAN
It's become pretty impossible to mention Miranda July without the words 'quirky' or 'kooky' lurking menacingly nearby – and sadly, her debut novel makes it even harder to buck that trend. A (sort of) love story, it follows gawky misfit Cheryl Glickman and her new-age sexual fantasties as she seeks her own – very unexpected – personal fulfillment. Just like her first feature Me You and Everyone We Know, this is a vivid vision of humanity at its most warming and bizarre.
HARMONY KORINE – A CRACK UP AT THE RACE RIOTS
As wild, wrenching and weird as most of his other creative endeavours, A Crackup At The Race Riots is Harmony Korine's first freaky foray into the literary world. The enfant terrible of 90s cinema spends the majority of these 170-odd pages flipping the finger at any kind of narrative structure – opting instead for a more fragmented (and demented) approach. More of a chaotic collage of ideas, images and short scenes, this 1998 novel was a real rarity before being recently republished by Drag City – with used copies shifting for up to $300.
DEREK JARMAN – MODERN NATURE
The patron punk of queer cinema, Derek Jarman's innovative impulses knew very few bounds. The director, painter, set designer and underground icon turned his hand to life-writing after being diagnosed as HIV positive in 1986 – with Modern Nature being the result. This collection of his personal diaries gives a raw and real insight into his upbringing, sexuality and incredible creative career.
ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY – WHERE THE BIRD SINGS BEST
Cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is mostly known for his surreal and spellbinding cinematic trips (from the bizarre Santa Sangre to iconic The Holy Mountain) – but in his Latin American homeland his literary skills are just as highly thought of. Mostly undiscovered in the English-speaking world, his autobiographic novel Where The Bird Sings Best was published this year, proving his prowess as a master of mystic storytelling.
WIM WENDERS – ONCE
German auteur Wim Wenders moves effortlessly from reel to page in this image-led scrapbook of his life's adventures. Much like the dreamy visual worlds he created for Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, this is a narrative done differently – with a soft focus on the untold and enigmatic side of everyday life.
DAVID CRONENBERG – CONSUMED
Coming from the mind that produced gruesome gems like The Fly, Dead Ringers and Videodrome, it's probably not that surprising that David Cronenberg's Consumed is a toe-curlingly twisted debut. The 'King of Venereal Horror' spends most of the novel shining a light on the darkest parts of the human psyche – swaying from dreamlike body-horror to surreal sexual deviance. Probs not for the fainthearted.
NORA EPHRON – HEARTBURN
Writer, director and feminist icon Nora Ephron scrapes out her heart and slams it straight into her 1996 novel – serving up a thinly veiled attack on her ex-husband and the “unbelievably tall” woman he left her for. It's bubbling over with betrayal, but at no point gets too hard to swallow – the When Harry Met Sally writer keeps things as light and funny as she's become famous for.
LARRY CLARK – TULSA AND TEENAGE LUST
Before Larry Clark exploded onto the scene with 1995's Kids, he was a photographer. Primarily concerned with teenage angst and sexuality, his first book Tulsa was a hugely influential visual trip documenting the grittier side of his Oklahoma hometown. His follow-up, Teenage Lust, was another visual autobiography, featuring stark and explicit shots of adolescent desire.
DAVID LYNCH – CATCHING THE BIG FISH
Lovers of Lynch are probably already aware of his obsession with meditation, and this book is basically more of that. It's a 200-page insight into the creative methods of the Twin Peaks master, and comes complete with thoughts and advice on how you can tap into your own subconscious hinterland.