The Life And Times Of Movie Star 'Laura Lamont' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

The Life And Times Of Movie Star 'Laura Lamont'

Play associated audio

It's a small town girl's dream: One day, you're strutting the floorboards of a summer stage; the next, the silver screen. Thus is the arc of Elsa Emerson, a Door County, Wis., girl whose life at the Cheery County playhouse never quite goes away when she becomes the Oscar-winning Laura Lamont.

The quiet merging of the two tracks is at the center of Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures, a high-buzz debut novel from writer Emma Straub. Straub tells Jacki Lyden, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered, that the main character came to her while she was reading a New York Times obituary of the real-life actress Jennifer Jones.


INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On how Jennifer Jones' obituary inspired her

"I couldn't get it out of my mind, and so I copied it down and I just kept going back to it, and when I decided that I did want to write this novel, I made sure to stay away actually from Jennifer Jones' biography cause I didn't want it to be, you know, a thinly veiled version of her. I really wanted my Laura Lamont to stand on her own feet."

On how the death of her older sister, Hildy, shapes Elsa's life

"It's the event that really haunts her for the rest of her life, and it's also sort of the impetus for her to strike out for Hollywood because her beautiful and talented older sister, who she thought was always destined for great things, you know, is no longer able, she really thinks that she has to do it. She has to live both lives: her own and Hildy's."

On the theme of her book, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures

"I heard [writer] Ann Patchett speak at an event in Brooklyn, and at this event she said that people always say to her that they think that her novels are very different from one to the next, but she thinks that she really just has one subject matter. And I started thinking about it, and I think that might be true for me, too. That the subject matter that's really at the heart of this book, and that's at the heart of many of my short stories also, is this idea of the self that we present. And like how is that different from the self we are inside. You know, Elsa Emerson becomes Laura Lamont, but of course she's always Elsa as well."

On why she kept writing after her previous four novels were rejected

"It absolutely never occurred to me that it wouldn't happen eventually. I never for a moment doubted it. You know, I thought, 'OK, I'm not good enough yet, I'm not there yet, but I'll get there.'"

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Why Are Theater Tickets Cheaper On The West End Than On Broadway?

In London, a matinee ticket for Matilda costs about $60; in New York, it's $137. What's going on? The West End has weaker unions and subsidized theater, while Broadway has amenities.
NPR

Moldova's Winemakers Seize Upon Region's Geopolitical Moment

The tiny European country of Moldova isn't known for much of anything, and especially not its wine. But its winemakers are trying to find new export markets and overcome their post-Soviet reputation.
WAMU 88.5

Bill Aims To Reduce Sexual Assaults On College Campuses

The bill would force schools to provide confidential advisors to victims and forbids athletic departments from handling sexual assault cases themselves.
NPR

Can Pinterest Compete With Google's Search?

Pinterest has created a database of things that matter to humans. And with a programming team that's largely been hired away from Google, the company has begun offering what it calls "guided search."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.