The decision to watch every film in the Criterion Collection—hundreds of them drawn from cinema classics from all around the world—in a single year led McGriff and Tyree, both published authors, to start writing about the films that had, to some degree, taken over their minds, filling them with powerful images and warping them slightly. The result is a “twinned narrative,” more experimental than autobiographical, a kind of call-and-response playing with the material—if one writer wrote under the inspiration of a film, the other would respond with his own story, like jazz players taking turns with their solos.
As the work grew, rules entered the picture: there had to be one story from each of them for each film, no one would know who wrote what, and the stories had to make sense to someone who had never seen the movies. The result is a collection of linked snapshots of the lives of two young men coming of age in the 1980s, in which the veil that’s supposed to separate the real from the unreal thins and lifts. Our own lives could be the movie, they suggest—and maybe they are.
Michael McGriff is a former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University and a recipient of an NEA grant. J. M. Tyree is a former Truman Capote-Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford and an associate editor of the New England Review.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.