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When can we read John Sayles' new book?

May 26, 2009 |  7:01 am


The manuscript clocks in at 1,000 pages and bears the sadly ironic title "Some Time in the Sun." It would be the fourth novel from John Sayles -- would be, that is, if it had a publisher. Josh Getlin reports:

"I've been done with it for six or seven months, and it's out to five or six publishers," he said quietly [to a New York audience who attended a recent reading]. "But we haven't had any bites yet."

John Sayles, Oscar-nominated creator of "Return of the Secaucus 7," "Lone Star," "Matewan" and other movies, is having trouble getting a book deal.

Those who are more familiar with Sayles' film work might be surprised to learn that he is also a National Book Award nominee, for his 1977 novel, "Union Dues." When that book was reissued in 2006, Sayles told NPR, "There is that tension always that I want to create between what's this beautiful thing in the background and what's being said in the foreground, and is there any match to it."

In "Some Time in the Sun," Sayles explores the 1898 war between the U.S. and Spain over the Philippines. In that conflict, Getlin writes, Sayles saw "an eerie precursor of U.S. military exploits in Vietnam." His article continues:

"Some Time in the Sun" -- like his films -- blends vivid human portraits with historical events and brilliantly captures individual voices. In addition to his raucous newsboys, it spotlights African American and white soldiers fighting in the Philippines, fast-buck artists who help create the motion picture industry, and features cameos by Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, William Randolph Hearst, Damon Runyon and other historical figures.

Until -- or unless -- the book finds a publisher, that's all we're likely to read of it.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times