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John Krasinski and David Foster Wallace's endless summer

September 21, 2009 | 12:32 pm


As summer winds to a close, so too has Infinite Summer -- the online readers group that challenged the brave and the bold to take on David Foster Wallace's 1,088-page novel "Infinite Jest."

To celebrate, Skylight Books is hosting a closing party tomorrow at 8 p.m. Joining in will be actor John Krasinski ("The Office"), who makes his directorial debut with the upcoming film "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men" -- based on another Wallace book -- to read some excerpts and sign posters. Appearing also will be Wallace's longtime literary agent Bonnie Nadell; Kathleen Fitzpatick, who taught with him at Pomona College; and other special guests.

The 29 year-old Krasinski, whom most everyone knows as Jim from "The Office," got permission to film Wallace's story collection from the author himself before Wallace died a year ago.

"I remember him being so soft-spoken and so nice," said Krasinski during an interview with Rebecca Harper on Hulu.com. "He put me at ease right away. I remember him being flattered that someone had taken up this book and tried to run it up the hill."

Krasinski started his adaptation of "Brief Interviews" while waiting tables in New York. When he was cast in the pilot for "The Office," he used the money to buy the rights to the book.

Written as a series of 23 short stories, "Brief Interviews" lends itself to easy transcription into other media. Vince Passaro's review in Salon notes that "Wallace writes of young boys at the pool, middle-aged men in uncomfortable sexual situations and [a] woman who unbearably narrates her pathologies in the neo-vocabulary of healing and therapy."

For Krasinski, the book arrived with "almost near-perfect dialogue and the biggest challenge was editing it down to a piece that could actually fit into a watchable movie rather than an epic miniseries or something."

So which characters made the cut from the page to the screen? You'll have to see the film to find out. Due Sept. 25, "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men" marks Krasinski's debut as a writer-director. It's also the first time that any of Wallace's fiction has been adapted for the screen.

-- George Ducker

photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times