New York Times By Dave Itzkoff | link ›
In his feature films, Albert Brooks has traveled across the country (almost eventually) and to the afterlife, so for his first novel, there was only one place left for him to go: the future.
“I’ve always liked to think ahead,” Mr. Brooks, the comedian, filmmaker (“Lost in America”) and actor (“Broadcast News”) said in a telephone interview. “Not stupid-far ahead. A hundred years doesn’t interest me. But 20 years interests me, and more for what happens to humans as opposed to things.”
That’s the not-too-distant future Mr. Brooks will explore in “2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America,” a novel that St. Martin’s Press will publish in May 2011, the publisher is to announce on Friday.
As a reader, Mr. Brooks said he’s well versed in speculative works from “1984” to “2001.” And he has a decent track record as a prognosticator if you believe he anticipated the reality-television craze in his 1979 film “Real Life.”
But he cautioned that “2030” was not exactly in the comedic mold of, say, “Sleeper.”
“I can’t not put humor in a book,” Mr. Brooks said. But, repeating a line he said to a friend recently, he added, “I don’t want to be the one to break it to you, but the future ain’t that funny.”
As St. Martin’s described the book in an e-mail message, “2030” takes place at a time when “a population that has finally been freed from the scourge of cancer is dramatically aging, sparking resentment against the ‘olds’ and leading to a nation so hamstrung by entitlements and debt that its only way out are solutions heretofore unthinkable.”
Mr. Brooks, 62, said the novel addresses the generational dynamics among roughly “a dozen major characters,” and deals in part with feelings he has experienced as he has watched the younger ranks come up behind him.
“We took to the streets for the Vietnam War,” he said. “But there’s other reasons that kids should take to the streets. They just haven’t gotten there yet. And from what I’m reading, with the iPhone 6, they won’t have to.”
Mr. Brooks said it took him about 14 months to write the manuscript for “2030” and occasionally remind himself he wasn’t limited by the restrictions of his low-budget movies.
“I would type, ‘It was a stormy night,’ and I’d cross that out,” he said. “‘It was a pleasant night,’ and I’d cross that out. ‘It was noon.’ I’d cross that out. ‘He stayed in bed.’ That’s what you do with a script. You know how much everything costs.”
Mr. Brooks said the “huge canvas” of the novel was in its own way as satisfying as filmmaking, enough that he’s already at work on a second book.
“But the thing that would please me most,” Mr. Brooks said of “2030,” “is if you read this book and you thought, nothing in this book could not happen.”
“By the way,” he added, “it would make a great, expensive movie, if you did it right.”