Monday, July 18, 2011

"The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death" by Charlie Huston

Charlie Huston's The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death has been a Big Sleep favorite since it came out as a trade paperback in December 2009.

Random House's blurb:
With his teaching career derailed by tragedy and his slacker days numbered, Webster Fillmore Goodhue makes an unlikely move and joins Clean Team, charged with tidying up L.A.'s grisly crime scenes. For Web, it's a steady gig, and he soon finds himself sponging a Malibu suicide's brains from a bathroom mirror and flirting with the man's bereaved and beautiful daughter.

Then things get weird: The dead man's daughter asks a favor. Every cell in Web's brain tells him to turn her down, but something makes him hit the Harbor Freeway at midnight to help her however he can. Soon enough it's Web who needs the help when gun-toting California cowboys start showing up on his doorstep. What's the deal? Is it something to do with what he cleaned up in that motel room in Carson? Or is it all about the brewing war between rival trauma cleaners? Web doesn't have a clue, but he'll need to get one if he's going to keep from getting his face kicked in. Again. And again. And again.
Charlie Huston reported on his blog in January of this year that
The pilot for The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death was shot, edited, submitted and passed on by HBO. In simple terms this means there will be no profit generating TV series based on one of my books premiering on a pay cable channel near you.

There are obvious negatives to this end, most of them revolve around money (though, in all honesty, I had a tremendous amount of fun in the process and would have liked to have had more), the positives are more subtle, but, seeing as they revolve around family and not having a boss, they are also highly prized.

I was shocked to discover that I was interested in adapting All Signs of Death, and even more surprised to discover that the idea of working on a TV show in a day to day manner became appealing. Would have been nice to take a crack at that, but I still feel very much as if I walked into the casino, pushed my bet well beyond the point of sanity, and walked out with a great deal of the house’s filth lucre in my pocket. Plus I got comped a suite and tickets to a great show.

Speaking of great shows, the pilot itself was pretty damn good. Whenever you endeavor to do something very complicated in a very short period of time with somewhat limited resources there are going to be compromises and mistakes that you just have to deal with. I think both were minimized beyond any reasonable expectation. Someday the hunger for content may induce someone to create an archive of pilots that never went to series. Short of that, I don’t think too many people are going to get to see the All Signs of Death pilot. I consider that a damn shame. Probably my one real regret from not putting this thing on the air is that folks will miss out on Ben Whishaw as Web Goodhue. The cast was pretty fucking great top to bottom, but Mr. Whishaw was remarkable

1 comment:

  1. I was looking forward to Ben Whishaw as of my favorite actors as one of my very favorite fictional characters. Sigh! I still hope someone will find some way of getting the pilot out so we can see it. I also think the book would have made a terrific movie. Any chance of that someday????