OFF THE SHELF: Albert Brooks writes about the future

Albert Brooks, standup comedian, moviemaker, Academy Award-nominated actor (for Broadcast News) is now a novelist with the debut of 2030, a surprisingly serious take about the near future.

Cancer has been cured, global warming is an acknowledged reality, people have robot companions, Los Angeles has been leveled by an earthquake, and there‘s a growing movement by the young to exterminate the elderly.

Brooks’ vision encompasses the future of politics, medicine, entertainment, and daily living, resulting in a novel as entertaining as it is thought provoking.

Publishers Weekly recently sat down with Brooks to find out more about this new venture. Here are excerpts from that interview:

PW:  What made you want to write a novel?

AB: It allowed me to do something that I couldn’t do in movies, to go to that big of a stage. My movies are restricted by budget, and I had this idea and I couldn’t think of a way to make a $15-million movie out of it.

PW: Why write a novel about the future?

AB:  I like the idea of a real future, something that might actually happen.

I like the idea of 20 years from now. It’s not too far; it’s not too close. But it lets you use your imagination.

The truth is, there are a lot of possible scenarios of what’s going to happen to us. My imagination could go to a much more devastating scenario than the one I pictured, but I didn’t want to write that.

PW: What was the future like when you were growing up?

AB: When I was a kid, and Disneyland opened, I remember, we went to Tomorrow-land – this was in the ‘50s – and the coolest thing they had was an electric toothbrush.  And flying cars, which they predicted in magazines back then. Today, people crash 11 times an hour on the freeway.  Do you think they’re really going to let people fly around?

PW: This is your first novel. Did it ever occur to you, you might not be able to write it?

AB: Here’s the thing, I didn’t take any money from anybody.  And if I had wanted to, I could throw it in the garbage. When you take an advance, you can’t hand in what Jack Nicholson wrote in The Shining, or they’ll sue you. But if you’re writing for nothing, the only fear is what you might think of yourself.  It was like a challenge.

My screenplays, because they are mainly dialogue, I dictate into a tape recorder and have them transcribed. This I wrote at the keyboard. I think this is the first time I actually used a keyboard to write.

Brooks’ novel 2030 and the film Broadcast News (one of my all-time favorite movies) can be requested through the Okanagan Regional Library.

–– Maureen Curry is the chief librarian at the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library. Her column, Off the Shelf, appears every second Sunday in The Morning Star.