Charlie Kaufman Just Wrote the Most Charlie Kaufmany Book of All Time

     November 22, 2019

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After writing celebrated screenplays of narrative trickery like Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and directing full-on descents into madness like Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa, where else can celebrated, idiosyncratic filmmaker Charlie Kaufman go? Why, to the world of writing books, of course. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Kaufman is set to publish his debut novel: Antkind. And it’s got all us Collider writers worried, as it’s about — gulp — a neurotic film critic.

Antkind follows B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, a down-on-his luck film critic who discovers, as Kaufman puts it, “an impossible movie.” It’s a film that lasts, quite literally, three months long — with bathroom breaks built in and everything. But he’s the only one that has seen it — the print is now destroyed. If he can find any other copy, could this film change Rosenberg’s life for the better? Or will his impossible search cause his whole life to fold in even further on itself?

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Image via Random House

Kaufman was excited to translate his skills into the world of prose, appreciating the relative lack of restrictions: “There are no budgetary limitations in a novel. There is no studio oversight. There are no focus groups.” Random House is publishing the book, but rest assured, they’ve not messed with Kaufman’s vision at all. Ben Greenberg, Random House’s VP and Executive Editor, said this: “I’ve been talking to Charlie about this novel for almost eight years and watching it change and recalibrate and grow. Antkind is a hilarious, devastating, epic mindf–k. I’ve never read anything else like it.”

Check out the official synopsis, originally posted on Goodreads, below. For more mind-bending Kaufman news, here’s Jesse Plemons dishing about his next movie. Plus, check out a profile of Jessie Buckley, Plemons’ co-star in the film. And finally, here’s our Anomalisa interview with the man.

B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, neurotic and underappreciated film critic (failed academic, filmmaker, paramour, shoe salesman who sleeps in a sock drawer), stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film by an enigmatic outsider—a film he’s convinced will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core. His hands on what is possibly the greatest movie ever made, a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur ninety years to complete, B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: The film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius.

All that’s left of this work of art is a single frame from which B. must somehow attempt to recall the film that just might be the last great hope of civilization. Thus begins a mind-boggling journey through the hilarious nightmarescape of a psyche as lushly Kafkaesque as it is atrophied by the relentless spew of Twitter. Desperate to impose order on an increasingly nonsensical existence, trapped in a self-imposed prison of aspirational victimhood and degeneratively inclusive language, B. scrambles to re-create the lost masterwork while attempting to keep pace with an ever-fracturing culture of “likes” and arbitrary denunciations that are simultaneously his bête noire and his raison d’être.

A searing indictment of the modern world, Antkind is a richly layered meditation on art, time, memory, identity, comedy, and the very nature of existence itself—the grain of truth at the heart of every joke.

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