A review of
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
by Rebecca Miller
Rebecca Miller is a writer first—first she writes the book, then she makes the movie. As a fiction-writer/director, she’s no moonlighter. She’s taken multiple turns in the desk and director’s chairs, and her process calls to mind the way Graham Greene approached his film treatment for The Third Man: “To me it is almost impossible to write a film play without first writing a story. Even a film depends on more than plot, on a certain measure of characterization, on mood and atmosphere; and these seem to me almost impossible to capture for the first time in the dull shorthand of a script.” So Greene wrote a novella. Done with that, he wrote the screenplay. Miller has done Greene one better: she’s directing the movie of her screenplay adapted from her debut novel.
Doting mother of two, devoted spouse, Pippa Lee has a complex past. She suffers from an “excess of empathy. Sometimes, she found the mystery of other people almost unbearable to contemplate: rooms within rooms inside each of them, an endless labyrinth of contradictory qualities, memories, desires, mirroring one another like an Escher drawing, baffling as a conundrum. Kinder to perceive people as they wished to be seen. After all, that’s what Pippa wanted for herself: to be accepted as she seemed.”
We hope you enjoy this excerpt.To read the full piece, please purchase a copy of the magazine from The McSweeney’s Store.
—Jay Baron Nicorvo