Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
TWO DUELING CAVEMAN CHRONICLES
IN 1977, RUMANIAN NOVELIST PETRU Popescú, 27, defected to the U.S. from his Communist homeland after a brief stay in London and panicked. "I had found freedom," he says, "but I felt I had lost myself, since writing had been my whole life from an early age." It took Popescú 20 years of reading and writing in English to produce Almost Adam (Morrow), an accomplished piece of pop fiction that has already been sold to 20th Century Fox for $1.5 million. Indeed, this rollicking adventure of a present-day scientist who encounters a tribe of prehistoric humans shines compared with its competition, Neanderthal (Random House), by New York Times London bureau chief John Darnton.
While Darnton lumbers through a hackneyed plot, Popescú, now 47, ably conjures up complex characters, some racy sex scenes and the wild beauty of the remote East African outback. Despite Neanderthal's drawbacks, Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks shelled out seven figures for the film rights. Which prehistoric picture will make it to the screen first?
Popescú, who now lives in Beverly Hills, was struck by the idea for his novel in L.A.'s Franklin Canyon, while he watched his son Adam, now 11, bounding through the tall grass. (Popescú and wife Iris Friedman, a scriptwriter, also have a daughter Chloe). "I knew that Adam's enormous enjoyment of nature and curiosity about life would be the characteristics, too, of the young protohuman who is the first to encounter the scientist," says the author, who has lived in two worlds and understands that we may be a long way from Eden but not that far from Adam and Eve.
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