As the movie adaptation of Spare Parts opens across the country (here’s the Washington Post review of “the feel-good story…that’s also pretty darn thrilling”), Joshua Davis has published a bracing and important op-ed in The New York Times about the fundamental difference between the Hollywood version—even when it’s fairly faithful to events—and the real-life version of the story, and what that means for the people involved and, really, America itself. The piece begins:
WHEN audiences watch the movie “Spare Parts” in theaters this month, they will see the kind of Hollywood ending that has eluded the immigration debate in Congress.
The film is based on my reporting about four young immigrants who built an underwater robot. In the movie, which closely reflects the true story, the students enter the nation’s pre-eminent robotics competition, an event sponsored by NASA and the Navy. They win widespread recognition for their accomplishments and, when the movie ends in 2004, their future is bright.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the story really ends.
We won’t ruin the suspense that Josh has worked so hard to build. But the gist is that you need to know the full story, so we encourage you in the strongest possible terms to keep reading here.
On the eve of the release of the movie version of Spare Parts this Friday, the Diane Rehm Show brought together author Joshua Davis with three of the main characters from his book: Oscar Vazquez , the motivated jROTC cadet who became the de facto leader of their land-locked (in a desert!) high school’s underwater robotics team (played by Carlos PenaVega in the movie); Lorenzo Santillan, the auto shop underachiever whose ingenuity saved the day more than once as their jerry-rigged robot took on high-cost machines from team MIT and others (played by José Julián); and Fredi Lajvardi, the unorthodox high school science teacher who came up with the idea that what a group of undocumented, impoverished high school kids needed was to enter a NASA-sponsored robot-building competition (George Lopez, obviously). It’s a remarkable hour of radio. Give it a listen here.
George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis, Carlos Penevega, and Marisa Tomei…straight out of the movie version of Spare Parts! It hits screens this month. Obviously, you should read the book first—the book, that is, that the Washington Post calls “a delightful book…a great American story” and Nature’s reviewer Noel Sharkey calls “perhaps the most gripping popular-science book I have read.”
Well maybe you can watch the official theatrical trailer first (above). Then read the book. And then in good conscience you can check out the movie’s website and join the #SPAREPARTS movement—we’re partial to The Brain ourselves, but there are other solid choices.
‘Tis the season for best of the year lists. We’re pretty pleased to be on more than a few. Below, a roundup of FSG Originals (as well as honorary FSG Originals and alums) that hit some of the year-end best-of lists.
Critics went ape over Catherine Lacey’s “frequently brilliant”* debut novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing this year. It was #1 on Time Out New York’s list of the 10 best books of 2014. #11 of BuzzFeed’s 24 best fiction books of 2014 AND one of 32 of the most beautiful book covers of 2014. Electric Literature named it one of 2014’s best novels AND best debut of 2014. Also in Electric Literature, fellow Originals author Jeff VanderMeer named Nobody Is Ever Missing among his favorite fiction reads of 2014. It was one of The Huffington Post’s best books of 2014, one of Bustle’s best books of 2014, and in the Barnes & Noble Review, Jami Attenberg named it one of the best books she read in 2014 (along with Ugly Girls!) Not too shabby for a debut novel!
Check out the rest of the best!
In Spare Parts (soon to be a major motion picture!), Joshua Davis tells the story of an unlikely high school robotics team from Phoenix, Arizona: Four Mexican-American boys, undocumented and without a lot of obvious promise in the field of underwater robot building. We’ll try to not to ruin the climax here, but when Davis returned to Carl Hayden High School to check in on the team a decade after he had originally covered them, he found one more development: Girls!
Last week, we published Joshua Davis’s Spare Parts. And, come January—hold your breath—a major motion picture is arriving in theaters. Spare Parts (the film) stars Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis, and a serious-looking George Lopez. And it looks great. Just check out the trailer.
To mark all this success, Wired has republished the original story that inspired Spare Parts (the book)—Joshua Davis’s excellent La Vida Robot, which you can read here.
On a very cold night a few weeks ago, we celebrated Shelly Oria’s short story collection New York 1; Tel Aviv 0 and the return of our deepest, original, #1, host with the most, David “Aphex Swift” Rees at Issue Project Room. We did some remote viewing, discovered the secret to happiness, danced to the Pixies, and Slothrust performed a live set. Photos by Lopez Williams are up now! Footage to come. •