American Fiction (2023) Movie Script

Okay, let's begin.
Who wants to start?
Yes, Brittany, kick it off.
I don't have a thought
on the reading,
I just think that that word
on the board is wrong.
Well, I think it still has
two G's in it last I checked.
It's not funny.
We shouldn't have to stare
at the N-word all day.
Uh, listen,
this is a class
on the literature
of the American south.
You're going to encounter
some archaic thoughts,
coarse language,
but we're all adults here
and I think
we can understand it
within the context
in which it's written.
Well, I just find
that word really offensive.
With all due respect, Brittany,
I got over it,
I'm pretty sure you can too.
Well, I don't see why.
Now, does anyone else have any
on the reading?
Well, it made some of
your students uncomfortable.
When did they all become
so goddamn delicate?
This wasn't
an isolated incident.
Last month
you asked a student
if his family had been Nazis.
Yeah, I did, he's German,
we were reading
The Plot Against America
and trust me, by the way
he was squirming, they were.
Oh, my God.
Um, Monk, you are
a very talented writer,
we're fortunate
to have you here.
What? He hasn't
published in years.
I have written three novels
since the last time
you published.
Yeah, this is true,
and the speed
with which you write
only proves
that good things take time.
- Oh, go to hell, Monk.
- Relax, Mandy.
Yeah, relax, Mandy.
And anyway, my new book
is with Echo
and my agent says
they're very excited about it.
Oh, that's great to hear.
-What's it about?
-Can we stop stalling, Leo?
Listen, Monk,
we'd like to
give you a break.
What do you mean, break?
Just some time off.
Mandatory time off.
It's just, you're already
going to Boston
for the festival, right?
Why don't you
just stay there for--
Because I hate Boston,
my family's there.
Well, you need
some time to relax.
You're on edge, man.
You're under the impression
that time spent
with my family
will take the edge off.
- I'm fine.
- You're not fine.
I saw you crying
in your car last week.
He punched
the steering wheel.
Oh, wow.
You know, if you spent
less time spying on me,
you could
probably write
a dozen more novels
that people buy
at airports
with their neck pillows
and Cheez-Its.
Oh, here we go. Okay.
You want to go, dirty doggy?
Okay, well, enjoy Boston.
You can... you can get my book
at the airport.
Oh, and, good luck with Echo.
Welcome back.
How's it feel to be home?
Already had a guy
in a Bruins jersey
ask me if I think
I'm better than him.
That's good luck here.
That's Boston's version
of a ladybug landing on you.
Any news?
Patrick at Echo is passing.
But who fucking cares?
He's an old alcoholic.
- What is that? Nine now?
- He says,
"This book is finely crafted
with fully developed
characters and rich language,
but one is lost to understand
what this reworking of
Aeschylus' The Persians
has to do
with the African-American
There it is.
There it is.
They want
a Black book.
They have a Black book.
I'm Black, and it's my book.
You know what I mean.
You mean they want me
to write about
a cop killing some teenager
or a single mom in Dorchester
raising five kids.
Dorchester is pretty white now.
But yes.
Jesus Christ. You know,
I don't even really believe
in race.
Yeah. The problem
is that everyone else does.
Anyway, have fun
at the book festival.
And just don't insult
anyone important. Please.
Writing from
a historical perspective
doesn't mean that you can't
make work
that doesn't resonate
with today's audiences.
Yeah, I think of things like
Game of Thrones as proof that
nerds like us
can still find great success.
Unfortunately, we're going
to have to end it there.
Thank you to our authors
and thanks to all of you
for attending.
Is it just me,
or was this small
even for a book festival?
Yeah, it's because
we're up against Sintara.
Sintara Golden.
You haven't read her?
No, what's her book called?
Raves everywhere.
The Post, Bookforum.
The London Review
of Books said,
"We's Lives in Da Ghetto
is a heartbreaking
and visceral debut."
Plus a little birdie told me
that perhaps
there's a TV adaptation
in the works?
No comment.
Okay, it was worth a shot.
Tell us, what was
your life like
before you were an author?
Well, I did undergrad
at Oberlin
and moved to New York
the day after graduation
and a couple months later,
I was an assistant
at a publisher.
And did
that assistant experience
shape your writing?
Absolutely. Yeah,
I was a first reader meaning
I would read
all the manuscripts
in the slush pile
and send them up the ladder
if they were any good.
Some of them were great,
most were not.
But the feeling
I couldn't shake was that
no matter how good
the books were,
most every submission
was from some white dude
from New York
going through a divorce,
and too few of them
were about my people.
And so I think,
"Where are our stories?"
You know,
"Where's our representation?"
And it was from that lack
that my book was born.
Would you give us the pleasure
of reading an excerpt?
Thank you.
"'Yo, Cheranda,
where you be goin'
in a hurry likes that?'
Donna aks me when she see me
comin' out the house.
'Ain't none ya business,
but if'n you gots to know,
I's goin' to the pharmacy.'
I looks back at the door
to see if Mama comin' out.
'The pharmacy?
What for?' she aks.
'You know', I says.
'Nah', she say.
'Hell, nah!
Girl, you be pregnant again?'
'Might's be', I tells her.
'And if I is,
Ray-Ray's gonna be a real
father this time around.'"
Thank you.
- Hi...
- Hi.
I'm here
to see Lisa Ellison.
Uh, do you have
an appointment?
We're about to close.
No, I'm her brother.
There she is.
Hello, Monk.
Hi, Lisa.
Okay, you're in a boat,
the motor cuts out,
but you're in shallow water,
but you're wearing
$600 shoes, but...
your ride to the airport
is just pulling away
from the beach,
why, oh, why
is this a legal issue?
I don't know.
It's a matter
of row versus wade.
Oh, my God.
I think that's one of my best.
- When did you start smoking again?
- -Mm...
Right after the divorce.
I always hated Larry.
Oh, I know.
You told me
right when we started dating.
Do you remember
how mad I got?
"It's not
your business who I fuck!
Who I fellate."
I definitely
did not say "fellate."
I thought you did.
That's how I heard it anyway.
It's good to see you.
Yeah, it's good
to see you too.
How's work?
It's not very glamorous.
I go through
a metal detector every day.
Well, what you do
is important.
Meanwhile, all I do is
invent little people
in my head,
then make them have imaginary
conversations with each other.
Books change people's lives.
Did something I've written
ever change your life?
My dining room table
was wobbly as hell
before your last book
came out.
-Oh, my God. All right.
-It was, like, perfect.
-Yeah. Oh, God.
-I'm telling you and--
Take me back to Logan, please.
Logan cannot help you, Monk.
Oh, my God!
Welcome home, baby!
- Mr. Monk!
- Lorraine!
You know how
that makes me feel.
It's just Monk.
Oh, don't do that to me,
you know I'm too old
to learn new names.
-How you doing, Miss Lisa?
-I'm good.
-You look good, Mr. Monk.
-Oh, I look fat.
Oh, that's
the California talking.
I took you
to Arkansas right now,
-you'd be a beauty queen.
- Is that my Monkie?
- That's frightening.
- Hi, Mother.
- Oh.
-You look fat.
-Ah, I know.
You ready
to go to dinner, Mrs. Ellison?
Uh, I just need my purse
and my black cardigan.
All right,
I'll get it.
-Are you all right?
You overeat
when you're depressed.
I'm not depressed,
I've just been
not sleeping well lately
and so,
fell off my exercise routine.
- Mm.
- Here.
So you're
not depressed.
You just wear
all the hallmarks
of depression.
I missed you.
Is Larry coming?
No, Mother.
Larry and I are separated,
-Of course, I remember.
I just thought
he might join us.
To see your brother.
I mean, is it really
such a big deal?
Everyone forgets things.
Doesn't mean
she's sick necessarily.
People forget
dentists' appointments.
She forgets
I'm not married anymore.
That's weird.
What do you suggest we do?
Why do I have to decide?
- Because you're a doctor.
- So are you.
I'm not that kind.
Okay, my point is,
you are an intelligent adult.
And I'm tired
of being the only person
that takes care of her.
Well, I don't recall anyone
assigning you
that responsibility.
No, you and Cliff just fled
west as soon as you could
and left me
as caretaker by default.
My work's there.
-"My work's there." Yeah.
-Apologies that it prevents me
from keeping up
with the family melodrama.
If you lived up the block,
you wouldn't know
what was going on.
I'm stuck here taking care
of that old house and finding
love letters
from Dad's affairs.
- His what?
- His affairs.
You didn't know
he was having affairs?
No. How did you?
Well, he was an OBGYN
that was
traveling constantly,
but his patients were
in Boston.
He said he was going
to conferences.
He was making
house calls.
Do you know that I saw him
kiss a white woman
in the park in high school?
How white?
What do you mean, "How white?"
Like Brahmin white
or Southie white.
I don't know.
She had thin lips.
She looked like a bad kisser.
Did you tell Mother?
No. I wasn't going
to blow up our lives.
She's coming back. Mom. Mom.
Mom. Mom.
How you doing?
Our waitress
isn't wearing a bra.
I didn't notice.
See this shit?
This gonna take us out
of the ghetto.
But there are rules
in the house.
Number one, never leave
this product in the house.
And number two,
get your own crew.
Number three, got to have
discipline in your crew.
Number four,
don't praise a nigga too much.
Otherwise he's gonna
think you're soft.
Rule number five,
don't show no love.
Love will get you killed.
See this, it's like a bitch.
You fuck a bitch,
don't let a bitch fuck you.
You're a man
who don't need nothing.
No one will get you through.
This bitch? This bitch
will take your soul.
You niggas ain't got no fam...
Excuse me, uh, Ned.
Do you have any books
by the writer
Thelonious Ellison?
Yeah, this way.
-Here you go.
Wait a minute,
why are these books here?
I'm not sure.
I would imagine
that this author
Ellison is... Black.
That's me. Ellison. Yeah.
He is me,
and he and I are Black.
Oh, bingo.
No bingo, Ned, these books
have nothing to do
with African-American studies,
they're just literature.
The blackest thing
about this one is the ink.
I don't decide what sections
the books go in.
No one here does.
That's how chain stores work.
Right, Ned.
You don't make the rules.
I'm just going to put them
back after you leave.
Don't you dare, Ned.
Do not you dare.
Monk, what are you doing?
Mom's only going
to get worse.
They say mental exercise
is good,
that's why I got her
that gardening book.
Does growing cucumbers
count as mental exercise?
I hate when you do that.
You share your condescending
opinion as a question
trying to disguise
the condescension.
Why don't you just say
that you think
that gardening is idiotic?
Uh, because that's not
what I was doing.
Bullshit. Bullshit.
Maybe we can hire a nurse
a few times a week.
Who's going to pay for that?
You... you can't afford it?
Not after the divorce,
I cannot.
Well, it will hurt,
but we'll probably have
to sell the beach house.
Yeah, we definitely need
to sell the beach house,
but that money is going to go
to pay back
the reverse mortgage
that our mother took out
on the other house.
Look, I can send
some money home,
but it's not going to be much.
Can't Cliff chip in?
Cliff's not in
a good place, okay?
Who is? Okay?
Monk, Becca took everything.
And the kids are getting
teased at school.
- I didn't know.
- Well...
Maybe you should call him.
I'm sorry I've always been
so distant.
You couldn't help that.
You were always
Dad's favorite.
And that made Cliff
and I bond,
and you resented us
for having that bond,
and then...
I don't know, you just
became self-sufficient.
You never talked about this.
We never talked
about anything.
Is that surprising?
Look at our parents.
The only emotions
I remember from Dad...
were boredom and rage.
Is boredom an emotion?
It's Detective Dictionary.
You haven't called me that
in forever.
Oh, God!
- What? Oh, come on!
- Oh, God!
Lisa? You okay? Hey.
Hey, help! Help!
"If you are reading this
it's because I,
Lisa Magical Ellison...
have died.
Obviously, this is not ideal...
but I guess it had
to happen at some point.
Hopefully, I...
Hopefully, I expired
under the heaving thrusts
of a sweaty Idris Elba
or perhaps in a less
dignified manner,
under the heaving thrusts
of a sweaty Russell Crowe."
"Irrespective of how I went,
I ask that
those closest to me...
not mourn all that much.
I lived a life
that made me proud.
I was loved...
and I loved in return.
I found work
that aroused my passions.
I believe I gave more
than I took.
And I did my damnedest
to help people in need.
And on top of all that,
many a friend wrongly
accused me of having Botox
because of how tight my skin
stayed well into my 50's.
What more could someone
ask of a life?
I love you all.
Thank you
for being here today.
Are those human remains?
You guys have
a permit for that?
Just shut the fuck up,
Cliff, you don't talk
to me like that.
Fuck you. I just did.
- What?
- You want me to beat your ass?
-I'm just--
-Get the fuck out of here.
I will eat your sweater vest
for dinner.
- No-- Yep.
- Bitch. Go. One.
Get the fuck
out of here, Phillip.
- I'm just--
- Two.
- Three.
- -Always been a fucking douche.
Where is everybody?
They're exhausted.
I gave Lorraine something
to help her sleep.
Mother's taking a bath.
Then I'm going
to dose her too.
You think maybe I can get
some of that later tonight?
Yeah. What,
you're not sleeping well?
Normally, I sleep fine,
but just lately.
Does seeing a dead body
ever become normal?
I don't know.
I haven't seen many.
I'm a plastic surgeon.
If I'm looking at a corpse,
then something went very awry.
Yeah. Made me feel for Mother.
Can't imagine what
she must've gone through
finding Dad...
you know, like that.
I know.
So much death.
When was the last time
we were here together?
Maybe ten years.
The kids were still little.
How is your family,
by the way?
You actually care?
Of course. Why would I ask?
Why would you ask me that?
I don't know, Monk.
You never really called.
-I get busy.
-Yeah, everybody gets busy.
You drift away.
You want to know
how my family is?
My wife left me
'cause she caught me
in bed with a man.
She took my house,
half my practice.
My kids fucking hate me.
And I still live
in fucking Tucson.
What was wrong with Tucson?
Oh, my God.
There's one gay bar
and it's full of college kids.
One of them asked me
if I was Tyler Perry.
That's terrible.
I mean, Tyler Perry
lives in Atlanta, right?
Fuck you, man.
Shut up.
Nowhere near Tucson.
Oh, boy.
Did you know
Dad had affairs?
Oh, for sure.
You could just tell.
Lisa told me she saw him
kissing a white woman once.
Why did I have no idea?
Why am I the last to know?
Because you loved him
too much.
Enemies see each other
better than friends.
What the hell
did you give her?
It's oxycodone.
But knocks them right out.
You gave her opioids to sleep?
Yeah. You ever seen
a heroin addict?
Those guys take naps
standing up.
It's dangerous.
Look, I'm keeping
an eye on her.
I'm a doctor.
- So am I.
- Right.
Maybe if we need
to revive a sentence.
Well, why do you have
synthetic smack anyway?
What is that?
Oh, shit.
Hey. What are you doing? Hey.
Come on.
Come on.
Well, I'm not sure,
to be honest with you.
It's going to depend
on what the doctors say.
Yeah, I'll touch base
when I know more.
Thanks so much
for being understanding.
Hey, um, Leo, one more thing.
I was wondering
if maybe we could treat this
as a sabbatical as opposed
to a leave of absence?
Whatever happens
with my mother,
it's going to cost some money.
No, I understand.
No, it's not your fault.
I'll figure something out.
Thanks for your help.
Okay. Bye-bye.
You don't have to do that.
Oh, no. I do.
It's tomato season.
You can't let them go to waste.
-A crime around here.
Thank you.
That's what neighbors
are for, right?
Welcome to the neighborhood.
I thought the place
was vacant.
Uh, it has been for a while.
We just got here last night.
Oh. Figured the place
was haunted.
They said some old man
blew his brains out there
a while back.
Oh, my God. I...
I'm a fucking idiot.
Please forgive me.
Oh, I'm very sorry
to hear that.
What'd she do for a living?
She was a doctor. Um...
Most of my family, doctors.
Basically, I'm the outcast.
Um, what do you do for work?
I'm a lawyer.
Public defense. Quincy.
Very honorable.
Yeah. It's very hard,
but can be rewarding.
May I ask you something
that I'm sure a lot
of people ask you?
How do I feel about defending
guilty people?
-I love it.
I have to.
And they're all guilty.
-Yes. But that's okay.
People are more
than their worst deed.
I guess I agree with that.
Mm. Sure you do.
You're a writer.
I don't follow.
Well, writers have
to be non-judgmental.
You can't write
interesting characters
and be critical of every
bad decision they make.
Maybe you should
be the writer.
I don't feel
like much of one lately.
You blocked?
It's just...
I don't think anybody
wants to buy what I write.
That's not true.
I didn't want to say anything,
but, um, I actually read
one of your books.
Hm. Which?
The Frogs.
Oh, so you were the one.
I liked it.
You're talented.
You're expecting company?
-Jelani, uh, this is Monk.
He and his family own
the house across the street.
Nice to meet you.
Yeah, it's a pleasure.
Are you staying for dinner?
No, I need to go check in
on my mother.
Thank you, uh...
For the wine, and...
good night.
Good night, Monk.
What time's your flight?
You think, uh, maybe
you could change it?
Think it would be useful
to have you
at Mother's doctor's
appointment today.
I can't. I got to get home.
Fine, but you think
you can chip in
for her care
once we find out what's what?
It's probably going
to be pretty expensive.
Things are tight
right now, so...
You thought
about firing Lorraine?
Lorraine is family.
Well, shit, Monk.
I don't know
what to tell you, all right?
So you can't do anything?
I will check
with my accountant
when I get back, all right?
It's 8:00 in the morning.
I'm not flying
the fucking plane, Monk.
Well, do you think
you could be so kind
as to go inside and see
if Mother is ready
to head out?
All right. Hey.
-Don't yell, man.
Be civilized.
You're just like our dad, man.
So you do right by me, Monk.
I swear to fucking God.
You want
to see civilized?
Hey. Morning.
-about last night, uh--
It's okay.
You don't have to explain.
I had a good time.
No, I...
Jelani, he's my ex.
Well, he's going to be.
We're in the middle
of breaking up and...
it's hard.
I get it.
I'd like to see you again.
Do you think that you'll be
around town
next couple of days?
You know, grab a drink?
Yeah, I'd like that.
Yeah, me too.
Drive safe.
Mr. Ellison?
We're ready.
Her MRI shows
early signs
of neurodegeneration.
There's a slight decrease
in the size
of the temporal lobe
which suggest Alzheimer's.
I'm very sorry, Mr. Ellison.
But at some point,
she'll probably require
around-the-clock care
for her own safety.
-Hey, young nigga.
Hey, whoa, whoa.
Don't shoot me, partner.
Come on now.
Van Go.
That you?
Yeah, me, nigga.
Shit. What, you drunk,
Where you running to?
Just leave me alone, man.
How your mama?
What you say?
I said, how your mama?
Oh, shit.
They ain't tell you, huh?
What you talking about, punk?
Hey, what you talking about?
Think about it, Van Go.
Look at my face.
Look at my midnight
black complex...
No, that's not right.
What did you want to say?
You can say it
better than that, right?
Come on. What do you want?
Think about it, Van Go.
Look at my face.
Look at my coal black skin.
And then look at your own.
Look at my black eyes.
Now look at your own.
Look at my big black lips.
Now look at your own.
I's your daddy
whether you like it or not.
Shut up, okay?
Shut up, man! You lying!
No, no,
that's the truth, nigga.
So, where you been, huh?
Where you been?
I've been where I always be.
You ain't worth a piss.
Your mama ain't worth a piss.
So here I am.
What do I say now?
I think now will come
some sort of, you know,
dumb, melodramatic
sob story
where you, uh, highlight
your broken interiority.
Something... something
like, um, I don't know...
I hates this man.
I hates my mama.
And I hates myself.
I've seen my face in his.
I see the ape
that all them stupid girls
were afraid of, yeah.
I can see my long arms
hanging down.
And I see eyes that don't care
what happens tomorrow.
I see myself
rocking back on my heels,
just like this, baby.
Just waiting.
And waiting, and waiting,
and waiting,
and waiting for something
that I'm not even going
to recognize when it comes!
Death is my only cure.
I heard that before.
I've been hearing it,
and I'm hearing it now.
I see...
I see my mama crying.
I see her screaming
in my dreams.
I see my babies.
I see my...
I see my daddy.
I see myself.
What the fuck?
What the fuck you do that for?
Because you ain't shit,
And you made me.
So because you ain't shit,
I ain't shit.
Because you ain't shit,
I ain't shit.
I gots to bounce.
Peace, motherfucker.
What the fuck was that for?
You're watching
Black Stories Month on WHN.
Celebrating the diversity
of the African-American
Join us for more
riveting cinema,
heartbreak, and drama.
"I be standing outside
in the night,
a police chopper go by
and shine some lights
in some backyards
and I think, 'Shine that
light on me, motherfucker,
shine me some fucking light
so I can see
where the fuck I be at.'"
Are you serious?
You notice I didn't put
my name on it.
Yes, Stagg R. Leigh,
I did notice that. Well done.
But I still can't
send this out.
You said you wanted
Black stuff.
What's Blacker than that?
It's got deadbeat dads,
rappers, crack,
and he gets killed
by a cop in the end.
I mean, that's... that's...
that's Black, right?
I see what you're doing.
because it's not subtle.
I mean, how's that book
so different
than some of the other garbage
they put out?
That's not the point.
Well, it's my point.
Look at what they publish.
Look at what
they expect us to write.
I'm sick of it.
And that's an expression
of how sick I am.
I'm trying to sell books,
not be a part of some crusade.
Who do you expect
to publish this?
No one.
I just want to rub their noses
in the horseshit they solicit.
What do you want me to do?
I want you
to send it out.
Can I say
it's performance art?
No. Send it straight.
If they can't take the joke,
then fuck them.
All right,
but I'm only sending it
to a couple of places.
This thing scares me.
Scares you? Why?
Because white people think
they want the truth,
but they don't.
They just want
to feel absolved.
Well, fortunately,
that's not my problem.
- Okay.
I'm surprised you reached out.
I thought you were
just being nice.
Oh, I'm never just being nice.
I'm too old for that.
You know, I like you
so much, in fact,
that I went out and got
another one of your books.
Really? Which one?
The Haas Conundrum.
What'd you think?
I liked it.
Susan has
really great dialogue.
And I love the aunt.
Wow. I mean,
you write women well.
Oh, you think so?
Yeah. They're not
hothouse flowers.
Thank you.
- I appreciate that.
- Mm.
I could've done
with less footnotes though.
I, uh...
I got to run.
Well, how's your mom?
In and out.
I'm afraid to be away
for too long.
-But, uh...
I'll, uh...
I'll call you.
Hold on a minute.
Sign my book.
What's your name again?
Mr. Monk?
What's going on
with the lights?
Miss Lisa used
to pay the bill.
Did you?
How much?
Well, I can handle
the electrical bills,
but these care facilities
are expensive.
The best one nearby
is $5,600 a month,
and that's for a shared room.
It goes up to $6,900 a month
for a private room.
Well, why you looking
at the best one?
She wasn't the best mother.
Look, I'm not here
to re-litigate our childhoods.
Of course not,
because yours was great.
Goddamn it!
Are you going to help me or not?
Won't Medicaid cover it
or something?
That's not how it works.
You don't know this?
Oh. Hello.
Who's that?
What are you doing?
I've taken a lover.
You've taken a lover?
You got a problem
with that, homophobe?
Listen, I'm not offended that
you've taken a lover, Cliff.
I'm offended, Cliff,
that you call it
taking a lover.
Mm, you can eat shit, nigga.
I'll take my lover right now.
Hey, where you going?
There you are.
Traffic was insane. What's up?
Sit down.
Have a seat.
We sold your book.
Holy shit!
-I thought it was DOA.
-Not The Persians.
Get out!
Paula Betaman
from Thompson-Watt.
She always passes.
Not this time. They want
to preempt for $750,000.
No one's ever offered
that much to me.
-This is you.
-No, it's not, Arthur.
- You wrote it.
- As a joke.
Well, now it's the most
lucrative joke
you've ever told.
- And I'm not selling.
- Why not?
Because it's trash, Arthur.
You didn't even want
to send it out the other day.
Oh, but look who's suddenly
overcome his fears.
I know, I broke
the first rule of sales.
Never underestimate
how stupid everyone is.
Well, I'm not participating
in making them any stupider.
Well, you haven't thus far,
which is admirable, but...
you also haven't
made any money.
Doesn't your mom
need help these days?
Check this out.
I don't care how drunk we get,
I'm not selling it.
That's not
what I'm doing.
Johnnie Walker Red, 24 bucks.
Johnnie Walker Black,
50 bucks.
Johnnie Walker Blue...
You see the metaphor?
These are all made
by the same company.
The Red is shit,
the Black is less shit,
the Blue is good.
But fewer people buy the blue
because it's expensive.
And at the end of the day,
most people
just want to get drunk.
For most of your career,
your books have been Blue.
They're good, complex.
But they're not popular
because most people
want something easy.
Now, for the first time ever,
you've written a Red book.
It's simple, prurient.
It's not great
literature, but...
satisfies an urge.
And that's valuable.
What I'm trying
to illustrate is that,
just because you do Red
doesn't mean
you can't also do Blue.
You can do it all.
Like Johnnie Walker.
In fact, you got Johnnie
Walker beat, because...
you don't even have
to put your real name on it.
Do we drink now?
Hello, Paula.
Arthur! So wonderful
to hear from you.
Um, I hope that you are
with the man of the hour.
I am, indeed.
He's right here next to me.
Mr. Leigh?
Uh, yeah, this is he.
Oh, really?
Yeah, goddamn it.
- Right. Right. Okay.
- Motherfucker.
Yeah, I was a little confused
at first, but...
We're both very excited to
discuss Thompson-Watt's offer.
Yes, well, first of all,
let me just say
that all of us here
at Thompson-Watt
are thrilled with My Pafology.
It is about as perfect a book
as I have seen
in a long, long while.
Just... just raw and real.
And, Mr. Leigh,
is this based
on your actual life?
Yeah, you think some
bitch-ass college boy
can come up with that shit?
No, no. No, I don't.
No. You know, that kind of
visceral energy
cannot be taught, right?
Stagg... May I call you--
Now, is Stagg a pseudonym?
Yes, uh, it is.
Mr. Leigh can't use
his real name
because he's a...
Well, he's a wanted fugitive.
Oh, my God. Wow.
That's why this couldn't
be a video conference.
Are you crazy?
What if they fact check this?
I checked. There's barely
money to pay editors anymore.
Just go with it.
Yeah, I did a 12-year bid,
but no going back.
Know what I mean?
Yeah. Yeah, you know, um...
I've been reading a lot
about the prison abolition
- Oh, God!
- I've...
Sorry to rush, Paula,
but can we talk business?
Mr. Leigh values
his time outside of a cell.
Of course.
I'm sure you're both
very, very busy
so I will get right to it.
Um, you'll notice
that our offer is...
unusually large
and that is because we believe
Mr. Leigh has
written a bestseller.
We think it is going to be
the read of the summer.
Yeah, I'm sure
white people on the Hamptons
will delight in it.
Yes, we will.
They-- We-- It's going
to be huge. Huge.
I love it.
Is that little
Thelonious Ellison?
My God! Maynard!
Everyone still call you Monk?
everyone but you.
it's a beautiful name.
It seems simple
not to use it whole.
Well, I'm glad someone
appreciates it.
I heard about your sister.
My condolences.
Thank you.
I don't think
I've seen you since
before your father passed?
Yeah, it's been a while.
I live in LA now.
Oh! Hollywood.
Hey, do you write
for that NCIS?
Just books.
Well, you should try to write
for NCIS. It's popular.
Well, maybe I will.
Hey, so, how you been?
Oh, I'm good. And you?
-Mr. Monk.
What would you like
for dinner?
Hi, Lorraine.
It's been a dog's age.
Well, I guess it has.
You look well.
You too.
Well, I best be getting back.
It's good to see you,
You too.
Mm, mm, mm.
Ain't nothing to smile at.
Oh! There she is.
Behave yourself.
Hey. Hi.
- Got this for you.
- Oh, thank you.
-Lorraine, this is Coraline.
-Yeah, hello.
Mother, perfect timing.
This is Coraline.
Hello, dear, I'm Agnes.
Such a pleasure to meet you.
I brought you these.
are my favorite.
There's a whole world
inside them.
- Lorraine?
- Yes.
Mother, you sit here.
All right.
And, Coraline, why don't you
sit across from Mother?
Oh, sure, sure.
I'm happy you're not white.
Me too.
it was pretty funny.
Well, I think you...
I think you remind her
of my sister.
Well, do you think
we look alike?
No, but...
you're both self-assured...
and funny...
and you're both...
fantastic kissers.
Oh. Ooh.
Mrs. Ellison?
Mrs. Ellison?
Mr. Monk!
Mr. Monk!
-I just... I just...
-What's wrong?
I just stepped outside
for a moment.
What's wrong?
Having a cup of coffee
with Maynard,
I was right in front.
Where's Mother?
-I don't know!
The backdoor was open.
-She gone.
We should split up. Here.
I got more in the car.
Mother! Hey!
Mother! Mother!
Hey! Hey, stop!
Hey! Where are you going?
Lisa's out there
roughhousing with the cousins.
Somebody's going to get hurt.
Stop. Um...
I will go tell her. Okay?
-Yeah, but then--
-I'll take you back
to the house
and then I will go tell her.
But they're out there.
I know, I know.
-Okay, you sure?
-I will tell her.
-Now, come on.
It's too cold out here.
- You should...
- Okay.
Lisa doesn't swim
very well.
I know. I know.
Okay. Almost there.
All right.
Oh, good.
-Here we go.
All right.
Okay, Monkie.
All right.
And this is our library.
It's full of all the classics.
And we try to get some
new releases too.
Do you like to read,
Mrs. Ellison?
That's not true.
She loves to read.
She taught me to love reading.
Perhaps we can get
some of your son's books
in here.
And you can lead a book club.
It's fine. It's hard for a lot
of the residents at first.
But she'll settle in.
I appreciate all your help,
but how soon do you think
we can get her in?
Uh, in about a month.
You can start the paperwork
today if you'd like.
Great. I'd like that.
I'll go check
on your mom, okay?
Thank you.
- Hello?
- Hey, Thelonious.
How you doing?
My name is Carl Brunt.
I am the director
of the New England
Book Association.
Hi, Carl. I know who you are.
Oh, good.
Then perhaps you'll also know
that each year
my organization bestows
the somewhat pretentiously
named Literary Award.
Every writer knows
the Literary Award, Carl.
Especially those of us
who haven't won it.
Yeah. Yeah.
Well, that's sort of related
to why I'm calling.
Like many
American institutions,
mine was recently rattled
by the notion
that our lack of diversity
had led to a blind spot
in our work.
So, you know, we're kind
of trying to remedy that.
And to that end,
I was wondering
how you might feel
about being a judge
in this year's award ceremony?
Um, let me say first,
Carl, that I'm honored
you choose me
out of all the Black writers
you could go to out of fear
of being called racist.
Yeah, you're very welcome.
But I think this sounds
like a lot of work.
Yeah, I can't deny that.
I mean, you're going to have
to read dozens of books.
We could offer you
a modest stipend.
Even so, I'm not sure.
One of the crass perk
I reference
when people are kind of
on the fence like this
is that this will allow you
the opportunity
to literally judge
these other writers for once,
rather than just figuratively.
All right, I'm in.
Well, fantastic. Okay.
Great. So you're going
to be one of five judges.
Uh, the only one
we have confirmed so far
is Sintara Golden.
Are you familiar
with Sintara Golden's work?
Oh, she's great.
You're going to love her, man.
I brought you lunch,
Mr. Monk.
Oh, wow.
To what do I owe the pleasure?
I have a favor to ask.
I was wondering
if I might be able
to take the afternoon off.
Maynard just came in
from the beach.
And we thought
it might be nice
to visit a museum.
Yes, of course.
I'm free today,
so I can look after Mother.
You really like him, huh?
He's a fine man.
Page seven.
It's got like 12.
The guests of honor.
Hello, Mrs. Ellison.
Looking beautiful as ever.
Hello, Arthur.
Layne, would you
take Mrs. Ellison
to the kitchen,
and set her up with some tea?
Right this way, ma'am.
Mother, I won't be long.
Take your time.
- Thank you.
- Mm-hm.
Not the pods.
The good tea, for guests.
What is this?
I told you to dress street.
-I did.
-Fucking Sesame Street.
What's this guy's name?
-Wiley. Wiley Valdespino.
He specializes
in Oscar-baity "issue" movies.
He did the Middle Passage
one last year.
I didn't see that.
Of course, not.
You're not lobotomized.
But if he adapts your book,
you stand to make
a lot of money.
Why can't we just do
a phone call?
Well, he said if he's going
to cut a check this large,
then he needs
to meet in person.
All right.
What do I need to do?
Just make him like you.
When I talked to him,
he seemed thrilled
that you're a fugitive.
Just, you know, play that up.
But what if he recognizes me?
- You?
- Yeah, the real me.
Monk, you're not that famous.
And nobody in Hollywood reads.
They got their assistants
to read things,
and then summarize them.
The whole town runs
on book reports.
You sure you can look
after my mother?
She won't leave my sight.
You'll just be
across the street, anyway.
Across the street.
You should go. You'll be late.
He's waiting for you.
if he, uh,
wants the stereotype,
maybe it's better I'm late.
Stagg, I presume?
That's me.
Hey, I'm Wiley.
Nice to meet you, brother.
Sorry about
the bougie restaurant.
My assistant picked it.
We can go somewhere else
if you're uncomfortable.
-This is fine.
What are you drinking?
I'll have a Chenin Blanc.
All right.
Of your driest.
Well, what's funny?
Ah, it's just a strange order
for a guy like you.
Why is that?
Well, you don't see many
convicts drinking white wine.
You know many convicts?
You'd be surprised.
I spent a month
in the joint myself.
It was some interstate
commerce shit.
It was a short stay,
but I'll tell you what,
that experience grounded me.
The people I met in there
allowed me to see
a whole world
of underrepresented stories
from underrepresented
Can I ask
what you were in for?
I don't like to talk
about that.
You feel me?
Was it murder?
You said that, not me.
You know,
I got to tell you,
before you showed up,
I was a little worried
you might be a phony.
A lot of fakes in Hollywood.
Well, I'm not from Hollywood.
Yeah, yeah, no.
That's obvious.
That's obvious.
Clearly, you're cut
from a different cloth
than your average...
Let me ask you...
I know they sent you
some of my stuff.
Did you have a chance
to see any of my movies?
what did you say?
Have you seen
any of my movies?
Uh, no.
Well, look, what I like to do
is I like to pair genre
with real-world pathos.
It kind of elevates things.
You might be interested
in this one
we're about to shoot actually.
It's about this white couple.
They get married on an old
plantation in Louisiana.
Then all the slave ghosts
come back,
and they murder everyone.
- Dear God.
- I know. I know.
It's great, right?
It's called
Plantation Annihilation.
Ryan Reynolds is going
to get decapitated
with an afro pick
in the opening scene.
He's a friend.
Got to go.
Mother. Mother.
Mother. Mother!
Some ad exec
on the third floor
had an aneurysm.
-I know.
Imagine exploding your brain
trying to think
of a toilet paper commercial.
I assume Wiley
isn't interested.
I sprinted out of there
like a complete maniac.
Actually, he's offering
$4 million for the rights.
- What?
- Yeah, man.
He called you the real deal.
Said you took off the moment
you heard police sirens.
The dumber I behave,
the richer I get.
Now you know why my parents
moved here from Puerto Rico.
I mean,
we can't be expected to read
every novel
all the way through, right?
No, people have worked hard
on these books.
And we have to respect that.
Well, hard work
doesn't demand respect.
I mean, you know,
people worked hard
on the Third Reich .
Yeah, well, I feel
that we owe it to them
to read every page.
That is such horseshit.
I mean,
most of it's going to be
that Knausgard
auto-fiction crap, anyhow.
I tell you something
right now,
I'm not reading 600 pages
about some pretentious
discovering masturbation.
Okay, look, I think
we're all experienced enough
to assess the general quality
of something within 100 pages.
If you want
to read beyond that,
that's your prerogative.
how do you feel, Monk?
Um, I agree
with Sintara, actually.
I think 100 pages
is sufficient.
You know, this is
all a crock, anyway.
I mean, pitting art
against other art for awards,
like, it's not subjective.
It's absurd.
Then why did you agree to be
a judge if you feel that way?
Well, because it's either me
or some other Brooklyn hack
who doesn't think
there's a world
beyond the Hudson River,
It's the East River
if you're in Brooklyn, Daniel.
You know what,
art is subjective.
But I think
this is an opportunity
to highlight books that may
otherwise be undervalued.
Book sales are plummeting
right now.
So, perhaps this award
can give someone
a real chance at a career
in this industry.
Hear, hear.
Where do you want this,
Thought it might
look nice here
with this natural light.
I don't care.
I never liked
that painting, anyway.
Uh, well, I'll bring
some more art
from home next week.
And you just tell me
the pieces you like,
and I'll bring them.
We've got your lunch
ready for you, Mrs. Ellison.
Oh, it looks great.
What is it?
It's roasted turkey
and Havarti on 12-grain.
Sounds delicious.
Mrs. Ellison prefers
white bread.
And she doesn't like
the crust.
As much as this place costs,
y'all should get
the sandwiches right.
I'll make sure
that we take care of that
from now on, okay?
And enjoy your lunch,
Mrs. Ellison.
I'm getting married.
-Shut up.
I didn't say nothing earlier.
I was just so sad.
But Maynard
asked me yesterday.
Lorraine, that's amazing.
- I mean, let's celebrate.
- Mm-mm!
Just too much excitement.
I don't like being
the center of attention.
Well, you deserve it,
And Maynard is a lucky man.
Do you think you'd be willing
to walk me
down the aisle, Mr. Monk?
I'd be honored.
Wow. Wow.
We are wildly excited
to help you get
My Pafology out.
The marketing team
has all kinds
of great ideas
to help you sell it.
Great. We're excited to hear.
John Bosco is the head
of the department.
I will let him tell you more.
Hi, Stagg.
Nice to finally meet you,
my man.
Listen, I love the book.
And we are going
to sell many, many copies.
There's already so much buzz
because of the movie deal.
And we just want to keep
that momentum going.
I spoke to Wiley yesterday.
He says Michael B. Jordan
is circling.
We heard.
We think he would
be absolutely perfect.
You know, this book,
it's awards-bait
with a capital B.
And we're thinking
that if Michael does sign on,
we want to put him
on the cover
in one of those, um, scarves,
I guess you would call them,
tied round his head.
A durag?
Durag. That's it.
Durag and a tank top
with the muscles showing.
Ooh, somebody call
the fire department.
Shit. Sorry. Your dad. Sorry.
So listen,
for a release date,
we're thinking of rushing it,
so that we can get it out
in time
-for Juneteenth.
We're thinking of making
a big holiday push.
Black people
will be celebrating,
white people will be feeling,
let's be honest,
a little conscious-stricken.
We think it's going to be
a huge moment for your book.
So, Stagg,
are you so, so happy?
We think it's great,
John, really. Amazing.
Yeah, it's, uh...
It's great.
And, you know,
I've got an idea
I want to share with you two.
Oh, well,
I mean, we always love
to hear great ideas.
- Oh, yeah, cool.
- Yeah.
I want to change the title.
-I don't...
Um, well, just to be clear,
we really do love
-My Pafology.
-Love it.
It's got that whole
Irvine Welsh
-proletarian vernacular thing.
and that's why I think
you're going to love
this new title even more.
Well, okay, you know what,
we're always happy
to hear new ideas.
What did you have in mind?
I'm sorry. Pardon me.
I want to call it Fuck.
-What are you doing?
-Screw these idiots.
-Stop it.
So, Stagg, what about,
uh, like, Damn?
- Mm-hm.
- Damn? Or Hell?
Nah. Fuck.
Okay, that's cool. Uh...
But maybe we could do that
with a PH instead
because that would
be more palatable...
-Yes. Yes. our sellers.
I don't care about all that.
And if you don't change
the title, the deal is off.
-Oh, yeah. No.
-Whoa, whoa, whoa.
-There's no need to be hasty.
-No, no, no.
You know what?
Why don't we--
Juts give us a second
and, um, a moment
and we will get right back
to you, okay?
What are you doing?
What are you doing?
This is ridiculous.
Do you know how much money
we're talking about?
I don't care,
I'm shutting it down.
-Shutting it-- Come on.
-Shutting it down.
- Are you there?
- Please, just...
We're here.
Let's do it.
Yeah. We discussed it,
and we think it is very
in your face
in the best way possible.
It is very, uh...
- Black?
- That's it.
Yes, that's it.
I'm happy you said it,
and not me.
Oh, fuck.
-It's fucking great, Stagg.
-I love it.
- Yes.
- Oh, my...
You know,
it's so brave actually.
I'm exhausted.
Yeah, me too.
I got to stay up
a few more hours
reading these books for...
Hey. Hey!
Bro. Oh, shit.
What are you doing here?
What am I doing here?
-What are you doing here?
-What do you mean,
what am I doing?
Why are you in town?
I came to see our mother.
Ain't that what you been
calling me about
for weeks now?
What happened to your eye?
-I got into a fight.
Well, get out of the pool.
-You're making a mess.
-I don't want
to get out of the pool.
I'm a grown-ass man.
This your girlfriend?
Yeah, you scared
the shit out of her.
I'm Coraline.
Hi, Coraline.
At least she's not
white again.
Your wife was white.
My wife was a beard.
Beards don't count.
Well, get out.
You fucking menace.
You'll wake the neighbors.
You know,
fuck your neighbors!
And fuck your clean pool!
It's all just a part of your
superiority complex, anyway.
Fucking asshole.
You are a goddamn child!
It's probably a bad time
to tell you,
but I did piss down there.
Oh, funny, huh?
I'm sorry, Monk.
Don't get mad.
Get out of here.
You want a piece of me?
It's funny, huh?
So I'm lying
in bed with him,
butt-ass naked
and in walks Claude
carrying the frozen yogurt.
-Yeah, I forgot I'd shown him
where I keep the spare key.
So he just throws
the yogurt at us
and then he wallops me
right in the eye.
What was the other guy doing?
He couldn't stop laughing.
He said that's what he does
when he gets nervous.
You really going for it
these days.
I only been gay for,
like, five minutes,
I got to make up
for lost time.
Yeah. Well, good for you.
I mean, the whole world's
falling apart.
Might as well have some fun.
-I appreciate that.
You know,
you're quite beautiful.
Thank you.
What do you see in my brother?
- He's funny.
- Mm.
-He's not funny. No.
-No, not ha-ha funny.
- Like, sad funny.
- Okay.
a three-legged dog.
I see it now. Like somebody
dying on a toilet.
- you go too far.
- You think?
I don't think I go far enough.
It's becoming hurtful.
- Aw.
- See?
- See?
- "You know,
- invariably..."
- Oh.
" go too far."
You got a kiss, man.
Look at you.
Just by being pathetic.
-God bless you.
That is like
- a three-legged dog.
- Hey.
Oh, this is nice.
Yeah, it's not bad.
What do you got there,
No, that's a gazebo.
Same difference.
- All right?
- To the left.
Oh. Excuse me.
Hey, Monk?
How the hell
can you afford this place?
I, um...
Well, there was some money
Lisa left for Mother.
Thought the divorce
cleaned her out.
Well, I'm not familiar with
what her finances were like,
but if you're so interested
in the bills,
perhaps I can start
sending them to you?
Ah, it's fine. Where we going?
Right here. 44.
We've had a difficult morning.
We had to sedate her
after she tried
to strike a nurse.
-Has she done that before?
She has a different
demeanor every day.
Sometimes every hour.
But maybe
she'll feel better tomorrow.
I'm sorry, I need to go.
Yes, of course. Thank you.
The gardener cut these
right off the bush
for your mom.
-Sweet, right?
-Yeah, that's great.
How can you afford this place?
I mean, you're not
a drug dealer
or something, are you?
No, I'm a writer.
And you're my girlfriend,
not my bookkeeper.
I always knew
you weren't a queer.
She doesn't know
what she's saying.
I'm going to wait outside.
You sure you don't
want to stay
for Lorraine's wedding?
It's better if I go.
It was nice
to meet you, Cliff.
This family will break
your heart.
Welcome back.
I'm Kenya Dunston
and today,
we're going to discuss
a new novel that just debuted
at number one
on The New York Times
bestseller list.
It is just a remarkable,
special book,
and it's called...
Cover your kids' eyes
and ears...
We are lucky enough
to have the author
with us today.
And for those of you
who are just joining us,
please know
that Mr. Stagg R. Leigh
is coming to us
from an undisclosed location
as he is still on the run
from authorities.
Oh, Stagg, tell us,
is this novel a true story?
Not factually,
but it's the true story
of what it's like
to be a Black man
in America like me.
And it ain't pretty.
Amen to that.
During my time
in prison,
I learned that words belong
to everybody.
So this book
is my contribution
to this wonderful country
of ours
where a Black ex-con
can become rich
simply by telling the story
of his unfortunate people.
Yes. Yes.
- Yeah.
- Get this.
The FBI called
Thompson Watt today
to try to get
Stagg R. Leigh's identity.
- What?
- Don't worry.
They're not going
to give him up.
Give who up? It's me,
I haven't done anything.
They don't know that.
- Look, this has gone too far.
- Relax.
The fugitive stuff's
getting us
mountains of free press.
Plus, as you said,
you haven't done anything.
It's not like
they can arrest you.
I wish I could go back
to not selling books.
I don't.
Is everything all right?
I'm just a little
stressed out. This, uh.
book award stuff is a bit
more work than I expected.
It's no biggie.
Got more forks in the kitchen.
What's this?
Mm. My friend got it for me.
Have you read it?
Of course not, have you?
And what did you think of it?
-I liked it.
-What did you like about it?
- Um...
- It didn't offend you?
You just said
you didn't read it.
What's your problem?
No, you answer my question.
You answer mine.
My problem is that
books like this aren't real.
They flatten our lives.
What do you mean?
I mean, that...
you know,
my life is a disaster,
but not in the way you'd think
reading this shit.
These things reduce us
and they do it
over and over again because
too many white people,
and people apparently like you
devour this slop
like pigs at a dumpster
to stay current
at fucking cocktail parties
-or whatever.
-Okay, um...
You got a lot of opinions
for someone
who hasn't published anything
for years.
And you've published
what exactly?
Okay, what is wrong with you?
Why are you acting like this?
I'm not acting like anything.
You've been acting
like a weirdo for weeks.
You've been obfuscating,
sneaking around.
You're fucking unknowable.
Maybe you think being
an enigma is chic and artsy.
I just think it makes you
an asshole.
Well, um,
you don't understand my life,
and you can't,
so just leave it at that.
One day, maybe you'll learn
that not being able
to relate to other people
isn't a badge of honor.
I think you should leave.
Well, you know what I think?
You should leave, Monk.
You guys need
any help with that?
Nah, we're good.
I thought you could use
a little brawn.
- We got it.
- Mr. Monk.
You mind I keep
the soda maker?
You don't like the bubbly
water anyhow, right?
- It's all yours.
- Thank you.
Um... Hey, what about this?
No. I always hated that color.
It's just the one
your father bought.
this just came for you.
Okay, thanks.
This is
the last of it.
Goodbye, Mr. Monk.
Bye, Lorraine.
Drive safe.
Guess I'll see you
at the wedding.
All right.
I'll take that there.
Thompson Watt apparently raced
to publish it.
Yeah, I heard that they ran
300,000 copies already
and they're reprinting
more soon.
I mean, it's going
like gangbusters .
Christ on a crutch!
It better be good.
Hey, I heard
the writer's a fugitive.
Well, that would
explain the title.
He didn't go to charm school.
No, I think that
that background is a plus.
I am thrilled
to read a BIPOC man
harmed by our carceral state.
Are you one of those
defund the police nuts?
Yes, and I wouldn't expect you
to understand.
Well, I hope someone you love
doesn't get raped or murdered.
Can we not talk
about this now, please?
Look, look, look.
Criminal or not,
I don't think
we should add it.
We're already weeks
into the process,
and I don't know
about any of you,
but I've got more
than a dozen books
I haven't even opened yet.
It was published
before the submission date,
I think we have to accept it.
it's just one more.
And from the looks of it,
it should be a quick read.
A quick fuck.
I've had a couple of those.
Bye, guys. Bye.
Hi, Monkie.
You look beautiful.
Oh, hello.
Monkie, do we know these men?
No, Mother,
this isn't the Alzheimer's,
these are actual strangers.
Who are you people?
We're Cliff's friends.
Of course, you are.
We met him a few days ago.
I'm Kenny, this is Alvin.
Are you Monk?
I am. How did you know?
Oh. Well, Cliff said
Monk's a real tight-ass.
Did he?
Mother, you sit here.
Do you like
scrambled eggs?
I love scrambled eggs.
What the hell
are you doing here?
You first.
Oh, shit, the wedding.
- Ah.
- Oh, fuck!
I didn't go to the airport.
That day I left,
I needed some time to myself.
Time to oneself implies
by definition, time alone.
Oh, Christ, here we go.
- Detective Dictionary.
- Ah!
Mr. Cliff.
I'm sorry, guys,
I'll handle it.
You need to leave.
Don't bother to clean up,
just go.
Oh, no,
it's all right, just...
Please stay.
It's a celebration.
It's good to see you, Cliff.
It's good to see you too,
I, um...
I... I don't want to impose.
You can't impose.
You're family.
I'll, uh...
I'll go clean up a bit, yeah?
Congratulations, you guys.
Can we make
y'all some breakfast?
I can whip up
a killer smoothie
and Alvin used to work
the omelet station
on a cruise ship.
That sounds lovely.
Thank you.
It's very kind of you
to let them stay.
It's always easier dealing
with other people's families
than your own.
I regret to inform you
that in a couple hours,
this will be your family.
Piss her off?
-Shut her out?
Dad shut everyone out too.
He lied all the time.
Look how that turned out.
I find myself
getting very angry
these days like Dad.
These days?
I've been thinking a lot
lately about
how Dad died
not knowing I'm gay.
-I think he suspected it.
He may have.
But he didn't know for sure.
He never knew
the entirety of me.
And now he never will.
And that makes me...
It makes me real sad.
Well, what if he had known
and rejected you?
At least he'd be rejecting
the real me.
I know that sounds crazy,
but there'd be some relief
in that.
It doesn't sound so crazy.
People want
to love you, Monk.
I personally don't know
what they see in you, but...
they want to love you.
You should let them love
all of you.
It was dogshit.
I mean,
some mollycoddled chump
faffing on
about his dead mom...
Who cares?
Okay, so that means that
Bury Me Standing is fourth.
Let's talk about Fuck.
Could we not?
I adored it.
It was like gazing
into an open wound.
I agree.
I think it's the strongest
African-American novel
I've read in a long time.
I mean, since yours.
-Of course, Sintara.
-Thank you.
You know, I actually liked it
much more
than I was expecting.
I mean,
this is a gutsy piece of work.
And necessary for the times.
What did you think, Sintara?
I found it to be
pretty pandering, actually.
You did?
Yes. Did you not?
I very much did.
I thought it was simplistic
and meaningless.
Well, of course,
it was simplistic.
I mean, it's the language
of the gutter.
You know, not some
prissy graduate thesis.
"Language of the gutter."
Jesus Christ.
I think our blood sugar's low.
How about we take a break
for lunch, huh?
- Fine by me.
- Okay.
- Okay.
- Really?
Oh, I'm sorry.
Oh, no, you're fine.
I'm not interrupting?
Do you mind
if I ask you something?
What about Fuck
did you find pandering?
Oh, uh...
I can't really put my finger
on it, but...
it's not different from
some of what's out there,
but it just felt...
is the word
that I'm going to use.
You said you agreed, right?
Yeah, I do.
I think it seems written
to satisfy the tastes
of guilt-ridden white people.
Yeah, the kind of book
critics call important
and necessary,
but not well-written.
Okay, so... And please
don't take offense at this,
but how is Fuck
so very different
from your book?
Is that what this is about?
- You think my book's trash?
- No.
To be honest,
I haven't read your book.
I've read excerpts
and it didn't seem
so dissimilar.
I did a lot of research
for my book.
Some of it was actually taken
from real interviews.
Maybe you've been up
in your ivory tower
of academia for so long
you've forgotten that some
people's lives are hard.
Your life?
You went to an exclusive
bohemian college.
You had a job at a fancy
publishing house in New York.
So what? I don't need
to write about my life.
I write about
what interests people.
You write what interests
white publishers
fiending Black trauma porn.
They're the one buying
the manuscripts.
Is it bad to cater
to their tastes?
If you're okay feeding
people's base desires
for profit--
I'm okay with giving
the market what it wants.
That's how drug dealers
excuse themselves.
And I think drugs
should be legal.
But you're not fed up with it?
You know, Black people
in poverty?
Black people rapping?
Black people as slaves?
Black people murdered
by the police?
Old soaring narratives
Black folks
in dire circumstances
who still managed to maintain
their dignity before they die?
I mean, I'm not saying
these things aren't real,
but we're also more than this.
And it's like so many writers
like you can't envision us
without some white boot
on our necks.
Do you get angry
at Bret Easton Ellis
or Charles Bukowski
for writing
about the downtrodden?
Or is your ire strictly
reserved for Black women?
Nobody reads Bukowski thinking
his is the definitive
white experience.
But people, white people,
read your book
and confine us to it.
They think
that we're all like that.
Then it sounds like your issue
is with white people, Monk,
not me.
Well, maybe, but I also think
that I see
the unrealized potential
of Black people
in this country.
Potential is what people see
when they think
what's in front of them
isn't good enough.
So, what are we talking about?
We're starting again.
I'll be right there.
Hey, can I speak to Arthur?
Yeah, it's Monk.
I'm fine.
Listen, you think
you can set up
another meeting with Wiley?
I've got a new idea for him.
Different kind of movie.
I think it's Fuck for me.
-Yeah, me too.
-Yeah, I agree.
I disagree. I'm sorry.
I think it would be a mistake
to award this book anything.
Well, it's two
versus three, so...
Fuck's the winner.
Fuck is the winner.
You know, it's not just
that it's so affecting,
I just think it's essential
to listen to Black voices
right now.
Did you...
Did you know that Dad
was cheating on you?
He was bad at keeping secrets.
Why didn't you leave him?
He would've been
even more lonely without me.
You thought he was lonely?
You father was a genius.
Geniuses are lonely...
because they can't connect
with the rest of us.
You're a genius, son.
Well, I certainly don't
feel like one half the time.
That's because
you've always been
so hard on yourself, Cliffy.
And now for the final
award for the evening.
I promise to leave you alone,
let you eat after this.
But before
I announce the winner,
I would like to acknowledge
our judges,
our incredibly
diverse group of judges
who've sacrificed
valuable time,
so we could all
celebrate here tonight.
So if you put
your hands together,
they did a fantastic job.
Without further ado,
this year's Literary Award
goes to...
Oh, I knew it.
By Stagg R. Leigh, Fuck.
Well, I'm not sure
if Mr. Leigh
is going to grace us
with his presence here
He's notoriously cagey
about attention.
Oh, hold on.
Oh, okay. I see some business.
Someone's coming.
Oh, Thelonious Ellison.
One of our esteemed judges.
Weirdly walking
toward the stage.
No idea why.
What's going on?
Excuse me.
Excuse me.
I have a confession to make.
Wait, wait, wait.
Smash to black?
No fucking way, dude.
What's wrong with that?
There's no resolution here.
What's he going to say?
I don't know.
I think that's what's
interesting about it.
No, he should say something.
What did you say?
Nothing. I walked out
of the ceremony.
The next day
I called you to say
I wanted to write this movie.
Well, Monk,
the character
should say something.
Well, I don't want him
to make some
grandiose speech
spoon-feeding everyone
the moral of the story.
There is no moral.
That's the idea.
I like the ambiguity.
Okay, look.
You're a good writer,
and this is almost there.
But novels
aren't movies, okay?
Nuance doesn't put asses
in theater seats.
We need a big finish.
What is this?
It's the seltzer
you asked for.
Why is it all wet?
Condensation. Okay.
You're a fucking
weatherman now.
You want anything?
Uh, no, I'm fine. Thank you.
All right. This is Monk.
We're going to make
a movie with him
-if he can get
the third act right.
-Nice meeting you.
-You as well.
-Get me a flat white.
And, hey, never again.
All right.
What other endings you got
in that big brain of yours?
How about if...
This year's Literary Award
goes to...
by Stagg R. Leigh, Fuck.
I'd like to apologize.
I haven't been myself lately.
What about that?
Will she forgive him?
I don't know.
The real Coraline
won't return my phone calls.
Maybe the movie Coraline
is more forgiving.
No. It's too pat.
Makes the whole thing
feel like a romantic comedy.
We don't want
to make a romantic comedy.
We want
to make something real.
Give me something real.
I mean, we could just...
Hey, what's going on?
Excuse me.
Beat it.
I have a confession to make.
- Stagg Leigh,
on the ground now!
There he is!
No, no.
I'm not Stagg Leigh.
He doesn't exist.
I'm Monk. Thelonious Ellison.
You're a fugitive!
On the ground now!
No, no, no.
That was all
a marketing gimmick.
- It was all a lie.
- He's got a gun!
No, no! No, no!
He's dead?
They smoke him?
It's perfect.
Yes! That is...
That is perfect.
Time to pick out your tux,
my brother.
We're going to the big show.
Hey, come transcribe this.
We got it.
They going to make
your movie or what?
Unfortunately, yes.
Hey! You know what?
Good luck finding someone
handsome enough to play me.
I think they have.
Who they got?
Tyler Perry.
You got me. That's good.
All right.