Category Archives: fiction

The Written Word vs Celluloid

In my opinion, what’s wrong with either?  I enjoy both.  But I wonder sometimes about the difference between a book and the film version.  Is it better to read the book first and then see the film version or vice versa?  This past weekend, my husband and I watched the sweet family film, “We Bought A Zoo.  A good story based on the Mee family’s real-life adventure with a zoo in Europe, the movie changes nearly everything about the original story, moving the locale from France and England to California and the characters from the Mee’s extended family involving grandparents and siblings to one man and his two children.  Should I personally care about the differences?  After all, I enjoyed the movie.  Mr. Mee and his family went through a terrible family tragedy and they turned their lives and the lives of 200 animals around.  That’s the story.  And the story is what sells to the public.  So, no, I probably won’t read the autobiography any time soon.

Whether true story or fictional novel, a film version just can’t be a visual mirror image.  Interpretation as well as adaptation is open with characterization, wording, action and location as well as the intended audience.  Of course, it always helps if the screenwriters work with the original author to ensure cohesion with the storyline.  But that can’t always happen – look at all the interpretations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew.

Then you have the Young Adult blockbuster series like Twilight and the Harry Potter books – all written ahead of the film versions (sometimes barely I think, and by the way, I was always Team Edward).  Watching the media frenzy as each of those books came out, I wondered if the film versions would do as well and by all accounts they have.  Are the film adaptations mirror images of the stories?  I don’t think so, but that doesn’t take away the charm of either the novel or the movie.

There are millions of books that will never be translated into a screenplay or television series.  I don’t think the authors wrote them with the idea in their heads that a film version or a television show would be made down the road.  If that were the case, I think the blood, sweat and tears that the author spilled out into creating their work would have gone into a screenplay first.   Now wait.  Before you go off on a tangent thinking I’m dissing screenwriters, you couldn’t be more wrong.  They are a genre onto themselves and in many cases deserve all the accolades they receive for their work.  Even playwriters write their stories with the intent that an audience would “see” the story rather than read it.  They also deserve their own accolades.

Books and cinema appeal to us visually and I appreciate the efforts that go into developing them.  But, as I’ve been very nearly deaf since early childhood and worn hearing aids to help with daily life, my bent is towards the written word.  Even so, over the years, my husband has bought me increasingly sophisticated and expensive ear phones to help me enjoy the television at our home so I could sit and watch with him.  And I thank heaven for the folks who created closed captioning.  I enjoy going to the movies and have gone on my own to see chick flicks that my husband (God bless him) wouldn’t be caught dead watching, even for his love for me.  Recently, I saw Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help”.  Both the novel and the film version broke out in 2011.  I related strongly with the story as a Girl Raised In The South in the 50’s and 60’s.  However, I have yet to read the novel and I don’t really plan to.  I lived it.

My point, and I do have one, is this. To me, the value of both the written word and the film version of a book can be the same regardless of the poetic license taken with either.  The reader can enjoy the book and the cinema-goer can enjoy the film.  If you happen to enjoy both, you are twicefold enriched.

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Filed under Books and reviews, cinema, fiction, film, Life in general, non-fiction, playwriters, screenwriters

Keep them comin’, y’all!

As a volunteer at my tiny local library (hi, Alida!), I’m privy to the host of new (and old) books that flow in and out through our doors.  Of course, with the wealth of information online, most anyone can stay abreast of the goings-on involving a favorite author.  But what I really like is discovering an author who has a series of books involving one or two characters or even a family of characters.  It’s like one novel simply can’t contain all the history and angst for all the characters, so it has to be spread out amongst several novels.  I LOVE IT!  Only one problem.  Once I start with the first book I simply MUST read all of them. In order. One after another.  Heaven help me if I can’t get my hands on one of the serials.   Or even harder, when the author isn’t finished with the series and you just KNOW it’s going to be a looonng time before the next book.   Did I say that waiting is not my good point?  That’s when I fall back on some tried-and-true series to re-read until that waiting-to-die-for book comes out.

One of my favorite series, The Chesapeake Bay books by Nora Roberts, is a case in point.  It doesn’t hurt that I lived for 23 years in Southern suburban Maryland and made many trips to Easton and Ocean City and all points in between.  The Bay is just gorgeous.  Familiarity with the area always adds a little thrill of pleasure when I read the books.  So, I have to confess, I spent time this week and read the whole series – again – and found myself actually missing that area and wishing I could have met the Quinn brothers along with Ray and Stella and the dogs – oh, especially Foolish!  It took me three days to read the four books and when I turned the last page of the 4th novel, I gave a big sigh, and said, I’ll be seeing you, again – someday soon!

Of course, I’m not dissing stand-alone novels and I’ve read many of those by many more authors, including Nora Roberts, and enjoyed them immensely.  But it’s nice to know that the connection you’ve made with a character, even if it’s in your mind, will be carried on in the next book, and if you’re very lucky, more books after that!

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Filed under Books and reviews, brothers, dads, family, fiction, Life in general, moms, nieces, Nora Roberts, romance

To be honest….

I just don’t get that phrase.  Yet, I hear it or read it, frequently.  What, the speaker’s been lying all the time til now? And I should trust what he says??  That phrase just puts my hackles up.  I think I understand why they say it – they want to emphasize what follows and make sure the reader or listener notes the truth of the statement, but I contend it shouldn’t be necessary in the first place.  For the life of me, though, I can’t come up with a replacement phrase.  Thoughts?

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Filed under Books and reviews, dads, fiction, Life in general, mystery, non-fiction, romance, Uncategorized

Passionate Reading

HA!  Change that – reading is a passion for me.  It’s a trait my family revels in and I can see it’s been passed down to the next generation.  Oh, how that gladdens me!  My two youngest nieces seem to always be near a book if they aren’t on the phone texting their friends.  Their mom, my youngest sister is way too busy being a mom to really sit down and just read, but believe me she has her favorites, too.  My other sister likes books by Anita Shreve, but she, too, is working a full-time job.  Me, I’m retired – and the oldest.  Just means more reading for me.

My favorites run the gamut from chick-lit to true crime and everything in between.  I figure at the rate books are being published these days, and no matter how long I live, I could read a book a day and never, ever be bored.  I have a Kindle, an iPod, and a laptop, all for my ebooks, but there’s just something about holding that physical entity in my hand that makes me smile.  What’s between those pages?  How do they get from the title page to the end? What kind of journey am I taking with this author and is this author one I want to become good friends with, as in — buy every one of their books!!  Aiyiyi.  The pocketbook pain.

My husband built me three beautiful bookcases several years back, but they’re full.  He broke down and bought me a nice one from one of those box stores, but it’s full, too.  I need another one.  His argument goes that I don’t need a new bookcase, I just have to get rid of some of my old books.  My argument goes you just don’t willy-nilly get rid of books.  There’s a relationship that’s like strands of silk – easily made, hard to break, especially if I’ve read them more than once!!  I told him to get rid of all his golf clubs just to show me how it’s done.  Oh, if looks could kill….

So.  If I could have a wish for you, all things considered, I’d wish for you a love of reading.  To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, oh, the places you can go and the things you can see!

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Filed under Books and reviews, family, fiction, Life in general, moms, mystery, nieces, romance, sisters