Tuesday, January 29, 2008

books! books books books

I have spent lots of time on airplanes in the last week and a half, and that means I've made SERIOUS book progress. Ok, I don't think any of these books were actually on my unread book shelf. But they were all books that I wanted to read.

1. Mansfield Park. When I was about 20 I realized I only had one Jane Austen book to go, so I decided not to read it - I wanted to save it for later. Then PBS started The Complete Jane Austen, so I wanted to read it before I saw the TV version. I'm glad I did save it - I think I read it really differently than I would have 10 years ago. However, it was a mistake to read it immediately before watching the TV version, because all the changes they made just annoyed me. Collapsing the plot, sure, that's necessary for an hour-and-a-half-long version of a 19th century novel. But they messed with Fanny Price's character a lot, too, and that was annoying.

2. The Joy Luck Club. I had to talk to Amy Tan for work and felt bad that I'd never read any of her books. I had actually only read about half of it by the time I talked to her. In case you're wondering, she is so cool. (The book is also most excellent. That Amy Tan, she knows how to write.)

3. The Children of Men. I read this in 1992 or so and I loved it, but I'd mostly forgotten it by the time the movie, which I also loved, came out last year. So I wanted to go back and see how much of the movie was in the book. The answer: not that much. I think this shows the advantage of adapting a book that is *not* a much-loved classic. There just weren't that many fans to piss off. So instead of having to glue themselves to the book, they started with the basic idea, rearranged the characters a bit, borrowed a bunch of scenes, gave it a whole new ending, and modernized heavily. Good stuff.

So, I can heartily recommend all three books. I haven't seen the movie of The Joy Luck Club, but for the other two, my vote goes to the book of Mansfield Park and the movie of Children of Men. I mean, it's a great book, but the movie was freaking awesome.


erin*carly said...

thanks for posting the link to your review of 'children of men' . . . i was looking at that book title going, "i think i've seen it, but i can't remember . . ." the description of the 10-minute shot was what reminded me. my roommates and i watched it earlier in the year, and holy moly and little fishes, it was a great movie.

so, bood is equally as good, just different? i may need to put that on my list of books i should read at some point. that list is wholly populated by books recommended by others. i never know where to start.

erin*carly said...

*book, not bood. i need coffee.

D said...
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David J said...

Speaking of movies, didn't you recommend "The Lives of Others" some time ago? I saw that last night, and it was damn good. German, too!