Been a while since there's been a thread about books here. So, here's some stuff I've read in the past couple of months. Coincidentally, all of them are books that have been the basis for rather popular movies. I haven't seen most of the movies, but pretty much every time I've mentioned the books to others I've gotten the "oh, was it better than the movie?" question.
I Am Legend The writing style here was rather different from things I've read before. It seemed rather cool and detached. But when things got dramatic, you really felt the terror the protagonist felt. The parts with the dog touched me, and I liked how ambiguous the situation was. You never get a sense of exactly what is happening until toward the end of the story. The ending itself fit the story, in that it wasn't terribly satisfing but had the same detached tone. This is an odd tale, and one I'd like to read again someday. The Will Smith movie wasn't any better or worse, but it didn't capture much of what the made the book interesting to me.
Jaws This was oddly engrossing, even though it's pretty much just the story of some people tracking down a shark. The affair between the cop's wife and the biologist dude seemed out of place and it never quite got resolved (though maybe in a sequel? Is there a sequel to the novel? I don't care enough to look it up.) I've never seen Jaws The Movie, but I can totally see how it would have completely outshined Jaws The Book because it's hard to make a shark scary with just words. I still don't think I'll ever see the movie or read the book again for that matter.
The Green Mile Every time I read a Stephen King book I come away thinking "Holy @#$% that was the best Stephen King book I've ever read!" I had seen this movie, but not since it first came out on video. I had a good sense of John Coffey from my memories of the movie, but most of the other characters seemed new to me. A few despicable villains, one well-meaning protagonist who gets in over his head, and a tragic hero seems to be one of Stephen King's formulae, but damned if it doesn't hook me every time. As a rule I don't keep novels that I've read, but I made a point of giving this to someone I knew would enjoy it rather than just dropping it off in the local Goodwill bin.
Timeline Only 3 more to go and I still haven't found a Michael Crichton novel I've disliked. There's not much to say about this because if you've read one Crichton book you know his style and this one is no different. Transcription error is now one of my favorite phrases. I liked the descriptions of the brutality of the medieval age, especially since I read this in the midst of watching Game of Thrones Season 3. Time travel is one of my least favorite fiction elements, but it's just used as a plot device here rather than as the focus of the story.
How...how has no one seen Jaws. Did never see a picture of the Mona Lisa, either? The book us bad. Spielberg is the master of taking bad books and making them classics see Jurassic Park, but I doubt the cave you live in gets cable.
The Wee Baby Sheamus.Twitter: @realjoecarfley its a bit more toned down there. A bit.
Originally posted by lotjxHow...how has no one seen Jaws. Did never see a picture of the Mona Lisa, either? The book us bad. Spielberg is the master of taking bad books and making them classics see Jurassic Park, but I doubt the cave you live in gets cable.
1. Don't be a dick.
2. I've never seen Jaws either, not that I don't know pretty much the whole story by now.
3. Jurassic Park the book > Jurassic Park the movie, by a mile*
*based on my recollections; I was ~14 when I read the movie and saw the book
I don't watch a lot of movies because I don't like to look screens for long stretches of time. Even hour long TV shows require a few breaks and usually take me more than one evening to get through.
I definitely knew the basic story of Jaws going in, because it's been referenced and parodied to death. I even know the killer theme song and I have a photo of my brother and I as kids going on Jaws The Ride at Universal Studios and many subsequent photos of me wearing Jaws The T-Shirt back home.
But I've never seen Jaws The Movie because I was born in the mid 80s to parents who watched television shows far more often than movies. By the time I became interested in movies I was a teenager in the 90s and was much more drawn to contemporary stuff than old stuff. I also didn't see Star Wars 4-6 in their entirety until after I had already seen 1-3 and the fantastic Clone Wars cartoon. I am told by friends that my perspective on the story is quite interesting.
I thought Jurassic Park was a great book when I read it probably 3 years ago. It was one of the the first Michael Crichton books I read as an adult and among the highlights of his writing career IMO. I haven't seen the movie since I was 9 or 10, so I have little recollection of it outside of a vague image of Jeff Goldblum running from something that wanted to eat him.
I'm also flummoxed at not seeing JAWS. Guys, please, go see JAWS. It's the first and still one of the greatest of all summer movies.
Samoflage's explanation makes sense, however.
Jurassic Park the novel to me is Michael Crichton's greatest novel, one I've been meaning to reread. It's been over a decade, but I still remember how good and suspenseful it was. Spielberg gutted the complexity of the story and characters but he delivered REAL LIFE LOOKING DINOSAURS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER so he gets a pass and a pat on the back.
I do like Crichton's The Great Train Robbery a lot. It's second to JP for Crichton novels to me, and as 19th century historical fiction based on a true event, a totally different kind of novel from Jurassic Park or his other techno thrillers.
I Am Legend is one of the few audiobooks I've heard and I've only had it read to me on audiobook, but that was a great experience. I don't remember who read the book, but the voices, sound effects and music really ratcheted up what was great about the story.
Again, see JAWS, please.
(edited by John Orquiola on 4.6.13 1224) "Cody, I mustache you a question." - The Miz
OK, I watched the trailer on YouTube, which was actually quite a nice summary. I'm not going to watch the whole movie though. I'm not enough of a movie fan to deal with such bad video quality.
I did learn that "We're gonna need a bigger boat" is from Jaws though. I don't remember that line from the book, but it's not the sort of thing that would stick out in text as much as it does in audio. I feel closer to the collective culture of humanity for now knowing that, so thanks!
Originally posted by samoflange I also didn't see Star Wars 4-6 in their entirety until after I had already seen 1-3 and the fantastic Clone Wars cartoon. I am told by friends that my perspective on the story is quite interesting.
This is a major threadjack, so maybe I should start another thread or ask you directly. But...what is your perspective?
I've heard stories of people who showed their kids 1-3 first and then 4-6 and they did not have the bitterness that many of us "new trilogy sucks" people have..Is this the case with you as well?
2) Jurassic Park the movie is basically just as amazing as Jurassic Park the book. Sure, some plot things are better in the book, but the jaw dropping quality of SEEING DINOSAURS!! oh my god. The book can't top that.
3) I think my kids will be seeing Star Wars in the 4-5-1-2-3-6 order. Although I might do some editing to 1-2-3, we'll see. Of course, by then there will be 7 and probably 8.
4) A friend from high school (who, admittedly, I haven't kept up with for 20 years), just had a book published. I'm about 1/3rd of the way through, and it's great.
Jurassic Park the movie has likable character, there are no likable characters in the book. Also, how they escape the island makes all of Die Hard look like a hard science class. I do want to experiment with children on which child grows up to be the evil one by having them watching Star Wars in the original order of 4-6, 1-3 or the new numeric order 0f 1-6.
The Wee Baby Sheamus.Twitter: @realjoecarfley its a bit more toned down there. A bit.
Watching 1-6 and not 4-6, 1-3 seems weird to me. For example, the shock of learning that Luke is Vader's son is lost as soon as you know Luke's last name is Skywalker at the beginning of episode 4. When Vader claims to be Luke's father, your reaction will be "Uh, DUH!"
Now that they edited Jedi again after the prequels came out, when you watch it before the prequels, you're wondering who that young man standing next to Obi-Wan and Yoda is because the force ghosts have taken the age of the Jedi at the point in which they had died.
I can't remember a lot of the other details without a plot refresher, but the main thing was being unimpressed by Darth Vader, who had always been hyped up as being one of the scariest, most ruthless villains ever.
I thought Anakin was a chump and I had trouble buying into his turn in #3. Once he got armored up for the older movies, I couldn't shake the thought of a scared, gullible kid who screwed up his life, got stuck in an awful robot suit, and was too much of a brat to do anything about it other than pretend to be a villain for the rest of his life so he didn't piss off his daddy figure.
I assume the point of the first three movies was to humanize Anakin and give him some motivations, most of the time forces of evil should just remain forces of evil. To go back to fish, you don't see whoever wrote Jaws writing a prequel about how this poor little shark just wanted this or that and so he got mad and ate everyone.
Silly analogy, but I'd really like someone else to talk about books!
I really enjoyed Joe Hill's latest, NOS4A2. I've liked both his short stories and his other novels, but this is his most ambitious work yet. The ending seems a little rushed but everything feels earned and I finished it in a few days. It's worth checking out.
Another recent read was Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber. It's a horror novel set in the Star Wars universe (Zombie Stormtroopers!). It's a good beach read but not as fun as it could have been.
I loved the Jurassic Park novel so much that I was convinced as a pre-teen/early teen that Michael Crichton was my favorite author. I then read Congo, The Lost World the day it came out (I think I literally sat down after school and read it cover to cover), and Sphere. Eventually I ran afoul of Airframe and found it unreadable, as was the case with every other Crichton book I tried to read after.
Granted, we're talking me as a 12-15 year old. Who knows, if I read it now I may now hate the stuff I loved of Crichton's and vice-versa.
I'm not going to continue the Star Wars prequel discussion except to say that Anakin Skywalker has probably the most confounding, poorly constructed character arc of any character in any major series I've ever read, seen, etc.
NOVELS I'VE READ IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS!
Crap Kingdom by DC Pierson - Young Adult book. I really dug this book. The basic premise is that you have the typical young teen who discovers a fantasy realm and is anointed the "chosen one" by prophecy, but decides it's totally not worth it. His friend steps into the role instead, jealousy and shenanigans ensue. Well written and a LOT of fun.
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Paul Vizzini - Another Young Adult book. Like it says on my MySpace profile, "only God can judge me" and "haters get the steppin'!" I bought this at the suggestion of a friend who worked at a local bookstore in my hometown a few months ago - literally right before I got the job offer that moved me to New York City. Read it after a month of living here, figuring Hell, maybe being here for a cup of coffee would give me more perspective since it's set in New York City (and a psych ward). I wanted to love it and sympathize since Vizzini based it on his own hospitalization after a bout of depression, but instead I found myself appalled at how shallow the treatment was. Despite being written by someone with direct experience, it instead came off as the sort of shallow fantasy of "young boy deals with delightful kooks and falls in love in a hospital and finds himself" that only someone who's never been depressed in their entire life would write. Maybe that was purposefully done by Vizzini as a means of dealing with his own trauma and giving kids a lighter, more hopeful perspective, but for me it not only fell flat but did a real disservice to kids who might actually deal with this sort of thing. Total bummer, especially since I know he's capable of better.
HHhH by Laurent Binet - Man. MAN OH MAN OH MAN, did I love this novel. It's a semi-historical re-telling of the planning behind the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and subsequent fallout, alternating with Binet's semi-autobiographical account of researching the story and struggling with the narrative. The passion, struggles, and insecurities of the narrator (let's assume it both is and isn't actually Binet himself) really shines, particularly when he talks about Prague. It made me fall in love with that city and I've never even been there. Great, fascinating stuff. By the way, HHhH is shorthand for a common phrase of the period alluding to the importance of Heydrich in the Nazi Party and his ruthlessness, translating to "Himmler's brain is called Heydrich." Lest you think it's Hunter Hearst holy Helmsley or something.
The Abortion and In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan - I've been slowly working my way through Brautigan's catalog over the course of the last decade. I enjoyed these for all the same reasons I enjoyed his other works, but definitely think Sombrero Fallout and A Confederate General from Big Sur were far superior.
Most of the other stuff I've been reading is non-fiction/memoirs (currently reading Lenin's Tomb).
In the USA, the National Book Awards have been announced: Fiction: Europe Central by William T. Vollmann. Non-fiction: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Poetry: Migration: New and Selected Poems by W.S. Merwin.