Interesting discussions at this week’s Alternative Book Club where we had all chosen a film or TV tie-in. I (and most others!) had somewhat perversely chosen books of which we had not seen the screen version, but this didn’t stop us having a lively spat on the relationship between the two genres.
My own choice was Last King of Scotland by Giles Fodden which I found a disappointing read and could only guess that a good deal of editing/reworking had been done to create such a successful film. I also thought it unusual, although not impossible, for a film to actually improve on the experience of reading a book, on the basis that the film usually ‘left bits out’ in order to get the job done in 90 minutes. However another member argued the opposite – that a film often adds plot to make up for the weight of descriptive writing that doesn’t translate into air time. Sadly, when put on the spot, neither of us (possibly because we’re not the most avid cinema goers) could actually think of examples to back up our argument! Since then it has occurred to me that lots of films have come from short stories – but does this suggest film looks for something concise, or that the film-maker has expanded the original to suit?
Going to back to films that I have preferred to the book, the first one that springs to mind is Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, where I felt the film gave a more coherent and powerful narrative than the book – or was it just that I had seen the film first? Other candidates I think might be the Merchant Ivory treatments of E.M. Forster whose writing in Howards End did strike me as dreadfully sententious.
The good news of the evening was that someone had brought along a title (The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini) that had been successful in both departments – book and film.
Conclusion? I think I need to get out more, preferably to the cinema.
Visitors, work and getting out more haven’t left much time for the blog (or anything else) but the eagle-eyed may spot a new feature called ‘Recently Read.’ For a while I’ve been envious of those blogs (particularly Typepad) that let you add book covers and comments to the sidebars. WordPress is quite sticky in terms of what you can and can’t do in terms of ‘widgets’, but I’ve settled for joining Library Thing and adding a feed from my profile page to here. Up to now I’ve used Facebook Visual Bookshelf (now called Reading Social) for keeping tabs on my reading online, but time is running out for my Facebook presence, so Library Thing it is. As far as I can see, LT doesn’t have a ‘Wants to read’ category, which I like on Facebook, but I suppose I can cope without it!
I’m still reading Don’t Move, a rather sombre offering with a very distinctive style. I think it’s a bit too sombre for my current mood, but I am in awe of the translator (and possibly all translators) for convincing me that what I’m reading is exactly what the author intended.
Because this site is really about the novel, I haven’t so far found space for a list of the blogs I follow myself. Eventually I might make a page where you can see all of them, but for now here are one or two that have either been on my list for a while or are new but look likely to stay there.
Matt Curran (A Spot of Blood) began blogging when he became a Macmillan New Writer and I’ve been following him for most of the year. In fact, he was probably the inspiration for starting a writer’s blog of my own. He sounds admirably human in the face of modest success which he freely admits was beyond his wildest dreams. He just sounds like a nice bloke who puts in the hours and deserves his rising sales. He has also organised a blog for other Macmillan New Writers, but I more often read his own.
Catherine Czerkawska’s Wordarts is a bit different. I know of Catherine through the RNA and not long ago heard one of her radio plays (The Price of a Fish Supper, about the West Coast fishing industry) which I thoroughly enjoyed. Despite being a published author she has decided to release one of her unpublished novels, The Corncrake, in instalments on the blog. I’ve decided to follow it, partly to see how it feels to read a novel like this, and also because I like her writing and her Scottish settings. Even if it’s not your genre, take a look and see what she has to say.
Finally, a friend from Devon told me about Dovegreyreader, who as far as I know is not a published writer, but is a very prolific and entertaining blogger, and an omnivorous reader. Her blog combines reviews with personal anecdotes and has lots of useful book trade links. Definitely worth a look, but bear in mind these posts are meaty reading, not casual snippets (like mine?)
And finally! For those of you who don’t think that golf is a good walk spoiled, you may like to meet my alter ego on the Rather Be Golfing blog, which I don’t think is mentioned elsewhere on this site. It’s my excuse for not writing as frequently on this blog as I might! And if you’re golf-phobic (a not uncommon complaint) just tell your friends (they’ll be the ones in the awful jumpers).