Sunday, October 23, 2005


When Jennifer Weiner's book Good in Bed came out, what, some four or five years ago, I had no plans to read it. But a couple of women whose opinion I respected highly recommended it, and so I did read it and to my surprise became quite engrossed in it, cried, laughed, and overall was really glad I'd read it. Weiner has a fabulous sense of humor even if the critics will never allow a book like that to be called 'literature.' The point is, who cares! It's well-written; she has a handle on the english language, which is a lot more than can be said for many best-sellers, and she writes engrossing, believable characters. Good on her.

Well I read the next book of hers, In Her Shoes, a few years later, and while it was good, it didn't move me in the same way as Good in Bed. I found it, to be honest, mediocre. Today, though I went to see the movie version of In Her Shoes, which is out now starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley Maclaine. I have this compulsion to see the movies of books I read even if the book or the movie's preview looks awful, I'm not sure why. To my surprise, the movie was charming, and touching and well-cast, and well-acted and once I got over my irritation with Cameron Diaz playing a role that I'm afraid to say I think is not much of a stretch, I was really involved. I went with my friend Christine and both of us wept through a good deal of it, because we're emotional types, but also because it really is well-done.

This got me to thinking. Most of the best film adaptations of novels that I've liked (the movies, that is) have come from mediocre books. Because a really, really good book is too damn difficult to translate onto the screen, since a screenplay generally requires a lot of consolidating, cutting and fudging. Ones that come to mind in which the movie was better than the book: The Ice Storm (novel by Rick Moody), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kundera), today's movie...crap, of course I'm going blank. But I think it's the rarer case where a great book can be made into a great movie, because then the standards are too high. I'll be happy to be reminded of examples where the movie was AS GOOD AS the book.

And while we're on the topic of movies and writing, do yourself a favor and go rent Barton Fink. God is that a well-written screenplay, also well-acted and a winner in almost every possible way.



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