Saturday, 3 January 2009

Book Q&A

I found this Q&A on the ABC'S First Tuesday Book Club website and I thought I'd post it, especially since it allows me to bag out film adaptations of books.

1. What are you reading?

The Beautiful and the Damned, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. What is the book that changed your life?

Many books changed my life; but my set of Childcraft Encyclopedias at home had a huge impact on what I was interested in when I was younger; both fiction and non-fiction. They had excerpts of stories so they encouraged me to look for other authors, and bits of facts and trivia. My first experience of M. C. Escher was in those books - bless them!

3. What is your most overrated book?

I've never read it, but I avoided The Da Vinci Code for ages because of the hype. I still have avoided it, but I have a copy at home.

4. What is the best film adaptation of a book you've seen?

Mary Poppins and Bridget Jones' Diary

I picked these two mainly because they didn't stick closely to the book but I thought they captured the essence of the book and made a wonderful story of it anyway.

I don't think movies have to stick slavishly to the book storyline, though sometimes it works well if they do. The important part is to carry the essence of the character or plot and theme, and satisfy the audience. The Mary Poppins books had a lot to them; I thought a good selection of scenes were chosen for the movie, and the set was delicious as well as the music and that Julie Andrews made a great Poppins. And the whole storyline with Mr Banks as the father seeing the light was nicely rounded into the movie.

In Bridget Jones, I actually felt the movie was easier to follow than the book - it had to cut out some of the bits and pieces from the diary and condense it into an easy storyline and did it well. And the cast was extremely memorable.

5. What is the worst film adaptation of a book you've seen?

The Firm
The Robber Bride
Hating Alison Ashley

It's hard to pick a worst here.

OK, The Firm wasn't that bad. I just really hated the way that they changed the ending because the book's was so much better and this was a real cop out. It was stupid and I was left with my jaw hanging out, thinking WTF?

But Pollyanna, Hating Alison Ashley and The Robber Bride were terrible, which is a pity because they are all great books. I'll admit, I didn't even see the ending of Hating Alison Ashley because I hated it so much.

All three twisted the stories completely.

Hating Alison Ashley had the whole thing set in High School instead of primary school, and it lost the tone completely from the book. Delta Goodrem couldn't act and looked like a little poser starlet instead of being a really goodie goodie but somewhat sympathetic Alison Ashley. The added in sexual overtones didn't help the movie one bit - it was crass rather than clever.

Pollyanna added in a whole new story that was never in there in the first place and didn't add to the characterisation at all. Something about Miss Polly and her orphanage. In the end I wanted Miss Polly to win and tell the annoying townsfolk to get lost which was obviously not the intent of the movie.

And The Robber Bride - well, wasn't this supposed to be a story about a vamp seen through the eyes of three different people? Firstly, the woman who played Zenia wasn't very vampy or convincing as someone who could knock any man over or play any woman. Then the whole story involving the detective who told the story and then fell for her distracted the storyline and perspectives and moved it away from Atwood's original conception.

The detective was a pain in the ass too.

If you want to see a really good story involving a player vamp, told from 3 different perspectives, I suggest watching One Night at McCool's. Much better crafted than this version. Or just read the book of The Robber Bride.

6. What is your earliest memory of books?

Lying on the floor sorting through books that seemed bigger than me, then.

7. Where do you read?

Anywhere. Except not on the toilet. Public transport, on the couch, lying on the floor. I'm not very good at reading them in bed because I get drowsy too soon. I'm very guilty of reading at work.

8. How do you choose what you read?

If I like the author, I like to read their other work. Recommendations from friends. Book lists. An amusing title. An interesting back cover summary. A funny cover. A good review on Amazon.

9. What fictional character would you most like to be?

Mary Poppins or Emily the Strange


JahTeh said...

I didn't mind the Da Vinci Code as a story nor Angels and Demons but I haven't read it a second time as I usually do if I really enjoyed it.
The film was slow and the 'stars' were boring. I blogged at the time how much Tom Hanks looked botoxed to the hilt at the beginning but wrinkles started to appear by the end of the film.

TimT said...

At about the same time in the last decade, the 'Harry Potter' books and 'The Da Vinci Code' book seemed to become bestsellers. Though over time I did notice something different between how people read the two books - people loved to hate 'The Da Vinci Code', and loved to love the 'Harry Potter' series. Just browse around the blogs and papers and you'll see what I mean - they'll line up to condemn 'TDVC', but they'll heap praise on Harry Potter. Such is the enthusiasm of otherwise mature bloggers for the Potter books that it's almost as if they're reliving their own childhood through them.

Consequently, for me, the most overrated book would have to be any one of the Harry Potter series. If for no other reason than that there's only ONE Da Vinci Code and there's seven of the Harry Potter books. And the hype for them just got louder and louder...

My overrated book of all time would have to be one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Which one? Well, I don't want to be seen as prejudical, so I'll just say I hate them all.

Maria said...

I forgot to write here that another really overhyped book for me was the Obernewtyn series by Isobelle Carmody. People kept telling me how wonderful she was, how original, how fantastic, she was their hro. I am glad I didn't buy them by their recommendation, I just got the first two at the library. I was sorely disappointed. I didn't go further than that. I just didn't get the fuss. (Funny that all the books we're writing about here are fantasy books!)

I was a bit disappointed by some Booker Prize winners such as Life of Pi and The Gathering, but I wouldn't say they were the most overrated books ever. I guess I expected a bit more, especially with the Booker tag.

Maria said...

Oh, by the way TimT, just wanted topoint out that though you say there's only ONE Da Vinci Code and 7 Harry Potters, isn't The Da Vinci Code preceded by Angels & Demons which is sort of a prequel (same character)? I don't know, haven't read either.

I agree about it being more fashionableto love Harry Potter than the 'Code', though I remember I think it was in 2004, when there was the ABC show "My Favourite Book", a vote was taken of Australia's top 100 favourite books.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and The Da Vinci Code both made it into the Top Ten (although Harry Potter was voted a bit higher).

Your most overrated book of all time, TimT, Lord of the Rings, was voted Number One. (The movie LOTR was later voted Number One in the ABC's My Favourite Film poll too!)

I think the three top books were, in order,

Lord of the Rings
Pride & Prejudice
The Holy Bible

Other top rated books were Cloudstreet, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Catch-22, A Fortunate Life and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (not in order). (Da Vinci Code and Catch-22 tied for 9th position).

A full list of the Top 100 is here

TimT said...

I remember seeing that ABC 'top 100 books' show a few years ago. Everybody in the audience and on-stage was cheerful when Harry Potter got announced, but when The Da Vinci Code was announced a collective cry of scorn arose from the audience.

Wiki confirms that Angels and Demons has some of the same characters as Da Vinci Code, so bang goes that argument of mine.

nailpolishblues said...

It wasn't the story of the Da Vinci Code that was the problem - it was the excessive and painful detail and the sheer bloody awkwardness of the writing. I suspect the editor just gave up in despair. It was a painful read.

Had the HP books suffered the same treatment they would have been just as tedious. Fortunately, no-one expects children to read books where entire paragraphs are written about the protagonist's hair. (Do I exaggerate? Not that much really.)

Mind you, HP did help me relive my childhood at witch's school. Those were the days.

Maria said...

You do have a point there, mails.

I was going to write a kids' short story. I even included the obligatory dryad. Then I got obsessed with a description of the protagonist's toenail clippings and ear-hair, and decided this one was for the grown-ups, added in a homosexual sex-scene and turned the father into a Mafia Mob member. and extended the story from 1500 words into 150,000 words. Most of the padding had to do with nostril hair.

I think it'll be a hit.

Maria said...

The trouble with the HP books in my opinion was that they suddenly got so BIG.

Yes, I really did quite enjoy 4 but I look at the shelf and you suddenly see 1,2,3 and then this massive blow out to 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 which are each about 3 times the size of 1 and wonder what the hell happened?

People say the HP audience grew up, but it seems they had a very sudden growth spurt!

If you ask me Number 5 was unnecessarily long. There was stuff in 4 and 6 that could hold your interest, long though they were (not saying they couldn't have been trimmed though), mainly because competition rounds changed and Severus Snape is a lot of fun. But Number 5 was just getting tedious.

As for overrated though ... well I remember seeing lots of people on trains reading the Da Vinci Code like it was their last suppper.

On the other hand I saw all those news clippings of kids lining up dressed as Harry Potter characters to collect their HP book.

I didn't see adults dressed as characters from the Da Vinci Code.

To me - both were extremely mad cultish fads! But hey - it is amazing if you are an author and you can achieve that.

I can't even get past my first draft of dryad and mafia mob homosexual nostril hair story. :(