19 April 2004

The Re-reading Files #1

Well, if I wasn't looking forward to surgery I was looking forward to recuperation to wander blithely through the bookshelves and pick out things to re-read.

I watched the film version of My Friend Flicka the day before I had surgery, so one of the first volumes I tasted was Mary O'Hara's lovely novel. The movie adaptation is really not bad--it tells the essential parts of the story well, except for that little twit girl they substituted for Ken's brother Howard. The descriptions of Wyoming in the novel are so vivid and beautiful that you want to pack up the moment you finish and move. I saw Wyoming many years after first reading Flicka and indeed found it as beautiful as Ms. O'Hara said.

I also re-read L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light in a last-ditch effort to get the bad taste of the Disney television movie out of my mouth. Granted, I knew Disney couldn't have made the original into a movie. About half the story is Vicky's introspection over the events of her life: the differences in the boys she is friends with, her relationships with her parents and siblings and dying Grandfather, her thoughts about the "unfairness" of life in general, etc. However, Disney could have taken the essentials of the story as the makers of My Friend Flicka did and made a good film; they instead standardized and politically corrected and simplified the issues until it was just a banal story about "bad" industrialists hurting dolphins and "good" teenagers trying to help them. Even the marvelously dislikeable and complicated Zachary Gray ended up as a one-dimensional misunderstood teen.

And the always delightful Dorothy Sayers, of course, has supplied another volume: Murder Must Advertise, which, again, has been adapted as a television story. This one, like most British productions, pared down some characters and situations to fit into a four-hour timeslot, but kept the spirit of the book. The book, of course, has many more layers. I did smile, recalling the annoyed review of Anne Perry's No Graves as Yet on Amazon.com, in which the reviewer complained that the author used too many British terms--the novel takes place in Britain--and that several pages were taken up with a "boring" cricket match. I assume this reviewer will never partake of the delights of Sayers and Advertise in which lots and lots of British terms--some of them slang from the 1930s, when the novel is set--are used and an entire pivotal chapter takes place during a cricket match!

Her loss, not mine!