Book to movie turmoil

I am in a serious state of conflict. Serious.

My favorite book, Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, has been turned into a movie* and part of me wants to damn Hollywood and all the people who will go see it and the other part of me wants to be first in line for my tickets and jumbo popcorn.

This isn’t a book like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games** which we all expect to be made into blockbusters and which prove to be quite entertaining cinematic adventures. Although, one could argue that these were bastardizations. I digress.

This is my genre, my story, my life! I take complete ownership of this book and no one else is allowed to love it like me or allowed to turn it into some shadow of the story it is. Only I am allowed to think about the book and to adapt it to the film reel in my head.

Of course, none of this is true no matter how irrationally I feel it.

I worry that this book will be corrupted for me; that the way I imagine Bathsheba will be all Carey Mulligan, and the county of Wessex I designed in my head will be all the cinematographer’s doing—bastard. I’m afraid I will lose my imagined adaptation to this movie adaptation and never get it back.

I’m annoyed that people may jump on the Madding bandwagon. They will be all, “OMG, this movie is awesome. Blah blah blah. I’m illiterate and won’t appreciate the book in its full glory. Blah blah blah.” Posers.

Worse than people liking the film and rejecting the novel are people that will read the book and love it. Enter hipster attitude. I liked it before it was cool, therefore, I am better than everyone else and deserve some sort of badge noting my superiority. Perhaps a pair of Far From the Madding Crowd Ray-Bans.

The most valid concern I have is that the story will be manipulated to please a modern, mass audience with the creation of a superfluous plot line, an over-sexualization of the story, or a touch of gore and foul language to spice things up. Why mess with a good thing? If the creators of the film adaptation felt it in good judgement to alter the story to its audience, they could’ve chosen a different book (like one I don’t care about), or, here’s a thought, come up with a new story.

I’m being harsh. I don’t know if this movie will ruin my life as badly as I anticipate it doing so, and it appears I may not have the courage to prove my theories positively or negatively.

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This quote hangs in my son’s room: “And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be–and whenever I look up, there will be you.”

Some readers may be thinking to themselves right now, “wow, this girl is batsh*# (my husband would agree). This book isn’t even that great or one of the better T. Hardy novels.” To those readers, I don’t like you.

I jest (but in seriousness).

Nearly final note. After finishing Far From the Madding Crowd for the first time a few years ago, I mentioned to my then boyfriend, now ball-and-chain, that if we ever had a little boy I wanted to name him Gabriel after Gabriel Oak because, “if ever I had a son, I would want him to grow up to be of the same character and demeanor of this guy.” A week later I found out I was pregnant with a boy, and guess what, his name is Gabriel.

I can’t have the actor playing Gabriel Oak to suck at life or to have the fictional character be misrepresented! Think of the consequences!

It seems all is against me, even NPR keeps telling me that Far From the Madding Crowd is in theaters. What’s a girl to do? Wonder forever or indulge a morbid curiosity? Or, more likely, put it into perspective that in the purview of life’s problems, this isn’t one.

*This is NOT the first film adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd, but I chose to write about this one because it’s now.

**Katniss Everdeen is named after Bathsheba Everdeen. Small literature world!

I use words goodly

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Find a degree in English, Philosophy, and Theater in every box! Plus a temporary tattoo!

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English. I swear, they give those things out in Cracker Jack boxes.

I kid! I kid! Put your spatulas at ease, fellow English majors, those burgers don’t flip themselves!

Seriously, I loved, and still love, everything English, it’s my native tongue after all. What I mean is, I love literature and grammar and writing and being pretentious. Apparently, I also love not knowing what to do with my life, why else choose such an ambiguous degree to pursue?

Even with that certificate authenticating that I made it through four years at a reputable institution, charming my professors through long-winded essays that never came to any conclusion on anything conclusive, I must confess, I am a sham.

Yes, a sham. You may even see it in the way I write my blog sometimes. Not only do I make up my own grammar rules, sometimes I use a word so grossly incorrectly that the only thing that can be deduced is that I took an existing word and made it into a new word, devoid of it’s prior association. I’m that good.

It doesn’t stop there. You should hear me talk. I don’t even pronounce words correctly. For 28.5 years, I pronounced the word placate as “play-sate.” My husband first pointed it out to me, and I told him he was an idiot (I have a BA in English after all, from Penn State!). Well, he was, and is, correct, but I still can’t kick the habit. It’s far too entrenched in my brain. This mispronunciation is inoperable.

I have no idea what I would do at work without Grammar Girl. She is my savior whenever I forget the rules of capitalization in a title, which is everyday. How am I even employed?

I know I have faults as a writer (I’m talking about you, passive voice! ) and I’ve come to terms with it. Mostly because I don’t even notice my bad habits at this point—they are far too habitual. I don’t even want to change.

Perhaps I justify this with the compliment I received from the best professor I ever had, in the best class I ever took, and the only class I never skipped (creative writing, of course). All the students had to write a piece of fiction and critique every individual’s short story—mine was naturally the longest by a good 15 pages (remember, lover of passive voice here). The teacher said, “after reading Gingermermaid’s, did it really seem like 25 pages?” And the class was like, “no! How magical!” And he was like, “style…blah blah blah…genius…blah blah blah…A+++++” or something along those lines, I’m sure of it.

Look, I’m no Thomas Hardy (my personal favorite) or Shakespeare (thank goodness) or Suzanne Collins (nom nom nom games), I’m just me. A girl with a degree in English who works in the unrelated topics of the Middle East and Africa, who disregards the grammar rules that I don’t agree with (or remember), and a girl who should never ever teach English to anybody—ever. A girl with a blog I can abuse with words.

 

This better not suck

I’m a literature nerd. If I could, I would read all the books all the time. Especially of the Victorian Persuasion (bedumchhhh!).

One of my most favorite-est-est books in the entire universe is Far From the Madding Crowd by the stupendous Thomas Hardy. I love this book so much, in fact, that I’m naming my yet-to-be-born-son after the protagonist in the story—Gabriel. No lie.

A week before I found out I was preggers, I turned to my then unknowing boyfriend (now husband), “If we ever have a son, can we name him Gabriel because I want him to be exactly like this character in this book I read.”

He agreed, and how fortuitous! A week later we found out little Baby Gabey was growing inside my belly. Destiny.

Anyway, I digress. Because I love this book so much and could reread it a million times enjoying it each and every turn, I’m deeply afeared for a new rendition of a film version set to come out next year. Look, I know there are already films of this movie in existence, but you know how it goes in this day and age, get some cutie petutie actors, sexualize the plot, take the understated and overstate it, and bang! the movie fails the book and thus makes the book less than its former, virginal self.

It doesn’t help matters that the only line of the description (as seen on IMDB) of the movie so far is: “A beautiful young woman maintains a relationship with three very different men.” Seriously?! That’s the take-away?!

Look, I’m sure it will become further descriptive like: “Based (or loosely based) on the novel by Victorian author, Thomas Hardy, this story is about a beautiful, vain woman who captures the hearts of three very different men that go in three very different ways.”

Bleck. Stupid movie makers.

Carey Mulligan will play the part of Bathsheeba Everdeen. Just don’t make her blonde and I don’t know if I truly care who plays the role. I realize Bathsheeba’s character metemorphasizes throughout the story, but she’s not the most lovable literary figure, most of the story she’s a stupid early 20-something brat (in my opinion, and one in which I could relate to [minus the farming part]). But Gabriel Oak—he’s the man. Perhaps I glorify him far too much, or maybe even the book makes him out to be too honorable and good with just enough flaw, but seeing the actor playing him doing a sub par job (which, honestly, even a perfect actor acting it perfectly wouldn’t meet my standards, so sorry, Matthias Schoenaerts) would ruin much of Madding for me.

But alas! I am also intrigued! I want to see it! I’m terrified that the imaginary world I’ve created will be destroyed by the world cinema will create, but I’m still ever so curious. It’s the price paid whenever any book is made into a movie. All of a sudden, Bathsheeba doesn’t look like the one I imagined, but Carey Mulligan. The town of Weatherbury no longer appears like it did in my mind from Hardy’s description, but from the set created to shoot the film.

Even worse, the plot deviates. All of a sudden, that “kiss” that Seargant Troy and Bathsheeba shared is now outright fornication in a field…before wedlock! Boldwood and Troy now get into a gruesome fight at the Christmas party that ends in arms and legs being tossed off and about like Mr. Potato Head parts. Worse yet, now Fanny comes back from the dead as a zombie craving the brains of Oak’s sheep.

I’m just worried that what I consider perfection will be tainted, not just for me, but for everybody. No one has to love the book like I do. No one has to love T. Hardy like I do. But no one should bastardize literature when it can be helped. Hollywood has done that too many times already. How many more books must suffer? I think I’ll start a nonprofit, “Save the Book: Stop Filming.”

Then again, perhaps someone will see the film and be like, “wow, this Tom guy had something going. I’m going to pick up Far From the Madding Crowd, and also, this Jude the Obscure thing looks pretty swell. Hmmmm, maybe I should look into those Bronte sisters I hear so much about too.”

In the interim, just in case the movie destroys a part of the magical literary pedestal I place this book on, I’m going to reread it over and over again. As if I wasn’t already doing that…

Let’s get Oscar Wilde!

Yes, “let’s get Oscar Wilde!” This is what my boyfriend envisioned my college spring break shenanigans entailed. I get it, I was an English major and reading is super cool, but, come on, I wasn’t that nerdy…

I mentioned that I recently acquired a Kindle, a decision not easily made, but due to my re-kindled (bedumchhhhh) love of reading, my book supply simply couldn’t keep up with my page turning, so-to-speak.

In exploring new opportunities for literary magic to download to my Kindle, I came across many of those lists saying things like, “100 Books to Read Before You Die” and “50 Books Every 28-year-old Redhead MUST Read.” I look at these lists, and think, “eh.”

While there are books that are absolute literary genius, it’s tough to choose one genre, one era, one author, one title, or even several of the same and make it a “must read before death” quota. Reading is subjective and some of those classics and bestsellers are just not for everyone.

I’ve read Wuthering Heights twice, not on my own volition, it had something to do with passing classes in college. Look, I understand the Bronte sisters were far ahead of their time, and blah blah blah, and I really like Jane Eyre and Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but Wuthering Heights? I did NOT like it. I wouldn’t even go as far to say, “OMG, you should read Wuthering Heights cuz it’s like a classic and stuff.” There is so much else out there to read, and while I appreciate the kind of book it is, I would’ve been living just as well, if not better, having not ever read it. I’d probably be less angry at Emily Bronte, for example.

As much as I hate these lists, I still like to peruse them for something new ideas or a, “yeah, I really should read that” moment. I should at least investigate what all the hubbub is about.

My modus operandi with books is that if I’m halfway through and I’m not enjoying it, I put it away. So I’m sorry highly recommended A Staggaring Work of Exceptional Genius, I get that you’re a good book, but halfway through, it wasn’t working out. It’s not you, it’s me. But there’s too much else out there to dive into that I’d enjoy much, much more to waste my time on a book I’m less than thrilled about. Thanks, anyway.

So, to contradict much of what I’ve mentioned in this post, I do have a list of books I think people should read—wait, let me rephrase—a list of recommendations.

East of Eden – John Steinbeck (…and ANYTHING by John Steinbeck, man is a genius)

Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay

Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

Tess of the D’urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Scarlett Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Curious Incident of the Dog – Mark Haddon

Empire Falls – Richard Russo

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

The Collected Works of Algernon Blackwood – Algernon Blackwood (I couldn’t choose just one titillating story!)

Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls (I still cry thinking of that book)

The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (soooo captivating, come on!)

The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Giver – Lois Lowry

Look, there are many more great books I could recommend, even more I don’t recommend, and there are a great many great books I’m waaaaaaaay past due to read that should be on this list. So, this summer, while my friends are getting drunk till 3am on a Friday night, I will be snuggled up with my cat and Kindle till the witching hour, catching up on all the books I can digest in a marathon reading, saving some money and brain cells, and waking up with only a literature hangover.

Things are going to get Oscar Wilde.

The Kindle: I have turned to the Darkside and I like it

Hey Gingermermaid, this way to evil and fun! Follow me to KindleWorld!

Hey Gingermermaid, this way to evil and fun! Follow me to KindleWorld!

Gasp! I know, right?

Gingermermaid, lover of books, page-i-liscious books, has converted into a Kindle owner. Dun dun duuuuuuuun!

Look, I have millions of excuses as to the switch-over, and I am happy to say, it has nothing to do with peer pressure—a statement which is only partially factual.

For years, I have fought this e-book trend. It’s sad to lose the magic of floppy paperbacks, the bulkiness of Harry Potter-sized hard covers, and the crisp folds of dog-eared pages. It feels like an insult to all the writers and readers before us and, yet again, another object in life digitalized.

But it’s the evolution of life. There used to be a time when books needed their pages sliced in order to proceed to the next page. Did pro-page slicers protest books that no longer required such arduous, manual reading skills? I suspect they did not.

My tipping point came recently—I’d venture to say a little over a week ago recently. I’ve been on a reading binge and I’m currently assembling 100 books I’d like to read that is not one of those stupid “100 Books I MUST Read Before Sinking 6 Feet Under” but a list of books I want to read and I believe are worthwhile reads and will be read in my own time (let’s do this, Dr. Seuss). I’m a fast reader, so I think I can move through the list Jonathan Swiftly (ha ha, I’m lame).

The reality is there are a great many books available as e-books and a great many of these are free. Free. FREE. Which means, I get to read Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and many more for no cost and without needing to leave the comfort of a reading chair. That butt doesn’t grow itself, after all. Aside from works not obligated to copyright, and thus free, there are other, more modern books heavily discounted or at zero cost in e-book form. I just downloaded a book by Ronald Malfi, whom I never read before but was recommended as a great writer of horror. It’s not like it cost anything to own and I have plenty of bookshelf space in my e-library, so why not give it a go?

I’m such a sell-out. Shame.

Aside from easy and cheap access to books (get your mind out of the gutter), the Kindle is small, light-weight, and contains thousands of pages everywhere I tote it. I’m going to Israel for work in a few weeks, and I don’t have to bring five different books to read on the trip; I can have my copy of Mice and Men, Far From the Madding Crowd, and The Great Gatsby with me and I don’t have to check it as excess carry-on baggage.

Furthermore, I have access to local libraries (way to adapt libraries!) and can check out books from the comfort of my home like I would a physical book. Cost-effective, time-effective.

Look, I do cherish the physical manifestation of a book, and I’d love first editions of my favorite books, and if I can’t get a first edition, I want a copy of that book to snuggle with at night. How could I ever justify not owning Anne of Green Gables? I wouldn’t even be able to look at myself in the mirror.

I know I said the tipping point that broke me had to do with a reading binge, blah blah blah. I must confess, it also largely had to do with my 7-year-old niece who received a Kindle for her birthday earlier this month and knew how to master it before I even knew there were buttons on the basic device. She cannot outdo me. She’s already received an excellence in literature interpretation in the first grade and all I had was a purple dress with a big, stupid bow on it. It’s on, little Ruby.

I may be rocking this ensembles, made phenomenal by the white sneakers, but at my Author's Tea in grade 1, I was only able to present a story about a family of trolls, and here my niece can already interpret my story and read it on a Kindle. Gotta keep up.

I may be rocking this ensemble, made phenomenal by the white sneakers, but at my Author’s Tea in grade 1, I was only able to present a story about a family of trolls, and here my niece can already interpret my story and read it on a Kindle. Gotta keep up.