Too damned soon. Don’t know what else to think or say. I feel a little shattered.
The aforementioned Biz Stone has a link to the movie site for Plan B, which happens to be the title of one of the most disarmingly entertaining books i’ve read in the past year. A cursory glance at the site would seem to indicate that it doesn’t have anything to do with the book, which sucks, because i was really hoping for a movie version of it! The book is essentially the story of five friends who are all about to turn 30 while still being totally miserable and unadult. One of them happens to be a movie star, and his cocaine addiction brings the five of them together for some arson, car accidents, fisticuffs in the middle of the road, and sex. Just pretend that Joey on Friends was slightly more intelligent and a much better actor, and then you might have an idea of the relationships all of the other characters have to each other. Anyhow, i was really excited for a second there. Also, Biz Stone seems to rock, so go read him.
There’s a Tori Amos song from Boys for Pele called “Marianne” that is a partially fictionalized account of a girl that Tori used to be good friends with. The song portrays Marianne as a suicide, but to hear Tori tell the story she was just a beautiful girl who was too engrossed with the wrong people and eventually succumbed to some sort of overdose while she was still in highschool.
Recently a large discussion on Precious Things erupted over the details of the situation … people wanted to know who Marianne really was. While their interest was rather non-threatening at first, some members of the community kept on pushing … when the overdose was mentioned by someone who is familiar with Tori’s hometown community some people immediately wanted to know what the overdose was on and the circumstances it was under, and i found myself thinking … Is that fair? It’s none of our business who this girl was, and we only know anything about it because Tori decided to divulge something about her so that the song could be viewed fully in the context of what occurred in actual life. But, just because Tori wrote a song about Marianne doesn’t make her life public record, despite what some of the more obsessive fans seem to be thinking.
It’s like… i’m reading a book about a woman that Goethe wrote a novel about, and it’s all about how everyone hounds her over forty years later because of what they assume her to be from Goethe’s work, when she never intended to be written about in the first place. It’s one thing to open yourself to close examination by making yourself famous, but that doesn’t give the public a right to scour your entire life for the people who have motivated and inspired you – and to impose upon them similar treatment. It’s not quite the same with someone who’s passed away, because they don’t have to endure the inquisitive public but they do have to suffer the constant pressure against the memories people have of them.
I don’t mind the plotting out of my own Behind the Music, but i don’t know if i’m comfortable with the idea that every album of songs i write opens up the door for someone to track down the person they’re about decades later… it’s especially unfair when that person doesn’t even know what sort of inspiration they’re causing. Oh well… something for all of you overly chatty storyteller songwriters to think about…
There’s really no point in my buying books anymore. Or maybe there is. It’s gotten to the point where purchasing and reading a book nearly equates to buying and watching a movie; i should probably just rent either the first time to see if they’re worth the expense. Reading a book is now totally analogous to watching a movie for me; if i don’t get through all of it in a sitting or two i’m tempted to just give up on it, and if i like it a lot i’ll gladly go back to it as soon as time allows.
I don’t ever remember reading a book twice back-to-back. A book is the sort of thing you have to digest, and let swirl around in your brain until you reconcile it nicely. There’s no point in going back so soon to read each and every one of the words again. Reading is an experience controlled by the reader, and as much as i can stop at a sentence written in Italian to translate it word for word i can just as easily gloss past it as well as the boring chapter that follows. Movies don’t allow such a luxury; movies are a medium that the viewer has no power over. We have freeze frame, and rewind, but we can’t slow the action without distorting the medium in which the story is told
Or, maybe you don’t believe me and you’re pretty quick on the trigger with your slo-mo button. I just read approximately 1400 pages in four days and i’m wholly dissatisfied. 1400 is two days worth, at the most. Or, i could have sat down and watched the three movies back to back in under nine hours. Usually i’d say that i wouldn’t have appreciated them nearly as much that way, but this time i’m not so sure.
Quick and biased remarks on the novels of Thomas Harris: Red Dragon – 6/10, badly plotted and lacking suspense where it should possess it. Silence of the Lambs – 8/10, practically a shooting script and excellently constructed. Hannibal – 4/10, several hours of my life that wouldn’t have necessarily been spent better but that i’ll never get back either. It’s not necessary to read them sequentially, but you should at least watch Silence before reading Hannibal.
I read too fast for my own damned good. Yesterday i decided to go on a smallish shopping spree with my credit card to see how close i could get to maxing it out without being rejected from purchasing something. In the madness, i hit Borders and picked up Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon and a sweet oversized edition of Silence of the Lambs. I’m not sure what suddenly spurred this in me, but recently my girlfriend’s roommate has been powering through Lambs, and i always meant to read it, and i sorta want to go see Hannible. So, i suppose the plan was to get through the two of them soon enough to buy a non-movie edition of Hannibal to read before i go see the flick in a weekend or two. Or, as it turns out, maybe this weekend.
First of all, you have to understand my unholy hatred of movie-edition paperbacks. I hate them. Hate them. While having the image of a main character to aid me in visualization is always helpful, i’ve endured too many ugly movie-photos like the ones on the covers of The Beach or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, both of which previously featured superb cover work. Even worse, the new edition of Hannibal doesn’t even use the creepy zombie-like picture of Anthony Hopkins from the movie posters – instead it substitutes some awful and nearly amusing picture of him preening with a large straw hat on. It isn’t too threatening.
Borders had two copies of the non-movie edition, but i didn’t want to get ahead of myself. Paperbacks cost quite a lot now ($8 for a paperback? Does anyone else miss the 90’s yet?), and i didn’t want to sink nearly $30 into three books that i might not even like. So, i bought Red Dragon so i could finally read it & Silence of the Lambs, which looks nice if nothing else. I finished the dense 450 page Dragon in under 20 hours of intermittent reading; started around 4pm yesterday and completed noon today with rehearsal, sleep, and class coming inbetween. I was proud of myself. I’ve been known to finish 500 page books in well under eight hours in the past, but i tend to lose my momentum when i don’t read a large book all in a single sitting.
So far my impression is that Thomas Harris is a tremendous writer but a nearly equally inconsistent author who relies on too many plot devices and explicit histories in the place of actual suspense and horror. Much as in the movie of Silence of the Lambs, where you become excited by the chase rather than the whodunnit, this novel reveals the killer early on and becomes a book as much about him as about the protagonist (who’s a much better character). The protagonist is vivid, logical, and entangles himself and the reader frighteningly deep into each murder. On the other hand, the killer’s history is boring, contrived, evokes little pity, and surprisingly does nearly nothing to set the reader up for his near schizophrenic behaviour near the end of the novel. In fact, the book took a downturn as soon as it dropped the pretense and mainly focused on the murderer. And, i’ll never look at dentures the same way again.
Lambs is 350 pages in super-oversized soft-cover format, and it looks to be a bit more firmly put-together than Dragon. And, of course, it has a lot more of Hannibal Lecter in it. One thing i’ll hand to Harris as an author is that he crafted the ultimate chiller of a villain in Hannibal; in his new forward to the first novel he portrays the writing of Lecter’s first scene as though he viewed it from a corner where he was huddled in fear the entire time, fending off the urge to bolt out the door as well as the cackling of other inmates in the asylum. His description of writing Hannibal seems apropos, because i would hardly expect someone to deliberately conjure this sort of killer from the depths of their own imagination. A monster is hard to create, and much easier to develop in small strides as he crawls into the cracks of your psyche and makes you scared to even write him. Lecter definitely had that effect on his author, and now i can hardly wait to get Silence of the Lambs out of the way so i can run back to Borders tomorrow to buy a lovely copy of Hannibal.
Who knows, i might even wind up seeing it this weekend…
Okay, so, after further reading the book comes off like an 18th century blog written by yours truly about his latest obsession. As long as i think of the poor bi-polar lad as a former version of myself it keeps things interesting. Of course, i might have to stop employing that little technique once he gets suicidal…