What I Read – The Marriage Plot

When I first read the synopsis for this book, I wasn’t impressed. It sounded a lot like chick lit. Don’t get me wrong, it is a genre I adore, but I expect so much more from Jeffery Eugenides. He’s responsible for two of my favourite books: The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, and since those are the only two novels he’s published, I was anticipating something epic with The Marriage Plot.

After reading the novel, I can tell you, it was not epic, and seemed a lot like chick lit.

The story centers around Madeline, an English major with a keen interest in the marriage themes in classic English literature. After college graduation she is finds herself in a love triangle with two of her former classmates. One is brilliant, but intense and struggles with mental illness, while the other is more spiritual, grounded, and pines for her from afar. The narrative follows the three though their first year after graduation from their ivy league college in the early 1980s.

If this had been written by anyone else, I would not have been just a little bit disappointed. Although this was a actually great novel, it just wasn’t extraordinary like his other stories. It was still enjoyable to read though, but if you’re a fan of Jeffrey Eugenides, you’ll find it’s not quite the kind of book you’d expect.

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What I Read – Wild

This is another book club selection that I wouldn’t have touched on my own. My concern was that it would be an Eat, Pray, Love type thing. I did not enjoy Eat Pray Love. In fact, I disliked it so much that despite my unwavering adoration for Julia Roberts, I couldn’t even get though more than 10 minutes of the film version. Thankfully, this was not the contrived, self indulgent, publishing house sponsored, spiritual quest I’d expected. Instead, it was an honest memoir about overcoming grief and renewing one’s sense of self.

A true story, Cheryl Strayed took to the Pacific Crest Trail in the mid 1990s, alone, to find herself. It was a ballsy undertaking, especially since she was a relatively inexperienced hiker. However, she was broke, recently orphaned, divorced, and had dropped out of college. On top of it all, she was struggling with substance abuse issues. She really didn’t have anything to lose.

What I personally I took away from this book was a slight pang of deep-seated regret. There’s a part of me that wishes I’d done something amazing and bold when I was young and capricious. I watched many of my friends take off on adventures, often to other continents, after we graduated from University. I stayed behind, working my ass off at soul crushing, minimum wage jobs, never quite getting ahead, while I tried to figure out what to do with my life. I would never change for a minute, where I ended up today, but I sometimes wish I’d had the courage to try something monumental along that journey. Not this exactly, but something.

It was exciting to live vicariously though Cheryl though. Her pilgrimage to reclaim her life was inspiring. It was an enjoyable book to read.

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Books vs. Movies

I was just checking out the movies being released this fall, and I was so disappointed to learn The Great Gatsby has been postponed until summer 2013. It’d been previously advertised as coming out this Christmas and I’d been really looking forward to the winter release. I’ve always loved the 1970s version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, and as I’ve often mentioned, I have a bit of an obsession with all things 1920s. Plus, I’m a fan of Baz Luhrmann’s movies. If the trailer is any indication of what I can expect, his take on the story will be stunning and surreal.

While I am a lover of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels, The Great Gatsby is my least favourite, so I don’t have the overly protective attitude about it, like some fans of his work. I do understand why those who love literature don’t get excited about film adaptations of novels though. There’s nothing worse than seeing a beloved book turned into a crappy movie. It’s so rare that a novel can be translated into a motion picture that captures the spirit of a story without destroying what you’d already created within your own imagination.

One example that immediately comes to mind is The Time Traveler’s Wife. I loved the book, then saw the movie, and immediately wished I hadn’t. It was horribly miscast, confusing, and they left out some of my favorite story lines. In that case, the movie not only didn’t do the novel justice, but it actually ruined it for me.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes great movies can me made from wonderful books.

These are some of my favourite adaptations:

This was an eerily beautiful book and somehow Sophia Coppola managed to capture that on screen. There were a few subtle differences in the story from the book to the movie, but not enough to really bother me. I thought it was a brilliant.

This is one of my favourite books ever, and despite the liberties that were taken with the story in the movie version (for example: the story was set in an entirely different country from the book), I still loved them both equally.

Come to think of it, this one probably doesn’t count because I saw the movie before I read the book. I have an overwhelming preference for the movie though.

I didn’t see the American version of this one, but the European film was one of the best movie adaptations of a book I’ve ever seen. In fact, if you haven’t read the book already – skip it. Just watch the movie. It’s subtitled, and like, a million hours long, so there’s still going to be plenty of reading.

Have you ever seen a movie you’ve enjoyed as much as the book?

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