Friday, March 19, 2010

March Madness: The Movie vs. Book Smackdown

Why should basketball have all the fun? In honor of March Madness, here is the First Annual Movie vs. Book Smackdown Tournament. You decide who wins--the book or the movie version--and see which two works of art end up competing for all the marbles. You could end up with two books. You could end up with two movies. Or, in a genre-bending final, a book competing against a movie based on a different book!

This is just a small sampling of all the books that have acquired film aliases. It's a mix that offers two Jane Austens--one by Ang Lee and the other by Joe Wright--and two Joe Wrights, for that matter, with his Atonement possibly facing his Pride and Prejudice in the final. And there are two Keira Knightleys, thanks to Wright. The one, to me, obvious omission? W. Somerset Maugham, reportedly the author with the highest ever rate of book-to-movie adaptation among his works. The Painted Veil could have been in the Classics Division. Maybe next year.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Know Your Story: The Rector, The Waitress, and The Lion

On the refrigerator of the house we lived in in London more than a decade ago was a clipping from the “this day in history” section of The Independent:

1932: Harold Davidson, the rector of Stiffkey, is found guilty of disreputable association with women, after allegations that he made improper advances to a waitress in a Chinese restaurant. He died in 1937 after being mauled by a lion in Skegness.

I saved the clipping, thinking that though you can’t make this stuff up, I might try to make something out of it. For a long time, Harold Davidson’s sordid life was on my mental list of future writing projects. I toyed with possible plots and with various strategies for telling the story. Would it be an omniscient telling of the Rector’s, um, adventures? Would it be a post-modern tale (this was the 90s and I was on leave from a teaching job) embedded in some quirky frame narrative? Or would I use this poor man of the cloth as a vehicle for a commentary on patriarchy and imperialism (see above: 90s, teaching job)?