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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First, The Book

Here's something annoying about being a movie geek. When I see a movie adapted from a book before reading the book, I frequently have trouble visualizing characters the author describes without seeing the actors who portrayed the characters. How do you escape doing this?

Most novels I read end up being cast in my head; doesn't matter if they ever end up as films. And if they do get made, my casting choices rarely match the end product - also doesn't matter. The process of imagining someone in a role based on an author description is fun and fodder for my creative mill. But reading "The Heart is A Lonely Hunter" (Carson McCullers) recently for the first time, I found it difficult to get Alan Arkin, who portrayed John Singer in the film, out of my head. Same thing happened to me a few months ago while reading Jacquelyn Mitchard's excellent novel "The Deep End of the Ocean". Though I tried not to get distracted, I found the faces of Michelle Pfeiffer, Treat Williams and Whoopi Goldberg occasionally interrupting the narrative line of that book as I read it.

The silver lining? When a movie closely adheres to a book, like the film adaptations of both the McCullers and Mitchard novels, story and characters stay with me longer. I guess that's a fair trade for being a movie geek. Still, David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas" is in my current reading queue, to be finished before watching the recent film. Which is your preferred order?

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