Thursday, August 28, 2008

Books: The Movie

I love books and I love movies, so I'm always interested when the former become the latter. I know plenty of people who moan over it, but I don't.

For one thing it often brings people to books they may have otherwise forgotten or overlooked. The Coolidge Corner Theater recently played the new adaptation of Brideshead Revisited and we've sold more copies of that title in six weeks than we did all of last year.

I also think you can like the book better (you'll always like the book better!) but still find a lot of value in the film. I remember getting into a pretty fierce argument with a friend over an adaptation of Mansfield Park. She argued that the director had totally misunderstood and abused Austen's characters and as a result she absolutely hated the film. In some ways she was right--the Fanny Price of the movie was a very different heroine than she was in the book. But I still loved it. I enjoyed what it was for what it was and I appreciated that it made me reexamine the book, what I liked about it and how I understood it.

I got to thinking about all this as Wednesday's Publishers Lunch posted an item from The Hollywood Reporter about a kerfuffle regarding the series of movies in the works based on Tintin. I hadn't even realized movies were being made! And the kerfuffle is over whether Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson is directing? I'm smiling either way.

What do you think about movie adaptations? Do you have any favorite (or hated!) book-to-movie translations?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Books for Babies

I was looking at the new deals on Publishers Marketplace and saw that Leslie Patricelli and Candlewick have signed a deal for them to publish more of her board books. Yay!

I love to recommend Leslie Patricelli's colorful and funny books about opposites (such as Quiet Loud, Big Little, and Yummy Yucky) when people are looking for baby shower gifts. They make a great counterpoint to classics such as Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar that every other guest is bringing. Why not something different?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Past into Present

I had a really great conversation with a customer recently--we were talking about The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, which contains two parallel stories, one set in the past and one in the present. The 19th century storyline revolves around the true (but fictionalized ) story of Anne Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young's many wives and a crusader for the abolition of Mormon polygamy. In the present day Jordan Scott, the son of the 19th wife of a current polygamist must try to exonerate his mother, who is accused of murdering her spouse.

I really enjoyed the book but mentioned that I much preferred the historical storyline to the contemporary and we were talking about how novels that attempt to carry on two storylines often have a hard time balancing both--one tends to come out much stronger. However, I have to propose one book that strikes a perfect balance: Possession by A.S. Byatt. One of my all-time favorite novels, Possession alternates between a pair of Victorian poets and the present-day scholars who research them.

What are your favorite novels that successfully bridge the divide between parallel storylines?