Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ah, Satisfaction

Well, first of all, I re-read Armistead Maupin's The Night Listener, the better to see the "subtle" differences between the book and the film. It was a fun read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I need not have bothered, because the differences between the movie and its source material are pretty much WRIT LARGE. I dragged a friend to the movie and we were, I kid you not, half the audience. I was puzzled by the thriller angle--I'm astonished that the travesty of misleading thousands of people isn't drama enough to fill a movie, but whatever. It wasn't at all what I expected. (New York???? I know Maupin has every right to leave San Francisco, but I find it dislocating. And of course, all humor had to go to make it a thriller... I missed it desperately.) But it was fine.

I also read a mystery that I really enjoyed. I've been resisting reading Kathy Reichs forever now. I watch "Bones," and I'm not ashamed to admit it. It's funny, the characters are all charming, and it's a good show. And everyone keeps telling me, oh, you'd love the books. Well, that makes me want to run for the hills. You have all this pressure to love the books, and people always tell you you're going to love things and you're just stunned sometimes by the things people recommend. As Holly Golightly says about the earrings men give her, "the mind reels." Someone told me that I would love Candace Bushnell, and her work occasionally gives me the dry heaves. So, I was skeptical.

I also retain more than a little skepticism about the mystery genre. I enjoy mysteries on television and in film, but the novels often leave me cold. Apart from Val McDermid's books, which I'd read if they were illegal, no detective has really lit my fire since Inspector Morse. Character development so often follows predictable marching orders (oh, the detective, so conflicted, so alone, so prone to post-traumatic stress disorder, so traditionally in the throes of addiction). Not that I'm slamming tradition--most of the time when you look at something good, you can see its roots going back at least a century--but I just find that most mysteries feel lifeless. If I want that kind of mental exercise, I'll go do a puzzle. Half of a good mystery is a good character, so either fork one over or send me to Web Sudoku.

And Tempe Brennan is conflicted and a recovering addict (named Temperance, naturally). She doesn't appear traumatized in the book (on "Bones" she does have a past trauma that she's handily sublimated into superachievement) and she's definitely not alone. Again, I find her working relationships far more erotic than the alleged eroticism I found in the vampire genre. I was also pleased to see that the book doesn't want anything to do with her television character's annoying ignorance of pop culture.

As for addiction, I'm now addicted to Kathy Reichs. I guess I'll have to pay my library fine, because I can't afford to pay for all her books, and I probably can't wait until I find them all for fifty cents.

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