Monday, February 23, 2009

Books trump movies

In just about every instance, I prefer the book to the movie.

Some are equally good ("Gone with the Wind," "Rebecca," "Mystic River"), but I can't think of any I liked more. And I'm always amazed at people who will sit transfixed by a more than two-hour long film but would never sit with a book for that long.

I say they don't know what they're missing.

While a director's take on a novel is certainly interesting, to me it's just his - or her - view, and I prefer to form my own opinions of the work, not passively sit through someone else's.

It's just as easy to lose yourself in a good novel as it is a good movie. You do "forget" you're reading after a while. (For comparison's sake, when "watching" "Passion of the Christ" I forgot I was essentially reading subtitles. That's what a good story will do.)

Which leads me to "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" coming to HBO. The series is just seven episodes, and the pilot is drawing attention as the last work of director Anthony Minghella.

A friend of mine turned me on to this series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith with its unforgettable lead character, Precious Ramotswe. I've only read the first four books in the series but the rest are on my list. You wouldn't think there'd be much connection between a Botswana detective and an Ohio editor, but you'd be surprised (I sure was).

It's even "What People Are Talking About" according to Vogue magazine! (Not sure that's a ringing endorsement for those of us who don't summer in the Hamptons and spend thousands on this season's it bag, but whatever.)

So, while I don't have HBO and likely will never see this series, perhaps because of it some HBO viewers may pick up the novels and discover their own connections with this unlikely heroine.

- Tricia Ambrose

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