POSTED September 17 2015

See the movie. And then read the book(s).

Editor Sarah Weinman's Library of America anthology

Editor Sarah Weinman’s Library of America anthology

Ever since Barry Levinson’s adaptation of The Natural was announced as I was, coincidentally, reading Bernard Malamud’s novel, I have mostly stuck by this rule: If I had read the book before I heard it was being made into  a movie, fine. But if I had not yet read the novel or short story, I would wait until after I had seen and reviewed said film before reading the book. Didn’t want to get tangled up in how different the adaptation was from its source material. (The one exception to this rule was reading the Fitzgerald short story, “Benjamin Button,” before the Fincher adaptation was released. Can’t remember why I made the exception.)

Recently the wonderful folks at Library of America have published editor Sarah Weinman’s two-volume anthology of Women Crime Writers.  (One volume covers the 1940s; the other the 1950s.) I’ve been reading them as though they were a jumbo bag of kettle chips — compulsively, like the characters in the novels themselves.

Some of the novels anthologized, like Vera Caspary’s Laura and Dorothy B. Hughes’ In a Lonely Place are the basis of noir movies that I love. Now I love the original versions — which are quite different from their adaptations — as much as I love the films. Highly recommend volume 1. I have yet to tear into volume 2.

Do you have any rules about reading book before seeing movie? My pet literary adaptation is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Yours?


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