This past month I read "Shoeless Joe" by W.P. Kinsella.
The book that inspired the movie "Field of Dreams."
A movie so magical it can help you tolerate Kevin Costner.Maybe it wasn't fair for me to read the book, comparing it to a movie that I enjoy so much. At the same time, it was a good exercise to force myself to complete the book even when I really didn't want to finish it. Obviously, I am not a literary critic, and Mr. Kinsella is a national treasure, so I do not want to come off as some kind of know-it-all, but it sure wasn't my favourite way to pass time. Many years ago, I had an English teacher that I respected greatly who would take every opportunity to extol the virtues of the written word over any movie. During one discussion, a student shared her opinion that the movies were simply the director's interpretation of the text. He replied with" Interesting. I just assumed they were wrong. Every time." So with that background, I tried to enjoy this book more than the movie and could not. First of all, watching a movie is just much more efficient. I can sit, enjoy the movie within a couple of hours and move on. Reading this book took so much more time and it wasn't practical to read the book from beginning to end in one sitting. I kept waiting to get to the "good parts" and when arriving there, never found that they were better than the way they were presented in the movie. In fact, I found that usually they were a bit of a let down. I don't think I should need to print "Spoiler Alert" for this. The movie was released in 1989, and has been played on television multiple times so if you haven't seen it yet, let me know and I'll lend you my VHS copy. I found that the book had too many characters who did not really add anything to the story. What does Ray's twin brother add? Nothing. I am glad that the director of the movie decided to cut this character. I don't think I could handle two Kevin Costners. The ending in the movie is a little different than the book as well. Events from the book are rearranged and I think that the movie ending is more cathartic for Ray, and more dramatic for the viewer than the book. The "He" who will come when Ray builds the field is so much better than Shoeless Joe Jackson. In the book, the "catcher" is revealed much earlier and Ray takes forever to gain the courage to greet him.
The biggest disappointment for me though, was the character of Annie (Ray's wife). In the movie, she is played by Amy Madigan and she is one of my favourite characters. She is funny, strong and supportive of Ray's dreams. In the book, while she supports Ray, she seems much more passive. One of my favourite scenes in the movie is when they go to the school to protest a book being banned by the school board. It is where you really learn about Annie and her passion. The scene is not in the book.
So rather than developing a strong female character, Mr. Kinsella has a group of unnecessary male characters that receive a lot of attention, but don't really add anything to the story.
The book did not capture my imagination the way the movie did. The book did not inspire me to travel to Iowa to see the "Field of Dreams" (it is a real place) the way the movie did. Maybe I am just more of a visual person than I thought I was, but this book just didn't do it for me.
At this point, I feel satisfied that I have achieved my goal so far of reading a book per month. It is harder to write about it than I thought it would be.
I have decided that I will read a business-related book next month. I am going to re-read "Getting to Yes" by Roger Fisher and William Ury. I say "re-read" because this is a book I scanned through back in University. It was on the reading list for a course, so I read through it to get as much info as I could in order to complete my assignments.
This time, the book will have a greater impact as it will help me to develop my sales and negotiation skills.
Have you ever forced yourself to finish a book that you weren't enjoying? Was it worth it?
What is the best / worst movie adaptation you have seen?