Recently I’ve read two older books that I wouldn’t normally have picked up to read: The Godfather by Mario Puzo and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Below this line there may be significant spoilers, if you think you want to read these books and never have before just stop reading now.
I read Fahrenheit 451 after a friend posted on Facebook that he’d never read it, having never read it myself and having Mr. Bradbury die recently I thought I’d better see what all the fuss was about. I hadn’t read any synopsis of the story and only went into it with the knowledge of Ray Bradbury being a sci-fi guy so I had an open mind – I’d learned long ago that just because it’s science fiction doesn’t mean it’s good. What I found was a world where firemen don’t put out fires anymore, they start them. They burn houses that have books and if there are people inside those houses that wont move then the people burn too. It’s the story of one particular fireman who starts to think… that’s it, he meets this strange girl who proposes silly questions to him that start his mind working again. When he goes home that night his wife has taken a bottle of pills and the emergency crews come and resuscitate her and tell him they deal with a few of those each night, nothing to be worried about, sure enough the next day the wife has no idea what he’s talking about and just wants to watch her series in the “room”. There is a lot more to the story, but that’s where it starts.
The story is really quite good, very short and I recommend you pick it up if you’ve never read it. For me it was a reflection on modern times of all the brainless zombies watching TV and longing to be entertained but unwilling to think for themselves and those that do think for themselves are taken away and made to conform to the norm. It touches on all aspects of society today – young kids with no supervision, government officials and media squashing the truth, millions of brain addled glued to the TV. Go pick it up, you’ll thank me later and you know what? You might see something totally different from I did, and that’s perfectly OK. Authors love that, well I think they do anyway, I’d rather someone see what they want to see in one of my stories instead of seeing only what I want – your imagination could make mine look like a nanobyte.
Also on Facebook I saw a link listing top movies of all time and realized I’ve never seen The Godfather so I posted that and asked if it was a necessity. Quite a few folks said I should see it, and my friend Chip said: “The movies.. especially the first are great.. The book.. is wonderful.. Read it.. you’ll thank me later..” So I purchased it on my Kindle app and entered a rich world of characters, stories, connections… it was beautiful the way it was laid out and each piece fit so well together. I went in expecting to be bored, I mean what do I care about mobsters? The storytelling was just phenomenal and I kept wondering what was going to happen to characters with each turn of the electronic page. I didn’t want to like any of the characters to start out with but I ended up really just being a part of the story. I started it on a Sunday and was finished on a Thursday – I was in the middle of a hundred different things and only had a chance to read most of it at night before drifting to sleep.
Now, having read it I thought that I’d probably better see the movie to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve made it through half of the movie so far and I really am not very happy watching. There are so many rich details from the book that didn’t come through the parts I’ve seen. So many scenes that defined a character or a reaction that weren’t there at all before a pivotal scene. I know what you’re thinking… The book is always better than the movie. But this was really lackluster in comparison to what I’ve seen done with movies – the Lord of the Rings Trilogy for example was a beautiful transition from page to screen and I felt I could state word for word the lines I expected to be coming. The Watchmen is another story that was done really well (yes, they screwed up some of the stories for odd reasons, but) it stuck remarkably well to the book. I guess that’s what I was really hoping to see. If you’re going to name a movie one of the top 10 of all time, I would expect more than what I’ve seen so far of it… Some have said “you have to watch the second one, that fills in a lot of what your talking about” Well, that’s not really what I had hoped to do… I think the first one made the list, not the second one.
Maybe someday I’ll try to watch the movie again when the book isn’t so fresh in my mind, but I think it’s a shame that this much goodness wasn’t better. Some might be offended, but hey it’s what I thought so bite me.
One thought on “Great Reads”
I read both of those books many years ago and enjoyed them tremendously. I also watched the Godfather. The first two are good the last one is not.