Saturday, February 18, 2012

(Not) Reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Me, reading last week's book, and having
some Æbleskiver.
(Although, it has wheat and sugar, so I
didn't actually eat any.)
The New Book-of-the-Week
I feel like I am just reading words.  Like this book is in another language, and words after words keep logging into the spaces of my brain, but not congealing into anything that makes a lick of sense.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré is my third book this month.  After the reading success of my previous two weeks, I am feeling defeated as I am on the 4th day of this book and I have barely read 30 pages.  Maybe, after I get 50 more pages in, it will all start making sense.  That is if I remember any of these words I keep reading and rereading.  A big IF.

The Theme
I love a theme.  I don't know if I was always this way, but I noticed it cropping up when I hosted dinner parties.  If I am making Indian food, then it is all Indian, and as authentic as I can manage.  I love to find some Indian music and perhaps a drink from the country to add to the flavor.  Recently, at our Mother-Daughter book club, the host made Æbleskiver (a Danish donut kind of thing) because the book we read took place in Denmark.  I felt right at home, even thought I am not Danish nor do I think I could ever remember how to pronounce the sweet treat's name.

This is all to say, I created a theme for myself with the books.  I decided to read all books that had been made into movies.  I heard that my friend's teenage daughter scoffed a bit at my "movie" books, wondering if that is all I read.  I do read other books, actually besides one, I don't think I have read any other movie books. (Probably because I have not read many books at all.)  Right now, I wish I had picked any other book than the movie book I have next to my keyboard.

The worst part: it turns out reading books and then going to see the movie almost always sucks.  Jamie and I went to see The Descendants this week.  I was really, really looking forward to it.  We both were, because he had read the book too, and loved it.  Loved the BOOK, let's just be really clear about this.

We did NOT love the movie.  Within the first 30 seconds I was done.  The main character's wife is in a coma, and in the book her name is Joanie.  I grew to really like her name, it fit her personality, and I felt a little like I knew Joanie as they author took you back in time, before the accident.  Well, then there goes Goerge Clooney up on the big screen, playing Matt King, Joanie's husband, and what does he call her?  Elizabeth!  Really?  WTF is wrong with the name Joanie?

Beyond that, there were glaring differences, touching and important scenes left out and poor casting.  The best actor in the whole movie was the grandma that had dementia.  I have heard that people who have not read the book really liked the movie.  I say, good for you.  But I am glad I read the book, even if it meant having to sit through that terrible movie.

I doubt I'll even try to see the movie version of Extremely Loud & Incredible Close.  Even though everyone I know loves it.  After my Descendants experience, I seriously cannot imagine the brilliance of Foer's novel standing up to a screen version.

The Screen Diet
I have been true to my word on the screen diet.  I have seriously cut back on screen time.  I do find it difficult to keep track.  I wonder if there is a screen time version of a pedometer.  Keeping track of every blink of your online steps.  I suppose I could practice statistics by gathering information for my browsing history.  That sounds fun.

The phone is a tempting ground for cheating on my diet.  I have Facebook, email, Twitter...all of it right there letting me know every time something new has occurred.  It is harder to not pretend to myself that it doesn't count to check in real quick on my social media world via my phone.

The phone is always there.  Even in the car.  Just the other day, I *very softly* rear ended someone at a red light after I had looked at the photo on the screen saver for my phone.  I wasn't even doing anything with the phone while actually driving.   But glancing down at it at a red light was enough for me to be distracted, and not realize the person in front of me slammed on their brakes just after the light turned green.

The screen diet has been a catalyst to me making a commitment to not look at my phone in the car.  I am embarrassed to say that it is proving to be difficult.  But perhaps not as difficult as reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  Can't I just rent the TV series from the video store up the street and call it good?

Well, I won;t do that, so wish me good luck in finishing this spy book.  Why in the world did I pick a spy book from the 70's?  I think people who know me are probably wondering the same thing.



Agent M said...

Dude. I dig me a spy novel.....and I LOVED Tinker Taylor.....the book. Loved it. Read it about three years ago. Picked up another JleC a year ago just to try to get back into that world. He offers an escape. Read it in a British Accent in your head. Try to think like a spy. You may not like it, as art is subjective to the subject....but man I really liked it. Hugs.
Messieur Mathieu LeMaceo

Melissa Baumgart said...

Glad to hear you like it, and to get some inspiration. Last night, I read more than double what I had in three days and it is starting to gel a bit. I am kinda getting excited for it to make more sense, that's a good sign.