Today's mystery guest is Meg Leder, a diehard bibliophile and Brooklynite with a marked distaste for all things Tom Hanks. Like a modern-day Samuel Pepys, her blog is an inspired, often amusing take on both the mundane and the profound. She is equal parts cynic and idealist, and her erudition doesn't get in the way of her being deliciously TV-and-pop-culture obsessed. Today, she offers up a list of which adaptations should never be (or never have been) made. In other words, she'll just say "Hanks, but no Hanks," to the following:
Literary Adaptations I Never Want to See and/or See Made
100 Years of Solitude: It’s a sprawling, beautiful insane book, and to squeeze that into two hours of film would be a mistake. See, for example, the disastrous adaptation of Isabelle Allende’s House of the Spirits. They combined two amazing great Latin American women characters into the singular non-Latin American Wynona Ryder. Enough said.
A Prayer for Owen Meany: Half of the beauty of this book comes from Irving’s INSANE USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS ANY TIME OWEN TALKS. Owen is a nutty and wonderful character, and for anyone to cast him would be a mistake. What if they picked someone annoying? What if they picked someone not quirky?
Feast of Love and anything else by Charles Baxter: Yes, The Feast of Love is out now. And I’m sure it’s lovely. And I’m happy Mr. Charles Baxter is making some money from this. But. I don’t want to see anything on the screen that’s been adapted from the works of my favorite writer. His words are beautiful! How do you embody something like, “Her clocks ached” on the screen? Answer: You don’t. You’d lose all the beauty that is his writing.
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: This book put me in an existential funk for weeks. What could be more depressing, desolate, and heartbreaking than this grim, grim book? Um, seeing it on the screen. No thank you.
Literary Adaptations That Should Have Never Been Made
Demi Moore’s The Scarlet Letter: Hester Prynne getting rescued by Native Americans? What?
House of the Spirits: A travesty. Such an f’ing disaster for anyone who loved this book.
Daniel Day Lewis’s Last of the Mohicans: So, when I saw this movie, I didn’t mind it. It was sprawling, full of hot men, had sweeping romance and adventure… all the things a gullible teenage viewer like me loved at the time. Then, in grad school, I read the book. Where was hot, sweaty Daniel Day Lewis’s character? Where was the passionate embracing under a waterfall? What happened? All I got was Natty Bumpo, one of the most un-romantic, stupidly named characters ever. And while I didn’t like the book, I was angry at the movie for putting these stupid misperceptions in my head, thus ruining my experience of reading one of America’s classic pieces of literature.