Books I Couldn’t Finish is a very sporadic feature where I talk about the books I couldn’t finish.
Today’s book is The Princess Bride, which I was going to include in my last Books I Couldn’t Finish post. I decided not to (well, clearly, because it is its own post) because 1- that post was getting a bit lengthy, and 2- I actually have some things to say about why I couldn’t finish it, so it definitely warranted its own post.
The Princess Bride is a true fantasy classic. William Goldman describes it as a “good parts version” of “S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.” Morgenstern’s original was filled with details of Florinese history, court etiquette, and Mrs. Morgenstern’s mostly complimentary views of the text. Much admired by academics, the “Classic Tale” nonetheless obscured what Mr. Goldman feels is a story that has everything: “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”
Why I Couldn’t Finish It:
First, I have to start off why I read it. It was basically a required reading that some friends “assigned” to me back in May, and since I’ll read pretty much anything someone recommends, I figured I’d at least try it.
And promptly failed. I did give it a good effort, and actually kept going a bit longer than I really wanted to. I really wanted to like it, especially since it’s a favorite of one friend. And actually, I’ve seen it on a bunch of Top Ten Tuesdays, so that was another reason why I wanted to read it.
The biggest problem is that I’ve seen the movie. I actually didn’t know there was a book. I don’t remember how I found out there was a book, but somehow I did.
Seeing the movie isn’t a problem. Well, normally, it’s not a problem. I try to see the movie first and then read the book whenever possible. That did not work with The Princess Bride. I haven’t seen the movie in forever, but I found that a lot of the book made it into the movie. I kept picturing the movie whenever I was reading the book. I just found myself skimming…and skimming…and skimming to get to the parts that I didn’t remember from the movie. I dreaded picking up, and pretty much had to force myself into reading it. I was bored…and I had my moments where I was wondering why I was reading the book when I had seen the movie- to me, that’s how closely they matched. The two did seem identical, but please take that with a grain of salt, as I haven’t seen the movie in a while. But that really is how it seemed to me.
And…the book really seemed like it came after the movie, so I was quite surprised to learn that the movie was based on the book. To me, it read like a cute tie-in. Like, with the t.v. show Castle. Now, I don’t watch Castle, but I remember something about an actual book written by the fictional character. Or even Meg Cabot writing a romance novel as Mia Thermopolis. That’s kind of the feel I got from the book- let’s write the book the grandpa was reading in the movie. And it’s not a bad thing at all, that’s just my impression of what I read.
I will say that I like the idea of the book- a guy hunting down his favorite childhood book and re-writing it so that only the good parts are in the book. It’s an interesting way to tell a story, but I could have done without the side-notes. And, I kind of hate to say this (but not really) but The Princess Bride worked so much better as a movie than a book.
To Sum Up:
The Princess Bride didn’t work as a book for me, and I think the structure of it worked better in the movie than in the book. Even though I couldn’t get into, I’m still glad I gave it a try.