Books, Movies, and Realism

I am working a review for tomorrow, but in the meantime read this excellent Dan Green post that discusses the influence of film on novels and its connection to realism past and present. Here is a teaser:

In a previous post, I observed that what seemed most notable about the rush to adapt certain “chick lit” novels to the screen was that it seemed these novels had been written to achieve such film deals in the first place, that fiction was only the first step in a process that led to the most important accomplishment–having one’s story made into a movie, with all of the glamour and the publicity and the talk about grosses that this entails. I didn’t exactly suggest that they had been written as if they were actually movies, but that much contemporary fiction–beginning with the popular potboilers, but extending as well to many of the novels that are praised by ostensibly serious reviewers in newspaper book reviews–does indeed leave the impression that it seeks to emulate the storytelling and character-creation conventions of film seems to me, at least, undeniable. Perhaps this comes from the actual influence of film on the authors of such fiction, perhaps unconsciously from the assumption that these conventions are the ones with which even most readers of fiction are now most familiar. At any rate, too many novels I read (or choose not to read, because the reviews make it clear it will be a book of this type) proceed as if what the author really has in mind is the movie version the story at hand merely transcribes into prose; few of them manifest any particular qualities that couldn’t also be achieved on screen.

Plus Tom Wolfe comes up. So check it out.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).