Saturday, March 7, 2015

New Moon: Paperback edition

Last week I visited my parents. When I came home I had to clear the pictures off of a new book shelf, because between the signed books that I got for my birthday, and a number of used books I picked up when my mom and I went to Goodwill, I came back with about 12 new books.

Some mothers and daughters go purse or shoe shopping together. My mom and I shop for books.

My family was always a fixture at the public library growing up. Due to our habit of passing books between family members before returning them, we paid so many late fees that the new mezzanine probably should have had our name on it. The librarians loved us anyways, to the point that when they created the waiting lists for certain new books they would automatically add our name to the top spot. If small-town municipal libraries were the sort of places to have super exclusive parties, we would have been the ones sweeping past the velvet rope with a "Don't worry about it, he's with me."

Reading out loud in the car was a family tradition growing up, one that kept my siblings and I from killing each other in the back seat after 10 hours on the road. We actually planned a couple of vacations around the release of the newest Harry Potter book, stopping at the nearest store the day it was released before setting off. After a cross-country drive to a family reunion one summer we actually pulled off to the side of the road for twenty minutes to finish the book before we drove into town.

Once when we went on a week-long camping trip to the beach my mom started reading Twilight in the car, I think in some sort of attempt to expose my brothers to the type of girliness that I, their only sister, had completely failed to introduce them to during my tomboy stage. The boys complained uproariously, but as everyone who has ever read those books knows, they're sort of addictive once you get past the obligatory reference to the smoothness of Edward's chest on every page.

Pretty soon when we retired to our tent at night one of the boys would say "You're not going to make us read that stupid book some more, are you?" in a slightly hopeful tone of voice. By the time we finished the first book they had to swallow all pride and drop their pretenses if they wanted to indulge their curiosity by reading the second book. To do so they temporarily gave up their man cards as the burly male checker at Wal-Mart held up their purchase with a grin.

"New Moon. Paperback edition. Nice choice," he said with a wink.

I don't know why they were embarrassed. When they slunk into the movie theater with my parents and I later that year, hoods pulled low over their eyes, I quickly realized I recognized quite a few of the hoodie-clad bodies ducking down furtively in their seats as my brothers' friends. It didn't seem to occur to any of them that any guy who saw them at the movie was also watching Twilight too.

Of course, the books were better. The book is always better, with the possible exception of Lord of the Rings (Which makes what Peter Jackson did to The Hobbit even more tragic. One of the great mysteries of life will always what type of brain tumor caused the same man who made The Fellowship of the Rings to decide that it would be a good idea to add a love triangle between Legolas and a female elf and a dwarf to The Hobbit. I TRUSTED YOU PETER! I TRUSTED YOU!!!).

Not that I'm mad about that or anything.

In some cases, the book should just never be made into a movie ever. Case in point: The other day I noticed Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Netflix and thought "Hmm ... I haven't seen that since I saw it in theaters as a small child. I don't even really remember it." I watched it and immediately realized why my parents never added it to our collection of Disney movies.

Worst. Disney. Movie. Ever.

I can't decide which was worse, the part where the evil priest sings rather pointedly about being sexually attracted to Esmerelda, or the part where he tries to drown a baby, or the part where he quizzes Quasimodo on vocabulary words like "damnation," or the message the movie sends when the beautiful girl chooses the conventionally handsome guy in the end over the guy with the good personality and we're all supposed to consider it a happy ending because really, did anyone actually think that the ugly person would not die alone?

I looked up a plot synopsis of Victor Hugo's book, having never read it, and realize the plot is basically death and sex and torture and more death. Esmerelda and Quasimodo both die. How the heck did someone read that and think "We should really adapt that into an animated movie for five year olds." That's like watching Sweeney Todd on Broadway and thinking "My kindergartener would love this!" and then making a Disney version that's basically the same except only one person dies a gruesome death at the end (oops ... spoiler alert: That's not what happens in the play.)

And then the next generation of children would be in college one day watching the movie with their little nephew and start singing along to "A Little Priest" and suddenly think "Oh my gosh how did I never notice when I was a kid that this song is about CUTTING PEOPLE UP AND BAKING THEM INTO PIES AND EATING THEM???"

Just read to your kids instead. It's so much better.