by Escutcheon Blot
Over the past few years I have had a lot of time to read...not having understood German well enough to enjoy TV or films. That has changed, and I now understand 98% of what I hear. I would, however, like to put forth a few titles which I think deserve a broader audience. I realize that these are more likely to be seen than read. Loath as I am to intrude upon the baliwick of the other fine contributors to Liverputty Intl., I am listing, then, a few books that should--nay must--become movies post-haste, so that I may view their mangled corpses on my next trans-atlantic flight.
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth 1993
A wonderful, Austen-esque epic set against the background of post-partition India. An upper-middle class girl and her overbearing mother chase after acceptable young men of the proper caste for the purposes of matrimony. Rather long, but absolutely worth the strain on the wrists. Perhaps a BBC adaptation?
Rhubarb by H. Allen Smith 1946
A hilarious little book about a large, irritable, yellow tom-cat who inherits a baseball team. He is then sued by the daughter of the previous owner in a process presided over by a judge who translates romantic pulp fiction into ancient Greek in his spare time. With the advances in computer animation, this should be no problem to actualize (the cat doesn't talk-thank God).
The Old Man and the Boy by Robert Ruark 1957
A strangely moving coming-of-age story set in rural, coastal North Carolina; an adolescent boy and his grandfather go 'a huntin' and the boy learns a lot about life along the way. A window into the philosophy of the first conservationists (like Teddy Roosevelt) shorn of romantic anthropromorphism of the natural world...a perfect vehicle for Charlton Heston before it's too late...if it isn't already.
The Winter of our Discontent John Steinbeck 1961
One of the, relatively few, good books of the period to accurately portray the coming disconnect between the feel-good, get-rich ethic of the 50's and early 60's and the all-too-easily corrupted idealism of the late 60's. And, of course, the parallels between the moral dilemmas of the main character and those of today's stock optioned millionaires and billionaires are rather nicely obvious.
The Memoirs of Hadrian Marguerite Yourcenar 1954
Just a good old Roman epic...Stern General acclaimed emperor, builds lots of beautiful and useful buildings (his Wall in England and the Pantheon, most notably), writes love poetry in Greek, finds the beautiful boy, Antinous, loves him, sacrifices him to the gods, dies...later. And a palate-cleanser after Gladiator and 300.
Trilby George du Maurier 1894
A nearly forgotten book about psychological control and the artistic unknowable, in which was created one of the great characters of literature, the evil Svengali. Needs to be sponged of some of the more egregious anti-Semitism...but hey, we do that with Dickens all the time. Allen Rickman would be absolutely perfect for Svengali. (This may already be a movie, but if so, it was so long ago that it's time for a remake)
A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole (1980)
A posthumous, stand-alone effort by an early-dying creative writing teacher. Actually, I can't for the life of me think why it hasn't become a movie already. If only the comic book store guy from the Simpsons could be engaged in a live action film...he is the perfect Ignatius J. Reilly.
Three Men in a Boat Jerome K Jerome 1889
Okay, this may have been done, in the 1930's with rapid-fire Oxbridge English which even the English have a hard time understanding today. I don't know that...it's just a guess. But it's a very funny book which puts three bachelors on a canal boat for an unconscionably long period of time. Sort of a human Wind in the Willows vis-a-vis Toad's Canary Yellow Coach.
Some of these books, as I have said, may have already been made into films. But they were either no good, or have been completely forgotten. I am a book guy, not a film guy, and perhaps should simply have recommended them to be read. But hey, a little stretching shouldn't hurt.