Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Farewell, My Lovely Novelization

Some weeks back, I came home after a day of "fetch" chores. I put the groceries away, then took a peek at the computer to check for mail. Propped against the monitor was a copy of Star Wars -- the novelization, written by "George Lucas". A sharp little birthday gift from a friend and neighbor.

A timely gift -- in more ways than one if this person's take on novelizations (and their fate) is accurate. I read Star Wars dozens of times, just because that was the only available way to experience the story. My copy of the Del Rey paperback was in tatters by the time I no longer had need of it, and I'm sure that ghost writer Alan Dean Foster's prose bears no small responsibility for the juggernaut that the Star Wars franchise became. He tucked in a number of tantalizing allusions, little timebombs of detail hinting that this epic story was considerably better conceived than it finally proved itself to be.

My other novelization experiences were entirely predictable. After watching the first three Star Trek movies, I pored through the novelizations hoping they answered some of the troubling questions raised by what I'd seen. And now that I think of it, I also received the novelization of Schwarzenegger's second Conan movie as a bonus with my popcorn. Talk about value!

The last novelization I glanced at was a true curiosity: Big Night, a sumptuous movie (one of my top 15, actually) which underwent a risible printed-word makeover by setting the narration in the brothers' pidgin English: "My brother say he no make-a the pasta!" After giggling over a few pages, I couldn't bring myself to try any of the recipes. Yep: I no make-a the pasta, either.

Ah, how the novelization becomes the blogger's Madeleine! Maud Newton remembers the effect The Rose had on her as a young adolescent, here. Any others out there?


Scott said...

Oh, but this reminds me of a sad story: National Book Award winner Paul Monette wrote "Borrowed Time," a powerful memoir of losing his partner to AIDS in the eighties. One of the many painful details in the book was this brilliant writer taking any job he could get to keep the money rolling in. During a particularly rough patch, he'd be caring for his partner all evening, then staying up late writing the novelization of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Predator." I winced for days!

Whisky Prajer said...

And yet who better to pen the literary version of this homo-erotic (and vaginal-phobic) classic? Just to keep you wincing, let me say that you've now raised the "quirk element" to such a degree that I do believe in future visits to the used bookstore I'll be keeping an eye out for this little treasure.

Gideon Strauss said...

Is the top 15 list available somewhere?

Cowtown Pattie said...

Following Maud's example, my own similar teenage literary sneak was "Valley of the Dolls". My pubescent peers and I similarly drooled and smacked our virgin lips over:

"But, Mama, didn't you ever really love Daddy? I mean, when a man you love takes you in his arms and kisses you, it should be wonderful shouldn't it? Wasn't it ever wonderful with Daddy?"

"Anne! How dare you ask your mother such a thing!" said Aunt Amy.

"Unfortunately, kissing isn't all a man expects after marriage" her mother said stiffly. Then, cautiously, "Have you ever kissed Willie Henderson?"

Anne Grimaced. "Yes...a few times."
"And did you enjoy it?" her mother asked.
"I hated it." His lips had been soft, almost slimy, and his breath smelled sour.

Ah, those were the days...