Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
based on the novel by John le Carré
I’ve started to make it a policy to read the novel before I see a film these days, although sometimes I don’t know until the opening credits that a film is eligible for review here at The Literary Omnivore. C’est la vie. This policy drove me to read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as homework to watch the film version, which is so full of beloved British actors that it’s not even funny. Now, since I had great difficulty in trying to connect to the novel that proved insurmountable, the film loomed even larger in my imagination as a possible means of redemption. Eventually, I nabbed it from the library, made a makeshift couch for myself in my room (the common room’s television was taken! Curses!), and watched, open-mouthed and quietly, for two hours.
Live and Let Die
based on the novel by Ian Fleming
I was driving home with a few friends in the car, on the way back from something, when “Live and Let Die” came on one of Atlanta’s classic rock stations. I usually play Russian radio roulette while in Atlanta since they took my beloved the Journey away, but I paused. “Hold on,” I said. “I think I recognize it.” “It’s that Bond song Paul McCartney did,” my friend Isobel informed me. “Back up, Paul McCartney did a song for James Bond?” Much riffing (on McCartney, Bond, and my own ignorance) ensued. So, as you can see, between Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, the James Bond franchise is an empty desert dotted by the occasional Grace Jones. I had literally no idea what to expect from Roger Moore, so I went into Live and Let Die utterly blind.
Diamonds are Forever
based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Well… that’s it. I’m done with Sean Connery as Bond. Well, there is Never Say Never Again, which I imagine I will eventually watch, but it’s not an Eon production, so it’s not canon. If I was an extra-canonical (thanks, Holmesians) completionist, I would never get anything done. My attention span is simply not suited to that much of a commitment. After the heights of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and becoming rather fond of Lazenby’s take on the super spy, it was a bit of a bumpy road back to Connery, especially since I loved On Her Majesty’s Secret Service so much (well, comparatively). Can Connery reclaim his territory once and for all? Well… not so much.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
based on the novel by Ian Fleming
As a seasoned fan of Doctor Who (albeit not as seasoned as any of the old-schoolers to whom I tip my metaphorical hat), I have to admit—I really look forward to regenerations. I realize I’m spoiled, as they happen quickly on the new series, but there’s something exciting about seeing an actor’s take on a character who, despite his variations, manages to remain archetypical. So when it came time for George Lazenby’s crack at the man with the golden gun in my Bondathon, I was excited. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is usually only remembered for its last five minutes by casual fans, but I think deserves a bit of a better reputation.
Where the Truth Lies by Rupert Holmes
Where The Truth Lies was one of those movies where I didn’t realize it was based on a novel until the title card came up in the film’s credits—I just wanted to watch it because This Film Is Not Yet Rated promised me that there would be some level of dudes making out. (A promise which was broken. Although it does sport an NC-17 rating for the sheer fact a woman appears to be enjoying herself too much during sex, so, you know, there’s some progress being made.) But while I didn’t enjoy the film, the story stayed with me, so eventually I just had to pick up the novel just to get out of my system, which resulted in spending three hours utterly absorbed in it while I should have been studying for midterms. Lord preserve the second semester college senior.
His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
There’s only book left now. I’ve been taking my sweet, sweet time with polishing off the Sherlock Holmes canon—I started two years ago!—simply because my bookish diet requires a great deal of variety or I end up just stagnating and boring myself. A bit like Holmes himself, really, without the attendant misogyny, genius, or lackadaisical house manners. But just as I eventually finished Star Trek: The Original Series after four years (and with the rest of the franchise to go), so too must I set down a Sherlock Holmes collection only to realize that the next one I pick up will be my last. I’m mentioning it now because finishing a series gives me such an enormous sense of satisfaction that all the ennui hits me at the penultimate installment.
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
read by Anton Lesser
Back in high school, I read the first three books of the Sally Lockhart Quartet in sort of a breathless week or so. I was still sorting out how to ferret out books I might like, and had hit upon the tactic of going through the back catalog of every writer I knew I liked. (This is no longer my approach to books, but it is my approach to music, which has, in recent months, helped me discover my love for The New York Dolls.) Philip Pullman, by virtue of His Dark Materials, was a prime candidate. I remembered them fondly but vaguely when I picked up this audiobook to revisit it, but perhaps I should have left it on the shelf…
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
Let’s face it; I read this because I wanted to see the movie, which is one of those British films with an all-star cast. (It is a bit easier when your island is so small.) As someone with bad taste, I’m acutely aware of the fact that whatever I come to first, I like better—the book or the movie, the original or the cover. (I think the only time this has failed is with “Helter Skelter”, which I thought Pat Benatar had written for a few weeks. Yep.) So I knew I would need to read the novel first. But I waffled a bit; it’s part of a series, after all, and I’m a completionist. The first novel in the George Smiley series was on my list until I decided to streamline things and just pick up Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and get it over with. After several weeks of bashing my head against the wall the novel turned out to be, I realized it was really the best choice.
Where the Truth Lies
based onWhere the Truth Lies by Rupert Holmes
So there I am, watching This Film is Not Yet Rated with my friend Elizabeth, and a scene from Where the Truth Lies pops up. It’s from very late in the film, being a spoiler of sorts, and I’m intrigued. Had this been back in middle school, wee Clare would already be frantic to watch the movie, never mind whether or not what she saw was central to the plot. (Oh, wee Clare. At least you were confident in your head.) I began looking for Where the Truth Lies, and couldn’t find it in my usual places. But I found it when I hit up Videodrome, which I heartily recommend to any Atlantans who might be reading.
Name a book you love in a genre you normally don’t care for. What made you decide to read it? Did it make you want to try more in that genre?
What genre do you avoid reading and why?
Hey, that’s four questions!
As the name of my blog and self-appointed title suggests, I’m a literary omnivore. I will and do read anything, if I think it’s worth a shot. That qualification is usually based on whether or not the story sounds interesting, not genre, which I define more as setting than anything else, although I am currently coming to grips with the fact that there’s more to it than that, but those don’t apply to my taxonomy. I don’t avoid any books.
That said, I’m not overly fond of “urban fantasy”, which is actually an awful misnomer for supernatural fiction (assuming fantasy means secondary world with or without magic, which is how I define it, urban fantasy would be something like The Lies of Locke Lamora—fantasy with a focus in urban environments) or mysteries that aren’t Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been burned before, but I still maintain my faith that any story is possible of being amazing. In the supernatural fiction camp, I’m awfully fond of Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Bites Back. In the mystery camp, I really liked Farthing and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, both alternate history mysteries.