Friday, May 27, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 16, 17 and 18

Favorite book turned movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley--a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all of that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry--and anyone who reads about him--will find unforgettable.

For it's there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him...if Harry can survive the encounter
I thought about putting Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates here, but in the end the Harry Potter movies are just too magical (if you're interested I reviewed Revolutionary Road here). I actually saw the movies before I decided to read the books. That's how great the movies are. Now, are the movies as good as the books? Of course not. But they capture the magic and awe of the books in a way that made the books come alive. The question really is how can I give any other answer?

Book turned movie and completely desecrated: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift-an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille's genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the "ultimate perfume"-the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.
I did a full review of both the movie and the book here, but I was completely disappointed by the movie. While the book had this almost haunting quality about it, the movie was much more expected. The real gem of the book isn't the story. It isn't the characters or the overall idea. It's the writing. For large sections of the book there isn't even any dialogue. All of the characters around Grenouille are flat and lifeless for a specific purpose. This is the story of a murderer. Not a sympathetic man who makes mistakes or the beautiful women he hunts. We are supposed to be revolted by Grenouille and the movie didn't capture that.

A Book You can’t find on shelves anymore that you love: Company K by William March
This book was originally published in 1933. It is the first novel by William March, pen name for William Edward Campbell. Stemming directly from the author’s experiences with the U.S. Marines in France during World War I, the book consists of 113 sketches, or chapters, tracing the fictional Company K’s war exploits and providing an emotional history of the men of the company that extends beyond the boundaries of the war itself.

William Edward Campbell served courageously in France as evidenced by his chestful of medals and certificates, including the Croix de Guerre, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Navy Cross. However, without the medals and citations we would know of his bravery. For it is clear in the pages of Company K that this book was written by a man who had been to war, who had clearly seen his share of the worst of it, who had somehow survived, and who had committed himself afterward to the new bravery of sense-making embodied in the creation of major literary art. It is of that bravery that we still have the record of magnificent achievement, the brave terrible gift of Company K.
I wasn't sure how to answer this question, but Company K was the first book that came to mind. Though it can still be easily ordered, I almost never see it on bookstore shelves. I had a teacher that read parts of this book to my class and it really impacted my youth. The most moving chapter in this book for me was “The Unknown Soldier.” It is about the thoughts going througha soldier’s head as he lies dying, trapped in barb wire. Campbell is basically giving a voice to that soldier and why it is he's unknown. It's just incredible and everyone should seek it out.

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