Monday, March 23, 2009

What the Dickens?

Since my good friend Angie took her son out of school this spring - and since she herself is finishing her stellar career as an art major this spring, which means readying for a senior show 24/7, and which also means that when we went out the other night, I had to spit-shine a spot on her cheek because she was wearing yellow paint to the area bookstore - where did this sentence begin? Oh yes, since the little bloke is now happily learning at home, I go to her house three mornings a week to keep a wary adult eye on him while she's in class. Okay, I also supervise some of his lessons some of the time. Yes, fine, you caught me: we went on a nature walk, I admit it. AND collected leaves.

This morning, I arrived sleepy and disheveled, and met a sleepy and disheveled friend on the landing of the winding stairs. I started coffee. I collapsed in grey morning langour and then visited a news site to brush up on the day's happenings. And on one side of the monitor was a picture of the plane crash in Montana - but the biggest headline print warned, "Report targets army policy on combat fitness." And, glancing up in a sleepy haze, she said, "What?!? Terrorists are attacking fitness centers now??"

I don't think the editor meant the photo and the headline to go together. Silly editor. Trix are for kids.

After I stopped laughing at the thought of jihadists angrily keeping people from treadmills ("you will NOT be healthy, infidel!"), I remembered my Charles Dickens post.

And now, for something completely different.

When I was perhaps eleven or twelve, or thirteen or fifteen - I try to gloss over those miserable years - I saw "Great Expectations" produced by the Indiana Repertory Theater. I can't say that I liked it, but then again, I can't say that I've ever forgotten parts of it. Something about an old lady wearing her wedding dress, waiting for her fiance with a rotting cake in the background lodged in my impressionable, already over-imaginative mind.

I subsequently relegated Dickens to "God bless us, every one!" every Christmas, or, even better, every Christmas via the Muppets.

And now I have rediscovered Charles Dickens, and Just How Great He Was. Several titles may come to mind as basic Dickens reading, but one has recently been brought to my attention for the first time, thanks to the BBC production. "Our Mutual Friend" is now at the top of my list of Things To Read. I know, I committed the cardinal sin of watching a cinematic version of a novel before reading the actual volume. But how was I to know that "Our Mutual Friend" would turn out to be so brilliant, so insightful, so pointed and poignant? The title didn't even ring any bells with my extremely well-read mother, who has heard of most books, if not read them.

Speaking of BBC brilliance and Mr. Dickens, I have to say I enjoyed "Our Mutual Friend" - the story, at any rate - more than the most recent rendition of "Bleak House." But of course, I'm comparing miniseries, not novels. And I must confess that Gillian Anderson's performance in "Bleak House" elicits a deep desire to see her play more period roles - she was Oscar-worthy in the role. I'm clamoring, now, officially - Agent Scully, are you reading this? - for her to take on Lady MacBeth, or Mary, Queen of Scots, or perhaps some Bronte.

So this spring, I will be reading "Our Mutual Friend" at some point. I'll let you know how I like it. If it's anything like the miniseries, I'm sure it will become a favorite.

1 comment:

Bob said...

A comment on BOOKS vs TV adaptations--- I've read all the Alexander McCall Smith books about Mma Ramotswe in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series and found that BBC is going to make a series about it, to be carried by HBO here in the states. I saw a 15 minute clip on the "making of" the new series. Unfortunately, they've changed things, not for the better. The most glaring change is that the Agency is now neighbors with a gay-owned hair salon and that Mma Ramotswe is good friends and gets advice from. The guy is flamboyant in his manner and I am disappointed in the decision to include a character not in the books.