Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

the ruins

Yesterday I was downtown having a very productive day (getting passport renewed, money transferred to States, Christmas shopping) and decided to pop into the library, despite my large number of books that I'm meaning to read and/or currently reading. I meant to just grab Christopher Alexander's A PATTERN LANGUAGE, what with me being semi-besotten with him, but it was out. So I did my customary wander through the graphic novels (hi Dan Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Art Spiegelman), and then checked them out, and then my willpower declined and I also checked out three novels - Michel Houellebecq's A POSSIBILITY OF AN ISLAND, Richard Powers' GALATEA 2.0, and Scott Smith's THE RUINS.

I read THE RUINS yesterday, staying up very late to read it in one breath. Scott Smith is the author of A SIMPLE PLAN, which I've not read (though I've seen the movie). THE RUINS is different in a lot of ways but sort of conforms to what my former roommate Jerry said when he turned off the movie half way through: "This is just one of those movies where everything's going to keep getting worse."

I'm probably not doing a very good job of selling THE RUINS. Let me try again. I don't read many supernatural thrillers, so I don't know how it stacks up, but to my eyes it was the most unputdownable, gut-sinking slow burn I've read in a long, long time. There aren't even chapters, per se - every twenty paragraphs or so, there might be a new section, demarcated by an extra line of why and a larger capital letter, but it just keeps grinding along, with enough clever foreshadowing (like revealing that an unspecified character is going to die from the recollection of a night's events the next morning by the character who you thought would have been one of the likeliest to die) and a smooth transitioning between the perspectives of the four main characters. There's lots of human detail that will undoubtedly be smoothed over in the inevitable movie adaptation (I've seen it as a movie in my head, already, and if they fuck up the last shot I'll be pissed), and from the Amazon reviews (which I recommend avoiding if you intend to read the book) a lot of readers who like their Stephen King and Dean Koontz were pissed with its inclusion, but I loved it. These are real characters, and the slight aggregation of detail really paid off for me as it moved on.

Time to go to sleep. I think I'll flip through the Adrian Tomine graphic novel. (He of OPTIC NERVE fame. I think the name of the one I got is SUMMER BLONDE.)


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