The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Harcourt, Inc., 2007 (originally published 1973); 414 pages
(Sorry this is so long. The book made me mad.)
I've long held to the belief that the book is always better than the movie. Always. Well, thanks to William Goldman, I'm going to change to the book is generally better than the movie in most cases. Essentially, I like the film The Princess Bride so much that I've saved the book for a while now, because I knew, due to the aforementioned rule, that the book had to be brilliant. The basic plot was quite good, but the writing style really ruined the book.
Goldman starts the book an introduction (which may be only in the 30th anniversary edition; I'm not sure)about how his almost illiterate father read this story to him when he was a kid, and then when he was an adult and in the hospital and dying, his wife read him this book and it saved his life, and then when he gave the book to his son, his son hated it, and that's when Goldman realized that his father had edited the book, because Morgenstern had actually written a political satire, but Goldman's father skipped all the lengthy, boring, historio-political parts. And so Goldman edited the original book into its current form so that everybody could read it and love it as much as he does. When I finished the introduction, I thought, "Aw, that was a nice story about his father and stuff." And then I think, "Wait, but Goldman really wrote this, I mean he made up the story and pretended it's an abridgment. So what's all this stuff about his father?" So essentially, that whole long story about his father, his wife, and his son is all made up. Goldman doesn't even have a son. That kind of lost me right there, because who writes a fake introduction with that much detail (and believe me, it's very detailed)? On the other hand, Goldman writes very convincingly. I knew that really he's the author of the story, and I still believed the story about his father.
So onward to the actual story, which is more or less just like the movie, with a bit more background on all the characters, the sort of background that it's not convenient to give in movies without being boring. So I'm not going to give a plot summary, because if you've seen the movie, you know all about it, and if you haven't seen the movie, you should. In the book, however, Goldman inserts many, many, many fake editorial comments--not footnotes, but actual bracketed comments in the text. At the worst points, he's got at least one comment per page. It totally interrupts the narrative flow and makes the book difficult to read. It's not at all like the dialogue between the boy and the grandfather in the movie, which is just cute. (Another reason the movie is better--it has Peter Falk.)
Finally, as a note, this isn't exactly a children's book--there are several violent/disturbing scenes, some swearing, and some totally unnecessary racial epithets.
And so, that's my review. Now go watch the movie.