Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thoughts on Michael Chabon and books into film

First, read my May 24 post on Michael Chabon and then read the comment that was left in response to that post.

A couple of thoughts on this . . . I can’t judge Michael Chabon or the movie. I don’t know if Michael did indeed “approve” the script or if he sold the movie rights and had no input at all on the script for the movie version of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Nor have I seen the movie, which has yet to be released. I am always skeptical of anyone who condemns a book or movie when they haven’t read it or seen it. You have no credibility. Seems to me that you can’t respond from an informed position unless you have read the book or, in this case, seen the movie.

I think there’s another issue here too. And that is that books and movies are vastly different art forms. Good books don’t always make good movies. Sometimes they do. Lots and lots of material in a book does have to be eliminated from a movie. An author has virtually an unlimited numbers of pages to develop a character or unfold a narrative. A movie director has only two or three hours to do the same. I’m always more interested in whether a movie is true to the spirit of the book.

I have not read Chabon’s Wonder Boys or seen the movie version. Now, I think I’ll do both just to see how one of Chabon’s books made the transition to the silver screen.

And, since we’re on this subject, let’s hear from the half dozen readers of this blog about 1) the books they think were made into great movies and, conversely, 2) the books-into-film that were absolutely terrible.


  1. I enjoyed both the movie and the book of Chabon's "Wonder Boys," but I'd give the edge to the book by a nose if I had to pick just one ... One book-to-movie transition that I find to be just flawless is Stephen Frears' adaptation of Roddy Doyle's "The Snapper" .. the book and movie are both just pitch-perfect comedies

  2. Off topic, but I couldn't find you e-mail.


    I recently noticed the very nice Biblio Bloggins and I have a look at it quiet often.
    Can I ask you a technical question about it?

    I'm also keeping a reading blog ( but I can't seem to find out how to insert properly a banner image on the top of the page.

    What code in the Minima template in Blogger needs to be changed in order to do so?
    It doesn't seem that difficult, but I'm simply not familiar enough with html editing.

    (At the moment I have inserted my banner as background image, but somehow that looks terrible in Firefox or Opera-browsers: the image is floating a couple of inches above the text.)

    Could you help me out, if you find time?
    Thank you.

    best regards,


  3. Hey, there—

    franQ, again… First let me thank you for acknowledging my post. Secondly, I apologize for sending you my blanket Chabon post re: MOP the movie.
    Admittedly, I did not go into much detail in that post. But I will now.

    As I said, I have been a Chabon fan since 1993 when I first read MOP. I’ll even risk sounding corny and say, “It changed my life.” As a young man fresh out of college and questioning my sexuality, I had never read a story like this. Which is why I became so attracted to the character of Art Bechstein and throughout the years read the story OVER and OVER again, recommending it to more friends who had never heard the name “Michael Chabon” that I can remember now.

    When I moved to NYC to, I got a job working for HarperCollins—publisher of MOP—and in 2000 I learned about a pending film version. I got in touch with Chabon about it and he in turn put me in touch with the Producers. When that project fell through, I set out to make my own MOP film. With the help of a TV producer friend of mine we contacted Chabon’s agent about acquiring the rights. In a nutshell we were told the rights could NOT be trusted to anyone lacking “name or merit.”

    Now I won’t say that Rawson Marshall Thurber has “merit,” but obviously he’s got a name (though his rep is being tarnished as he’s being sued for stealing his DODGEBALL script). What I can’t figure out is WHY Chabon agreed to give him the rights… Which he did.

    I can also tell you that while I haven’t seen the film, I have READ the screenplay and will gladly email you a copy if you’d like to read it for yourself.

    Contact me at bechstiein[at]yahoo[dot]com and I’ll gladly set you up.

    Believe me, I am MORE disappointed than you know… I’ve been waiting almost 15 years to see the MOP film and knowing that Michael Chabon himself is to blame for letting me down is killing me!

    Take care!