March 12, 2008

The Beauty of Language

If my husband hadn't ordered the movie from Netflix I never would have watched it and been unimpressed. If I hadn't posted my disinterest in it Eva never would have encouraged me to read the book. And if I had never checked out the book on CD from the library I never would have been seduced by the exquisite linguistic abilities of Jhumpa Lahiri. I never would have known what I was missing out on. The Namesake is a book to own, a book to scale for its majestic horizons. Many thanks to both my dearest sweetheart and to the ever helpful Eva.

I've only just started the fourth disk out of 9 but I am so in love. I have developed such a respect for the Indian culture depicted within this story. Every little gesture they perform serves to demonstrate honor toward each other. I can't number the times I have blinked away tears while listening to the daily struggles of the main characters. Their loneliness and confusions and triumphs bleed through until you wish these were real people you could befriend and encourage. Having seen the gravely inferior movie I know what is to come but I now have a much much deeper understanding of the whys and whatfors. The beauty of this story lies entirely in the whys and whatfors.

Obviously I am receiving a great deal of pleasure from the language. It inspires in me a will to express beauty for myself. But The Namesake is not the only source of this proclivity. I am also reading Love in the Time of Cholera. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has a gift for the illustrious paragraph. Even while his characters are very human (suffering from constipation or having a month long marital rift over whether or not she forgot to replace the soap in the bathroom for an entire week) they are stunning portrayals marked with grace and elegance. I hope to have this book completed by the time the movie is released on DVD but I am apprehensive about a movie that, judging only from a small preview, seems a bit too concerned with bringing together a Latin/American sweetheart cast than with finding the true heart of the story. (I have a hard time believing Benjamin Bratt can pull off a role like this but I would love to be proven wrong. And I am most definitely not a fan of Shakira.) But I really must put a halt to this habit I have of judging a book by its cover, or a movie by its preview, as the case may be.

For the record, I have nothing against Latin/American actors. It's the "trying too hard to make a statement that is out of place" that rubs me the wrong way. I think a drama makes more of an impact when subtlety is used. Benjamin Bratt makes a great Law and Order detective but if his acting abilities are not suited to a romantic drama then don't compromise the whole movie just because he has the right heritage. Ben Kingsley played Gandhi to perfection because he was the right caliber actor regardless of his nationality.

Boy, when I digress I really digress don't I?

So I have been wafting in a cloud of richness that I am glad to follow through to the end. And when it is all over and I must box it up and shelf it temporarily for the swashbuckling fun of The Princess Bride, saddened will I be. At least, until I am lost in the romantic tenacity of a stable boy named Wesley. =)


Eva said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying it. :) Between that and Cholera, I can certainly see how you're floating in some beautiful language right now!! I steadfastly avoid movies based on books I really love that I just can't see how it would translate, so I didn't know who any of the of actors were in Cholera. But Benjamin Bratt and Shakira?! Sounds like they were going for some eye candy! lol I'll definitely be avoiding even a preview of that one.

Jeane said...

The Namesake is on my TBR now, thanks! I've only read one Marquez book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, as required by a high school lit teacher. It was very difficult. I wonder if I would appreciate his writing better now that I'm beyond my teenage years. You've tempted me to give Cholera a try.

And The Princess Bride! Who could not love that!

Petunia said...

Eva-I read a review of the Cholera movie. It said the music was fantastic but the acting was lousy. I'm too curious to not watch it.

Jeane-I read Solitude as an adult and liked it. It was strange and quirky. Cholera seems much more focused.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the film, but loved the book having been seduced by Lahiri's first book 'Interpreter of Maladies'. The only book of short stories I've ever really enjoyed. If you haven't read this Pulitzer prize winner do please get hold of a copy.

Petunia said...

Actually I have a copy of Maladies that I haven't read yet. It's further down the TBR list but I hope to read it sometime this year. I've heard very good things about it.

Carrie K said...

I loved the book The Namesake but probably won't see the movie just because I did love the book.

Benjamin Bratt always tends to BE Benjamin Bratt in his roles. Sometimes that's fine but sometimes he needs to ...well, act. I like BB! But he has such a strong presence it overpowers the role.

Nymeth said...

You are so right about Jhumpa Lahiri. I started Interpreter of Maladies today and I am awestruck.

Petunia said...

When am I ever going to find the time to read Maladies? I don't know but it better be soon with so many rave reviews.