Must we burn the novel?

For discussion of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel Låt den rätte komma in
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covenant6452
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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by covenant6452 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:22 pm

drakkar wrote:I like both equally good, and refuse to hold one better than the other.
Ditto to what drakkar said. As usual. ;)
I'm one of those who believe that (most of the time) the book will be better than the film in adaptations.
I read the book first on a plane and remember smiling as I read the last page thinking "A little bit of everything...Wow! What a wicked story!".
Then when I saw the film it was the same reaction only with a tight chest and yes a tear, or three....dammit. :oops:
The excellent film though just increased my admiration of the book, and vice versa.
Some say LDRKI isn't JAL's best work. That may be true, but I think it has more heart than "Handling the Undead", my opinion my change after I finish the epilogue to that one but I doubt it. LDRKI, book and film are the reasons I'm here.
So far there isn't a drawing coming to my mind from the pages of "HTU", but I can see myself drawing Oskar and Eli for a very long time.
I'll keep on reading (struggling to if they're only published in Swedish!) JAL's other books though, because this book made me a fan.
Du måste bjuda in mig...or else!

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drakkar
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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by drakkar » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:55 pm

covenant6452 wrote: The excellent film though just increased my admiration of the book, and vice versa.
YES!!!
For the heart life is simple. It beats as long as it can.
- Karl Ove Knausgård

DMt.

Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by DMt. » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:04 pm

Yes too, but I would miss the film more than the novel, I think. I wonder if this forum would exist without eLina's incredible performance? [And osKare's too, oh yes].

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Microwave Jellyfish
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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by Microwave Jellyfish » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:43 pm

We should burn it. It always depresses me out of my socks.

Did this make any sense?

But really, LTROI is like magic. Made me feel things I didn't know I'm capable of. Reading the novel comes the film closer, make it somehow more personal, I dunno. None of them should exist without the other.
And we danced, on the brink of an unknown future, to an echo from a vanished past.

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Theinfected914
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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by Theinfected914 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:47 am

I don't think so. If you haven't read the book before watching the movie, you wouldn't understand why Hakan was important to Eli and why Eli is the way she is. The movie is a stark contrast to the book. There was never any mention as to how she became a vampire. Eli does seem to be more one dimensional and you never see her act out as a 12 year old. The movie pretty much took out all the horror elements from the book and focused more on Oskar and Eli, thus, turning it into some kind of drama with a vampire in it. Overall, I liked the way it was handled, especially how they made no reference to her fangs and instead, have her make those creepy hissing sounds-- the creature that lives inside. Unfortunately, the book has some pretty disturbing details, none of which would probably ever make it to the big screen, unless it went straight to DVD. Going into the flick, I expected a horror movie. What I got was something very different and a movie I'll never forget. I think Lina is the perfect replication for what Eli would have looked like. If I had read the book first, I would have a real hard time visualizing a 12 year old boy who looks like a girl. In certain scenes from the movie, Lina did have some boyish qualities to her appearance. Currently, I don't see one trace of it, my God has she grown in 2 years.

The book is something I like more because of its graphic content. Much of the horror in it ties into the real life horrors we face. Bullying, pedophilia, and gender-identity. Bullying is something many of us have faced and John did such a wonderful job bringing us into Oskar's head. What stood out to me about this part is when Oskar looks into the bathroom mirror, sees a clown, and says something to himself in a tone of voice that he didn't even recognize as being his. Hakan has some pretty twisted views on intimacy and a fascination for young boys. This is probably the scariest, for the simple fact that there are grown men in the world who have a strange desire for prepubescents, and I'll throw in teenagers as well. All of this is highlighted when Hakan attacks Eli toward the end of the book. That scene give me the shivers because if you compare it to real life, what do some of us do when we don't get what we want, we go to the extreme to achieve it. Being sexually confused has to be one of the worst feelings in the world, especially if it happens before you even reach puberty. We see Eli's frustrations with it, how she gets defensive whenever her past is mentioned. There's even a hint at suicide when she meets someone and the woman tells her that many of them kill themselves. I'll have to read the part again, but it was either before, during, or after Hakan attacked where she picks up a broom or something. One of the ends is sharpened and she tries, although I don't remember how serious the attempt was, to drive it directly into her heart. I think it's fair to say that not being able to identify herself with anything is one of the contributors to the attempt.
"But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated."

--Ernest Hemingway

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Theinfected914
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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by Theinfected914 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:00 am

Oh yeah, this may be a bad joke. If I had lost my penis when I was 12, I'd probably want to walk around as a female too. Ha, if it were really up to Eli, I think she would rather walk around naked. "I'm nothing". A crossbred of boy and girl, is what she possibly meant?
"But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated."

--Ernest Hemingway

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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by Wolfchild » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:38 pm

DMt. wrote:Yes too, but I would miss the film more than the novel, I think. I wonder if this forum would exist without eLina's incredible performance? [And osKare's too, oh yes].
I'll start with an aside: Without the film, this forum would not exist. As for the film itself, I think that the only singly irreplaceable components are Tomas Alfredson's directing and John Ajvide's screenplay. I think that you could replace any other single element without irretrievably damaging the film. That is, perhaps - perhaps - you could replace any one of Lina, or Kåre, or Johan Soderquist, or Hoyte von Hoytema and the film could have still turned out to be as compelling. But this film really walked a tightrope where there are so many ways that it could have gone wrong but didn't. Perhaps another young actress who wouldn't have been as good as Lina could have been used, and Kåre's performance could have still covered for it. Or perhaps a less talented cinematographer could have been used, but the score could have still painted the emotional background landscape without having Hoyte's eye for color and composition. I don't think that this film could have survived the loss of more than one of these pieces.

The question of this thread is whether or not the novel could survive - or would have been the better for - losing the pieces that were ultimately trimmed from the fillet. In the novel, you really have to get pretty far from the main character before you start to see characters who begin to lack depth. I think of it as concentric circles surrounding Oskar, the main character. Oskar is fully fleshed out. The next ring out - Eli - is not so fully fleshed out but his being enigmatic is necessary to the plot. Next out in the third ring you have Håkan, Lacke, Virginia, and Tommy. Each of these characters are shown to us in enough detail that we really understand their motivations. In the fourth ring you have Jonny and Jimmy, Staffan, and perhaps Oskar's parents and Mr. Avila. These characters you kind of understand their motivations but they are filled out only far enough to describe the way they are, but hot really why. Finally you have Micke, Gösta, Morgan, Larry, Jocke out in the fifth ring. These characters all behave the way John Ajvide needed them to, but they were the way they were pretty much without explanation.

What I really appreciated about the novel that I have not seen anyone else comment on was the pacing. Once Håkan was in the hospital, and particularly after Eli's visit, I really got a sense of things accelerating. It was like when the roller coaster slowly crests the top, and you can see the track will take a steep plunge. You anticipate the acceleration of the story's events before you actually feel it start to pick up speed. Then you can actually feel the acceleration and speed, as the events in Eli's world spin of his control. JAL has lulled us into believing that as a vampire Eli can control his situation while Oskar cannot. Eli had been an anchor for Oskar, a source of stability, a source of power. Then things start spinning faster and faster and we find that Eli's world is no more in his control than Oskar's. Now the focus shifts to Eli as chapters get shorter and each plot thread gets closer and closer to him.

This is a slight shift in focus from the rest of the novel, where it has all been about Oskar. However Eli represents Oskar's salvation from Blackeberg. The focus in the last chapters narrows down Oskar's fate, since this is what Eli represents. This is where all of the space that John Ajvide gave to the peripheral plot threads and characters (the outer rings that I mentioned earlier) really pays off. As these rings constrict about Oskar in the end, they feel real. They feel like real threats and not just plot devices because John Ajvide took the time to show us their full trajectory. They are not just thunderbolts falling from the sky. They are more like cannonballs, and John Ajvide showed us how they were loaded into the cannon and how the barrel got aimed. So now as things pick up speed at the end, the reader is not asking herself, "Why is that happening? Why is he doing that?" The things that happen feel inevitable and you know they will happen because JAL has already shown you why they must happen.

This is why I liken it to a rollercoaster. You stood in line, climbed aboard, and rode it to the top. Now as you start the plunge, it is too late to turn back. You know the plunge is inevitable and cannot stop it. The acceleration is exhilarating. And so too I found the acceleration of the story at the end exhilarating.

As much as I love the film, for me it lacked this sense of acceleration at the end. This not a criticism. The calm, steady pacing through out the film is absolutely part of its charm, and perhaps in some ways the source of its power. But film is a different medium than literature. Things that are possible in one are not possible in the other. The same story can be told in both, but as the art of storytelling approaches a high level, you cannot say that one medium could replace the other. In the novel, JAL provided a different kind of ride that was really not possible in the film. The film could not devote that same amount of space to making all the the characters surrounding Oskar seem real. On the other hand, being a visual medium, characters can become real just by virtue of being present. Characters in literature must be made real by the author. Thus I believe that the fillet that John and Tomas found in the novel only became the fillet with the transition from novel to film. What became a fillet on screen would not even have been a snack in print.
...the story derives a lot of its appeal from its sense of despair and a darkness in which the love of Eli and Oskar seems to shine with a strange and disturbing light.
-Lacenaire

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drakkar
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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by drakkar » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:30 am

It just struck me: If I ever start burning my books - God forbid - LdRKI will be is one of the very last to go.
For the heart life is simple. It beats as long as it can.
- Karl Ove Knausgård

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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by gattoparde59 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:17 pm

Sorry about the post title. I took it from an essay that Simone Beauvoir wrote about the Marquis de Sade, "Must we burn Sade?" I meant burn it figuratively, not in the Stormtroopers chucking books into the fire sense.

Perhaps some of the horror, as well as sex, was overdone in the book as well. This is a horror novel, and certain things are expected, like wee children with power drills. ;) As I said, these things don't bother me if they are in a book. In the cinema on the other hand, I feel differently about it. I really hate the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs. I have yet to see the chest ripper scene in Alien. I have never scene the torture scene in Casino either.

A very nice review from Wolfchild that includes allusions to Dante (the different circles of characters). No wonder johnadjvide likes Wolfie. ;)

I'll break open the story and tell you what is there. Then, like the others that have fallen out onto the sand, I will finish with it, and the wind will take it away.

Nisa

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drakkar
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Re: Must we burn the novel?

Post by drakkar » Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:45 pm

gattoparde59 wrote:Perhaps some of the horror, as well as sex, was overdone in the book as well. This is a horror novel, and certain things are expected, like wee children with power drills. ;)
Just had to write a brief comment before going to bed: About sex - Remember, the novel is Swedish ;). About power drills - I expect more of those in "Lilla Stjärna" :lol:
For the heart life is simple. It beats as long as it can.
- Karl Ove Knausgård

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