I have recently discovered that Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers is being made into a TV series by HBO. I talked about how much I enjoyed this novel in our podcast on A Wrinkle in Time. I’ve watched the trailer, and it looks like they’ve taken some liberties with the story, but other than that I think I’m excited about it. It is HBO, after all. I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear that a book that I’ve loved is being made into a movie or TV show I have very mixed feelings about it. I’m excited but also nervous. Seeing a really good book get visually butchered actually hurts a little bit. For the most part I’ve been lucky. No Country for Old Men is by one of my favourite authors, Cormac McCarthy. I read the book long before the Coen brothers made their movie adaptation. The movie blew me away in how faithful it was to the novel, and how excellent a job all of the actors did of portraying the characters from the book. The Road, another McCarthy novel, wasn’t quite as faithful, but it was still a pretty good movie. McCarthy’s masterpiece, Blood Meridian, has been in pre-production limbo for several years, and I have been very anxious about what will finally come of it. Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers was almost immediately optioned for a movie version, and when I heard that John C. Reilly would be playing Eli I was a little bit crushed. Reilly’s a very good actor, but he just didn’t suit the role (too old, for one thing). It looks like that production went nowhere, and I think I’m a little relieved. The movie version of Guy Vanderheaghe’s The Englishman’s Boy was not exactly awful but it was very disappointing. It just didn’t capture the tone or the nuances of the novel very well. The Nicole Kidman adaptation of The Portrait of a Lady misses the point of James’ novel almost completely. Then there is the dog’s breakfast that was Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein (a movie I was VERY excited about (Robert De Niro and Kenneth Branagh!)). And, finally, Brad Pitt’s World War Z just broke my heart. Max Brooks’ novel was so good, and the film took almost nothing from it. It is, in fact, a completely different story (the zombies are fast zombies, for God’s sake!). I’m curious as to what Leo DiCaprio would have done with it if he had won the rights instead. I’m sure there are examples of other great disappointments but I must have deleted them from my memory. Perhaps you’d care to share some of your joys and disappointments with movie/TV adaptations of books you’ve loved?
At any rate, I am guardedly looking forward to The Leftovers, and I highly recommend that you read the novel before you watch the series. Hopefully, HBO won’t let us down.
*I may have become the first male book blogger to quote The Golden Girls, but I couldn’t resist.