A Full House no longer
In the small hours of last Tuesday morning, (about 2 a.m.), Lek and the kids took off in the Mitsubishi Triton to make the 500-mile journey to Nong Khai to visit their extended family. They drove via Udon Thani airport where she picked up her sister who had flown up there from Bangkok, (I think…).
So overnight, I went from a full house to an empty house and I am all alone, save for three dogs, who spend most of their time sitting by the front door, waiting for their beloved ‘mother’ to return.
I am betwixt and between.
I am awaiting the launch of my book on 16th November, and I have yet to make a serious start on Book number Two. I did plan to make a start on it during the family’s absence, but I confess that procrastination has reared its ugly head.
I haven’t been totally idle as I have been immersed in sorting out some long-standing problematic issues with my computer files and software. In particular, I have installed two new media players, both of which automatically download subtitles for movies and TV programmes and display them on my TV screen – all at the touch of a button. Magic….
This has made my TV viewing so much more enjoyable and no longer do I have to faff around searching for subtitles, then downloading them, then extracting them from a zip file and then putting them into the movies. Sometimes the subtitles are simply not available online, and my new media players instantly inform me of this, which saves me oodles of wasted time searching for them in vain.
Why have two media players? I hear you ask.
Well, the first player I downloaded didn’t work properly so I downloaded a second. Then I got the first one working (after contacting the developers who told me there was a bug and how to get around it). But for some reason they don’t always work for every file, but between the two of them I am covered – if a video file doesn’t work on one player, it will on the other one.
Fixing computer problems can be inordinately time-consuming, and also very frustrating, especially when I spend countless hours trying to fix something without success. But I usually refuse to give up; and one particularly nasty problem that I have been wrestling with for ages, which prevented me from opening ‘msi’ files has now been solved, thank goodness. But it took me several months to find a solution.
Anyway, now all that is behind me, I am hopeful that I will finally make a start on my new novel over the coming days, as I feel slightly depressed and somewhat at a loose end when I am not writing.
Writing has become my life, and I fervently hope I can achieve some measure of success at it – however modest.
The End of the Affair
I have previously written about Greene’s ‘breakthrough book’, Brighton Rock, which was also adapted into an acclaimed movie, and I have now repeated this process with The End of the Affair.
I read the book and then watched the 1999 film version of the book which starred Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore.
The book is in the ‘first person’, and is beautifully written, based on a Greene’s love affair with a married woman that he had during the 2nd world war.
I doubt whether this novel would sell many copies to today’s younger generation, as it contains too many pages devoted to an existential examination of the narrator’s feelings and motives; and also of his lover and her husband.
At the heart of the book is a philosophical debate over whether God exists and what part, if any, God plays in our everyday lives.
Greene himself was an atheist who became a catholic in later life.
I found the book a fascinating read, although I confess I was more into the characters and events surrounding the affair than the religious and existential elements.
After carrying on an illicit love affair for four years, the woman suddenly breaks off the affair without any explanation. The narrator discovers the truth when a private detective, who he hires to follow her, steals her diary. We read about the affair and its break-up from two points of views – the narrator and his lover (via her stolen diary)
As an aside, a recent highly acclaimed American TV mini-series entitled ‘The Affair’ uses a similar technique – showing us events from both the man’s and woman’s points of view. What’s the betting that the writer stole the idea from Greene?
The 1999 film of Greene’s book is a bit of a gem and is well worth 102 minutes of your time. It is produced and directed by Neil Jordan, who also wrote the screenplay.
For much of the film, Jordan didn’t have a lot to do as far as the screenplay was concerned as Greene’s original dialogue comes shining through into every scene.
But towards the end of the film, unlike Lolita, (which I recently gave the same ‘book/film’ treatment recently), Jordan strays from the original story. He didn’t just cut out superfluous events and characters, which is what was done in Lolita, but he actually changed part of the story.
In the book, the cheating femme fatale breaks up with the narrator and meets an atheistic street orator who has a badly pocked-marked face. In the film, the atheistic orator becomes a catholic priest and the person with the badly scarred face is the son of the private detective who the narrator hires to follow her.
The essential elements of the film remain more or less faithful to the book, but I do wonder why Jordan made these changes. He obviously didn’t consider them to be ‘fundamental’ to the story and must have decided that his version was more cinematic than the book version.
I have to say that the dialogue during these cinematic diversions from the book was pretty seamless and could have easily been Greene’s own words.
Greene died some 8 years before this film was made. Had he been alive, I doubt very much whether he would have agreed to the changes, as he was always personally involved in the screenplays of earlier films which were based on his books.
Next week I will write about John le Carré’s The Tailor of Panama, which was also adapted into a film in 2001.
Le Carré was an admirer of Greene and they knew each other. In their younger years, they both worked for the British secret service (MI6), and Le Carré admits he took the idea for The Tailor of Panama from Greene’s Our Man in Havana.
It seems that writers and filmmakers have no compunction in stealing each other’s ideas…