Thursday, 17 March 2011
Moonlighting Strangers, Who Just Met On The Way
It's hard for me to write on this blog, because the running joke is that for every book we've read we could just put "Pete thought it was shit".
I have to admit, I didn't enjoy Tom Sawyer. I might even have used the word "shit" to describe it. Twice. Not like, "it's shit shit", meaning it's double shit, or perhaps that it was low-quality dung. I was trying to say "it's not very good" in a situation where brevity was of the essence. And I did it twice.
(Mainly because it's hard to say "I felt that the limitations of 19th century literature made this a difficult book to enjoy for somebody who likes challenging 20th and 21st century literature, although the language used was pretty interesting" in an SMS message, but also because I thought the book was shit.)
I've been watching a lot of the classic 1980's TV show, Moonlighting, recently. It's got a really good reputation, although everybody says that it goes downhill when the two main characters get it on. Cybil Shepard is amazingly hot in it, and although Bruce Willis doesn't do anything for me, I can tell that he's a lot better looking as a skinny young guy with hair than in his current incarnation as a sort of pink Ben Grimm.
But the thing about Moonlighting is that it's a really old TV show. It's about 25 years old, and it's the little things that really stand out. Sometimes the main characters aren't in focus in a shot - unthinkable in a contemporary show. The plots are weird, shambling things, held together by the snappy one liners and sexual tension. Up until midway through series two, there is only one other recurring character besides the two leads.
Compare that to Lost, the recently finished confuse-a-thon that ran on Channel 4 and Sky for the past few years, and Moonlighting starts to look like an am-dram production from BATS.
In the same way, Tom Sawyer is a very different beast to the books being written now. We expect a book to tell us one story, straight through from the start to the end. I guess 19th century readers, picking up the early editions of Mark Twain's new book in 1876, would have expected as much a peek into the life of somebody else as a story that grabs them.
But I'm not that reader. And if I don't like classic literature like Tom Sawyer, it's because I approach a novel in a slightly different mindset to somebody alive in 1876. Maybe I just watch too much TV.