Monday, December 30, 2013

Nicholas Sparks's "The Last Song" (Part II)

I'd kind of like to unpack another aspect of Nicholas Sparks's The Last Song, which would be the romance.

Granted, the romance between Ronnie and Will is more developed in the book --- again, presumably due to time constraints in the movie. There's more time before they say "I love you" to each other, more obstacles to their being together, and more arguments before they do get together.

Nonetheless, despite the book being realistic fiction, the romance is my favorite part.

This revelation will probably not surprise people who know me, since it's fairly common knowledge that I'm a romantic at heart.

What is it about the visual of a guy sweeping a girl off her feet, literally and figuratively, that makes me long for something like that to happen to me?

Proverbs 30 says it this way: "There are three things that are too amazing four me, / four that I do not understand: / the way of an eagle in the sky, / the way of a snake on a rock, / the way of a ship on the high seas, / and the way of a man with a young woman" (v. 18-19 NIV).

I actually try not to watch too many romance movies. They're so perfect, so "happily ever after," riding off into the sunset, overcoming even the hardest obstacles and all that. Anybody who has lived through real life and a real relationship knows that it never goes that way.

Think about it. Take one imperfect person plus one imperfect person, and you don't get perfection. You get two imperfect people, committed forever, who now basically have to figure out how they're going to spend eternity "'til death do us part" not killing each other.

Or some slightly more positive goal than that.

Romance novels have the same problem. Nobody talks about the hero's bad breath, or that the heroine leaves her makeup all over the bathroom, or that she burns everything she tries to cook, or he whistles and it drives her nuts.

I guess what I'm saying is that there isn't a lot of realism portrayed in romance these days, and it's hard to be single in that kind of atmosphere.

Really, I'm happy for Ronnie when Will comes back, picks her up, and holds her close as he kisses her deeply.

Really.

But I'm envious, too.

I'd rather be single than miserable and stuck in the wrong relationship, sure, but it isn't easy being single, either.

(Blue chip for envy.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nicholas Sparks's "The Last Song" (Part I)

Why are all books by Nicholas Sparks supremely depressing?

Just curious.

I read The Last Song (Grand Central Publishing, 2010). Like all of Sparks's books, somebody significant dies before the conclusion, and that death leaves a gaping hole for everyone else.

Maybe it's supposed to be more realistic to have death in every novel, since death is part of every life lived.

For people like me, death in every novel makes it hard to finish reading. I've never been good at grieving. I bottle everything up instead, until I burst. (Blue chip for that dysfunctional choice.)

But anyway . . .

The Last Song was a better book than I expected, given that the ending (despite the death) actually met with my approval. When that happens, I like to go look up the movie version of the book, if there is one, to see how they compare.

I like the book better than the movie.

There were too many changes from book to movie. They were probably made because you can only cram so much into an hour and a half. Still, I thought the movie fell flat in places. It felt shallow because there were fewer subplots, less character development, and parts missing.

And the death in the movie is way harder to take on-screen than it is in book form. In the book, with just words on the page, I can let my imagination paint pictures, or not, about what happens. In the movie, the pictures are painted for me, and that's more emotionally taxing.

Not my favorite movie. I might not watch it again.

My theory has always been that if I want to be reminded that there's death in the world, I can read the newspaper. Death happens all the time, and it's what sells. Nobody would buy a newspaper if it was full of celebrations and happy news.

On the other hand, I'm an author too, and when one of my characters calls to die in the middle of something, I really don't usually have a choice. Maybe I'm not being fair to Sparks.

Hard to say.