Saturday, January 12, 2008

To Read Or Not To Read...

Having recently become obsessed with an old BBC show, Monarch of the Glen, I was surprised to find out that it's loosely based on a book. Actually quite a few books-- named within the show's credits as the "Highland Novels of Compton Mackenzie."

Always being one who believed the book is better than the movie/show, I checked out the book from which the series takes its name. I have to admit I was surprised. Shocked in fact-- I actually liked the show better.


This collection of books, in the same spirit as the show, depict a family in the highlands of Scotland. This family, the MacDonalds, is headed by an impulsive and irrational old man who through sheer pride and vanity, subjects friends, family and unwanted hikers to embarrassing predicaments.

Not to say it isn't entertaining (the book takes place in the conservative 30s and 40s), but after staying up late watching episode after episode of the series... I just can't get into it.

*Insert shock and dismay here*

I know, I know. The writer inside me is screaming "Why?" I just can't say. The show is based on the book, but the storyline involves a young city guy who comes back to his country Scottish home to find out he is the laird, or new "lord of the manor." The series follows his little escapades as he deals with lairdship and with his new surroundings, which include many good looking girls (much to his city girlfriend's annoyance).

Maybe it's the actors in the show-- Richard Briers as the cantankerous old man (most girls my age remember him as the bishop of Candleford in Spice World), Susan Hampshire as his plucky wife, absolute hottie Alastair Mackenzie as the new laird, sexy Dawn Steele as the punkish kitchen wench and a variety of other awesomely colorful characters.

I just love it. I can't get over it. And I can't get over how dull I find the book.
In trying to find out more about the books, I found out the author's full name is Sir Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie. What a long name!

Mackenzie, born in England but of Scottish heritage, was apparently best known for these Highland Novels. Turns out the guy was ridiculing Scotland's pretentious, ignorant aristocracy. (I have to quickly point out that his name is a perfect example of this.) The show, on the other hand, doesn't. This has actually brought some harsh criticism from fans of the books, who dislike the liberties taken with the storyline.

Once again, I love it.

* * * * * * *

I'm slowly learning to come to terms with movies and shows based on books. I have high hopes for future ones-- Atonement, the Kite Runner, etc.

Oh and I Am Legend was a decent attempt at recreating Richard Matheson's 1954 science fiction novel, but it still falls short of his unconventional twist on the vampire genre.

For the most part I'm happy curling up with Swift, Eliot, Orwell, Lee, Austen, or Bronte. I have to leave out Dickens, because I honestly find him a hard, boring and tedious read. Between doing reading for all my classes, I definitely don't want to be reading something else hard, boring and tedious.

This brings to mind the idea of social commentary and our roles as writers, artists and overall free thinking, feeling, expressing, participating members of society. What impression upon the world do we want to leave? What will be our ending, our left behind work?

Whether paper, pencil, brush, or other tool, we should definitely have a purpose to our using it, even if it's just to make people laugh. I love a deep, filling laugh, the kind that come not from your gut, but your stinkin' toes!

Personally, I just know I really want to make people think about the world around them and their role within it. That might take some serious work though. Serious work that occasionally should be interrupted by some toe stinkin' Monarch Glen laughter.


Temporary Home

This blogsite is our temporary home while our website undergoes an extreme makeover of epic proportions (shifted septums, pacemakers, calf implants, dialysis, a fancy wig, contacts -- the works).

This was our old home, and while it is a bit dated, it's a good source of info regarding recent issues and the history of Prism Review.

Updates will follow regarding our new home. ETA summer 2009.