I Read Listened To, Watched That

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(Actually posted by Kara)This holiday my husband, Tucker (our 90-lb. lab) and I drove 14 hours (in a two-door Honda Civic) from Cincinnati to Boston to celebrate Christmas with my in-laws. On the way there and back we listened to the unabridged audio version of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, narrated by Jill Tanner. We loved it.

Shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2001 Booker Prize for Fiction and the 2001 Whitbread Book Award for Novel, it won the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and was raved about in countless reviews.

Next week I plan to see the movie. I can’t wait. For all the flack movies-made-from-books seem to get, this one has received good press. In Ann Hornaday’s December 7, 2007 The Washington Post review, she writes:

“For admirers of Ian McEwan’s shattering 2002 novel Atonement, the prospect of adapting such a masterful piece of diamantine prose into a big-screen spectacle bespeaks temerity bordering on blasphemy. The fiercest of McEwan’s protectors may stand down. In the almost spookily capable hands of 34-year-old director Joe Wright, the film version of 'Atonement' has achieved that to which every literary adaptation should aspire.”

She ends the review with:

“How fitting, somehow, that a novel so devoted to the precision and passionate love of language be captured in a film that is simply too exquisite for words.”

Visit Rotten Tomatoes for similar reviews.

So I loved the audiobook. I’m guessing I’m going to love the movie. But as a writer, is it my duty to read the book, too? I’m sure I’ll find the experience enjoyable, but my time is limited. But am I missing something by not digesting the words page-by-page? Or, perhaps, have I gained something by hearing them read and seeing them come alive on screen?

Personally, there are some forms of writing I’d almost rather hear than read, such as poetry. But novels, well, I’m not so sure. So I’d love to hear what you think. Do you still read the book even if you’ve seen the movie and/or listened to the audiobook? Why or why not?

Take care,
Kara Gebhart Uhl
Managing Editor

P.S.: Maria returns from her well-deserved vacation next week, so be sure to check back soon!

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