Maria Konnikova

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Unfilmable books, on NPR’s Morning Edition

November 21, 2012

Yesterday, I spoke with Elizabeth Blair on NPR’s morning edition about unfilmable novels (I’d written a piece on the topic for The Atlantic back in October). I really enjoyed our conversation – but the most exciting part to me was that I had a chance to be on air with David Mitchell, one of my favorite contemporary writers. I only wish that I’d had a chance to meet him in person.

I’ve actually yet to see Cloud Atlas the movie; I must admit, I’m stalling because of my love for the book. I’m too afraid of being disappointed. That’s actually something Elizabeth and I discussed during our conversation, though it didn’t make it to the final cut: how do you approach the films of books that you’ve loved? Do you avoid them for fear of ruining a dear mental image–or do you embrace them on their own terms? It depends on the film and the book in question, of course, but it’s always an interesting conundrum. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And a related question: have you ever read a book after loving the movie? And if you have, were you ever disappointed?

listen to the NPR segment here

2 Comments

  1. Dave Boyle says:

    I have had an interesting experience reading a book and then seeing the movie. The book was “Nicht Ohne Meine Tochter”, as I read it first in German. I then read it in English, and eventually saw the movie in English. I enjoyed them all, but the reading in German was most satisfying. As you know it was translated from the Danish, and I have no idea how accurate any of the translations are. My impression of the English translation is that it was very “dumbed-down”. The German version seemed to have far more technical detail about the various qualities of snow. As a retired engineer, I particularly appreciated the detail. Based on this, and other experiences, I can only wonder at the difficulty of transforming a book to a movie.

    VTY, Dave Boyle

  2. I liked how Cloud Atlas felt like 6 different stories from different story tellers, and I’m not exactly sure how that voice and narrative and style translates into a film. I’m apprehensive about seeing it but I think I’ll pick it up, eventually, at least to see how it was interpreted!

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