As I already explained on day 11, I’ve encountered a lot of books that I don’t like. This category is somewhat different. I need to come up with a book that I started with full expectations of liking, but ended up not liking.Almost anyone from my generation has seen the movie and can quote from it liberally (and frequently does), but few have read the book. I saw the movie multiple times in high school and college. It is an excellent movie, witty and fast-paced and with a simple, workmanlike visual feel that’s so much better than today’s special effects extravaganzas. Having seen it, and knowing that William Goldman was the screenwriter for the movie, I figured there was no way the book could go wrong.
Well, it does go wrong, because while the movie focuses on the story, Goldman instead tries to get clever and post-modernist with the book. Rather than just writing a straightforward narrative, he instead presents it as an abridgement of the great Florin classes by S. Morgenstern; Goldman has supposedly removed the boring socio-political commentary and given us “the good parts”. In reality both the nation of Florin and Mr. Morgenstern do not exist. They are simply part of a silly device by which Goldman introduces the story and then interrupts it from time to tell us which parts were left out of the non-existent original. It’s a device that aims to be clever, but it ends up being merely annoying.
Which is a shame, because some parts of the book are quite good, and even add on things that aren’t in the movie. We get more background on Fezzik and we learn the sequence of events which launched Inigo Montaya on his famous quest for revenge. We get additional acts of desperate heroism from both those characters in the Zoo of Death, a location shamefully left out of the movie. We get a lot more as well, but overall I simply can’t give the book a thumbs up.
(This review covers the book in depth, and I highly recommend it.)