Tag Archive | Novel

Made in Britain Special: Book to Movie- The Cement Garden

Before I start, I’d like to thank Xi for the use of his excellent Book to Movie idea. Given the content of this mega-review, I’ll return it only slightly soiled.

Ian McEwan’s novella The Cement Garden was a novel that I read at school, and stuck with me for much longer afterwards. A haunting dreamlike novel, with a consummately unreliable narrator, it is both celebrated and reviled in equal measure. Having said that, I never for the life of me thought that anyone would be nuts enough, given it’s intensely controversial subject matter, to even attempt to adapt it for the screen. Yet in 1993 Andrew Birkin (remember that last name, it’ll be important later) took a stab at it, and turned in a haunting, lyrical, sombre little film that wasn’t afraid to look at the inherent unpleasantness of the novel’s plot.

OK, here we go. Buckle up, this one’s stormy.

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Droid defines the Decades Best Films – #1 Adaptation (2002)

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The World According to Arnie: The Running Man (1987)

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There have been an awful lot of adaptations of Stephen King’s work. According to the internets, not counting short films or episodes of a TV show (such as the X-Files), the number sits at 62. And counting. There is a pretty even split across Film and Television, with some even doubling up, such as Carrie and The Shining. Most of them remain unseen by me (something that is unlikely to change in the future), but the one’s I have seen tend to fall in either one of two categories. Brilliant or Terrible. There seems to be no middle ground with Stephen King.

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Jarv’s Favourite Books: Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre


The mid 1990’s were a funny time in Britain. On one hand, Britpop was still running strong, Trainspotting and the Full Monty showed that we did actually have a film industry, the country was in economic good health, and, really, everything seemed to be pretty rosy. However, on the other hand, things were not as great as they appeared to be. Maybe it was because I was young and naive, but it struck me that if the country was really in as great shape as it seemed to be, then why were the papers full of corruption, incompetence and loathsome behaviour from our ruling classes? Whether it was Aitken or Archer going down for perjury, or Hamilton taking cash-for-questions, it didn’t matter as the lasting impression I have of the time was that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was a country run by asset-stripping bondage fetishists who would sell their mother to the glue factory for a couple of quid. At the time this sense of je ne sais quoi that permeated through the nation really did leave an uncomfortable feeling and if I had to put my finger on the feeling it’s that we were pig fucking sick of the Tory bastards, Thatcherism and the rest of it and we felt confident enough to try to rebuild the country. We were wrong, in hindsight (fuck you New Labour), but there was a fragile optimism coupled with a belligerent sense of celebration (have a look at Tony Blair’s inauguration in 1997 if you don’t believe me- oh, and America, I hate to break this to you, but Barack Obama= Tony Blair in a different tie). Things, this time, really were going to be better.

There were a handful of writers at the time that attempted to catch this feeling, who despised the right wing of this country and wanted to set it all to rights. Christopher Brookmyre was one of them. Read More…

Jarv’s Favourite Books: King Rat by James Clavell

It’s time for me to have a look back through the extensive book collection I’ve got at home and pick out another one of my favourite novels. James Clavell’s King Rat is a book I discovered in my teens, having read my way through the potboilers Shogun and Tai Pan. Both of these books are great fun, Shogun in particular, but reek of airport fiction- they’re the kind of weighty piece of trash that you’d read on the beach somewhere and on return home forget forever. Nevertheless, Clavell penned an entire Asian saga (this is some undertaking, frankly) and both of the aforementioned pieces of enjoyable trash followed distinct and defining events in the Far East. Shogun featured the rise of Toranaga, in 17th Century Japan, and Tai Pan was about the Opium Wars and the foundation of Hong Kong. King Rat, despite being the first book he wrote, is the fourth novel in the series (I’ve not read Gai Jin for some reason) and is a heavily fictionalised account of Clavell’s own time in Changi prisoner of war camp, and is, I believe, vastly superior to the hugely overrated Empire of the Sun (I really don’t like Ballard), which deals with a similar story.  Read More…

Jarv’s Favourite Books: The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Iain Banks is, quite frankly, a phenomenon. He turns out roughly a book a year either under the name Iain M. Banks for his science fiction Culture novels (including Consider Phlebas) or sans initial. The books he writes without the initial tend to be more serious “proper” fiction and not genre work, although many of them do tend to dabble in the realms of fantasy and science fiction rather than a more traditionally literary theme. The Wasp Factory was his debut novel, and I still think it’s arguably his best work- it’s certainly the least forgettable novel that he’s written. Read More…

Jarv’s Favourite Books. Number 4 Abarat- by Clive Barker

I’ve really got to stop numbering this series, because it gives the wholly erroneous perception that I’ve thought about order of preference regarding these books. I haven’t, rather I’m just penning these reviews in the order that they occur to me. Abarat, for example, is nowhere near number 4. Don’t get me wrong, it is excellent and a wonderful introduction to a truly compelling series, but number 4? That’s ludicrously high.  The real reason that I’ve picked it is that the first 3 novels I chose were all more, well, realistic, whereas Abarat is not only a Children’s book, but also a pure fantasy novel. I really like this book, partially because of the depth of imagery in it, partially because of the coherent and well thought out mythology, but mostly  because it’s damned scary for a kiddies novel, with many a passage that sends a shiver down my spine even as an adult.  Read More…

Jarv’s Favourite Books. Number 2: Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh

Decline and Fall has played a large part in my life. Not my actual decline and fall, obviously, as I don’t think I have declined in any way other than physically, intellectually, and morally since I was 18 and I certainly haven’t actually fallen yet, but the book itself. Read More…

Jarv’s Holiday Reading Part 3

Hola,

This is the last part of the whole “holiday reading” marathon, and for the finale I’m covering 3 books, one of them is a mini-review and the other two will be in more depth. Read More…