EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 12, 2013

Books on the Big Screen

Top authors weigh in on favorite film adaptations


John Green (johngreenbooks.com)

The author’s YA novels include “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Looking For Alaska,” which was optioned a few years ago but has not yet been made into a film.

Favorite: “I’m tempted to say ‘Die Hard,’ adapted from Roderick Thorp’s novel ‘Nothing Lasts Forever,’ because I do feel that ‘Die Hard’ has been critically underappreciated, but I think the best book-to-film adaptation remains ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ It captures the guts of the story while sacrificing very little of the story. Some of the adaptation’s brilliance goes down to the book, of course: It’s a short, visually evocative novel with a three-act structure. But the performances in the movie are also extraordinary.

Least favorite: “When I was in college I saw an old animated adaptation of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ that features a happy ending — the farm animals overthrow their communist oppressors. That was pretty awful. Most adaptations fail because it’s so difficult to capture the voice of a story visually (if you’ve ever seen the movie version of ‘Running with Scissors,’ you’ll know what I’m talking about), but in the case of ‘Animal Farm,’ it was just kind of an hours-long insult to Orwell himself.”

Jean Hanff Korelitz


Her novel “Admission” was recently made into a feature film. Her forthcoming novel “You Should Have Known” comes out next year.

Favorite: “Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Housekeeping,’ a book of almost unbearably beautiful prose, was especially fortunate in its Scottish director and screenplay writer, Bill Forsyth, whose visual choices were every bit as lovely as Robinson’s written imagery.”

Least favorite: “Even without having seen every film adaptation of every novel that’s ever been made I can definitely state that the worst one of all is ‘Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living In New York,’ the excruciating 1975 adaptation of Gail Parent’s 1972 novel of the same name. Why? Because the novel is — to this day — the funniest book I have ever read. The film adaptation threw out Parent’s characters and plot, replaced them with entirely different people doing totally unrelated things, and then sucked every ounce of humor out of the endeavor, leaving a grim, flabby non-story. The final humiliation was that the film retained the novel’s title. This dreadful miscalculation was directed by someone named Sidney J. Furie, who went on to direct many action movies and episodes of ‘Pensacola: Wings of Gold.’ I would say more, but I’m still too upset about the whole thing.”

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