Sunday, November 26, 2006

am i shallow? or what?

Yours truly isn't a big believer in the "blog-as-private-confessional" theory. So this post is as self-indulgent as I'll get (on the web, that is) -- about a certain tendency of mine that I've been worrying about.

First, though, a graphic, or rather, two graphics:

I was presented with this scenario (well, descriptively speaking) at the Strand, a gorgeous used-book store in New York, about a month ago. There were about four or five copies of A Beautiful Mind, all of which were priced at $2. As a book that I've always wanted to read I decided to buy it. But here was the difficulty: which of the two versions -- or editions -- should I pick? The original one with John Forbes Nash Jr on the cover? Or the one with Russell Crowe playing Nash on the cover?

Now this should hardly even be a problem. The book was the same, and all versions were in reasonably good shape. So I should have just grabbed one of them and gone on. Instead I spent more than ten minutes (well, I exaggerate) deciding which of the two editions to buy. The reason? I didn't want to be seen as someone who came to the book after seeing the movie (which I did, by the way). I vacillated. And finally -- yes, finally -- I chose the old version.

So, to re-iterate two points: (a) I hadn't heard of the book -- or indeed of John Forbes Nash Jr -- before I saw the movie, and (b) I haven't read the book yet.

Anyway, I wouldn't be writing this post if something similar hadn't happened yesterday. I was in the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, browsing, and I chanced upon this:

Aha, same problem. An edition printed after the movie (which I haven't seen, by the way) vs the original paper-back edition. Which to choose? The film version of A Home at the End of the World is not I became aware of Michael Cunningham -- and the film isn't too good, by many accounts. I did however read The Hours sometime when its movie version was about to be released and I've read a few of Cunningham's (beautiful) short stories since then.

So anyway, no prizes for guessing what I bought. Which brings me to the point of this whole meandering post. Either, (a) I have a visceral aversion to buying books which have a picture of the movie on its cover (which I do, I guess) or (b) I am a snob and would rather have people think that I read the book before seeing the movie made out of it (even if I hadn't done anything of the sort). Which is it?.

PS: Oh, it needn't be either-or. And check out A. O. Scott's review of A Beautiful Mind.

No comments: