12 Years a Slave adaptation

Source Material: 12 Years a Slave as an Adaptation

Solomon Northup’s autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave, was a bestseller in its own time, but like many others I’d never heard of this account of Northup’s gruelling ordeal in slavery until it was adapted into Steve McQueen’s masterpiece 12 Years a Slave. (McQueen’s film is actually the second adaptation of the book – television movie…

Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee

The Nobel Prize winning Diary of a Bad Year is a structurally unique piece of reflexivity, presented as three distinct texts combined on each page: the first, a piece of left-wing political commentary true to the Howard/Bush/Guantanamo Bay era; the second, the inner thoughts of the author of that commentary, “Señor C” (a barely-disguised analogue…

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

The metaphor at the heart of Cat’s Cradle is the titular cat’s cradle, a mess of string criss-crossing into a web of X’s. But why the name? Where’s the cat? Where’s the cradle? This confusion and disarray represents the post-war politics of the time, the mess of religion and morals and science strung up by…

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is the third novel in just over twenty years from Donna Tartt, an author whose first novel The Secret History remains one of my favourite books of all time. The Goldfinch is an inspired, excellent work with much in common with her debut, even if it’s not quite on the same level. Like…

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road (2008)

Revolutionary Road (2008)

I don’t like to read books before watching their cinematic adaptations, because I tend to come down more harshly on the film due to the baggage of expectations. Such is the case with Sam Mendes’ interpretation of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. The strength of novel is that its critique of fifties suburbia is elevated by…

Invisible Monsters

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club – through Tyler Durden – stated that “self-improvement is masturbation. Now, self-destruction…” Invisible Monsters – written before Fight Club but released afterwards – is a novel expanding upon that idea, arguing that self-improvement and self-destruction are one and the same, each as solipsistic as pleasuring one self. The unnamed narrator of…

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

One of my favourite novels is Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, a document that posits a futuristic dystopia where books and liberty alike are immolated in streams of fire. It’s touching and prescient and achingly well-written. It’s also founded on a belief that I reject, the notion that television is an ignorance-inducing tool of slavery. Bradbury’s…