MEET CHRIS ROSE – interviewed by author Lucinda E. Clarke.

This is an interview I had just before Christmas, for Lucinda, on her wonderful, author-promo website. And, busy as she is, here it is!

MEET CHRIS ROSE

Enjoy and support!

Your literary, theatrical, friend.

‘Not as good as the book,’ scoffed Madam Snooty, like she’d written it. Books & films/movies, for better or for worse – the befores & afters…

Welcome, as always, to my last blog post of the year, accompanied by a promise of 1000s to come throughout 2018. Certainly more regularly.

And for my regular readers, those of you having been patient enough to read my posts on the five books I claim to have changed my life, followed accordingly by five such films/movies, well, here I’d like not only to add something further to those posts, but to compare each medium dealing with the same piece of work as a story; the same script: the book version, and the film/movie version.

In this post I’m going to offer you five films/movies I deem to be greater than their forerunners, their original book version, some by far.

And why might I prefer to do it that way around?

Well, however fascinating the subject may be, I believe it to be one out of which filmmakers tend to get a raw deal.

I confess, also, to having developed over the years a slight aversion to the book snob. You know the type; you possibly are one, as I no doubt am too. I’m not sure we can help ourselves:

‘Oh, darling, the book’s much better than the film/movie!’

I mean, why not just add ‘You’ll be fine once you’ve learned to read’, and have done with it?

And what naturally follows with regard to book snobbery, I’m positive, is an actual fear of being ostracized, cast out of one’s regular, ‘cultivated’ circle like some social leper, but for having openly declared the unthinkable:

‘Well, I actually prefer the film/movie version’ – eternal shame!

Do you know, dear reader, that I’ve yet to hear anyone confess to such? They’d get a big kiss from me, I can tell you; I’m not particular.

Before offering my five such films/movies, which I consider to be far superior to their book versions, I’d just like to say that, with each, I’ve been able to whittle it down to a simple case of, in my case, the film/movie having come before the book; I’ve read the book after seeing the film/movie.

But if we’re so moved by a book, how can anything ever compare?

Well, surely that works both ways. And hence the book snobbery: that s/he may be as uncouth as to have encountered the film/movie before the literary opus…

Here are my five such films/movies, in no particular order:

1: The Railway Children.

Directed by Lionel Jeffries and starring Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter, Sally Thomsett and Bernard Cribbins, The Railway Children may make claim to having moved the toughest of cinema going males to tears on Bobbie’s ‘Daddy, my daddy!’; on her being reunited with her wrongly imprisoned father, amid the mist of a steam railway station platform. E. Nesbit’s novel, a children’s novel, cannot be compared with what Jeffries achieved, without which the book would have fallen into obscurity, I’m sure…

 

2: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Directed by Karel Reis and starring Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field and Rachel Roberts, comes the 1960 film adaption of Alan Sillitoe’s eponymous debut novel. Whenever I watch this coming-of-age classic, set in the raw, industrial North of England, in the midst of the ‘British New Wave’, a new gritty realism, the “kitchen sink” genre, I’m able to appreciate what Reis’ direction achieved.The film script reads better than the novel, is like a perfect edit, freed of the superfluity I found in Sillitoe’s literary intro…

 

3: The Dresser.

Adapted from Ronald Harwood’s successful 1980 play, The Dresser, directed by Peter – ‘Shakespeare’ – Yates and released in ’83, The film hits home on a number of levels: its wonderfully comic moments, and lines, particularly between Finney and Courtney, actor and dresser; the pervasive sense of pathos running throughout, which is almost tangible.

The play is a funny one, but Finney and Courtney perfect it in film…

 

4: The War of the Worlds.

Directed by Byron Haskin and starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, this 1953 American movie is a somewhat loose adaption of H. G. Wells’ 1897 classic of the same name, and I feel that the novel is at times a needlessly, laboriously drawn out affair, whereas the movie adaption, considered to be an allegory of the Cold War, appears to just improve with age. Atmospheric to say the least, and totally unreplicable…

 

 

5: The Last of the Mohicans.

Directed by Michael Mann, the 1992 movie is based, again loosely, on James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel, again of the same name, and is based in the Americas during the Anglo-French colonial war. The film outshines the novel on a whole series of levels, particular in its magnificent conveyance of such qualities, in time of war, as blind loyalty and betrayal; of courage and cowardice; and greed and generosity. Another perfect example of how to edit a book through film…

 

So there you have it. I could go on, could have made my list much, much longer. But you don’t deserve that.

What I’d love from you, however, if ever you have a moment, is to tell of such film/movie adaptations you may have preferred to their literary geneses.

Until then, all the very best for 2018.

Chris,

your literary, theatrical friend

in love with the alien (curiouser & curiouser); my review of Deb Cassidy’s The Plucker…

The Plucker: From the World of Spilt Milk by D K Cassidy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Curiouser and curiouser; plucky author, plucky book!

I think we’ve all heard the phrase that there’s no such thing as a normal family, only those you haven’t met yet. Or: Normal? It’s a cycle on a washing machine, isn’t it?

I couldn’t resist reviewing this book in order that I might use those two lines. Because nothing exemplifies the idea – that we’re all kind of weird, in our own way – than the books I’ve read to date by D K Cassidy. That being said, she’s difficult to review without giving anything away – which I will not do, and state as much in all my reviews.

But let me tell you about the book’s disturbingly hilarious qualities, because, for black comedy, this is a true gem.

Firstly, I found myself cringing for most of the characters concerned, thanks to the author’s wonderfully adept method of drawing the reader to centre-stage, by way of her pithy and at times repetitive phraseology – repetitive use of proper nouns, for example; again, we have one of those books, written in 3rd person, and yet which leaves you feeling as though you’ve read it in 1st. But then do we? Because we’re able to discern how the protagonist must come across to those other characters – I must point out here, too, that I didn’t cringe for those reasons alone, but for a personal, more physical one. But like I said, I’m giving nothing away…

Then let’s think about the ‘alien’ the author’s provided us with. An intelligent alien, an astute alien, particularly with regard to her own ‘failings’ – or what society recognises as failings, and so she must too. Call her Pria – that’s P R I A, in case you’re wondering, an unusual name, but then it matches her different shade of skin. And what are we left with? A page turner, whereby we turn each page with only the one eye open; Pria’s essence so being that, while she may differ from the rest of us, we can’t help finding a little bit of ourselves in her at the same time.

Thought provoking, I guess the description is, whereby the author presents us with no more than what some might view as mundane – sorry, no vampires, no bare-chested cowboys, no time travelling knights. Just someone a little different… who, I might add, IS capable of bringing about the ‘paranormal’. Or is that just in her head?

Whatever the case, we’re all supposed to be on the ‘…’ spectrum somewhere. Aren’t we?

Bravo, D K Cassidy, I’ve not only learned two new words describing skin conditions, but these truly are the kinds of books I like to read!

Chris,

your literary, theatrical friend

A “Quixotic quest for life’s meaning and purpose, and love” – an extraordinarily intelligent review…

Little over a month ago, with Christmas very much upon us, I was talking with a couple of friends about how, as an author, it feels to consider that, upon the morning in question, December 25th – why I can hear the tune as I write:  ‘December 25th, December 25th! ‘ You know, from the musical production of Scrooge, starring Albert Finney? Anyhow, I was saying that it gave me a warm feeling to know that, while we’re all opening our presents, there are people out there, around about the same time, depending on time-zones and such, unwrapping one of my books – title, author: ‘Chris Rose; looks interesting, must read that, thank you so much!’

It sort of makes it all worthwhile.

Something else, to make it worthwhile, is when an author receives such a review as I’ve had the pleasure to do of late. The kind of review that just keeps coming back, overwhelmingly, whereby, whatever may be happening out there in the big bad world, all is good within, for however long – and yes, cliché I know, but it really does make it all worthwhile.

That is, when an author receives a review demonstrating a truly intelligent reading.

Well, not only have I been lucky enough of late to receive such, for Wood, Talc and Mr. J: We never had it so good…, but it’s cleverly thematic in its praise to boot.

And so I thought I’d share it with you.

Enjoy!

“What a meandering, mesmerizing journey this novel is. It’s poetry in motion, pause and read-again worthy. “Wood, Talc & Mr. J” is unique yet familiar. There’s elegance in its grit, morality in its liberation, pathos in its humor, discipline in its anarchy. It’s confident in its vision whether depicting raw reality or taking off on flights of fancy. This is storytelling in black and white yet vividly descriptive, rollicking and reflective, street-wise with the mark of fine literature in its layered narrative and smart, nimble use of language and form. Its chapters grow out of quotes from ancient Chinese wisdom and classical writers like Blake, Dickens, Stevenson, Shakespeare, Shelly, and Wilde in order to, as Mr. Rose states in the foreword, “play with themes eternal”.

“”Wood, Talc & Mr. J” IS playful, even picaresque. It’s episodic, at times a burlesque rendition of a quixotic quest for life’s meaning and purpose, and love. Like a young Don Quixote, its protagonist Phillip enjoys the ride and the fascinating, challenging, at times farcical characters and situations he meets along the way. He pursues adventure like Don Quixote did “flailing at windmills” and exalting the objects of his desire. Yet, also like Cervantes’ fiction, Mr. Rose’s novel seriously connects to the conflicted, complicated, chaotic human experience of wondering, doubting, rebelling—and searching, especially for what may never be found.

“For me the Britishness of this novel is a bonus to its brilliance and a great part of its charm. I lived in England during the 1970s and 80s, so the settings, cultural and political issues, values, humor and anecdotes are familiar and nostalgic. It’s also reminiscent of my favorite films of the “angry young men” “Look Back in Anger” era of British cinema, so I was prone to envisioning actors like Alan Bates, Albert Finney, Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole slipping into the fascinating roles of working class people that enliven this novel.

“Despite the wanderlust and internal isolation of this novel’s main character, there is such a feeling of hearth and home (a definite place to set out from and return to), with the importance of family and friendship at its core. The historical context is vividly conveyed through characterizations, settings, and current events, and, most essentially, the pop and jazz music playing on the juke box, turntable, radio, or even just in Phillip’s head.

“From its opening lines to its last, “Wood, Talc & Mr. J” is challenging, intelligent, out of the ordinary and beautifully written, full of adventure, lively conversations, compelling action, laughter and tears, an imaginative memoir of past times, people and places Mr. Rose honestly and cleverly transforms into something unforgettable for his readers, too.!”

DM Denton.

* * * * *

Wow ! Here’s a link to a chapter, if you should so wish >>>>>> LINK

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy.

Chris,

Your literary, theatrical friend

the truth hurts; or it might if I knew what it was – Wood, Talc and Mr. J, a 2nd-person perspective…

I introduced my previous post by once again declaring my fascination for storytelling, and how it might be best achieved. For literature, I also declared a preference for first-person narrative, or point of view, attracted, as I am, by the thought that, like life, we might only ever be privy to segments of the truth. Can an author be reticent with information, whether fiction or not? Can s/he be deluded? Can s/he bend the truth? Can s/he lie? 3d-book-wood-editedIn posing such questions, I thus suggested I only part-knew the first-person narrator, Phillip, of my debut novel, Wood, Talc and Mr. J: We never had it so good… you’ll find the second chapter here – whom I therefore decided to interview, the Phillip of 1978.

I interviewed a character of my own creation, and plan to do more.

My experiment, a philosophical one, a quest for ‘truth’, caused quite a stir in certain quarters: how can a first-person author lie?

Well, perhaps we should begin from the premise that all fiction is a lie.

But how can you not know your own character?

My character is based on my own experiences, someone you might see totally differently…

And on it goes. And I could, go on, but I won’t. ‘Truth’. If ever a word was weighted down with possibilities, then that one is…

I’m reminded of the groundbreaking 1950s film by Kurosawa: Rashomon, a psychological thriller in which a man is murdered and his wife raped. Four different people give four different accounts of the incident; indeed, the film studies the very idea of ‘truth’; and the very power of storytelling. Four people are out for the same thing: to persuade others.

As I type these words, incidentally, my eyes keep rising upward and back to my line of “all fiction is a lie”. It brings to mind how Phillip, somewhere in an early chapter of the book, describes his father:

* * * * *

   The good to come out of it was that it rendered him a real-life character. And I was sure he knew; he’d often laugh at himself. Crowds smothered him up in our local, my friends included, since he’d recount a tale like no other; spice it with a unique passion. And never would he let one of those ‘‘injustices’’ go by if he believed there existed a solution. Although the consequences weren’t always favourable, they made for an extensive repertoire.

* * * * *

Phillip, our fictional character, talks of his fictional dad as being a real-life character”… No, I’m not even going there. What I want to say is that his father would “recount a tale like no other; spice it with a unique passion.”

Just what, then, might that imply? That his dad would bend the truth? Lie, even? And why? To persuade?

narrative-794978_1280In this blog post, all I’d like to do is allow you to read the shortest chapter in the novel. He and Jed have just left a bar on a seaside promenade and are making over the road to a nightclub, where Phillip ends up being something of a war casualty. Or at least that is how Phillip would have us view said situation: might he be exaggerating a tad? Who knows…

Following the passage, I’ll attempt to rewrite it from Jed’s point of view, Phillip’s so-called “best friend”. What I should point out is that, in doing so, I’ll be by no means dogmatic; I am not dictating what Jed is really thinking, for that would be impossible. I do but conjecture:

* * * * *

   April hauled ex-Macca’s ex-body, directing our army via the fairground, supposing her beguiling beam would secure that crucial last ride, even if the boys had put the toys away half an hour back. As all but two of us fell for it, it was a sight to behold, evoking flashes of dizzy Disney scenes – that our band of tearaways should sprout tails from trench coat vents for their excesses!

   Jed was taken more by life on our side of the road, his eyes reflecting a medley of promenade hue. ‘Look at this lot,’ he said, nipping my question of where on earth Ilkeston was in the bud. ‘None of ’em have any convicts of their own.’

   ‘Do you mean convictions?’

   He didn’t hear. But asked had I noticed how ‘Mod’ and ‘Ted’ rhymed. He barred my smirk with a hand: ‘Three letters, ending in d…’

   The rhetoric was cut short when someone turned to meet us dead on, pressed us in a North-eastern accent to offer our allegiance, until the glaze of anxiety was snuffed by a frothing beer bottle, a stick-grenade of sorts, impacting against his head, granting Jed a light ale-blood facial. The beggar collapsed into my arms. The bottle crashed onto the kerb.

   Screams of a different nature rippled like a breeze of bitter change, and yet I couldn’t put my finger on its source. Groups silhouetted, an approach, a retreat; a car shunned dug-in feet, the to-ing and fro-ing. And then, in squadron-like re-formation, on a general’s growl, all became as plain as a size ten boot: ‘Skinhead! Skinhead!’

   There was something malevolent in the way they did that.

   Jed yanked my hood as I laid my patient to the ground. He dragged me down a street leading to the park, safest bet, but for a division of our craven copraphagics catching on, screeching forth their personal excreta.

   I took the knee-high wall Red Rum-style, only to recognise that one of us had committed an error of judgement: a step, a day out-stepped, my grand-national winner falling to dust at this last hurdle; a frantic thought on which to cling, this short-straw-of-a-moment million. And so again I placed a glossy sole upon a Jolly Fisherman’s sun-bathed stairway, in past imitation or practice for the future – I had the world at my feet after all…

    Teeth penetrated the footwear in Morph-ish splatter. Courage cared for the spine.

   “You’re going to fall flat on your face,” echoed a warning, before a nervous laugh above…

© Chris Rose

* * * * *

Romantic. He paints a picture, does Phillip.

raebgwAs for Jed, I don’t know what to make of him, he’s quite a character, though rarely gives clues as to his thoughts. That said, the Phillip of 1978 would have us believe – particularly during the interview of my last post – that there’s little else to know about him, beneath the surface, that what you see is what you get; Jed worries about, and is scared of, nothing. This point of view hardly differs with the one of today’s Phillip either, as he looks back… Or is the Phillip of today simply asking you to make up your own mind?

As a mere exercise in creative writing, I’ll now playfully offer another version of the above scene, from Jed’s point of view:

* * * * *

As we come out of the pub, April does as I’ve told her: leads everyone off to the fairground. And I can’t believe everyone except Phillip follows on; it’s only him I need to get rid of – that’s the point, he sticks to me like glue at times. The gear Vicky’s promised me in the bar’s the business, and she’s ready to give it me half price along with a lay – talk about my birthday! But what do I do, with Phillip clinging on?

And as always I end up taking it out of somebody else, like the lot in front doing all the mouthing. ’Thing is, I’m totally gone on barbiturate and so start slurring. I mean to say something about ‘convictions’ but it comes out wrong – and I should never bring poetry into it! And he pulls his smug look – God, I feel like smacking him at this point! But someone in front cops a beer bottle from nowhere, and before we know it we’ve got skins giving it the big boys.

So we decide to take a side street leading to the park – too many skinheads for my liking. Some of ’em follow on, and then Phill just jumps over this wall and completely mistimes it – this skinhead thought it was hilarious; he asks me for a cigarette and then the coppers turn up so he goes over the wall as well.

Phill, talk about fall flat on your face…

* * * * *

Well, I don’t know what you make of that but Jed does tell a different story, or what you might call a variation of the same story. I like the stream of consciousness effect, in the way he draws us in with his use of present tense… And I just can’t help but wonder how big that wall is in ‘reality’, and who is it that laughs once he’s “mistimes” his jump.

Again, I could go on but I’ll refrain.

Things may not always be as they seem, the moral of this post may be. And that there are rewards in taking a different perspective from time to time, either in book-form or everyday life…

Chris,

Your literary, theatrical friend