Thursday, October 18, 2007

Coming to you live, between dinner and the board meeting

I know I said probably no more posts until next week, but in the interest of getting the book returned, and killing time before the board meeting, I bring you a report on Isn't It Romantic? by Ron Hansen.

Ron Hansen was another writer featured in my Western fiction collection. He was the author of "True Romance," an intriguing but difficult-to-understand story. He piqued my interest enough to check out some of his other work (although I admit, I actually thought he was the author of "Good Rockin' Tonight," the Elvis story). So I got Isn't It Romantic? An Entertainment.

What to say about this one? This is the story of a young French woman (Natalie) who takes a road trip across America on a bus tour to escape her bastard fiance (Pierre). The bastard follows her in an attempt to win her back. Both wind up stranded in a small town in Nebraska, and get taken in by the townspeople, but separately. Each falls in and out of love with other people -- Pierre with the young waitress Iona, who has long nursed a crush on Dick, and Natalie with the much-older Dick. Natalie and Iona are age peers and room at the same house. Pierre is staying with a mechanic and aspiring vintner trying to market his fine Nebraska wines.

In the course of this very-short book, there is much confusion, intrigue, and mixups before order is restored and the right people ultimately paired up. It's like a farce. There are many books out there that have been turned into terrible movies and TV shows, many plays stretched thin into television serials or diluted in transfer to the silver screen, but this is virtually the only book I've ever read that I thought would do better as a movie or a play. There's a scene with memos getting swapped back and forth and stolen and fallen into the wrong hands that was right out of something like Noises Off and would've been absolutely hilarious acted out. I felt the whole book fell flat, though. It's not really Hansen's fault. I guess that's why they're called experiments, and I wouldn't count him out. But after this book, now we know: the farce does not translate terribly well to novel format.

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