I’m surprised by how at this early stage of the year I have ended up speaking so much about books in tandem with television and film projects related to them. I’m not sure why this is surprising. These days, anything is a ‘Text’, right? I’m led to believe that this is so much the case that you can actually watch a Mel Gibson movie in a high school English class and be said to be qualified to write an essay on Hamlet (though I may be slightly over-exaggerating).
I guess I’m surprised because I saw this blog as a literary creature, and like a lot of us, I tend to place the high culture of capital ‘L’ Literature far above that of the common masses’ small ‘t’ television. But let’s face it. Not only do I spend a heck of a lot of time watching telly (a heck of a lot) but we all do, and the stories we like to be told now happen across various media and us modern creatures are able to cope with the notion of a book being a movie being a TV series being a stage show being an ironic reference in a Joss Whedon creation.
So here I am about to talk about Book 4, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, which is the book which led to the creation of one of my favourite television shows. And this time, this time, despite protestations in previous entries, I have watched the first series of the television show before reading the book (though I have owned the book for years – it’s a reading copy from 05).
So, we get into the situation where in no way are the characters’ looks, mannerisms, voices, clothing, hairdos going to differ from what I have seen on the box. That’s OK. And, I’m going to add back story from the show into characters’ motivations or events that take place in the novel, whether it is relevant or not. That’s OK too. But because I love the series and because it is a fairly faithful rendition of the novel (with the necessary stretching that a full-length TV series requires) I am still going to love the book, right?
Well, er, no.
It was OK. If I hadn’t watched the show I might have thought it was great, but I have, and I didn’t. The premise, which was what originally attracted me to the novel, is fantastic and the writing is fine, but the telly version is better. I blame Michael C. Hall. Were he not the fabbo actor that he is perhaps the novelistic Dexter would not have suffered so much from my comparison. And props to the TV folk for creating the relationship between Dexter’s step-sister and brother/mystery serial killer… it adds drama and suspense that I kept waiting for in the novel.
In the end, the novel left me a little cold, and not because the protagonist is an unfeeling serial killer, but because it was a brilliant idea (a serial killer who only kills serial killers, c’mon that’s fantastic!), professionally rendered but which lacked… something. I don’t mean to suggest that Darkly Dreaming Dexter is bad. It’s not. I just like the TV show more. I will still read the other Dexter novels (two of which I already own) but they may travel down the pile a little. There’s so much to read and I’m not burning with a homicidal desire to rip them open. Yet.