Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jaw Bones

I recently finished two books in rapid order, first 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs and second, Jaws by Peter Benchley. It was an osteologically-themed reading week.

Kathy Reichs holds a PhD in forensic anthropology and writes genre mystery fiction with a bit of a police procedural feel. Her character, Temperance Brennan, is the inspiration for the TV show 'Bones'. I picked this up thinking this was the book that the series was based upon, not realizing that it was in fact the twelfth book in the series...

It was pretty good. I'm a science geek, so the preachey asides which bordered on direct address of the reader, weren't so bad.
A common technique in old-fashioned literature, is referred to by contemporary literati as 'Breaking the fourth wall', but I assure you dear reader, this is much frowned upon in contemporary writing circles. Unless of course you are going for a pastiche of some sort, which Kathy Reichs was not doing. Anyway, her asides took time to explain very technical aspects of anthropology, forensics, etc and worked pretty well. The preachy references to the need for a 'board-certified-forensic-anthropologist' was a thinly disguised professional rant against the unprofessional use of 'mere pathologist who lack forensic anthropological training or board certification' at the end though.

Anyway, you can read the wikipedia review for the plot; different than the tv show, not bad on its own, better than some I've read, realistic, but not as terribly gritty as I expected from a crime novel about someone dealing with bodies.

The second book I devoured was Jaws. Ha!

Like most children of the 70's, my first summer blockbuster was the movie Jaws. I had the Jaws poster. I had Jaws T-shirts. I saw all of the sequels over the next 10 years. But I never read the book.

I picked it up from the library a few weeks ago....
... da-dum
With that same scantily clad swimmer..
... da-dum
With a torpedo-like shark with a grinning mouth-full of teeth beneath...
... da-dum

...And I was expecting pure camp.

(Don't get me wrong, I love camp. I love pulp. I like old Dr Who -The Tom Baker version, Dr #4, for max camp and minimum special effects budget.
Conan the Barbarian is one of my top ten favorite films of all time for crying out loud.)

But you know what? Jaws was actually a great read. I not only enjoyed it, I thought it was pretty good. The characters seemed extremely dated, but real. A little over the top with the frustrated housewife and the 'old mystery man of the sea' Quint. The children were props. But still I was pleasantly surprised. The tension held up well even though I knew what was going to happen, but I could see how the screen writers took scenes that were slower, more drawn-out but real and jazzed them up a bit to increase the tension and give the scenes more 'pop'.

It was a classic, but was much quicker at getting to the point than Ayn Rand...

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