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Review: Although not surprising that a collection of essays by different authors should turn out to be a mixed bag, I still had high hopes for this book, but as a fan of the novel and all 3 movie versions, I ended up very disappointed. In no particular order: Stephen King, as usual, goes on too long with his all-too familiar little jokes and brand name references, taking up many more pages than a majority of the essays! Also, if you purport to be a fan and are going to write an essay, make sure your facts are correct, ie: in the Kaufmann movie version, it's Miles' friend at the end who discovers that Miles is now a pod-person...not Miles' girlfriend. Also, two almost identical essays on the fiction of Jack Finney, Tracy Knight's analysis borders on the ridiculous in it's depth. Hey, it's only a novel and 3 movies, Tracy and it's author has already claimed it was written for entertainment value ONLY...that's it...nothing more.. And did almost every essay have to mention the now overused opinions that the novel and/or movies were concerned with McCarthy withhunts or the Red Scare? Seeing it pop up in the majority of the essays was quite annoying....write something NEW, people. Thankfully, as expected, the interviews were enjoyable, with the exception of Kevin McCarthy's. Reading Mr. McCarthy himself was a delight, but one wishes interviewer John McCarty would have taken a more professional approach as opposed to the more amateur/juvenile route he chose. My favorite (NOT) expressions coming from Mr. McCarty: "white men can jump"! AND "yessir-re-bob"! Yessir-re-bob??!! Please! Quite embarrassing for me to even read.
Summary: "Pod people ate my book!": Mixed impressions
Review: So, I bought this book, mainly becase they had thrown in Stephen King's name on the cover. I was looking forward to a lenghty, irreverent discussion on the book and three movies, knowing King was a died in the wool fan. Why, I had read what he had to say about Finney's novel and the first two movies in his "Danse Macabre"! I thought, "The guy must have lot in his mind in the ten-plus years since he wrote that!" When the book finally made it to my door, I quickly read Dean Koontz's funny foreword and was ready to dig my teeth into King's text...
...Oh-my-Gawd! This cannot be! They just reprinted the old essay from "Danse Macabre"! Oh, the horror, the horror... Having a lot of references to the rest of King's book, and with a lot of footnotes that in this context seem uncalled for, it looses strenght.
On to the rest of the book:
Two similar, very redundant pieces on Jack Finney's ouvre. They even share the same quotes from other people analyzing Finney's books. Yet, I'm thankful for both of them, since this is the first bibliography of Finney's work I come across.
Tracy Knight makes an entertaining analysis on the second movie incarnation of "Body Snathchers". She may go on about the same "Me Decade" overtones that everyone and their brother have already talked about (New Age thinking, cults, pop psychology), but she kept my interest all along.
Then there's the McCarthy/McCarty interview. It just goes on and on! Several pages on McCarthy's beginnings before getting to the point, which is the "Body Snatcher" movies. The sheer lenght of the interview may be a bit of self indulgence on Mr. McCarthy's part, him being the editor of the book. But that John McCarthy guy... I've never read a goofier and blander interviewer before! Where did they get him?
And reading between lines, the book is biased to the second film. The first one is acknowledged as a classic, though one mangled by Hollywood. The third one is shown like a flawed sequel to the second, even taking elements from it.
After finishing this book, I was left feeling it lacked cohesion. Granted, a collection of essays and interviews by different authors is bound to have different points of view. Yet, I never felt the book as a whole said anything about the appeal and persistence of the pod people.
If you are a fan of Jack Finney or of the second film, buy this book. Otherwise, you'll fare a lot better reading Finney's novel.
Oh! And if you want to read what Stephen King thinks of it, go get "Danse Macabre". You'll get a much richer insight of it and its place in modern fiction.
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