Posts Tagged ‘Rants

17
Apr
10

Book Wars

It’s been a while since I had a rant. Alan Ball has been conspicuously quiet of late and my blood pressure is all the better for his absence. But this isn’t a True Blood diatribe…I’m saving those for June.

There’s something else I want to get off my chest.

Dead in the Family is due for release in early May and with the release date approaching, reviews are coming in as well as some major spoilers. Just last week the full first chapter appeared in the paperback edition of Dead and Gone – containing a surprise scene between key characters that is already wreaking havoc in the fandom before the new book even hits the shelves.

Advance reviews of Dead in the Family have been overwhelmingly positive. Yet from a small group of the readership, there has been nothing but bitching, whining and hate.

These readers have realised that Sookie is not going to treat Bill Compton in this book in the way they believe she should. And they are ridiculing and slagging off the author in any corner of the internet that will provide a forum for their vitriolic ranting.

I feel like I’m in the fucking Twilight Zone.

In the two years I’ve been immersed in this fandom, I have been accused of being unable to separate the Sookie books from True Blood more times than I care to count. Of course I am not alone here, many book readers have found themselves clobbered with similar accusations when they’ve expressed disappointment or otherwise with aspects of the show.

With the release of another Sookie book, it seems we are seeing the reverse side of the show versus books debate. On some fansites and blogs, book readers who prefer the show for it’s sympathetic treatment of Bill Compton are letting fly at Charlaine Harris for reasons I am not quite able to get my head around. These readers seem unable to get straight in their heads that the books are source material, and the show is an interpretation of the story and the characters.

I would like to explain something to these readers, if I may.

Charlaine Harris invented these characters. Sookie Stackhouse, her story, and every character within it germinated and grew from her imagination. She has nurtured each of them over the ten or so years she has been writing this series. Harris has overseen their journey from the fairly undeveloped, one dimensional characters we met in Dead Until Dark, to the complex and layered characters we have come to know and love in the later books of the series.

True Blood on the other hand, is Alan Ball’s interpretation of this source material. It is not the “correct” interpretation – there is no such thing as a correct interpretation; that is a complete oxymoron. Since True Blood is simply one person’s version of the books it is to be expected that Ball’s work will be criticised, and rightly so. Others have also read the source material, and they may view it through a different lens to the one he is using to bring his version to the screen. This happens any time a book is made for television or film, and I’m sure Mr Ball has his Big Boy Pants on and was fully prepared for a trouncing when he decided to make this show.

Charlaine Harris is allowing Alan Ball to play with her characters for a fee, but let’s be very clear. The destiny of these characters has always rested – will continue to rest – with the author who created them.

Harris has not “thrown Bill under a bus”. She does not “hate” him, nor is she “ignoring her most complex character.” If it suited Sookie’s story for Bill’s character to have more page time, he would have it. If she ever meant for Bill’s “complexity” to have more of an impact on Sookie, she would have written him that way. Charlaine Harris has not “lost the plot” of her own story – how does an author even do that and continue to have their books published? In fact, to the vast majority of readers (you know, the ones who have put this series on the NYT Bestseller List) Sookie’s story is following a perfectly logical arc that many of us identify with.

There is a reason Charlaine Harris has not explored the character of Bill in any real depth since the early books. There is a reason he is no longer at the forefront of the story. There is a reason we will not see Sookie run into Bill’s arms in book 10 after he risked his life for her, as these readers seem to think she should.

The reason is very simple. The author has determined – as is her right, being the author and all – that Bill’s proper place in Sookie’s life is exactly where he is, right now. And the evidence for the logic of this development is the fact that most readers are fully on board with it.

There’s a big difference between book readers ranting about Ball’s handling of the characters on the show, and Trubies and Book Bill fans ranting about what Charlaine Harris does with the characters in the books.

Alan Ball is interpreting a story that already exists. Charlaine Harris is writing that story.

By my estimation, that gives her the right to do whatever the hell she pleases. Without readers bashing her judgement, bashing her writing, or sulking off with their petticoats in a twist just because the author dares to presume that she knows her own characters better than they do. I am completely bewildered as to how fans of a version of her work could accuse her of having her own story arse about face and of not understanding her own characters.

I would like to respectfully offer those fans a slightly modified version of their own advice.

If you don’t like it…stop reading.

Or better still, go watch some TV.

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ABOUT SOOKIEVERSE

My ramblings on the Sookie Stackhouse books, and the HBO series True Blood. Everyone I know is already half crazed with my plot and character assassinations, conspiracy theories, theme explorations and general obsessing, so now I'm going to share it all with you. Spoilers and Viking worship are rampant...you have been warned!

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