I have this self-imposed rule that you don’t buy a book with the movie photo on the cover.  I’ve broken this rule twice – once for A River Runs Through It (the one with a silhouette of Brad Pitt), and a few weeks ago for Shutter Island (which, I’ll admit, I bought at the grocery store – I’ve really purchased books everywhere). 

It also goes against my general beliefs that one should not read a book after seeing a movie, but after many years of wanting to do this and stopping myself I finally relented (it’s my own rule after all).   I really like Dennis Lehane’s books and though I hate most Martin Scorsese films (yes, even the ones with Leo in them), I wanted to see this movie because the author himself said he really enjoyed it.  After seeing it I was so intrigued by how it would play out in print form.  It was an impulse buy at the checkout line, pure and simple.

So in the interest of alleviating some cognitive dissonance (how’s that for a psychological term?) I decided to change this rule too.  My new rule:  it’s acceptable to buy the movie version of the book – only if it’s a trade paperback. 

What first impressed me was how well the movie matched up with the book.  Several important, but finely wrought details from the book made it in to the movie and they remained, for the most part, subtle (good job, Martin,this time you didn’t hit us over the head with a baseball bat!). 

Second, though I really liked the book much better, with its intimate exploration of Teddy’s psyche, I think that the movie also played out the scenes that are entirely in Teddy’s brain quite well. It’s often hard to take the abstract images from a character’s brain and make them visual.  Dream sequences can be deadly to a movie.

This story has a very Sixth Sense-ness about it in a way that makes you want to go over it again.  You chastise yourself “I should have known! Why didn’t I see it!”  Though the movie had a tidy ending, the book was a bit more vague.  Both of these things are departures for Lehane and I can see why some of his fans weren’t so keen on this particular book.  But overall the book is trademark Lehane – his sense of location, his ear for dialogue, his exploration of relationships. 

The brilliance of the new rule is that I got to read the book, and I don’t feel the need to keep it. I can pass it along, since it only cost $5.99.