Friday, October 20, 2006

Water for Elephants

I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I was mesmerized by the depression era circus story - the characters, the class stratification, the animals, the camaraderie, the danger, the fear, and uncertainty- and the story of a 90ish year old man who is dissatisfied with his assisted living arrangement. No, this is not high literature, but it is a good read for adults. I know ya'll will think I am a total prude (especially after some of my other posts), but can nothing be left to the imagination? I can imagine that the cooch house was real in some of the seedier circuses and that in order to make the book believable some of that reference needs to be included. But, I don't need a play by play of Jacob's humiliation.

Overlooking being banged in the head with sexual details, I think this book, like The Devil Wears Prada, is just asking for a movie. The texture, color, and movement of the Big Top lends itself to The Big Screen. I would love to see the right actors and lighting in this obvious screen play.

When I was young, I wanted to be in the circus. I used to practice tightrope walking (though the rope was not as taut as it could be and I was never successful) and acrobatics and my imagination took me on many journeys. The circus of my imagination is certainly denuded of any romance by the reality of the violence and lack of consistency shown in Water for Elephants. Though Gruen is careful to say many times that Ringling Brothers is not as sleazy as her fictionalized circus story, you have to realize that a show is just that - a show. The reality of the life behind the show can never be as glamorous as the production.

4 comments:

zilla said...

Thank God for prudes. Without you, who would keep the rest of us in check?

I remember my grandmother (no, I am not calling you old or outdated) saw "An Officer and a Gentleman" with her girlfriends. She came home and said, "I just don't need to know how other people 'do it.'" I had seen it on a somewhat uncomfortable first date, and I agreed with her.

Susan said...

I thought this book was just a set and costume designers' dream. I agree I would love to see the movie (without all the sexual explicitness.

mull-berry said...

I was never really impressed with the Barnum & Bailey circus, however, if I would have seen "Cirque du Soleil" when I was younger ...

wisteria said...

I think the writer used the historical resources of Ringling Brothers for her research. The book was set during the depression. Cirque du Soleil is beautiful.

The scenes in Water for Elephants would be much worse than the Officer and a Gentleman scenes. My husband's grandmother would love this book. Though she told me she's heard everything at 100, I doubt she even imagined they would write something like this.