A few weeks ago, I went to the movies with a couple of friends. We saw one of the blockbusters. It was entertaining and I am enjoying, as the Southerners call it, fellowship that I seldom found in North Carolina.

Often, I see coming attractions that make me excited about going to the movies. Those movies often don’t come out. I remember, years ago, that “Oil” looked promising, but I don’t remember seeing it in theaters.

So this past time, when I thought all four of the previews looked like movies I would be psyched about, I wondered if I’d ever see them. One was “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” When I checked online, it wasn’t listed as coming into theaters near me any time during the entire rest of the year. What a surprise.

I checked the library catalog, and it was on order. And they had the book!

The book, by Lionel Shriver, was gripping. It was a weird experience reading the point of view of Eva, an over-intellectualizing narcissist with whom I couldn’t identify and didn’t like, who could perfectly describe the motivations and behavior of everyone, herself included, in a fresh and fascinating way. I hated the storyteller but, oh, could she tell the story. And after both Nature and Nurture scared the shit out of me, I looked to my parents and then to my kid, realizing there would be no genealogy if we all had minds like Eva.

On Thursday, I checked again about the movie, and the library already had copies—all checked out. I put it on hold, and figured I might be able to get a copy in a few weeks if I were lucky. They called me the next day that it was in!

So I’m halfway through the book, but the DVD isn’t due back until Monday because the library is closed on Sundays over the summer. Do I watch the movie before finishing the book I’m halfway through?

No, I stayed up until 2 am and finished the book. Then my daughter and I watched the movie the following night.

The acting was great; the filming itself aesthetically engaging. But I don’t see how someone who didn’t read the book could figure out what was happening, because the important facts were merely mentioned. My daughter kept needing me to fill her in.

I’m glad I passed on the sandwich and will stick with my movie popcorn. With the one exception of my favorite movie that was only loosely based on a novel, the book is always better for me. Especially when the film, though well done in the ways I’ve mentioned, is based upon the Cliff Notes of the Monarch Notes of the book.

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