Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I'm not sure if I liked In the Cut by Susanna Moore or not. The critics were pretty much united in their dislike of the movie version (except, oddly enough, those at my local papers, who inexplicably loved it), but I was curious about it (okay, mostly I was curious about seeing Mark Ruffalo naked [hello, Googlers]) but figured I'd read the book first. I can see why they thought it would make a good movie - the plot involves a serial killer, dangerous cops, and lots of sex. Unfortunately, so much of the appeal of the book lies with Franny's obsession with language and words (she is writing a book on urban slang). This aspect of it, which is a huge part of the book, seems like it would be difficult to translate to the screen. I'm curious to see how they managed that, and if they were successful in the attempt (which I doubt, having read some of the reviews). Without that layer of academic curiosity, you're left with a fairly run of the mill serial killer story where the main character is solitary and detached and stupidly puts herself in harm's way out of some sort of need to break out of her routine. With lots of explicit sex.

But then there's the opening page about Franny's students and their lack of understanding of Hemingway or irony that has bearing on the rest of the book: "...the idea of him that they have from the writing, makes them uncomfortable. They disapprove of him...The bravado, the resentment in the writing excites them, but they cannot allow themselves to feel it." This essentially describes my reaction to the book (and, more specifically, Franny herself), but I'm not sure if that was Moore's intended effect or if she was pre-emptively chiding the reader for her disapproval and lack of understanding. I get the irony in the book; the irony in the identity of the killer (although it's well-trodden ground in the thriller genre) and in Franny's nature and ultimate fate. I just didn't connect with anything there. Perhaps that's because her character was very remote and unemotional. The other characters are pretty shallowly sketched too and because the book is very short (under 200 pages), I think this was done deliberately so as to keep the suspense and the identity of the killer unknown. That seems like a cop-out to me though. Why not dig deeper into the characters and the obsessions that drive them? Maybe the plot couldn't stand a longer treatment? I don't know. Is it short and terse because of the Hemingway comparison? I haven't read any of his works and don't know his style, so I can't do an accurate comparison. Am I off track on this? Am I missing something? Am I trying to find depth where there is none?


I think I've spent way too much time on this today.

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