To Go: 89
11. The Conversations – Michael Ondaatje
Reading week is just so darn useful – I wish every week was reading week; I’ve gotten so much more accomplished than I do on a typical work week. I’ve finished three books for this list and it’s only Wednesday. The last of the aforementioned books was Michael Ondaatje’s The Conversations, a 310 page interview with Walter Murch, a film editor who worked on movies such as The Godfather, The English Patient, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
I didn’t expect to like the book – didn’t even expect to comprehend it, actually, and planned on skim-reading to make it less painful – but I really, really did. I’m hardly what one can call a movie buff, but all the behind-the-scenes information was super interesting, as was reading about the ins and outs of editing film, especially coming from an old pro like Walter Murch. The Conversations was the first nonfiction novel I’ve actually genuinely enjoyed – as well as the first ENG 208 course text I’ve been fond of.
The only thing I had trouble believing was the language used in the conversations; I hate to cast doubt on such articulate, intelligent people, but during the time I was reading the five conversations, I couldn’t help but think, “Did Ondaatje add fancier words to their responses than what was actually said, or buff up the conversation in any way?” Even the most well-spoken of people rarely speak that way all the time, but both Murch and Ondaatje conversed flawlessly. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it just struck me as bizarre; maybe I’m limited because I live in a world full of slang, chat-speak, and grammatically incorrect colloquial conversation, but it’s rare to come across people who speak with grammatical correctness at all times, and seem to have the general mannerisms of a narrative.
Regardless, the book was excellent and I recommend it to all you film buffs out there – and even those of you who aren’t. The Conversations was really easy to get lost in for hours on end.
And now I have a really strong urge to go watch all the old films they mentioned in the book. Every single one of them.
Next book: The Birth House – Ami McKay