Thursday, December 23, 2004

Review:The Princess Bride by William Goldman 

I've been scammed! Victimized by the same scam for years and years. It all started back in my high school days. I purchased a book called The Princess Bride. It was a highly entertaining tale about the most beautiful woman in the world, who loses but then regains her true love. It was purported to be an abridgment of a longer tale by one S. Morgenstern. The editor, William Goldman, told how he was first told the tale by his father, who had edited out pages of satire and in-jokes which made the adventure tale almost unreadable. As an adult, Mr. Goldman then endeavored to create a "good parts" version for the American public, complete with editorial comments and a long introduction about how and why he attempted this abridgement. As I said, I found the book highly entertaining and put it on my shelf. (Actually, I put everything on my shelf in those days, having yet to devlop the level of discernment and lack of shelf space required to remove the dross of one's library.) I reread the book a few times, but in the ensuing years I actually lost the sucker. Probably loaned it out to some long lost friend. Anyway, even without rereading the book, I fondly remembered it. A few months back, I thought that this would be a good book to share with my older daughter. That was when I discovered that it was missing. So I thought that I would keep my eyes peeled for a replacement copy. I eventually picked one up while Christmas shopping--the 25th anniversary edition no less, complete with extra commentary and the first chapter of the sequel. I read a bit over dinner and then firmly told my daughter not to read that book. (Jokingly, of course.) She waited almost a day before picking it up and then tore through it in an evening. (The child's reading ability makes me feel quite inadequate--and proud.) Rereading it after so many years was quite a trip. The story was just as entertaining, though I had a tendancy to visualize all of the characters as they were cast in the movie. (Fezzik was the one who caused the most trouble, as I also had a strong visual of him as a stereotypical, mustached Turk from the cover of my first copy of the book. He kept switching back and forth.) I was surprised, however, at the level of cynicism throughout the book. I hadn't noticed that so much in my earlier reads. To a small extent, I had regretted giving it to my impressionable young child. However, she seemed to have weathered Mr. Goldman's poison influence quite well. Although I should be troubled that instead of picking up the catch phrase "As you wish", she opted for "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die." Oh, well. What can you do? So anyway, suffice it to say that I have once again purchased and enjoyed the book. And I'll be more likely to buy you your own copy than lend you mine.

What's that? The scam? Oh, yes. Well, suffice it to say that you can't believe everything you read.