Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Giant" by Edna Ferber

James Dean as Jett Rink in Giant (1955)

When I was a kid, one of the movies my family watched over and over was Giant (1955), which stars James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor. I was crazy in love with James Dean's character, Jett Rink. He was sweet, sad, shy, and eventually became a gazillionaire. Swoon.

It's surprising that it took me this long to read the novel, I guess. But not nearly as surprising, for me, as the differences between the book and the movie. Much of the movie is very faithful to the original plot, characters, and setting. But there's one major difference:  Jett Rink. No shy, backwards ranch hand with a schoolboy crush is he, not in the book. He's mean, he's conniving, and he's cruel.

But despite Jett being so different from my childhood idol, I did enjoy this book. Ferber has a firm grasp of full-bodied characterization and an acidic wit that made for a fast-paced, enjoyable read. I didn't even mind her occasional bursts of stream-of-consciousness. It was a good way to kick off the summer.

But I like the movie better, mostly because of Jett Rink.

(Originally posted on Inscriptions on Jun. 5, 2009.)

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