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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

King Kong by Delos W. Lovelace

KING KONG, Conceived by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper, Novelization by Delos W. Lovelace - Delos Wheeler (1894-1967). Wallace,  Edgar (1875-1932). Cooper,  Merian Lovelace

This is the novelization of the original film, first published in 1932 before the film's 1933 release. The terrific cover, by the way, was painted by Frank Frazetta for this 1976 Ace edition. Based on the text, it appears that author Delos W. Lovelace must have seen the film (parts of it at least) before writing the book, but he also includes at least one scene retained but marked out in the screenplay, so it isn't an exact replica. But it's pretty close.

I don't read many novelizations. I think I can count those I have read on one hand, with a couple fingers left over. So I don't know what the expectations are. Ideally, of course, I'd expect the novelist to apply whatever literary techniques seemed appropriate to make the book as lush as the film, but in reality, I know that's asking a lot, since aren't novelizations by nature a pretty quick and dirty way to make a few extra bucks?

Lovelace, in any case, sticks to the basics, with broad characterization, spare descriptions, and furious action. Which is to say that his King Kong is not so much a novel from the film as it is a novel from the screenplay. A great deal happens to a script in its passage to film, but little of that finds its way onto these pages.

Most disappointing, for me, was its inattention to atmosphere. Delos gives us the fog surrounding Skull Island, he gives us the ancient fantastic wall, he gives us the altar on which Ann Darrow is to be wedded to Kong, and he gives us the jungle with all its wonders waiting to be discovered -- but that's about all he provides, he never penetrates to the rich vein of awe and mystery and horror that lies within these details. He's turned the novelist's page into the two-dimensional surface of the movie screen.

So I'm trashing this book, right? I don't mean to. It is what it is. And that is a competent, if superficial, narrative of the people and events of the King Kong story (which is a story I'm assuming all of you know). On the other hand, I'm not recommending it, either. Why would anyone read this? Why did I?

I'll tell you why. To provide this sidebar to what I'm going to do next: watch the three King Kong movies.

I'm going in.

P.S. For anyone wondering why I bought this book to begin with, I can only ask, Did you see the cover?