Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Ira Levin double bill

It's probably a good time to note that I finished reading A Kiss Before Dying and Sliver, both by Ira Levin and marking good endpoints of his work. Both books are fast reads, but each gave me something to write about, so here goes.

A Kiss Before Dying may be familiar to triviamongers as the source for two films one made in 1956 and the other in 1991 with Matt Dillon and Sean Young. The latter adaptation with significant changes to the source novel served to inspire the Abbas-Mustan fronted gore-fest Baazigar, which established Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan's "evil hero" phase and also relaunched Anu Malik's career as a music director. The book is well-paced and has a great little twist (which may surprise even those familiar with the basic plot of Baazigar) that is unfilmable.

Sliver explores obsession and voyeurism with a technological twist and presents us with the unsettling and dangerous consequences of such compulsive behaviour. While not a literary masterpiece, the novel betrays an interesting writing style. Sentences are short and staccato. Conversations are made of such sentences with a few exceptions. It seems to be written like a little diary of notes that someone would maintain. Not too much detail, but just enough hooks to trigger the rest of a memory. Everything seems to be a play with the title itself (which refers to the high-rise buildings erected on narrow bases that resemble splinters). There's a nice little dinner conversation where Kay Norris is talking to a guest while refilling everyone's wine glasses. If you aren't paying too much attention, her words are likely to confuse you as they reflect her shifting attentions. Pity, the wrong people adapted this to film (the ultimate barbaric act being an altered ending that was as lifeless as the rest of the film).

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