Friday, April 20, 2012

Biittner's BC Book (& Film!) Review: Barney's Version

I must begin with an admission: I actually read this book years ago and did not re-read it for this month's book club. I did, however, catch the film adaptation (Canadian made in 2010) last month so feel I can provide a decent review. I really enjoyed both the novel and the film although each take a different narrative position. I preferred the autobiographical approach taken in the novel as I became totally immersed in the story especially Barney's attempts to rationalize/justify his actions. He is not unapologetic though; I believe this story, his version at least of the events that really directed the course of his life, really is meant as his way of acknowledging his hubris, of coming to terms with some of the horrible things he did to his loved ones over the course of his life.

In the film, Paul Giamatti does an excellent job embodying the not-quite-lovable, hard drinking, impulsive, and often immoral Barney. But by the end of the novel/film, you no longer despise Barney; you might not like all he's done or the decisions he made at various points in his life but you do feel sympathy for what he's become (it is hard to not feel for the lost man he's become and his gradual decay relating to Alzheimer's disease). I loved how you come to question Barney's recanting of the events of his life once you find out he is dealing with Alzheimer's; it takes the "murder mystery" component of the storyline to a whole new level. The ending of the book/film is heart wrenching with a clever twist.

It is a great book with a respectful-to-the-original film adaptation. I would highly recommend both. They are both great pieces by (a) Canadian author/artists and well deserving of the high praise received by critics and readers/movie-goers alike.

This will be my last book review from B.C. I'll attempt to continue to blog my book club book reviews but will make no promises (but will do my annual list of books read at the end of the year).

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