Because this week has been all about Nikka’s and my book release, I thought I’d post some thoughts about one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a book I often go back to and re-read to make me smile and feel better about the world in general: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman.
I know many people have seen the movie and can quote it without fail. (“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”)
But if you haven’t read the book, you are seriously missing out. It is hands down one of the funniest, most descriptive, most creative, grab-your-heart-and-keep-you-interested kind of books I’ve ever read.
William Goldman wrote screenplays for famous films like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Marathon Man”, and “All The President’s Men”. Then he came up with the idea for The Princess Bride – a book written by this long-dead Florentine writer, set in a mysteriously hard to locate on a map land, about a simple farm boy, giants, sword fights, albinos, magic men, evil princes, pirates, and true love. The book differs from the movie in that in the movie, a grandfather reads the book to his grandson and that’s all there is. The adventure and love story. In the book? Goldman goes into how it’s his son’s birthday and since he’s been working on this huge script he’s totally forgotten to buy a present. So he gets someone to find this book, one that his immigrant father read to him and loved as a kid. Then he has it delivered to his house with instructions for his son to read it before he returns home so they can discuss it together. He gets home to find out that his son hated the book. Basically it sucked. The parts William Goldman remembered as a kid? His dad read. The rest? He cut out. So Goldman sets out to edit the book – The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern, The Good Parts Version.
The most hysterical thing about any of this? There is no S. Morgenstern. There is no extended version. The entire book is Goldman’s and Goldman’s alone. And it’s genius. The priest at the end who says, “Mawidge….” It’s in the book. The ROUS’s? In the book. When the grandkid has to stop his grandfather and ask if this is a kissing book? In the book. Pure genius.
When I first read the book, I was hooked. I couldn’t stop. I read it everywhere so I could hurry up and finish it. One time I was on a public bus and I laughed out loud. Total truth. The people around me probably thought I was nuts and I didn’t care because the part I was reading was so funny that it warranted an audible guffaw. I’ve seen the movie. I own the movie. I’ve viewed the movie too many times to count. But the book is one hundred times better than the movie. Why? Because you get to read about Inigo’s back story. And Fezzik’s back story. And the Pit of Despair in all of its glory. (By the way, it’s really called The Zoo of Death.) You get a true image of Miracle Max and Valerie. In a nutshell? It’s magical.
The truth is that I own two copies of the book – one very beloved and well-worn, falling apart paperback, and one hardback copy of the Anniversary Edition that a family member bought for me that’s in pristine condition. I love them both and both sit on my “Special Books” shelf for easy access when I need to pull one of them down for a re-read. It never fails to make me smile and laugh. For me? That’s a perfect read.