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When I was back visiting my sister Laura in Illinois the summer I turned 14, she gave me a book by William Goldman. Well, it said it was edited by William Goldman, but it was actually written by someone named "S. Morganstern."
The book did not thrill me. It took me a long time to get around to reading. She kept asking me about it but I put it off and put it off. Then, suddenly, one day I started reading and could not stop.
That book was "The Princess Bride" and, as the opening says "This is my favorite book in the whole world..."
I have read it so many times that, even though I haven't read it again for 15 years or so, I can probably name every character in it. Much of the phrasing of sentences that I hear in my head comes from that book. It has become woven into my DNA (another reason to not reproduce).
Oh, the movie is great, probably the best movie adaptation of a book ever. Goldman wrote the screenplay and did it perfectly, keeping everything that needed to be kept, removing all the bits that would not translate to the screen. Sheer genius. Should have won Best Picture.
He had a bit of experience doing screenplays - you might remember some of his work like "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men," "Marathon Man" (also wrote the novel) and "The Stepford Wives" (the first one, the one that did not suck).
But the Princess Bride book - you really oughta read the book. In addition to wonderful back-stories for Inigo Montoya and Fezzik the Giant, it has some of the wisest life advice I have ever read.
Want to hear it? Are you sure? It isn't easy to handle.
Ok, here it is:
Life is not fair. It is just fairer than death, that's all.
Ah. At 15, that hit me like a freight train. And at 47, sometimes it still does. That advice has saved me from so much despair, truly.
Life is not fair. Meditate on that for a while. How much of our misery comes from thinking life should be fair?
I used to work with someone who spent most of her energy trying to make sure everything was fair, mostly to her. If a co-worker got another filing cabinet drawer, she wanted one, even if she had nothing to put in it. To be fair. She spent most of her time enraged at just how unfair everything was.
It is not fair. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. Really nice people get hurt and sick and lose their homes and families and dignity while jackasses get penthouse apartments and drink fine champagne.
And do you know why? No? Neither do I. Because that is the way it is. You can get used to it and do what you can to help out, or you can make yourself miserable worrying about it. Your choice. But you should probably realize that no matter WHAT you do, life still is not going to be fair.
I have saved you from reading the whole book by giving you the very best part, but I think you should still go out and get it, or else you will miss out on snow sand and the Duchess de Guiche and Miss Roginski. Go, buy, read. Thank me later.