07 December 2008

Just fairer than death

Announcement: The Holiday Sweater Photo Contest deadline has been extended. There is still time to send your photos, new or old, to me at suebobdavis at gmail. Thank you!
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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.

19 comments:

ingrid said...

Now I need to read it. Thank you.

Maggie said...

Oh I loved this book! But it's been awhile since I read it and I've only read it once so some of the things you mention I don't remember. Which means, I need to read it again! I'm glad you wrote this.

Blog Antagonist said...

Oh God yes! Amazing book, charming, charming movie, and a wonderful quote. There are so many, but that one, as you say, just kind of hits a person right between the eyes. Anybody who has not read this book absolutely should.

Mary said...

I love this book! Now I'm going to have to go get our copy out and read it again. I also think it's better than the movie - and I LOVE the movie!
Best of all? My word verification is "acheth" which adequately describes me this morning after spending the weekend cooking, plus having my 3 year old have nightmare last night which only I could calm him from...

Deb on the Rocks said...

So if the time of your post is accurate, you wrote this truth about the unfairness of life mere hours before having a Target card Yankee Swapped away from you, leaving you to come home from the party with some sort of plush music-making nightmare. {info from Twitter, not stalking. Erm..}

You are very in-tune with your universe, missy.

Can you pick my Lotto numbers for this week?

thailandchani said...

Doesn't that quote go on to say something like "If someone tells you they can make it fair, they're trying to sell you something"? I vaguely remember that.

Some good nuggets in that book apparently. I'll have to read it. :)



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claire said...

Oh, i LOVED the book. And i love the movie, too. I'm sure i've seen it upwards of 30 or 40 times - you know, whenever i catch it flipping through the channels. But i didn't read the book until about 5 years ago and i was disappointed that i hadn't read it sooner. Love, love, love The Princess Bride.

Mignon said...

I just posted a very similar sentiment on FB. What would it be like if life were fair, anyway?

the queen of awkward said...

Love love love this book and the movie. Thanks for the reminder on the quote, too. Definitely needed the reminder.

mar said...

read the book when i was in 4th grade, before i saw the movie. i remember ordering the book out of our monthly book catalog at school & taking a bit to get into it, but devoured it. the book is probably still in my childhood room, one of those movie copies of the book because the movie had just come out. the movie is awesome, but the book is so much more amazing in details. i will never forget the traps on the way down to the lair where they were torturing wesly. *shudder* spiders.
i need to re-read this since i'm in the process of writing children's books.

Major Bedhead said...

Such a great book. The movie rocks, too, which hardly ever happens.

I really should re-read this. After I finish Harriet The Spy.


My word verification is fists. Weird.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I read this a few years ago, and I LOVED it...

Looks like someone else had the same idea as you regarding the sweaters:
http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/ugly-christmas-sweaters-461208?src=syn&dom=yah_buzz&mag=tdg&ha=1

Christina said...

I have seen the movie hundreds of times, yet have never read the book. Must remedy that someday.

Although I'm fond of the line in the movie: "Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

Count Mockula said...

I loved the book, too. Thanks for the reminder.

My word verification is chmetf, which is, I believe, the second word in "chef, chmef."

MsLittlePea said...

I never read that book. Ever since saw the movie I've wanted to read it though. I'm sort of saving it for when I have a kid to read aloud to, like in the movie....

SUEB0B said...

I would not say it is a kids book, for those of you who assumed it is. I think you could read it as a pre-teen and it would be ok, but it has a lot of ideas - especially in Goldman's comments between the story - that are fairly adult.

Project Christopher said...

I've never read the book, but it is one of the most quoted movies for me and my friends (next to Steel Magnolias) I need to get the book now that I've gotten such a great recommendation. I can't believe I've never read the book that's....

INCONCEIVABLE!!!

Suzanne said...

Love, love, love that book. And movie.

Wendy said...

You analyzed why life isn't fair, but you failed to analyze why it is still fairer than death. But with that said, I'm going to dust off my copy of Princess Bride and finally read it. Thank you.

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