Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book or Movie; A Very Private Gentleman vs. The American

Like so many others, I entered the theater showing The American with a large drink, enough popcorn for a family of eight, and expectations I was about to see a film along the lines of a Jason Bourne action-thriller. And therein was the basis of my initial disappointment (yes, the popcorn was too salty, but I was expecting that.) What I wasn't expecting was the paucity of action and thrills, which after all, are the main stays of an action-thriller. And, because I was always waiting for the action and thrills to begin I glossed over the first half of a genuine film, a true adaption of the book from which it was engendered. Keep in mind I hadn't read the book yet (it would be almost seven years before I would get around to that) and the trailers for the movie all promised George Clooney was just subbing in for Matt Damon or Tom Cruise.

But The American is not anything of that sort; it is a much, much better film; I can say that because I watched it a second time and it mesmerized me from the get-go with its Eurocinematography, patience, and restraint. The American is a subtle movie, featuring one of George Clooney's best acting performances. If you haven't seen it; put it on the top of your list. Watch it in the evening with a nice glass of Orvietto, or in the late afternoon with an espresso; you'll see what I mean. In addition to Clooney, Violante Placidio plays Clara with a wonderfully subdued sensuality, and Paolo Bonacelli shines as the priest who befriends the mysterious visitor to his parish.

As good as The American is, though, A Very Private Gentleman still takes top honors. I have never read anything quite like this book, although I should like to and I am open to suggestions (you can leave those in the comments section if you want to, or e-mail me at the address below.) The prose is picturesque (kudos to Clooney the director of The American for camera work that mirrors the prose) the characters--especially the main character--are complex and unique, and the setting is so well done you are sure you've been to this section of Italy before. And while the story is not the strength of the book, it moves along at just the right pace, a pace that lingers and meanders in the right spots, like an old churchyard in a secluded mountain valley or the dimly lit corner of a bar that lets off from a narrow alley.

Good fiction transports the reader; it you want to go to the Italian Alps but can't find the time, here's the link to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I also like to include several other opinions; here's Roger Ebert's review of the movie and Publisher's Weekly review of the book.

Now, as to why it took me almost seven years to get to reading the book... well, I guess I don't have a good answer to that.

Cheers, peter

Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Herethe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big ThrillFiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and fouchildren--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at



Arthur Kerns said...

Peter. Enjoyed your piece. Have already asked my library for a copy of "The Assassin." Somehow, missed the film when it was released.

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