Revisiting Old Friends and Finding Something New

I have a few (okay, maybe 10) books that I re-read on a regular basis. No matter how many times I’ve read them, I always find something new, whether it’s a description I overlooked, or a bit of dialogue that has finally grabbed me.  I don’t set out to find something new, merely to immerse myself again in a great story with great writing. Still, there it is, like an overlooked typo, something I missed right in plain sight.

Another way I revisit is to read novels that movies are based upon. Now, I’m a firm believer in reading the book first; if you don’t, your reading will always be influenced by what you’ve seen, and your imagination will be preprogrammed and less vivid, at least in my view. But, once in a while, if enough time has gone by, and if I’ve slipped up and seen the movie first, I can go back and visit as if I’d never been there before. That happened to me yesterday.

I’m recovering from eye surgery, and under instructions to minimize my activities.  Happily, my eye works, so I can read, and yesterday I read The Body by Stephen King. This is the book that the great 1986 movie Stand By Me was based upon, and I loved the movie without ever cracking the book.  Thirty-plus years on, I decided to see if my nearly-perfect rule stating that the book is always better than the movie held true, and it did.  This story has always reminded me of my own childhood adventures with two similarly-grubby but fiercely loyal friends, one of whom is named Chris Gordy. Imagine my surprise to discover that the two main characters in the novel are named Chris and Gordie! I hadn’t remembered that, and coupled with King’s beautiful prose and the backstory and interior monologue that is better presented in novel form, this story surprised and delighted me all over again, and in an even better way. It is a beautiful story of friendship and family and coming of age, so I highly recommend it. But I also recommend finding the novel form of a beloved movie and seeing what you find there. The story will welcome you home and surely provide some unexpected surprises.

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