Monday, July 25, 2011

S'rimpin and Mobile

I've never concealed the fact that I'm from the South, because I'm actually quite proud of that identity. If you think that all Southerners are slow-talking simpletons, I have to say that even Forrest Gump would correct you on that, and he's perhaps the most famous fictional Southerner of all time.

Even my conversation partner from South Korea knew who Forrest Gump was and had seen the movie. I warrant most of you have too. It's a good movie, heartwarming and touching, funny with a tinge of truth, but have you ever read the book?

That's right, there's a book, and if you stood the book and the movie side by side, you'd be surprised how different they are one from the other.

The book, written by Winston Groom (he lives in my hometown part of the time), is a type of book jambalaya. It's part satire and part history, part truth and part lie, part love and part lost, all things Southern and yet nothing like the South.

Groom took the obvious and turned it inside out and watched it make fun of itself. Through the voice of Forrest Gump--a man who suffered, rose like the phoenix from his own ashes innumerable times, gained and lost fortunes, made friends and enemies without trying, and learned in the end that life was something that you just gotta live--Groom tells his readers a story about themselves and helps them to learn how to see the ridiculous in the most perfect of circumstances.

Oddly enough, it is an orangutan named Sue who appears to the reader as being the most human among a litany of characters from all walks of life.

I know this doesn't sound anything at all like the movie, because the truth is that it's not. Forrest Gump, as played by Tom Hanks, is a character worthy of our respect and he wins us over from the beginning as Jenny tells him to "Run!"

Groom's version of Forrest is a bit harder to figure out. He has horrible grammar, and if you're a grammar Nazi like myself you'll grit your teeth in frustration until you get used to it, he always falls prey to horrible luck each time you think he'll finally do something right.

It's crazy and I loved it. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. It's taken me like the entire summer to read it, but that's because I've been so busy. But hopefully that will change for the next two weeks once I've taken my last final. Fingers-crossed.
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