Friday, 13 May 2011

Simon Mayo's show, 50 First Dates, Sufjan Stevens.

What a bizarre  - yet great - week! On Monday I went to BBC R2 to 'appear' on Simon Mayo's drivetime show. It was a lovely experience - he and his colleagues had read the book and liked it. It felt like a nice little chat, and I almost forgot about the microphones and headphones and banks of computers between us! I was particularly chuffed that he played Tom Tom Club's 'Wordy Rappinghood' half way through the interview, too. I've always loved that song.

I enjoyed the webchat, too. It was nice to be asked some really perceptive questions. A few people did mention the film 50 First Dates, though, and I answered their point as well as I could (considering I was typing as fast as I could, on an unfamiliar keyboard, with a not-quite-healed finger!). The truth is I didn't watch that film until well after I'd finished the book - in fact it wasn't until commenters on various websites started to compare Before I Go to Sleep with 50 First Dates (commenters who hadn't read the book, I hasten to add) that I rented it and watched it.

I can see the similarities. The basic premise of the protagonist's condition, the fact that she keeps a journal. But the similarities end there, I think. 50 First Dates is a romantic comedy. Before I Go to Sleep is about love, on one level, but it's not romantic, and it's not a comedy. In 50 First Dates the family of the amnesiac pretend that nothing has happened, that her injury never occurred - they can do this because her amnesia began recently and so everyone and everything around her appears more or less unchanged, as it was on the day of her accident. To my mind my novel looks at what might happen to Drew Barrymore's character in 20 or 30 years time, when she looks different, when the people around her look different, when her world had changed immeasurably and her family can no longer fool her into believing that nothing is wrong by ironing the newspaper and resetting the calendar. I think they're very different pieces of work, and interestingly no one (to my knowledge) who has read my book has compared it to 50 First Dates.

Last night I took a trip to the South Bank to see Sufjan Stevens perform live. What a show! I wasn't sure what to expect, having until now only a peripheral interest in his music, but he was amazing. Musically perfect - his dense, textured songs translated brilliantly to the live setting - but for me it was visually that the show really stood out. He, his band and their equipment were all plastered in neon strips that fluoresced under the ultra-violet lights so that, at times, it felt like we were all sitting inside a video game,  he performed songs wearing, variously, swan's wings, a sort of bacofoil headdress and a costume that might have been rejected from the Notting Hill Carnival for being too flamboyant. It might sound OTT but it all worked perfectly, and it was a glorious, joyous, exuberant show that I thoroughly recommend.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say I read your book today, pretty much in one sitting. I am in a book club and we read, A LOT. Your book is the best I have read in a while and it's not usually my preferred genre.

I picked it up on a hunch and WOW!

It was armchair-gripping, poignant and eloquent. There were moments I literally gasped out loud.

I will be recommending to the book club, friends and family.

All the more satisfying that it comes from an 'unknown' author.

Literary genius.

Elisha, Australia.

S J Watson said...

Thank you Elisha - what a lovely comment! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!


Han said...

The end of 50 First Dates they stop pretending like nothing happened and she's told every morning with the video what happened, that's why at the end she watches the video and then goes out onto the deck of the boat and there's her husband (played by Adam Sandler), her dad and her daughter.

I haven't read the book yet and found your site via Katie Anderson. I'll read the book and then I'll be able to comment better, on the other hand I've seen 50 First Dates a crazy number of times.