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The Shipping News Book with the Movie Cover

November 13, 2020

The Shipping News by Annie Prouix is supposed to be a really good book. It received a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1994. Several bloggers have mentioned it to me in comments recently.

I tried reading The Shipping News over 20 years ago because a guy in my writer’s group at the time was always raving about it. Despite my respect for the Pulitzer Prize and the guy in my writer’s group, I couldn’t get into The Shipping News back then.

Since The Shipping News has so much going for it, I figured I’d buy my own copy and try again. I found a paperback for $3.99 at a used book store. I’m a cheapskate bastard, so I was immediately attracted by the price, but then I inspected the cover.

Ugh! It was a movie poster cover, with actor Kevin Spacey staring wistfully in the upper left corner. I’ve been told that Kevin Spacey was miscast in the movie. I don’t want to imagine a miscast actor when I’m reading a book.

Plus, I pride myself on buying pre-movie copies of novels. Unfortunately, it was this copy or nothing. If I didn’t purchase this copy, I’d have to pay $10-$15 for a brand new paperback copy at B&M Booksellers.

The cheapskate in me said buy the book. The purist in me said put it back.

I compromised. I bought the book and tore off the cover. I’d rather have a coverless book than a post-movie copy.

Now I don’t have to look at Kevin Spacey whenever I pick up The Shipping News. Still, I need time to let the Kevin Spacey image fade from my memory before I begin reading. I spent my own money on this book. I’ve committed to giving it a fair chance now.

Just so you know, I ripped the cover off the book AFTER I left the book store. You never know how other book collectors will react to such aggression.

*****

What do you think? Did I make the right choice? Is a pre-movie copy inherently better than a post-movie copy of a novel?

8 Comments
  1. Is there a difference between the pre-movie book and the post-movie book? Do they change stuff around? I did not know that! I don’t know about tearing covers off of books, but I can understand why you did it in this circumstance.

    • They usually don’t change the content of the book. I just like to have a copy that doesn’t remind me of the movie version of a book.

      Plus, I used to brag that I’d read the book before the movie came out. Looking back, it was probably one of my obnoxious traits.

  2. I don’t think I’d ever tear a cover off a book, however much I disliked it. I’d stick something I did like over the top. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but some covers can be very off-putting and not at all related to the story.

    • “…but some covers can be very off-putting and not at all related to the story.”-

      Yes, this cover was very off-putting to me. I don’t want to see Kevin Spacey when I’m reading this book (no offense meant to Kevin Spacey).

  3. The producers ripped off the book. You have the moral imperative to rip off the cover. And then rip off each page you have read. The author is being ripped off every time you reread a page. And the author ripped off reality when she wrote the book.

  4. You are correct to shun movie covers and advocate against them. Ripping off the cover, though, is a questionable move. You’ve partially destroyed the book, but the image is still in your head. Who wins?

    • I think the image will fade over time. At least, it won’t be the first thing I see every time I pick up the book. Hopefully. In theory. But I might be wrong. I’ll find out soon.

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