If you read my entry on the French Canadian film Cadavres then you may recall that I was in the middle of purchasing the book it was based on, written by Francois Barcelo. I have since read it, and I thought I would do a simple, little report.
Let me say first of all that I definitely like the movie better. I’m certainly prejudiced, having seen the movie first and all that, but I prefer the movie’s take on Raymond and Angele’s relationship. That element of Paradise Lost that I talked about was all but missing from the book entirely. There was also more of a focus on their relationship in the movie. The book is largely about Raymond, and about his relationships with his mother, Angele (but to a lesser degree than the movie), and his father. There was also a lot more about how he lived his life.
That leads me to the subject of what I learned from the book that I had wondered about while watching the movie.
My first question was about what had gone down between Angele and Raymond in the past. The movie seemed to imply that they’d had an ongoing sexual relationship, but nothing was ever stated directly. Well, in the book, they had sex once, when Angele was 15 and Raymond was 13. Angele was told by their mother to basically have the birds and the bees talk with him. She did this by having very matter-of-fact sex with him. I’m not saying that this is what’s in their past in the movie, certainly, but it’s interesting to take into consideration. It also answers another question: how far apart are Raymond and Angele? Well, she’s a little less than two years older, which is pretty much what I figured.
Another question I had was about how Raymond and his mother survived without working. In the book, they’re both on Welfare, and Raymond is running a scam so that he gets checks for someone that he made up. They also grow pot, but I’m not sure if they sell it or not.
I also wondered what happened to the little pig that Raymond cooked. Well, in the book, he forgets about it and it burns to a crisp. Sad. Actually, the details are a little fuzzy, but I almost think he killed the piglet himself.
The middle plots are quite different, and I think I prefer the movie version, although there is a pretty funny scene in the book when a priest comes to visit Solange (the mother, if you’ll recall) and Raymond basically tells him the truth about everything, he ends up dying. Some of the people that died in the movie lived in the book, which was nice. I also liked how in the book Angele is such a bad actress that no one wants her back for the show, and her father even had to work it behind the scenes to get the show on the air.
That’s right, we learn who the father is. Turns out he’s a fairly important government official. He left for England right after Raymond was born, and came back engaged. Jerk, right? Well, yeah, but he’s also been taking care of them, doing such things as putting Angele’s show on TV, getting them out of speeding tickets, keeping Raymond from getting in trouble for his Welfare fraud scheme, and a lot of other stuff. Angele shoots him! Crazy, right?
Well, it ends pretty much the same. Angele shoots Raymond because he’s leaving, but in the book I think she’s more concerned that he’s taking her Beemer (and their mother’s body). She’s crying, but the scene is not nearly as sentimental. Then we get a little epilogue that Raymond narrates after he’s dead. She’s writing a screenplay, and living a frighteningly normal life. Angele’s one stone cold bitch. She even kills Agent Pilon! And he’s considerably less annoying and less stupid in the book.
Bottom line: the book was all right and funny, but it’s not worth learning French for. See the movie.