Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix
The shark was cool, but according to my husband all of the research it relied on was outdated: turns out sharks have a regular route around the sees, and regular appearances at specific locales (basically they show up after the baby seals do).
But the characters, the Peyton Place drama of it all: mostly it was just a group of guys holding a pissing contest over the only woman in town worth having.
You go shark!
For the Drowning Deep
It's been more than forty years since I read this and boy is it different reading this as an adult versus as a kid.
The inflation. The casual sexism. The really weird history of the serial rapist.
I am liking the time he takes to explain the cast of characters, and the whole economy of the Hamptons. And I love the newspaper editor.
It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble a warning of what was to come took the form of a young woman's body, or what was left of it, washed up on the long, white stretch of beach. A summer of terror has begun.
I read this book for the Fear the Drowning Deep square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.
This is purportedly a book about a monster shark. I would beg to differ—the shark is just a catalyst for the very human drama that became the main thing for me. Police chief Martin Brody is a conscientious policeman—he isn’t perfect and he knows it, but he is striving to do the right thing. He’s not up against the shark really, he’s up against those with money who want to make more money. Shutting down the town beach during the July 4th weekend is going to hurt the community economically, but powerful people seem to value money over human life.
We get a good look at “the old boys club” in action in Jaws. Their indifference to potential deaths is far scarier than the enormous Great White that is cruising the shore. They are as indifferent as the beast itself. We also get a glimpse back in time to society in the 1970s—women are still mostly housewives, maybe with a side job to help with family finances. Only the elderly woman who runs the post office seems to be able to speak her mind without reservation, as she has no husband to police her behaviour.
The icthyologist who admires the shark, but has a sexual liaison with Ellen Brody, ends up self-destructing—it’s unclear which issue he’s being punished for, siding with nature against humanity or breaking societal expectations with another man’s wife.
I’m pretty sure that I read this back in junior high school (at the time it was originally published), but the only familiar thing was that cover! I’m pretty sure that my teenage self was reading entirely for the sharky bits, not so much for the human stuff.
I listened to this one on audiobook via Overdrive, which I highly recommend. The narrator did awsome. He kind of sounded like Edward Norton, but that's not who it was.
The book has a lot of differences between it and the movie, and honestly, I think this is one of the few times the movie is better. The book is terrific, it just focuses more on political/cultural drama that felt almost soap opera-ish at times, whereas the movie feels more straight to the point of the battle between man and fish. The movie also has better characterizations, for that matter. Hooper, as mentioned before, is skeevy and douchey in this version and I hated that he and Brody didn't get along since their friendships is one of my favorite parts of the movie. I thought I would enjoy Ellen having a bigger role but she just seemed so shallow and dramatic for most of the book that I didn't care for her character at all. So the book is great, but the movie definitely improved upon it.
That said, I really liked the character of Henry Meadows and wish he had a bigger role in the movie. I also really liked that certain portions of the book take place from the perspective of the fish and the way it truly characterizes it as an animal rather than this man-killer. It did a great job of showing that sharks are chill, just not great at figuring out what is or isn't food.
Final rating: 4 out of 5. Very good and if you enjoy the movie I think you'd enjoy the book just as well.
Last note: It's definitely a product of it's era with some mild racism and sexism thrown in. And the sexy talk between Ellen and Hooper made me ridiculously uncomfortable. The affair, in general, makes me mad but whatever. Glad they didn't put that into the movie.