movie ruined the book

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jul 27 19:03:53 UTC 2013

Below are some more citations for the idea: The movie did not ruin the
book because the book is still on the shelf.

If some list member can locate and share a citation before 1978 that
would be excellent. Also, a citation from Stephen King (or other
famous authors) would be interesting.  Thanks.

In 1991 the book "Naked Lunch" by William S. Burroughs was made into a
movie via transmutation and re-hallucination by the filmmaker David
Cronenberg. When William S. Burroughs was asked about the movie that
was constructed from the remnants of his opus his reply was recorded
and presented.  Burroughs apparently mutated James M. Cain into
Raymond Chandler:

Title: Everything Is Permitted: The Making of Naked Lunch
Author: Ira Silverberg
Year: 1992
Quote Page: 15
(Google Books snippet view; data may be inaccurate; verification on
paper required)

[Begin excerpt]
I hope that my readers will judge the film as something quite apart
from my novel, and that I may perhaps find some new readers thereby.
Raymond Chandler was once asked, "How do you feel about what Hollywood
has done to your novels?" He reportedly answered, "My novels? Why,
Hollywood hasn't done anything to them. They're still right there, on
the shelf."
[End excerpt]

When David Cronenberg was questioned about his film "Naked Lunch" he
presented a version of the Raymond Chandler anecdote which he
attributed to William S. Burroughs.

Transcript of: Discussion with David Cronenberg
Description from website: A Pinewood Dialogue following a screening of
Naked Lunch, moderated by Chief Curator David Schwartz
Date given on website: January 11 and 12, 1992

[Begin excerpt]
CRONENBERG: The insect typewriters are my invention.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Absolutely brilliant.

CRONENBERG: Thank you. Well, I have to say that Burroughs himself
loved them, wanted to take them home off the set. And he does have a
mugwump in his bedroom, I can tell you that, and—it’s tied up, though.
It’s okay. And said that he thought any writer could relate to those
typewriters, which was a huge compliment. And I must say that
Burroughs was totally supportive and very easy about the making of the
film. I mean, he always, as he’s written in the preface to the—there’s
a book, The Making of Naked Lunch, as well, which is not out yet, but
it will be in about a week. And in a preface that he’s written, he
mentions a story about Raymond Chandler when people said, “Aren’t you
appalled at the things that Hollywood has done to your books?” And he
said, “Well, Hollywood hasn’t done anything to my books. They’re right
there on the shelf.” And I think that’s really Burroughs’s approach.
His work is his work and nothing that I could do would ever change it,
[End excerpt]

In 2001 an interview with comic book author Alan Moore was released on
"The A.V. Club". Several movies have been based on works by Moore.

Article: Interview with Alan Moore
Webbsite: The A.V. Club
Date: October 24, 2001,13740/

[Begin excerpt]
I suppose that the way I keep all that straight in my head is by
keeping this kind of detachment, and by realizing that the film and
the book are very different entities. Apparently, someone asked
Raymond Chandler once what he thought of Hollywood ruining all of his
books. And he took them into his study and pointed up to the shelf
where they all were, and he said, "Look, they're there. They're fine.
They're okay." That's the attitude I have to take. The film hasn't
ruined my book.
[End excerpt]

In 2001 a commentator at the website "The Straight Dope" asserted that
James M. Cain made his remark about books and movies in 1948. The Cain
citation I gave yesterday was from 1978.

[Begin excerpts from forum discussion]

Comment from Interrobang!?
Timestamp: 12-02-2001, 06:07 PM

Someone asked about "movies ruining the books," and Ellroy basically
said that a movie can't ruin the book, because the book is still there
on the shelf, waiting to be read, once the movie's made.

Response from Ukulele Ike
Timestamp: 12-02-2001, 07:54 PM


He stole that from James M. Cain, author of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS
TWICE, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and MILDRED PIERCE (among other novels). Who
said the same thing back around 1948.

[End excerpts from forum discussion]

In 2003 the prominent science fiction author Larry Niven answered
questions collected from participants at the website
Niven employed an instance of the saying.

Website: Slashdot
Title: Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Larry Niven
Posted by Roblimo
Timestamp: March 10, 2003 @01:02PM

[Begin excerpt]
Yes, I would like to see my works made into movies. All of them. Short
stories as well as novels. Why not? A movie doesn't ruin a book; the
book is still there, unchanged, and may even see a larger audience.
See Vince Gerardis of Created By, my agent, if you've just won a
[End excerpt]


On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 9:09 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
> Thanks for broaching this interesting topic, Bill. Below is a 1978
> citation for a Paris Review interview with James M. Cain. Comic book
> auteur Alan Moore ascribed the remark to Raymond Chandler during an
> October 2001 interview at The A.V. Club. Could you share some more
> details about what you have found?
> Periodical: The Paris Review
> Date: Spring-Summer 1978
> Number: 73
> Article: Interview: James M. Cain, The Art of Fiction No. 69
> Interviewed by David Zinsser
> (The topic was Double Indemnity by James M. Cain)
> [Begin excerpt]
> Did you ever go and see the film? What did you think of it?
> I don't go. There are some foods some people just don't like. I just
> don't like movies. People tell me, don't you care what they've done to
> your book? I tell them, they haven't done anything to my book. It's
> right there on the shelf. They paid me and that's the end of it.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM, Mullins, Bill CIV (US)
> <william.d.mullins18.civ at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Mullins, Bill CIV (US)" <william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL>
>> Subject:      movie ruined the book
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Fan/Critic to Famous Author:  "The movie ruined your book!"
>> =20
>> Famous Author:  "No it didn't, the book is fine, right there on the =
>> shelf."
>> =20
>> =20
>> I associated this quote with Stephen King, probably from the intro to =
>> one of his novels.  But a little Googling shows that Allen Ginsberg and =
>> Larry Niven have said more or less the same thing, and that James M. =
>> Cain may have said it first.=20
>> =20
>> Does anyone know the original?  Is is Cain?
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list