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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Picture Picture

I'm reading an excellent book by Ann Patchett called State of Wonder in which a doctor from Minnesota takes a trip (for which she is unprepared) to the deepest Amazon. Patchett makes the jungle real in her writing. I wonder how she researched that. I mean, did she look it up online? Read books? See a movie? Or did she actually go there?

I might be able to research Patchett and find out, but for the moment I'd like to ponder the question.

In one scene an anaconda nearly kills a boy. I don't know a thing about anacondas and it would have seemed real enough to me if the danger had come from either constriction or the snake's bite. But let's say you know about snakes. Would it bother you if the author got it wrong? Or would you just think, "It's fiction, she's allowed to make it up"?

John and I discuss questions like this when we talk about writing. When we talk about photography, we don't. We just take our pictures from our different angles, and we're fine with that.

17 comments:

Bellis said...

If I find something inaccurate in a book, it niggles at me and distracts from the story. I'd love to be employed as a fact checker, it'd be such fun.

Now don't tell me you didn't Photoshop today's picture - it's incredible!

dive said...

I'm with Bellis on this one, Petrea, but then you know I'm an insufferable pedant.
Superb photo, by the way!

Valladolid Daily Photo said...

This is what I call a hunted hunter picture. Excellent shot, BTW...

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I agree w/Bellis.. Heck, I had a hard time when certain facts in Into the Wild were twisted in the movie... To me the true happenings I read in the book would of worked out fine in the movie... I hate when Hollyweird directors mess up a book!.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Virgo - the original fact checkers. (Sophia Loren and Ingrid Bergman also Virgos, so we're not all that dull...)

I am with Bellis and the others. It niggles at me (great expression!) when I know that the author has something wrong.

Betsy

Petrea Burchard said...

Bellis, I cropped the picture and took the highlights down so that flash of sun wasn't so bright. We're on the path north of the Jet Propulsion Lab, not very far along, probably not as far as the second bridge. (I don't have Photoshop, just iPhoto, which doesn't do much.)

Dive, maybe I'm an insufferable pedant, too, but only about things I know about.

"Hunted hunter," Valladolid, I like that!

KBF, that's why I never see a movie made from a book I've read, unless it's many years later. One exception I can think of--a film that did justice to the book--is Lord of the Rings. It's just too hard to do because the story happens between the author's head and the reader's. The filmmaker puts on the screen what happened in his head and it can't help but be all wrong.

Petrea Burchard said...

If it's scifi or fantasy we don't care, right, Betsy? They can make up anything at all. For example, we know a person can't time-travel. We know Luke and his father can't actually fight with lasers.

TheChieftess said...

If I worried about the accuracy of things in books and tv shows...I'd never read or watch tv...which might not be a bad thing!!!

Katie said...

Fun to see both your photo of John and his photo of the gorgeous view! Although I do occasionally notice glaring errors (mostly geographical) when I'm reading or watching a movie, if it's a work of fiction then I don't get too worked up about it (especially if it's a good story). I'm a lot less forgiving when the work is supposed to be factual.

Petrea Burchard said...

Maybe this is more about who we are as consumers of stories than about who the writers are. Chieftess, perhaps you're just laid back enough to enjoy it all. And Katie, it doesn't surprise me that geographical facts are the ones that bug you because you're a traveler.

Laura Monteros said...

It depends. If a book or show is supposed to be realistic, the facts should be correct (at least as of the time researched, because "facts" do change). If it's fantasy or most forms of SciFi, the important thing is the "what if..." of the story.

I don't mind inaccuracies in "Eureka" but I would mind them in an interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

I do notice that SciFi and fantasy go to great lengths now to create their own "universe" as the geeks put it, and explain inaccuracies in the context of that universe. The Battlestar Galactica universe might explain something differently than the Star Trek universe, for example.

Oh, my Lord, I am a geek.

Petrea Burchard said...

No, I'm with you, Laura! A particular fiction will have its own world and that world has rules. You can't break them without a very good reason. In Tolkien, elves don't fly. In other stories, they do.

Desiree said...

Sounds like a recipe for a long-lasting marriage...

Margaret said...

I have read that book, but I am a big fan of Ann Pachett. She is brilliant.

Ms M said...

Superb photo! It's like a visual echo....

If a book is fiction, I'm more forgiving about "truth-stretching" unless it's a glaring error. But if it's non-fiction, something that is supposed to be "factual", then it bothers me. (One of my past occupations was "journalist".) I also rarely like seeing movies made from books I've read, because the movies usually disappoint me.

Petrea Burchard said...

You got that right, Desiree.

I'm enthralled by the book, Margaret. It's my first Patchett. I walked into Vroman's, saw it, bought it.

I think you've summed up the consensus here, Ms. M.

I don't mean to say Patchett got it wrong. As I said, I don't know. But she probably got it right.

Petrea Burchard said...

Although I wouldn't be surprised if she made a lot of stuff up, too.