Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
So this book isn’t underrated necessarily by those who’ve read it – at least I dearly hope not… just I have yet to mention it to anyone who has actually read it. I do know some people who saw the film version. It is in fact a very good adaptation, and I do love the film – but the book is such a broader and more varied picture that it’s undoubtedly worth the read. It is long, it does take concentration to keep up because the narrative jumps back and forth and between narrators – but it works. It so works. It’s not difficult to read – you just have to commit a little bit. Which hopefully we all do when opening a new book anyway.
This book is amazing on every front. It is a beautiful literary work, it expresses something about living in Alabama from the 1920s through to the 1980s and paints an intriguing history, with a subtle social commentary. It is a beautiful love story – in fact it is riddled with beautiful stories. While there are protagonists, they don’t get all of the attention – you get to know the side characters just as well.
*My main irritations with the film version are that it plays down the relationship between Ruth and Idgie – one of the things I love about the book is that it goes unquestioned by anyone that the two should be in love. They are supported by everyone. The film does imply that they have a relationship, but if you didn’t want to see that you could interpret it as just a close female friendship. A lot of the black characters and their story lines got cut in the film as well (Sipsey features less heavily, Onzell, Jasper, Artis, Willie Boy and Naughty Bird were totally cut, Ocie was cut, and it’s not clear who the younger girl who lives with Big George and Sipsey is supposed to be). Smokey Lonesome is the only ‘hobo’ character who made it through to the film as well. I just think it’s a shame that a book which makes such a brilliant and effortless amount of minority representation that the film should be white-washed and straight-washed and wealth-washed. The timespan that events relating to Frank Bennett take place over is also heavily compressed in the film – and Reverend Scroggins’ generous action is so much more meaningful in the book. Also Curtis Smoote was turned into a slightly caricature of a law-keeper in the film – the more complex exploration of his character that the book makes is amazing. Actually, everything is more amazing and better in the book. Just read the book. Accidental Rant Over.