I read the revised edition and it is, I suppose, a tribute to the editors that I was shocked to discover that this book is over 40 years old. You'd never know it. And that, of course, is despicable and a disservice -- to its young readers particularly, who could profit from the casual history of reading a novel from another time. Reissue, yes; revise, no.
Many have noted parallels between this film and the recent Presidential election, but it cannot be said that this film in any way predicted Donald Trump. Redford's character, a lawyer and activist, is a viable candidate in spite of his inexperience. Had he been a childish businessman with no public service at all on his record, one with an aversion to the truth and little if any substantive knowledge of policy, this film would have been laughed off movie screens all across the country. How things have changed in the last 40 years.
"I'm your father" -- Not
One thing I’ve loved about this book for years is its unequivocal statement on the matter of Luke’s father/Darth Vader; to wit, that they were two different people. Wit, for Lucas, ended the moment he decided to change this dynamic and turn Vader into Luke’s father (and, god help us, Leia into his sister). So it was with mixed emotions that I learned — only when writing my review — that Lucas didn’t actually write the book. I wasn’t happy for whatever ammunition that might give the poor, misguided souls who bought into Lucas’ soap opera shenanigans. Oh, I think the film is statement enough: only if Ben Kenobi lied to Luke could it be otherwise, and I don’t believe Ben would lie (nor do I see any evidence in the movie to support the notion that he would). Still, it was nice having the book to back this up, where Lucas (no, damn it, Foster) states plainly that “unlike Owen Lars,” Luke’s uncle, Ben “was unable to take refuge in a comfortable lie.”
I used to believe that political correctness was just as silly as the next guy; I still do, sometimes, but, thanks to the recent campaign for President, not nearly so often. Take this example. Remember the flack Trump took when, in the third and final debate, he spoke about "bad hombres" in reference to Mexican criminals? I couldn't help but smile when, early in this book, a character refers to Doc as a "might-ee shrewd hombre." Isn't that equally problematic? Actually, no. It's one thing to appropriate a Spanish word to say something flattering about a white man, but it's another to turn someone's own language against them as an insult -- because, for one thing, it expands the insult to the entire culture, which is unfair. This PC crap is subtle, but that doesn't mean it isn't real.
This book was translated into English by Torrès' husband. The Feminist Press edition of 2005 includes an interview with the author by Joan Schenkar in which Schenkar is surprised to learn that the sexier parts of the novel were actually faithfully translated; she had guessed that they were added by Torrès' husband in translation to appeal to men. So much for all women sharing any given feminist perspective.
On the other hand, Schenkar was delighted to learn that the novel's rare moralistic remarks -- including words like "inversion" and "perversion" -- were, in fact, added by her husband. But not because it was he who wanted them inserted; rather, the publisher did. Torrès said she wrote the book without judgment. Something to keep in mind as you're reading.
Not even escape novels exist in a vacuum. The last page of the original 1978 paperback of this book is a public service message from the Department of Energy, reminding readers that during World War II, American citizens sucked it up and rationed gas, even if they didn't like it. "Today," it says, "we need a wartime spirit to solve our energy problems." It's almost 40 years later now, and I think we could use a wartime spirit to solve a host of other problems.
The husband in this film is a partner in an advertising firm. Each of the partners, of course, has his own secretary. I miss secretaries. I don't know about other companies, but the one I've spent most of my working life with largely did away with its secretaries long ago. They saved money, I'm sure, but they lost something, too. As did the community, having that many fewer jobs and that much less money going into the community instead of the pockets of the corporate bigwigs.
The date of posting of my reviews is not necessarily indicative of the date I read or watched any given book or film. In this case, it's been a month or two since I saw the movie. In that time -- and I know this because I reviewed a few scenes online while writing my review -- the big bad copyright owners of the film have caused it to be stripped from YouTube.
Much as I loathe this book, it occupies a happy place in my heart. I still remember staying home sick from school when I was a kid and reading it. But it says a great deal that what I remember most about the book itself from that first reading is one of its sex scenes.