Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Phantom of Manhattan

Frederick Forsyth's "Phantom of Manhattan" was staring at me from the sales table of a local bookstore -so I couldn't pass up this invitation and bought it (at a reduced price, thank god!). So, what can I say? After reading the introduction, the author already had pissed me off, by bashing both Leroux original novel (which, according to him, is badly written and full of unnecessary cruelties) and the Persian (who, according to him, is evil and hates Erik and shouldn't have a place in the story anyway). I was wondering, "did he actually read the Leroux book?!" Anyone who's read it should remember that the Persian does not hate Erik, but is the closest thing he has to a friend. The Leroux novel is, supposedly, badly structured and told by irrelevant people (aka the Persian). Now,if you read this, you could assume that the author will tell his story in a different way? Well, you'd be wrong. His storytelling is IMHO MUCH worse than Leroux', and he has a friggin' newsreporter tell a large part of the actual story. Then he goes on about how ALW's version is the ONLY logical one, and that Leroux made grave mistakes, such as underestimating Madame Giry's intellect and importance by not realising that she was actually the much-respected ballet mistress of the opera house. Errrrr... yeah, because that's proven historical fact, while Leroux' Madame Giry is a gross distorsion of reality, or what? Did I miss something here?

And that was just the introduction (which is about 1/4 of the book already)... The story itself is not even that crazy, but the storytelling really sucks and the characters are so cardboard that you don't feel anything for them. Heck, it's even hard to say they're out of character, because they have so little character! And Frederick Forsyth is also quite at a loss about how to explain how Erik and Christine got to have a son - which is understandable because the stage show really doesn't give much room for interpretation here. I can only imagine that he liked the idea of the son in Kay, and then tried to cram it into his own book no matter what... As for things I liked in the book:

*Raoul doesn't show up much, and is rather nice when he does
*The monkey musical box shows up as well. I really like the monkey musical box. I want to have one for my bedside table.
*The final scene is quite dramatic
*The mirror maze was a nice touch

I think that's about it for the things I liked. Reading PoM hasn't affected my opinion about LND though, because in my view, the key is always in how you tell a story, and I still have some hopes for that!