Sunday, July 3, 2011

Willard and His Bowling Trophies

A few years ago there was a movie called Willard, which was a remake of one sort or another of the 1970's movie Willard. I never saw either of them, but I do know that (1) they involved rats; (2) Michael Jackson sang a very nice theme song to the earlier version's sequel, Ben; and (3) the movies were based on a novel.

On the 1,001 books list there is a Richard Brautigan novel called Willard and His Bowling Trophies. Somehow - probably because they both involve a Willard - the Brautigan book and the rat movies got mixed up in my mind. However, the Brautigan novel, to my disappointment, was not about rats.

Instead, Brautigan's Willard is about two couples living in an apartment house - one is sadly and half heartedly outing out The Story of O; the other seems relatively normal other than the fact that they have a room filled with bowling trophies and a papier mache bird named Willard. This pile of loot was found in abandoned car they came across and decided to keep (the loot, not the car). Because, of course, that's normal, right? Maybe comparatively.

The true owners of Willard & Co - three brother from whom they were stolen - are on a murderous cross country rampage in search of their lost property. They get a tip that Willard and the trophies are in Apartment No. 1 at a house in San Francisco. Problem is, as a joke the normal couple had long ago switched the apartment numbers. When the brothers reach the apartment house, they kill the Story of O couple instead. The End.

For those of you who know me, you should expect that this ending would annoy me. It did. Did the normal couple hear the gun shots and rush upstairs? Did the brothers give up and leave when the trophies weren't in Apartment 1 (which was really Apartment 2)? And why am I unable to tolerate unanswered questions in books, but it's ok in movies!?!?!?! (See, for reference, my New York Trilogy problem.)


When I was in high school, everyone kept trying to get me to watch this show called The X-Files. I would love love love it since it was about aliens and ghosts and other weird things that everyone knew I was into, because, of course, I was the weird kid. But I have always resisted the popular, even if it seemed made just for me. One Sunday night I broke down - ok, ok, I'll watch it. It happened to be the episode Home. I was so disgusted I didn't watch the X-Files again for a few years. (On a side note, this lead me to miss The Field Where I Died episode two or three weeks later, which is now one of my favorite...the reading of Browning's Paracelsus brings tears to my eyes.) Something about Willard and His Bowling Trophies reminded me too much of the Home episode.


The book wasn't badly written; in fact, if it had been about something else, (like rats?) I would have enjoyed it. My one consolation was that the book was so short I read it in about three hours.

And for those who are wondering, the movies are based on Ratman's Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert.

No comments: