I'll be honest and admit I haven't read the book -- I'm always behind when it comes to bestsellers because I tend to haunt the nonfiction and classic shelves. The book is the recollections of a 90-year-old man, who, in his youth, ran away and joined a B-level circus during the Depression. It's a job rife with animal and human cruelty. He falls in love with the wife of an abusive and mentally-ill animal trainer. While all of this suggests it is depressing as hell and ends badly, a glance through Amazon.com's reviews suggest otherwise.
Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler acknowledges the riskiness of the subject matter, but is confident that the adaptation will attract "a lot of talented people," particuarly with LaGravenese's reputation as a solid "adapter". Here I want to say that an adaptation of a heart-wrenching and dramatic novel can't go wrong -- but it can. I can't really think of many New York Times bestsellers not named Cormac McCarthy or J.K. Rowling who end up with really solid and popular films. Otherwise, they tend to end up like Angela's Ashes and White Oleander which, while not terrible films, fell rather flat for most critics and fans of the material, and have largely been forgotten. Let's hope Water for Elephants will be one of the lucky ones -- and if you're a fan of the book, here's your chance to tell me what you hope they get right.