Archive for the ‘Craig Johnson’ Category

A Review in Two Parts, maybe Three.  Or Four

Part One
Don’t know if I’ve changed, if contemporary sensibilities have changed, or the quality of visual media has changed, but….I used to think that reading a book was a far superior experience, to watching its story “turned into” a movie, stage, or video production. No more. I found the few Outlander books I managed to complete tedious and long-winded, however interesting in concept, and yet was absolutely enchanted by the video serial. I found the Phryne Fisher books overwritten and over the top, however appealing Phryne and her household were, and yet was charmed by the pared down and visually delightful Australian TV series.
Longmire I first discovered on Netflix, so in visual mode, happily roaring through 4 ten-episode seasons in a single feckless week. Only when I came up for air, did I discover that the series was based upon a number of books by Craig Johnson. Given prior disappointments with books in a Read-First:Watch-Later sequence, I wondered if reversing the Read-Watch pattern would affect how I felt about Longmire. Would reading the books diminish the Netflix experience? Why take a chance and spoil a good thing? Why care about this character whose first impression I do not wish to tarnish? Who is he?
Walter Longmire of the screen is a Sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming, who, with a couple of interesting deputies, represents The Law in his jurisdiction. A Law which he administers with fierce, responsive and aggressive justice when called for, and compassionate delicate sensitivity when it’s not. A Law he upholds with honor always, even when he ignores its letter, but ensures that its spirit prevails. His territory is in “Indian Country”, adjoining reservation lands onto which events he’s responsible for may spill over, but upon which he has no power to act. His collaborative and sometimes strained relationships with the Indian tribal police, and his intriguing and wonderful relationship with childhood friend Henry Standing Bear, are plot constants. As are his love for his grown daughter, and, of course, Women, including his deceased wife, for whom his grieving is ongoing. He’s one of those tough and tender, flawed and pure men who are–take my word for it–irresistible to, um, certain persons. He’s thoughtful and impulsive, complex and straightforward, all of which happen to stir dreams and longings and loyalties of those around him up there in Absaroka, and, um, maybe even some of those watching them all on the big or little screen.
So there, the books. Walt would be disdainful of personal danger and disappointment, in his ongoing search for truth and justice, and so must I. Forward, forward, on to the books. To be continued in Part 2.

Part Two
I shall be brief. Have by this time read through many a “Longmire” mystery and short story. Like the Outlander books, and the Phryne Fisher books, the written Longmires were greatly streamlined for the video version, and the characters and events significantly altered. Not to reveal details of essential elements of the plots in either medium, will just state that in the videos, there are many changes made to the original relationships and deeds, persons, plots, and settings described in the books, to the point that the printed and video Longmire series’ could be two different worlds, created by two different authors. Both are addictive and quite wonderful, even if in many ways, things apart. There are, I admit, some annoying, unnecessarily tangled events, relationships, and overall plotting in the books, that are stripped away for the Netflix video series, making the latter, perhaps, the “cleaner” “purer” experience. But I wouldn’t just for that reason recommend giving up the books for the video, nah. Sorry, but have to say that those who find a complex but simple Western Sheriff good company day or night, in any season, will need to not only watch the Netflix episodes available, but also read each and every Craig Johnson book featuring Longmire, no matter how involved, entangled or wordy the author is in presenting him and his world.

Part Three
But if I had to choose only one Longmire format to experience? If I had to pick between watching or reading? Much as I hate to confess it–and despite preferring reading over watching just about everytime–I’d choose to watch. Just as I would with Outlander. And Phryne Fisher. Fortunately, though, I don’t have to choose, and am happy to have experienced both.

Part Four
Oh, waffling, waffling, some regrets and an impossible choice for a person afflicted with deep and primal loyalty to books. Ah, well.  OK, if I HAD to choose–and thank goodness I don’t–suppose I’d stick with Netflix and watching, rather than reading, if they were my only choices.

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