Self-Incrimination – Michelle Adams
Michelle Adams, author of MY SISTER, picks Thomas Harris's SILENCE OF THE LAMBS for our regular Self-Incrimination piece!
Posted on December 20, 2016 in Guest Author, Self incrimination
Tags: Author Content, Hannibal Lecter, Michelle Adams, My Sister, Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris, self incrimination
When it comes to picking a favourite book, it is quite frankly a bit of a struggle. I have many books on my shelf that mean something to me, and many books that have passed through my hands which have left their indelible mark. But one that stands out to me as both a reader and as a budding writer when I read it is The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.
I was only eight years old when it was released, and so for a few years it escaped my reading radar. But after a trip to Blackpool to see the illuminations with my Mum, and a late-night glimpse of Jonathon Demme’s impossibly creepy adaptation, the novel from which it was born became an object of fascination. It was later on that year when I was awarded a book token as a prize at my school’s annual speech day, and there was little doubt about what I was going to spend the money on. It did raise a few eyebrows, sitting amongst the other educational tomes about biology and chemistry awaiting presentation, but I suppose now that I’m a writer I can claim the content had some educational value for me.
If it is at all possible that you don’t yet know the story of The Silence of the Lambs, here’s a quick recap. Hannibal Lecter is a brilliant psychiatrist. He is also in prison due to an unfortunate penchant for the taste of human flesh. Clarice Starling, a rookie FBI agent is sent to talk to Lecter on the premise of completing a questionnaire for Behavioural Sciences. But her seniors have ulterior motives for sending her to Lecter; to solicit information about a serial killer on the loose called Buffalo Bill and who is targeting young women.
Through a growing yet dangerous connection to Lecter and her expertise in psychiatry, Clarice proves vital in the chase to save Buffalo Bill’s latest victim and catch the killer. But by the end of the novel Lecter is also on the loose and you are left wondering if Clarice’s nightmare is only just beginning.
The Silence of the Lambs is dark, twisted, and in places torturous. The chapters are often short – filled with dialogue – and rocket you forward in the chase to save a life. I love the depth of the characters, their mannerisms and histories, and the interactions they share. Despite the often overt violence of the story nothing feels gratuitous, and character motives, while sometimes deftly hidden, are also well developed and reassuring when it comes to understanding their actions.
Often as readers we bemoan screen adaptations of our favourite novels, and fans of the screen roll their eyes at booklovers who wax lyrical about unacceptable omissions and differences. I personally enjoy the differences in the telling of one story between the different forms of media, and appreciate the two interpretations because of their own merits. But the movie adaptation creates for me one of the rare instances where the book and the movie manage not only to complement each other, but where the screen adaptation enhances my enjoyment of the novel. It is impossible to read my water-damaged, yellow-edged copy without visualising Sir Anthony Hopkins as Lecter, or Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling. If you have only seen the movie, grab an old copy of the book and give it a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.