Book #28: Picnic, by William Inge

Book #28: Picnic, by William Inge

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer: if you noticed that I jumped from book #25 to #28 from my last review to this one, it wasn’t because I’ve forgotten how to count. Actually, it’s because I’ve fallen into a rather embarrassing spiral of reading free crappy teen novels on my iPad. Yeah, it’s kind of an issue. I’ve sped through three books since Sunday and I’m already progressing with another. That being said, I have no intention to write critiques of all these silly reading ventures, but you can find the titles on my 2014 Reading List. If you’re interested in my feelings, though, feel free to ask.

Okay, now back to real literature. Picnic wasn’t a title I was familiar with until the Modern American Drama class that’s continuously enlightening me about great plays. Like the last play we read (Tea and Sympathy), Picnic is neither a drama or comedy, but falls somewhere in between. It does have some funny moments — these are especially apparent in the 1955 film adaptation — but it feels more like a dramedy or coming-of-age story than anything else.

What’s been more interesting to me lately is that these past two plays both center heavily around a romantic plot, and both also happen to have seemingly happy endings (this isn’t exactly the case for Picnic when you start to think about it too much, but it’s nice on a surface level). While many dramas that feature an important love story tend to end tragically — consider Desire Under the Elms or The Glass Menagerie, for example — these two end on lighter notes. It’s a bit refreshing to read a story that isn’t completely emotionally exhausting for a change.

And in regards to the film adaptation, I really enjoyed it overall. There are scenes that seem a bit silly and dated, but it generally works. The casting of William Holden as Hal seemed quite strange since he’s about fifteen years too old for the part, but he still played the role well. It’s also a bit upsetting to see how lovely Kim Novak used to be when we know what she looked like at the Oscars this year. Yikes.

Anyway, now that I’ve read my first Inge play, I’m interested to read some of his others. My copy of Picnic is featured in a collection of four of Inge’s most famous works, so I definitely plan to read more in the near future.

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