Going Beyond the Book with Hamilton

By Maurice LaMee, AW Director

On NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me last weekend, Neal De Grasse Tyson wryly commented, “the most annoying people to bring to movies, I think we’d all agree, are those who read the book first…Readers should just stay the hell home!”

That’s me. And, if you’re reading this, it’s probably you too. (You’re on a literary website and you know who Peter Sagal is – just sayin’.) If you’ve read the book, going to see the movie adaptation is like going to the prom with your sister. Aside from all the obvious ick-factor, you know too much about your sister to become enchanted by her at the dance.

My current obsession is over a musical based on a book: Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda based on Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Is it because I haven’t read the book yet? Probably! In my defense, I haven’t seen the musical Hamilton either! However, I have listened to the score of Hamilton this past week to the exclusion of virtually everything else: music, radio, news, my wife. I’m obsessed. I have a problem. Why does Hamilton work as a piece beyond the book in a way few other movie/musicals have?

Good question. I don’t know the answer. But I do know that the revolutionary score Lin-Manuel Miranda forged stirs my spirit. It makes me want to know more: I want to read the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, listen to Biggie Smalls, Jay Z, and Big Pun, watch the West Wing from start to finish, spend more time with my kids, make more art, start a revolution, and squeeze the most out of my time on this planet. You see, I have a problem.

I’m headed to the library now. I better read the book!

Tags: , , , ,

Categorised in: