“Submarine” by Joe Dunthorne
(First publication: 2008 / This edition: Penguin Books 2011)
Taken with the soundtrack album at Cafe Kitsune, when I was living in Tokyo. Those fallen petals are sakura flowers/cherry blossoms.
Or to at least wheel out a cliché: there are plenty more fish in the sea.
There are fish but also whales and crustaceans and shipwrecks and a dozen or so submersible military vehicle. (pg.284)
This will be another Youtube-heavy post. (Check Mick Jagger’s post for Stones tunes.)
The reason is that this novel was turned into a movie. First, I fell in love with the soundtrack. I’m a die-hard fan of Alex Turner (of Arctic Monkeys) and thus, had a phase where I listened to this soundtrack on repeat for probably at least two months straight. All the songs are written and performed by Alex Turner. It has a melancholic feel, but the lyrics are so emotional and beautiful. There are 6 tracks in total, 5 songs—all available to listen on YouTube, but I needed the physical copy. The track “Glass in the Park” is actually the most-played on my iTunes. Here are the 5 songs, in order of my most favorite:
- “Glass in the Park” – Tell me, how can I put you off, when you’re a matter of urgency.
I’ve got a million things that I need to do, but they’re all secondary.
- “Hiding Tonight” – Tomorrow I’ll be stronger, running colorful, no longer just in black and white.
I’m quite alright hiding tonight.
- “Stuck on the Puzzle” – Like you’re used to being told that you’re trouble
And I spent all night, stuck on the puzzle.
- “Piledriver Waltz” – I etched a face of a stopwatch, on the back of a raindrop,
And did a swap for the sand in the hourglass.
- “It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind” – And even when you know, the way it’s gonna blow
It’s hard to get around the wind.
Seriously though. Take a listen. I’m not exaggerating when I say that “Glass in the Park” and “Hiding Tonight” has made me tear up a couple of times.
Secondly, I fell in love with the film. About a year or two after I heard the soundtrack, I decided to watch the movie. Such a delay. The movie’s directed by Richard Ayoade and came out in 2010. It’s R-Rated, but it’s actually a pretty teenager-y one, I think. All the “naive-ness” and coming-of-age experiences. I highly recommend it if you want a feel-good movie. If you like “Amelie” and “500 Days of Summer”, you’ll probably like “Submarine” too—the cinematography is so memorable. You can watch the trailer here.
And lastly, I fell in love with the book. I got the book about half a year after I saw the film. Such a delay.
This coming-of-age story is about this… eccentric teenage boy, Oliver Tate, that ends up falling in love with an equally eccentric girl, Jordana. Oliver has to develop and nurture his relationship with Jordana, without making her feel too “cheesy”. It becomes problematic when he’s pretty cheesy and romantic, but she’s a “tom-boyish”, not-so-romantic pyromaniac. He also has to try to fix his parents’ relationship with each other, all the while trying to fend off a potential-lover of his mom’s. The story sounds so-so, but it’s his character and personality that makes it all so entertaining. He’s a logophile and likes to imagine potential scenes and goes out of his way to try to fix everything. He has a diary. You can never be 100% if what he’s saying is actually true or if he’s imagining it in his head. If you watch the trailer, you can get the gist of his quirkiness.
Film vs. Book? I feel like they’re just different experiences—I really enjoyed the film because of the cinematography and the actor who played Oliver Tate, Craig Roberts, was just amazing in it. I enjoyed the book as well because some parts of it were cut out in the film—there were more funny bits so it made me laugh more. The writing style is witty and entertaining.
I would recommend… the soundtrack, the film, and the book. It’s a package deal. I don’t mind in which order you check them out in, but you have to check out all three. Pick up the book if you want a relaxing, funny read. Though it’s a coming-of-age story, it’s still pretty perverted and gritty, so you should read it when you’re already “of age” and want to read something that’s “coming of age”. I wouldn’t give this to a person’s who’s going through the “coming-of-age phase” and still has to “discover” the birds and the bees and all the details and extras in between. 😉
Here’s a favorite passage of mine from the book:
My father has learnt that it is easier to drive, or to organize or to be inconvenienced. For instance, there is nothing he likes better than picking Mum up from Heathrow Airport. If there is bad traffic, all the better. White-bread sandwiches, un-Greek yoghurt, second-rate coffee: it all adds up. The worse the service station, the deeper the love. (pg.233)