Book Report: Meatballs by Joe Claro (1979)

Book coverThis book is a 1979 young adult novelization of the Bill Murray film. It’s quite mindbending, when you think about it. In 1979, Scholastic was publishing 91-page-long novelizations of screwball comedies. A couple decades later, Scholastic would publish weighty young adult fantasy novels that got translated into major motion pictures. A mind bender, huh? An who owns the copyright to the novelization of Meatballs? Haliburton Films. Well, probably not that Haliburton. More likely it’s related to Haliburton, Ontario. But that’s neither here nor there.

So what’s the book like? The movie, maybe. I haven’t seen the film yet. It’s a screwball comedy, with young men trying to attract members of the opposite sex and with a camp of lessers pitted against a camp of athletes and well-to-do. There are a couple set pieces and an uplifting plot of a young boy being taught how to be a better person by the whacky camp counselor portrayed by Bill Murray.

As a book, it’s a collection of disjointed scenes with little continuity between them. In a movie, which I suspect in the matter matches the novelization after a fashion, this works better with the visual comedy and such. But in a book, it’s very juxtaposed to the point of just being juxt.

So take that for what it’s worth. It’s not a bad read, I suppose, if you’re thirteen years old in 1982 and your parents have coughed up a buck and a half for the book club order and you don’t have cable or a Betamax to watch the actual movie (which was a real condition in 1982, and it explains why books like this exist). But the book holds up less well than the film, probably.

Books mentioned in this review:

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