when various aspects of this life become unbearable, my best and favorite solution is retreat into story. agatha christie’s good. some days william goldman‘s even better. what mark danielewski’s done with such much-lauded postmodern panache in _house of leaves_, bill goldman executed far more captivatingly a couple of decades earlier in writing _the princess bride_— or, supposedly, “abridging” another writer’s tale of romance and high adventure, a lost classic he laboriously detailed as culled from childhood immigrant-father-readings memories, tracked down, muddled through, rights fought for, and, right, abridged. he even went so far as to make up an entire fictional family for himself, the author-abridger– a kind of fictional, reverential william goldman. so many layers of artifice and imagination. of course none of it’s directly believable, of course its terribly fantastic, of course you laugh and go, “no way” while reading it– and yet you want to believe. so elaborate is the fabrication. such a tour de force of the wonderful, innocent imagination. I read the novel long long before hollywood ever touched it, and, i’m sorry all you rabid fans out there, but much as I love ms. robin wright penn, she just can’t hold a candle to the real buttercup, the written, sassy, stupid buttercup of goldman’s crafting. as fine an actor as cary elwes is (and, remember, I love “saw”), westley the dread pirate roberts is bigger and bolder and sneakier and more real than he’ll ever manage to be. like dreams before their pale shadows in retelling– the book, lo, the veriest book before the movie. do yourself a favor, my friend: go read the book.