W3 Book Club=“The Shape of Water” by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus

by Teri E. Popp, Tastemaker in Residence

Mesmerizing. A dreamscape. Fluid poetry. These are a few phrases that describe the movie, and the novel, “The Shape of Water.” While oftentimes a novel or book is made into a film, it is the rare occasion where a movie becomes a book. However, “The Shape of Water” transcends the merely visual into the literary arena in del Toro’s movie and Kraus’ novel.

Kraus envisioned his story of a creature locked deep in the vaults of a secret government laboratory from the age of 15 until he had the chance to meet up with movie maker del Toro decades later. Del Toro pursued the making of a film based on Kraus’ idea while Kraus, simultaneously, worked on the novel. The movie and book, while largely the same in the telling, offer vivid, and visual, differences. But in the end, both stories are about two central characters who speak more through non-auditory means; and who, ultimately, come to understand each other far deeper than words alone can convey.

Our host for W3 Book Club, Jean E., chose the themes Dreams, Desires and Other Wishes (either fulfilled or unfulfilled). And, while the attendees could have followed their hearts with their costumes, the “water theme” enveloped everyone! From one character who chose to be the “love-child” of the creature and his mute, human lover, to others who focused generally on the vivid blues and greens of languid pools of water, the dreamscape was enjoyed by all.

While our host had originally planned a boat outing for our book club, the weather encouraged us to stay indoors. Therefore, Jean decorated her lower level as a grotto and chose a menu echoing the water elements of the movie and novel:

Deviled Eggs with Bacon Bits (hard boiled eggs feature prominently in both the novel and the movie)
Tangy Shrimp Skewers
Vegetable and Dip Cups
Chips and Guacamole Dip
Trail Mix
Water Pearls (blue hued, candy covered chocolates)
Jean’s Sweet Pasta Salad (featuring grapes, chicken and cashews)
Sesame Seed Cornbread Muffins
Mendota Springs Sparkling Water
“The Shape of Water” Lavender Colored Vodka Spritzers

Even though the book and movie mirror each other in the telling of the story, it should be noted that the novel more fully explains some of the characters, details and motivations of the key elements. And, while character development is more comprehensive in novelized form, nothing can compare to a visual film adaptation of the development of love. This film and book are clearly companion pieces and I recommend them to be viewed as a whole.