Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
by Fannie Flagg

"the catfish was so big, we took a picture of it, and the picture
alone weighed forty pounds!" 

I have read Fried Green Tomatoes many times, and it is one of the few books that I see as an entirely separate entity from the movie. This is because, to me, the movie is about the relationship between Idgie and Ruth, as framed by the Evelyn and Ninny (who I actually thought was Idgie when I first saw the movie . . . this makes me believe it's a common misconception) where as the book is about Evelyn, her life, her relationship with Ninny, and how Ninny encourages and empowers Evelyn through stories about Whistle Stop. 

For a fictional novel,  Fried Green Tomatoes deals with a lot of important women's issues.  It is the 80s and women's roles are changing (again). Evelyn is going through menopause and feels like her life is a waste.  Ninny is in a nursing home waiting for her best friend to die, waiting to die herself. Idgie and Ruth love each other, but Ruth is engaged, and they have a hard time admitting that they love each other.  It is presumed that they are in a lesbian relationship, and though it is never said so explicitly, there are many allusions and it is a cause for tension in their lives as they discover themselves and form their relationship. The issue of race is also present throughout the novel, but it is secondary to the story of Evelyn and Ninny. Despite the serious themes, many of the individual stories are hilarious, and Idgie is quite the character, as is Ninny.  Throughout the novel, one becomes very well acquainted with these women.

I really enjoy this book, but I am hesitant to recommend it to others because I am often accused of liking "weird books."  This is not in the same category of other "weird books" I like, but it is more of a "life journey" plot than an "action oriented" plot.  It almost reads like a connected collection of short stories, and I do think that anyone who enjoys the movie should read this, just for the knowledge, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys hearing stories from their grandmother!