tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (1602's Professor X)
I'm kind of just posting for the sake of my new Xavier icon. 1602 was disappointing storywise (I finally bought the hardcover version a few weeks ago and read it all for the first time), but the art made up for it so much. I showed it to my artist mother, who hates comics, and even she loved the look of it.

The story was a shame because the situation held so much promise. I often find when I'm reading something that I prefer the beginning to the end, the mystery to the resolution. Almost all endings disappoint me in some way, if only because it means there's now an answer to the questions the story first posed. Alias Grace was like that, because in some ways the ending is perfect: it seems to come out of nowhere but is actually perfectly in keeping with the themes and background of the whole novel. But I didn't want Grace to get out of the Warden's living-room, for her sessions with Dr. Jordan to end. I wanted the story to stay stuck in the beginning, just after the first complication is introduced.

Even Hamlet, my favourite play, has that sort of disappointing ending. Nobody likes the last scene. Nobody likes the last act -- I think the audience is happiest during the scenes after the Ghost reveals the truth but before Hamlet takes off for England. You couldn't make a whole story out of that, but it's the most enjoyable part of the play, the part that people really think of when they think of Hamlet.

Sometimes I wonder if this isn't just some function of us being ordinary people: we don't lead heroic lives, so the part of stories that we most believe is the beginning, when the problems introduce themselves. We can easily imagine the monster attacking the redshirts in the beginning, shrouded in mystery, but Beowulf actually going out to face Grendel is a bit harder to swallow.

Anyway, as I'm writing and making decisions towards the end, I find it comforting to think that even Shakespeare had to write the duel scene, and even he couldn't quite make it satisfying, but it doesn't ruin anything. The audience just stays in the first few acts, with Hamlet feigning madness and Ophelia still alive.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Braaaaaaaaaaains)
Amos Oz. To Know a Woman. You need to read it. I don't know how he does it, but he manages to write about these tiny everyday mysteries that make me itch to find out the answers. I was sitting in the library going, "Whoa! What exactly is his daughter's 'condition'? Why is he putting down the garden shears to walk down the street? What's up with the real estate agent? Oh my God, man, go find out why your neighbour's wife wants to talk to you!" I couldn't put it down.

I had previously read and loved Oz's Fima, but this is even better. Amos Oz makes me want to learn Hebrew. He's my new novelist hero. I want to have book-babies with him.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
Am I a nerd? Before you answer, let me mention this: I'm currently reading two books on the Charlottetown Accords. AND LOVING IT.

The first is Pierre Trudeau's long speech (with question period!) "A Mess That Deserves a Big 'No'", and you have to love a book with a title like that. It's all full of typos and the publisher claims the gov't of Quebec tried to suppress it. Even though the speech was, y'know, televised. Anyway, Trudeau is love. Love, constitutional-law-style.

The second is Joel Bakan's Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs. This is more serious, and I'm mainly reading it for story research, but he quotes Martin Buber sometimes and I'm all, "Sweet, Buber is the shit."

It also occurs to me that I really fucked up the timeline with regards to Joel's father in the backstory. If he's in his early sixties, it's really unlikely that he's been a senator for all of Joel's life. I mentioned a stint in the House of Commons, but how many backbencher MP's get a Senate post when they leave? Zero (okay, it could happen, but it's unlikely). Probably he was a cabinet minister who lost his seat in a nasty election.

Making sausage, people. Timelines always screw me up -- I can totally see how Shakespeare ended up making Hamlet 30 years old by accident. This is also why I hate trying to follow canon, particularly comicverse.
tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Joel Plaskett)
Chapter 8, Blackburn Hamlet, is done. (Read from the beginning)

Also, I just finished reading Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers. The good news: it can still provoke a reaction, after 40 years, and it is readable. Not every hippy po-mo novel can say that for itself. The bad news: F. still comes off as a disgusting, inconsistent bully. And he's your hero. I found the unnamed narrator much more sympathetic, at least until the end when Cohen decided to make him a pedophile. WTF, Leonard? No. Just -- no.

The Kateri Tekakwitha plot is intriguing, though, and Cohen does produce real insight with it (particularly the Mohawk journey of the dead). The separatiste plot feels more tacked on, less honest. I didn't even realise the characters were supposed to be French themselves until halfway through. (This is one pitfall of not naming your characters.) The truest moment in it is when F. confesses that he envied his friend, who understood suffering, who had power in his weakness. That's a Canadian literature moment.

But I confess that I'm still amazed and delighted when I read about someplace I've been. Rue Ste-Catherine! Kahnawake! It almost makes up for the line where F. praises the rape of a 13-year-old girl. Almost.


tocryabout: Martin Tielli, cover of Poppy Salesman album (Default)
F.A. MacNeil

October 2015

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