When the gypsy calls, the caravan comes and some times you’re the one driving. Went to the Getty Villa today, probably the single greatest thing in SoCal– had one last go round with the items to be returned to Italy & seen no more on our foreign shores.
Goodbye Griffins, goodbye!
Also found on my camera, picture of spider that had been in my apartment some time ago:
Faithful commenter Todd C. Murry calls me out on my last post:
I can’t believe you would call Lovecraft one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, but give an “undisputed” list of the greatest of the 19th that leaves off Poe. Anything bad you can hurl at Poe that would dock him off the list is 10 times as true of HP, and he was undoubtely more influentual in that inescapably broad power-of-ideas way.
Please reconsider Poe (I’ll let someone else like David Fiore defend Hawthorne).
I don’t disagree– although it wasn’t my intent to call Lovecraft one of the Greatest Writers of the 20th century. It was more like trying to figure out how these figures which I consider very significant will eventually be incorporated into the Canon. (If any of the three writers that I mentioned will end up being one of the True Greats, I presume it would be Hammett over either Lovecraft or Dick.)
It’s interesting that I, like almost everyone compiling their arbitrary list of the 19th Century American True Greats, forgot about Poe.
I think Poe gets left off these lists for two reasons: #1 is that he was, above all else, dear Edgar Allen, a creature so weird that it’s often hard to consider him as anything other than a being emerged fully formed from the forehead of Zeus. Even when writing about his contemporary period, Poe is always there in his own mind– he seems far more concerned with his own inner landscape and surrounding circle than his exterior world. In short, it’s hard to imagine Poe being of any century, let alone his own. (This is not to reinforce unjust and negative images of Poe as a delusional dipsomaniac; merely to say that, some people, by their natures, are more insular than others.)
The second reason, and one to which I alluded yesterday, is that Great American Literature of the 19th Century can almost be viewed as a genre centered around the unfathomable turmoil of the 1850s and the American Civil War. Seemingly it took a while for this critical opinion to form, but once it did form, it hardened and stuck. Personally, I’m not in disagreement. I recognize that prior to this 15 year period there is work of great quality and significance, but none of it can stand up to the writers trying to hold together a country ripping itself apart. Or trying to piece that country back together with the impotent tool of literature. Sometimes the world does end with a bang.
Poe, not insignificantly, died in 1849. Having missed out on this period of our history, his works, already detached, only seem more so by comparison. One of my favorite Poe stories is “The Murder in the Rue Morgue.” Both the setting of the story– a locked room in Paris– and its conclusion (NO SPOILERS) seem astonishingly disconnected from anything other than Poe’s world of himself. Even its sequel, the Marie Roget story, based on the famous Mary Rogers case– an actual event in New York history– seems somehow of another place. This says nothing of the more fantastic pieces. This is, of course, opinion. No doubt many fine theses have been written making excellent cases for the exact opposite.
Incidentally, compared with Lovecraft, I think there’s no doubt whatsoever that technically, and aesthetically, Poe was the far, far superior writer. Good ol’ HPL himself would have been the first to admit it. However, good ol’ JK would argue that a lot of Lovecraft’s significance comes not from his technical construction but from his distinct, and often prescient, awareness of his period’s big issues. Yes, there’s a lot of crap in there about monsters, but Lovecraft was riding early waves (and was very often on the wrong side) of issues that would come to dominate the 20th Century: racism, class warfare, sexuality and its malcontents, the failure of religion in the face of expanding scientific discovery, paranoia, and the profound alienation of the individual through modernity. These are the Lovecraftian bread and butter.
I would further argue that what I consider to be Lovecraft’s most realized work– The Case of Charles Dexter Ward– has as much insight on the awful influence of money, status and family over a child’s development as any other work of fiction. Again, Lovecraft ends up seeming really of his time and exceptionally prescient of things to come. I’m not being glib when I say this: if you want to know about what creates something like Paris Hilton, you only have to look at Charles Dexter Ward, take account of how little his family even notices what’s happening to him as the novel progresses and ask why.
Okay, that’s enough of this!
Incidentally, the main site of KOBEK.COM has two Poe related PDF files:
The first is Poe’s Helen by Caroline Ticknor, a biography of Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe’s Providence girlfriend, all around interesting lady of the 19th & a poet in her own right.
The second is the 1853 edition of Hours of Life, a book of poetry by the very same Sarah Helen Whitman. Caveat emptor on this one– some of it is a little dreadful.
For reasons bizarre & untold, I’ve been trying to make sacrifices to the Book God via the purchase of books at full cover, an almost unheard of sin. A few days ago, I acquired the newly released unexpurgated, unedited hardback of Jack Kerouac’s Original Scroll of On the Road. Even now I find this choice inexplicable & can’t explain my actions– I have bad feelings towards the work of all the Beats (except Burroughs, and even then I find his 60s work nearly intolerable) but none so much as Kerouac’s, which I find a mixture of the boring & the offensive.
His personal history– ah, now there’s another story.
Kerouac was a New England boy made on the mean streets of Lowell, MA. He went to Columbia on a football scholarship– and while there, fell in with the dissolute crowd of junkies, queers and 8th Avenue hucksters who contributed mightily to the creation of the Writer of Renown. He died a delusional alcoholic, apparently thinking that Allen Ginsberg was a Nazi agent and trying to fight Kurt Vonnegut’s son, but for a while, Kerouac was the American Dream, what another now-deceased American Writer would have described as “pure Horatio Alger.” He was also French-Canadian; part of an ethnic group of New England immigrants that are often overlooked and forgotten.
So while there’s the Mythic Kerouac, there’s also the Lowell working-class kid who ended up dubiously labeled as a generational spokesman. In previous posts, I’ve written about poor Bob Dylan, Kerouac’s heir in this questionable honor. It’s fascinating that the two midcentury figures saddled with that terrible weight both were of ethnic & family backgrounds as far from the American mainstream as you get could get. (While, of course, remaining a “White.”)
I haven’t gotten through the 100+ pages of critical apparati of the Original Scroll, but the image on the back of the dustjacket is amazing. The most frequently circulated photos of Kerouac play up a young rough with an indistinct, James Dean glamor. The image in question, coming from later in the man’s sad life, was chosen, I assume, because it depicts Kerouac holding one of his famous scrolls. Fair enough, but it’s also the only image I’ve seen of the man (and admittedly I am no student of his iconography) where his ethnic, social, and geographical origins just spill out all over the picture. You can see Lowell, you can see the French-Canadian, you can see the football scholarship.
A great picture:
As reported earlier, Prophet Olga’s second due-date for the appearance of Jesus Christ in Echo Park came and went. I had wondered if this would be the end of Olga’s street ministry & publicly posted Xeroxed broadsides– but huzzah! Olga’s returned, and while she’s not nearly as prolific in the run-up to July 7, 2007, a handful of fliers have begun once more to appear on lampposts and building-sides.
This flyer contains many interesting aspects: visually it’s a fantastic piece of street art, kind of a palimpsest, and in terms of content, it provides us with a new host of predictions. The new due-date for Jesus Christ is November 30, 2008, but Christ will be appear in the homes of all angels (Olga’s term for those who believe), rather than simply in Echo Park.
Also Olga predicts a nuclear bomb attack on New York in 2009.
I’ve never understood the dense calendric symbolism of Olga’s broadsides. My Spanish is not nearly good enough to know if this flier makes much sense in the sister language, but given the inexplicability of previous English fliers that functioned as prophetic meditations on the calendar, I suspect not.
One of the things that Olga demonstrates– both with the failed appearance of Christ in ’05 and now, ’07– is the adaptability of religious apocalypticals in the face of unfulfilled prophecy. The most likely explanation for the failure of a predicted event is that certain preconditions of that event– established by a God, UFO, Entity, or Whatever– were not met by the devoted and/or the world at large. The apocalyptic group or individual then enters a period of recovery; in the end, a new prophecy and date emerges. There’s often a hope amongst those Enlightened Folks who could never believe Nonsense that the failure of prophecy will open the eyes of adherents to the basic Unreality of their beliefs; perhaps this occurs with some but, as Prophet Olga demonstrates, hardly with all.
Good God, will it ever end? Of course it’s my fault for perpetuating this by continuing to comment, but I checked the original post on Heidi McDonald’s The Beat and discovered yet more by Harlan Ellison. Quoted in its entirety:
HARLAN ELLISON Says:
08/19/07 at 1:01 pm
I was edified to learn that according to some wittling thng called blog.kobek.com posting just prior to this, that I “lost” my recent lawsuit.
Simple objective reading of the original suit filing, and what I was seeking, followed by simple objective reading of the final settlement, and what I got, might suggest that the great legal mind behind that kobeckoid pronouncement is, well, to be kind, predisposed — whatever the empirical evidence — to skew and slant and knock-cockeyed-to-produce-a-prejudged-result. Tsk-tsk. Even troglodytes should behave more honestly.
The most obvious point of Ellison’s post is that I was reading with Unobjective Eyes to join, I guess, the International Conspiracy against the Great Writer. In a way, I almost understand this– I certainly linked to, and did not hide, the fact that the man had some choice words for me in the distant past, but c’mon, really? Does this putdown from days of yore color my thoughts so deeply that I’m signing up for the Great War?
Hardly. As much as Ellison’s big dog persona is obnoxious, I hold a great fondness for the pleasure his stories brought me, and I still find a few of his books to be pretty great. Gentlemen Junkie, in particular, remains a favorite. My interest in this lawsuit has always been Ellison’s approach to this matter, which I consider a case study in how not to deal with your enemies, especially in these here days of the Internet.
Reading the settlement, we can safely say that, technically, yes, Ellison did not lose. That’s because the case was, you know, settled. Neither party admitting wrong-doing. Technically, neither side lost.
My original post was intended as a corrective to much of the commentary that I had seen on the message boards at The Comics Journal, which I felt looked at the settlement in the wrong way entirely. Obviously, yes, redacting passages from a book isn’t the greatest outcome for anyone except the Plaintiff, but on the other hand, should this matter be considered as zero sum game?
In my opinion, emphatically not. Harlan Ellison can justify why he filed suit & why he felt that he needed to do so, and he was certainly within his rights to file, but I felt then, and feel now, that in the grander scheme, Ellison lost at the exact moment when he filed papers. Because honestly, and I’ve said this before– who in the hell wants to read a history of Fantagraphics as written by itself?
Ellison’s suit took passages from a book that had an audience, at most, of two or three thousand people, and turned it into a cause celebre. The words of his Most Hated Enemy, Gary Groth, a man considered by many to be, at the least, smarmy and self-satisfied, were broadcast to an audience far wider than the number of people who would have read them in their original context. Furthermore, the suit enshrined the Offending Passages in legal filings that were made immediately available throughout the Internet and even on Ellison’s own website. No matter the outcome of the case, Ellison had ensured that these Offending Passages would never, ever disappear.
And, as I made clear in my first post, I feel like the settlement made things worse. The most striking aspect is that Groth gets to post a 500 word essay on Ellison’s website. I presume that earlier aspects of the settlement prohibit Groth from an ad hominem attack– but so long as he doesn’t call Ellison a jerk, or a big mean bastard, it seems that he’s free to say whatever the heck he wants. Ellison has agreed, legally, that he can’t respond, and that he can’t sue Groth or Fantagraphics about what is said in the rebuttal.
If the intention of the lawsuit was to make Groth shut up, how exactly is it winning to not only give Groth the last word, but also be legally obligated to provide him the forum in which to say it? The terms of the settlement– 30 days, 500 words, etc.– reflect what I called a Print Mentality; this was a crap term to describe the idea that such limits mean zero in a medium where nothing ever goes away. Groth’s rebuttal will appear on Ellison’s site & then be copied and distributed around the Internet. And because of the terms of the settlement, that’s it. It’s the last word on the matter. And it’s never going away.
In the bigger picture, I do not understand what Ellison was thinking. Was the Great War irritating? Sure. Were there really a lot of people paying attention? No. When I read the Offending Passages in Ellison’s filing, I groaned. Here was a 40-something-year old man getting his kicks out of badmouthing Ellison in a little book being published by the same 40-something-year old man, dedicated entirely to the history of this 40-something-year old man’s own company. Talk about putting the vanity in vanity publishing.
If we assume that the balance of power always tilts towards the party with the least interest, then in this situation, Ellison was the one with far greater power. His silence could only have ennobled him. But by filing this suit, he shifted the power to Groth– yes, I’m sure Fantagraphics took a big hit on this financially, but where else? Has Groth’s reputation suffered? Has Fantagraphics? Or does this only enhance the company’s carefully cultivated Rebel Image?
Meanwhile, Ellison, a man that frequently touts his credentials as a staunch defender of Free Speech and the First Amendment, has been cast in the role of the guy who couldn’t take the heat so he sued to have words removed from a book. I’m not saying that this is a fair or unfair assessment– but it is a general perception. He’s the guy who got the passages deleted from a book. And he’s an author.
Equally baffling is Ellison’s eager willingness to now repeat the same mistake by engaging with, well, me. First, on general principle, I don’t feel that I’ve been unfair to Ellison in this matter– if anything, I’ve only had a sympathy for seeing someone get caught (as I have in the past) in a serious misunderstanding of how information works in a world where anyone, and everyone, is constantly blogging and spouting off about nothing, and where nothing ever goes away.
Secondly, of the two of us, who has more to gain by a back-and-forth? The sheer amount of traffic this nonsense has driven to this website has literally dwarfed the traffic of all its previous days combined. All Ellison gets out of this is the ability to protest, really protest, that he’s happy with the terms of the settlement. He probably is, but when the lady doth protest too much on the Internet, it reads ironically.
Third, and finally, doesn’t this reinforce the perception of being unable to brook criticism? After all, Ellison put this lawsuit in the public sphere. Did he not expect people to comment and have differing opinions on it? Did he not prepare himself that some of these opinions might be unfavorable and not to his liking? Does he feel like his status as defender of free speech is enhanced by referring, in an obscene manner, to an innocuous piece of commentary by a self-professed gnat?
So at last we come to what I hope will be my final words on this matter, and I direct them entirely to Ellison himself: Honestly. Stop. I understand why you think what you’re doing is the right approach, but it doesn’t help.
UPDATE 9/7: More.
UPDATE FIVE MINUTES LATER: Helloooo I just woke up and thought to my merry self, well, self, I’ll go ahead and post my favorite image from Achewood. But then I went and took a gander at my logs for this blog and something was clearly off– the size of the file was significantly huge for 12am Sunday morning. Well, what’s this I say? And then I go and check my email and some kind soul has alerted me to the fact that with yesterday’s post, I have raised the ire of Harlan Ellison.
To wit, from the man’s message board:
- Sunday, August 19 2007 10:14:13 Can someone please advise me what blog.kobek.com is, and why I should give even a speck of a fuck what they say about me?
Yr. Pal, Harlan”
So, the answer, then to Mr. Ellison: I’m nobody, although you did once rightly yell at me in USENET for acting like a jerk, and you totally should not care. Seriously. Engaging with me, or even acknowledging me, only cheapens your status as a writer and a professional. You’re a giant, I’m a gnat. On the real.
UPDATE, UPDATE DAY LATER: More.
(UPDATE 9/7/07: Honest to god I have a life. The latest.)
The Harlan Ellison -vs- Fantagraphics Lawsuit has been resolved through mediation and the details of said resolution have at last been posted. I’ve commented on this lawsuit before. (And as that link demonstrates, I’ve had my own long-forgotten and kind of hilarious digital encounter with Ellison.) Off site commentary here.
The terms of the resolution are, basically: Fantgraphics + Co have to shut up about Ellison, Ellison has to shut up about Fantagraphics + Co, everyone has to pay their own legal bills, no one admits any wrongdoing, Fantagraphics has to delete the Offending Passages in the book that started this whole go-round, Ellison’s name and interview are dropped from any further reprints of the interview book, and, not insignificantly, Gary Groth is allowed to post for 30 days a 500-word rebuttal to Ellison’s claims on Ellison’s own website.
This may seem like a sort of mutual defeat, or possibly even a defeat for Fantagraphics. Maybe it is. However, I see this as a fairly significant Ellison loss brought upon the man by himself, and one displaying how tricky the Internet can be for those with only a poor-to-middling grasp of the consequences of a medium in which seemingly nothing ever dies. To my mind, the key points of the agreement are this: that Fantagraphics has to delete the Offending Passages and that Groth gets the last word and that Ellison has to publish it.
The deletion of the passages apparently goes against the blessed 1st Amendment & sticks in the craw of every hard cussing American kid raised on his or her own inalienable right to mouth off and sass his or her betters. I’m not going to get into the ethical implications of which side was right. What’s the point? This was decided in mediation. It has no significant consequence outside the immediate case. No real damage done except possibly to Ellison’s reputation as a staunch defender of free speech.
In this specific matter, Ellison may have won a technical victory, but the truth is way murkier. If the point of the lawsuit was to reap damages from the imminent publication of the Offending Passages, well, obviously he lost– he’s paying his own legal bills and collecting squat. If the point was to suppress the passages, then, again, Ellison lost.
Anyone who wants to read those passages can now read them free and possibly forever. When you sue someone you have to say what you’re suing them for, and in a document that is filed with the court. Ellison’s lawsuit specifically quotes and reproduces, verbatim, the Offending Passages. The passages have now become a part of a standing public record. My legal knowledge here is sketchy, but I believe that as this document was filed with the court, pretty much anyone can go ahead and order a copy from now until the end of time. In my ever bizarro working life, I’ve had to order deposition testimony from civil suits, and there never was any trouble getting one’s hands on them, nor on reproducing them.
Plus, the damn things are all over the Internet. They’re quoted in blog reports. They’re quoted in news reports. They’re still on Ellison’s website. So they’re there. And they aren’t going anywhere. It took me two minutes to find the Offending Passages.
The fascinating thing about this agreement is the Groth rebuttal. I have no idea whether or not Fantagraphics + Co thought about the implications of getting the legally sanctioned last word, but I’m gonna assume that someone knew they were winning a huge victory. The extreme specificity of the terms– no more than 500 words, no more than 30 days, must go up 5 days after the lawsuit resolution– demonstrate a hard fought battle, presumably on Ellison’s side, to minimize the impact of this statement.
For lack of a better term, this is Print Mentality. Because in print, stuff dies. News disappears and goes away with the thrown out newspaper. Or people buy up the physical commodity and then there’s no more for anyone. If you didn’t get that information while you could, then you’re out of luck. Maybe they’ll reprint it. Most likely not.
The moment that Groth’s statement goes up, twenty to thirty blogs will repost it in its entirety, thus ensuring that it never goes away. And you can cram a lot into 500 words. Other than length and duration of availablity on Ellison’s site, the terms of the rebuttal agreement are hugely favorable to Groth. Ellison can’t edit it, Ellison has to post it, and Ellison can’t sue or complain about anything that Groth says in it. Considering the earlier provision in the settlement barring ad hominem attacks, Groth probably can’t call Ellison a crapface, but that’s about it. He seems to be able to say anything he wants. Wasn’t that the gol’ darn problem in the first place?
And since Ellison is a Highly Controversial Figure with a Big Mouth who Likes to Fight, who brought this lawsuit that pretty much everyone thought was a bad idea, and Fantagraphics was able to semi-successfully cast it as a First Amendment issue, and the end result is a book being edited & having passages from it deleted… well, I think it’s safe to say that there are going to be many people (myself not included) who will be overjoyed at the spectacle of him having to put Groth’s words on his own website. And quote and copy at will.
So is everyone happy now?
UPDATE, A DAY LATER: Harlan Ellison quasi-responds.
UPDATE: Even more.
Dirk Deppey has been linking, and probably causing, a mini-debate amongst female fans of comics regarding Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. This centers, as with every other discussion of The Killing Joke, on the victimization of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl by The Joker. The Joker shoots Gordon in the stomach and through the spine, thus paralyzing her, and then takes pictures of her bloodied and naked body. (To my mind there’s also the implication of a rape.) One blog thinks it’s alienating to women, another says no, this stuff happens, it’s in the handling of it. Depictions of violence are not innately improper or alienating. Yeah, but…
A cavalier and socially irresponsible comic shop owner sold me a copy of The Killing Joke when I was about 11, and it, of course, blew the back out of my mind. At that point I had yet to develop abstract thinking, so I can’t say how aware I was that someone was responsible for writing this story, and I certainly hadn’t heard about Alan Moore, but it was clear that this was Something Different and significantly better than the usual Batman comic.
When I look at the book now, with wizened eyes, the The Killing Joke is still Something Different. It’s also bad. I don’t disagree with my childhood assessment that compared to whatever the hell else Batman was doing in 1988 (fighting Iran?), it shows a depth of craft far exceeding what had been achieved with the character. (And, yes, I include Frank Miller’s book in this assessment.) This tells one a great deal more about previous standards of writing and character development than it does anything about The Killing Joke.
In many ways, as it usually is, the blogosphere is half-right: the worst part of the book is indeed the violation of Barbara Gordon. Not because of its inappropriateness, nor because she’s a woman, but for the fact that it uses the character as a McGuffin, and uses her in the worst way possible. Not only is she subject to an unusual depravity, but the consequences of this depravity seriously damaged the character for future storytellers. I think that this is the worst thing that can be done with a genre character; you can let them grow, but you really shouldn’t screw them up for whomever is going to be working on the character after you. (To DC’s credit, and ain’t that a phrase I am not oft to utter, the pointless injuries sustained by Batgirl weren’t retconned and were developed into a new phase for the character. Has this ever happened before or since in comics?)
And what’s this claptrap about driving Jim Gordon insane?
Like the victimization of Batgirl, it’s pretext, one of several nonsense excuses strung together to get Batman and the Joker into a funhouse (because the Joker, you see, is a twisted image of fun) where they can then beat the crap out of each other. And since this is 1980s Alan Moore at his lowest, a book titled The Killing Joke has to be meta and have an actual joke at the end, allowing the reader the deep insight of Batman and the Joker laughing together and oh my god is there a ying-yang kinship between them? No, really?! Is there? Can Batman be just as crazy as the Joker?!?! Is this a metaphor for the madness of Thatcherite England?!
First, let me just out right say it: that joke isn’t funny and it never was. There. I’ve been waiting 16 years. But secondly, who cares if Batman is or isn’t crazy? This is the book’s payoff? That a genre character in an admittedly unrealistic medium is just as nuts as his arch-nemesis? Dude dresses up like a bat and is fighting an evil clown. How profound can it get?
Moore himself says this and, uh, more, in an interview on the great Daev Walsh’s Blather:
“But at the end of the day, Watchmen was something to do with power, V for Vendetta was about fascism and anarchy, The Killing Joke was just about Batman and the Joker – and Batman and the Joker are not really symbols of anything that are real, in the real world, they’re just two comic book characters.”
Some people blame Watchmen or Miller for the current state of comic books– personally, I blame The Killing Joke. To get from the ’86 books to current comics, you have to strip those books of any of their plotting, any of their character development, any of their innovation and technique, and any of their ideas. (Obviously, with the last, I mean Moore. Miller’s ideas, such as they are, have always been: Mike Hammer Smash and Freedom Isn’t Free.)
The Killing Joke, on the other hand, presents an easy template for how to be an Editor-in-Chief and have an Event: kill off, mame, or otherwise screw up an existing character to get other characters together to fight, fight, fight. Provide pseudo-insights into their pseudo-psyches, preferably while they’re punching each other, and if, perchance to dream, along the way you can establish a heavy handed metaphor for the Current State of Things, then boffo for you!
An odder entry in the kobek.com hierarchy is jarett.kobek.com, a page dedicated entirely to the great, late British noir writer Robin Cook, alias Derek Raymond. Cook’s bio can be found in richer detail on the aforementioned site, which links to more thorough discussions of the man and his work, but in brief: he was an upper class toff turned criminal who wrote novels of varying quality in the 60s and early 70s, disappeared (so to speak) for a while, and then reemerged in the 80s as Derek Raymond, and wrote 7 books before he died in 92.
Five of these constitute the so-called Factory Series, following an unnamed Police Detective investigating the deaths of the world’s destitute and abandoned in Thatcher-era London. Obviously some of the grimmest books ever written.
Anyway, I was doing one of my twice-yearly updates of the site, and I came across this review of He Died With His Eyes Open, which identifies me as an obsessively dedicated fan. At first I bristled at the suggestion that I– one of the world’s most important people– could ever be counted as another’s fan, but then I decided that what it really indicated was how useless the web has become as a resource for anything other than shopping & getting half-correct information off Wikipedia.
I put it up the Raymond page only because no one else had. Not even a legacy Geocities page. Someone else could do a far, far better job than me– I barely put in any effort, and I think Cook/Raymond deserves an online presence far more significant and informative than what I’ve got up. To be honest, I know very little about the man beyond having read his books (including his peculiarly uninformative autobiography, The Hidden Files.)
I’m also sure there must be someone out there who is a much bigger aficionado of his work. I’ve read every book the man ever wrote, and I’m conflicted about much of it– including the Factory Series, which is his best work. At their height, they are some of the finest English (both as a country and a language) writing of the last 30 years. But they have some very dodgy moments. The plot resolution of How The Dead Live has to be one of the worst things done by a great writer, and as much as I think I Was Dora Suarez is a kind of masterpiece, it’s significantly marred by certain plot points (revealed in the autopsy) that reveal an ignorance of reality on Raymond’s part, and his inclusion of these details says, unfortunately, a lot about his willingness to believe the worst of people. Dead Man Upright is just… bizarre. It’s neither bad nor good. It’s barely a novel, in truth.
But that does leave us with the first two books: He Died With His Eyes Open and The Devil’s Home On Leave, both of which I recommend with a full throat.
Anyway, Serpent’s Tail is finally putting out the whole series (along with other books by Cook/Raymond) and so all should be in print shortly.
Hopefully this’ll inspire someone else to do a better page.
I was there, I saw it happen.
Given free entrance to the affair & invited to the Best Parties, one can find himself staring out the window of a Suite at Caesar’s Palace at 12am Friday (with only the loveliest view of air conditioners and the back of the faux-Colosseum), whilst grown men play $100 rounds of beer pong. On the walls will be cheap imitations of Roman freize painting, in the bedrooms will be unused hottubs, and everywhere one looks will be plaster reproductions of the statues of Antiquity. (Limbs pre-broken.)
One will hear the international sound of fun, every twenty minutes: glass bottles shattering, followed by crowds of men screaming their approval. One will be amongst them. For as Antonin Artaud says, and the Misfits too: “If you’re gonna scream / scream with me.”
At 2am Saturday night, in a Penthouse suite at the Riviera, after watching a live band cover the theme songs to Double Dragon and Castlevania, one will find oneself on a filthy floor, watching grown men in The Wall t-shirts playing Wii Sports baseball. One will look at himself, at his surroundings and at the pornography being projected on the wall above one’s head, and one will say: “It is most certainly time to go home.”
One will run to his hotel room, gather his belongings, and take the long drive back I-15, to home, to sanctuary: with the sun breaking over Pasadena at 6am, just another freak in the freak kingdom.
Drudge in Hollywood
On Steve Ditko
From Sunset Blvd
Welcome to Kurdistan