Posts Tagged ‘Jeanette Winterson’

Hell Board

August 23, 2011

HELLLLL BOOOOOOARDoh wow

This is pretty much the stupidest thing I have ever read, and I have read everything Chuck Palahniuk has published so far (I think Damned comes out in a month or two). Smoot described Stone Gods as “it’s like Jeanette Winterson had heard of science fiction novels, thought they sounded cool, and said ‘I bet I could do that.'” HELL BOARD was like Dana Reed had heard of horror novels but never actually read one to understand pacing, plot, what is scary, or anything else about them. Like, the monster is a beefy dude named Max who wears an executioner’s mask, never wears a shirt, and hangs out with the Marquis De Sade and a monster who’s a blob of guts who says things like “The pain has driven me crazy. I’m insane and want your flesh” and “I’m taking your eyes and the skin on your face first. Then I’ll skin the rest of your body. It’s nothing personal. I’m just in pain.”

Another representative excerpt:

“More coffee?” Anita asked beyond the threshold, and Charlie answered, “Yes,” making her long to be with them, to be the recipient of Anita’s coffee and subsequently her freedom.

It’s awesome, it’s just like… really weird.

An amazon reviewer was like “one star, the protagonist is the stupid and the monster is stupid and everyone in this book is stupid.” I agree. Another interesting thing is the way that Reed plays with conventional notions of time in novels: while she clearly relates the events of a day, and then the characters go to bed and then wake up the next day, using words like “yesterday” and “last night” to describe the events of the previous day or night, over the course of the novel I think she probably describes five days. The characters and narrative voice pretend that this monster shit has been going on for weeks though! It’s awesome how inconsistent pretty much everything is. The day Peggy starts learning secrets from the ouija board is the day she first starts seeing the beefy executioner (in the context of the hair metal music video smoke and lasers she sees when she has epileptic seizures), but it takes her like three quarters of the novel to figure out not only that these two things are connected, but that they are the same one thing.

But yeah there is absolutely no narrative tension. The scary things Max does include cutting off HIS OWN ARM and, like, converting Peggy’s dog Dog to satanism. The dog becomes the Marquis de Sade’s dog! That is kind of cool, but like, I don’t really understand what narrative purpose having your protagonist’s dog switch to the dark side- and then get kicked in the face during the ultimate evil ritual in the back yard at the end- is supposed to serve. Who roots against a dog?

Peggy locks Max and the ouija board in the closet a lot, and Max- who is “legion”- says things like “let me out, we must talk.” Literally!

I wish that lady who used to have the website where she’d write synopses of Lifetime original movies in the nineties had read this and reviewed it, because I don’t know how to write with the outraged, horrified, entertained and affectionate tone she used to use. I mean don’t get me wrong this book was boring as hell and is way more worthwhile as a series of talking points than it is an actual book that you read, but it still was pretty awesome. Four weird boring demons out of five.

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Trouble On Triton

March 20, 2011

I have a friend who is cool. When I lived in Oakland and she did too she told me that I should read Samuel Delany. Well, we talked about books for a little while a couple times, and I was like “I just discovered China Mieville-” this was like six months ago, before I’d read much of anything he’d written- and she was the one who told me to read Iron Council first, and that Perdido Street Station is a total bummer. But she was like “Oh, Stone Gods was like Jeanette Winterson had heard of science fiction novels but never actually read one, so she decided to write one.”

I was like “oh BAM I kinda liked that book okay though” and she was like “yeah science fiction is kind of my shit” and I was like “oh okay I don’t really know much about science fiction except for what Mordicai tells me, and he lives hecka far away from me now! Tell me what I should know about science fiction!”

She was like “Okay duuuuuude Samuel Delany” and I was like “Oh, okay, I’ve got a copy of that enormous doorstop Dhalgren somebody sold to the store and I bought it ’cause I don’t remember why” and she was like “uh, okay, you could read that one, but it’s kind of a bad first one.”

I was like “okay” and we decided to have a two-person book group and then I moved to Portland Maine and she moved back to Philadelphia even though we’re both from New Jersey. But didn’t know each other when we lived in New Jersey. Also we’re both really tall.

Then she came to visit a friend who was living in my house in Portland for January of this year and they hung out a lot and we talked about books for a minute one time (she has an Ursula LeGuin-themed band project) and one night I came home from work after kind of a stupid day and they were watching Love, Actually and I was like “omfg are you guys watching Love, Actually” and they were like “we’re trying to get to know you better!” because I have a Love, Actually tattoo.

Which is true.

Anyway then when my tall friend left she left me a cute note like ‘let’s have a book club and maybe make out sometime’ and I was like ‘ok’ and she was like “Since you have such an enormous, indestructible metaphysical boner for Kathy Acker what Kathy Acker book should I read since I’ve never read her” and I was like “I dunno, probably one of the eighties ones where she was appropriating other people’s titles, like Great Expectations of Don Quixote. Probably Don Quixote ’cause I was just flipping through it looking for band names for the RPM challenge album I’m never going to finish and I thought ‘Kiss Your Mother the Raven’ was pretty good but Alex didn’t BUT if you’re going to read a Kathy Acker novel I want to know which Samuel Delany novel I should read because I know he’s your favorite and you told me the story about how he wears the same wrestling shirt to every literary event.”

And she was like “Ok Trouble on Triton” and I was like, “Great,” and I ordered it, and it just came into the book store, and KATHY ACKER WROTE THE GODDAM INTRODUCTION TO THIS EDITION LIKE A YEAR BEFORE SHE DIED (FOR YOUR SINS). Which just seems like a pretty sweet coincidence, you know?

Here is what I wrote on twitter for Valentine’s Day (it’s a modified Acker quote; guess which part I added):

Literature is that
which denounces and slashes apart
the repressing machine
at the level of the signified,
VALENTINE