What are you reading?

Griffith

My posts are better.
I finished The Silence of the Lambs last week
So, did you empathize with Buffalo Bill? =)

and started on Hannibal. I know people were disappointed with the book and the movie (I’m one of the rare folks who liked it), but I’m enjoying it so far.
Yeah, as one sympathetic to the devil I liked the book and thought it would have made for a more congruent, if not worthy, sequel to Lambs had the original production team been involved. I mean, they made changes anyway so it's not like Tally, Demme and Foster couldn't have done so as well (won't discuss specifically since you're in the middle of reading it). Anyway, you can't do much better than the top notch mercenaries De Laurentiis brought in to replace them but it's still jarring, though certainly cements the film's different identity and completes a sort of incredible, though uneven trilogy starting with Manhunter. I just always wonder how a Demme/Foster version more in the vein of their Lambs might have turned out.

I don’t think I’ll read Hannibal Rising when I’m finished, though. Harris wrote it under pressure from the studio that owned the rights to Lecter, and I’ve heard it’s pretty bad.
Yeah, it basically became franchise IP at that point, they just happened to have the original author on the hook. It's tough to demand assembly line pulp out of a guy that would otherwise write a novel once a decade.
 
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So, did you empathize with Buffalo Bill? =)
Yeahhhhhhh, but not as much. Plus, all I could hear in my head was Ted Levine, which didn’t help. I’ve been going around the house, rubbing my wife’s back and croaking, “Goooooood. Goooooooood,” though, so that’s been fun.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Yeahhhhhhh, but not as much. Plus, all I could hear in my head was Ted Levine, which didn’t help. I’ve been going around the house, rubbing my wife’s back and croaking, “Goooooood. Goooooooood,” though, so that’s been fun.
Lol, under that scenario in my household I'd go with, "Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me. I'd fuck me so hard." It would go delightfully unwell!

I think my favorite Levine delivery is when he pulls his shirt out and does that caricature of a screaming woman. It's effectively weird, funny, and disturbing given what you know of his pathology. Like he's mocking her of course, but also... genuinely engaged.
 
Lol, under that scenario in my household I'd go with, "Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me. I'd fuck me so hard." It would go delightfully unwell!
:ganishka:

I think my favorite Levine delivery is when he pulls his shirt out and does that caricature of a screaming woman. It's effectively weird, funny, and disturbing given what you know of his pathology. Like he's mocking her of course, but also... genuinely engaged.
That’s my favorite moment of his, too. So good!
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I started re-re-reading Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear, otherwise known as books 1 and 2 of the Kingkiller Chronicle. That's a pretty ostentatious title considering that even after ~1800 pages, there's still no dead king :guts:.

Every few years, usually if I'm bedridden, I'll turn back to this series. It's my third time through, now. It's a bit ridiculous at this point that the third and final book still isn't out, but I'm finding a lot to enjoy despite knowing pretty much all the nooks and crannies of the series at this point. Highly recommended, particularly for Berserk fans, as it's got a handful of broad similarities.
 
Restarting my re-reading of Berserk at 14th volume to 25th volume in Polish, I've bought 25 one today. Also planning to re-read The Raven Rings and then look into some topics that are interesting for me, shamanism, Slavic paganism, I need some good books within such subject.
 
Yeah, as one sympathetic to the devil I liked the book and thought it would have made for a more congruent, if not worthy, sequel to Lambs had the original production team been involved. I mean, they made changes anyway so it's not like Tally, Demme and Foster couldn't have done so as well
To be fair, the Silence of the Lambs movie is very faithful to the original novel (I'd say about 95%). The only real deviations I noticed were the absence of Clarice Starling's childhood scenes in Montana, where she witnessed the fateful mass slaughter of baby lambs at her uncle's farm. Also, the movie contains virtually no references to the events from Red Dragon (probably because Dino de Laurentis owned the rights to that).
The funny thing is, Jonathan Demme was signed on to do Hannibal. Thomas Harris started writing it even before the Lambs movie was released. In his 1994 interview, Demme said that the sequel to the Lambs was gonna be taking place in Europe and South America. You ever watched the end credits of Silence of the Lambs? At the very end, there's a phrase that says "a luta continua", the Portuguese for "the struggle continues." Not only did that Easter egg indicated a sequel, but (by virtue of being in Portuguese language) even hinted at its Brazilian setting. In the Hannibal novel, it's revealed that Dr. Lecter indeed lived in Brazil for a while after his escape and had plastic surgery done there, to alter his appearance. This quirky little end credits phrase plus Demme dropping out of directing Hannibal even before the novel was released shows just how closely he kept in touch with Harris.


Anyway, you can't do much better than the top notch mercenaries De Laurentiis brought in to replace them but it's still jarring, though certainly cements the film's different identity and completes a sort of incredible, though uneven trilogy starting with Manhunter. I just always wonder how a Demme/Foster version more in the vein of their Lambs might have turned out.
Don't forget Howard Shore. Silence of the Lambs wouldn't have been the same without Shore's sad and delicate, yet dramatic and emotionally intense orchestral score. You ever notice how that movie's main theme bears a striking resemblance to Rolling Stone's Paint it Black? Had the Lambs' cast and crew returned, we would've gotten a far better Hannibal movie than we did. It's too bad Demme and Foster didn't like Clarice getting brainwashed by Dr. Lecter and becoming his accomplice.

It's tough to demand assembly line pulp out of a guy that would otherwise write a novel once a decade.
Ironic, because Dr.Hannibal Lecter has all the characteristics of a typical early 20th century pulp villain - the Eastern European nobility background, genius intellect, the superhuman sense of taste and smell, being raised by a sexpot Japanese aunt, cannibalism and refined tastes in art. In some ways, he is not unlike Dr. Fu Manchu or Fantômas. Only Thomas Harris' meticulous research and writing talent could elevate Dr. Lecter into a high-brow literary character.
 
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Lawliet

Awkward Artist
Re-read the Iliad recently, which was my first time ever re-reading a book, but it was worth it. Going to re-read the Odyssey next. I'm as awestruck by these two books as I was when I first read them. Little surprise they survived almost 3000 years.

After that I'm thinking of starting the Witcher books, or reading the Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (I've been hearing good things).

I started re-re-reading Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear, otherwise known as books 1 and 2 of the Kingkiller Chronicle. That's a pretty ostentatious title considering that even after ~1800 pages, there's still no dead king :guts:.

Every few years, usually if I'm bedridden, I'll turn back to this series. It's my third time through, now. It's a bit ridiculous at this point that the third and final book still isn't out, but I'm finding a lot to enjoy despite knowing pretty much all the nooks and crannies of the series at this point. Highly recommended, particularly for Berserk fans, as it's got a handful of broad similarities.
Kingkiller's probably my favorite fantasy novel series (if we can even call it that--it's been almost a decade since book 2's release and no sign of book 3). I have some issues with it though, such as the slow pacing which you aptly described in your post.

Interesting how you compare it with Berserk though. I've never felt a close similarity between the two works. Though I suppose the idea of the protagonist going after a group of supernatural beings for revenge could be reminiscent of Berserk.

Out of curiosity, which of the two books so far do you prefer? I've seen fans pretty divided on this issue.
 

Walter

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I've never felt a close similarity between the two works. Though I suppose the idea of the protagonist going after a group of supernatural beings for revenge could be reminiscent of Berserk.
Yep, well... both series are “low” fantasy, but I was mostly referring to the revenge story paired with the fact that The Chandrian may as well be the God Hand. Certainly other than their insane quest, Kvothe and Guts don’t have anything in common.

As for Book 3, it’ll happen eventually. I just have very little faith the author can cash in all the checks he’s been writing. There is a ton to wrap up for one book.
 

Lawliet

Awkward Artist
Yep, well... both series are “low” fantasy, but I was mostly referring to the revenge story paired with the fact that The Chandrian may as well be the God Hand. Certainly other than their insane quest, Kvothe and Guts don’t have anything in common.
Fair enough.

For me, the series is more reminiscent of Harry Potter, with the magic and academic setting and all that. Except the protagonist also has to worry about student loans. :ganishka:

But yeah, it speaks to the richness of Kingkiller that it can at once be compared with Berserk, Harry Potter, the Arabian Nights, and so on without being a complete, incoherent mess.

As for Book 3, it’ll happen eventually. I just have very little faith the author can cash in all the checks he’s been writing. There is a ton to wrap up for one book.
I was about to mention just that. Especially when you consider the slow, sometimes self-indulgent, pacing of the author's writing (my main problem with book 2 in particular). If Rothfuss can pull off a satisfying ending to most or all the plot threads we've got so far, I would be very impressed. With his style though, even a very long book may not be enough. We'll see...

Apparently, book 3 has been complete for a long time (before the publication of the first book), and the author is taking all this time just editing. Normally, I would consider it absurd for an author to spend nearly 10 years just editing a book, but with what he has to deliver, I can see why.
 

Walter

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For me, the series is more reminiscent of Harry Potter, with the magic and academic setting and all that. Except the protagonist also has to worry about student loans. :ganishka:
I don't think JK Rowling should be able to lay claim to all magic school story settings, but I agree that there is way too much University stuff, considering everything else that should probably be a priority before he finishes the series. Most of the second book feels like an attempt to correct that aspect of book 1. Becoming mired in that formulaic approach to me reveals how despite a handful of moments of brilliance, the books are pretty uneven. Waylaying any details about the core namesake of the series until the final book feels quite lazy to me, and also potentially catastrophic. What keeps me coming back to them though isn't the craft in which they were written, but how layered it is, and how much it rewards second and third readings, stands up to theory scrutiny, etc.

But yeah, it speaks to the richness of Kingkiller that it can at once be compared with Berserk, Harry Potter, the Arabian Nights, and so on without being a complete, incoherent mess.
I'd say that while it's not a profound series, it is a fun one.

Apparently, book 3 has been complete for a long time (before the publication of the first book), and the author is taking all this time just editing. Normally, I would consider it absurd for an author to spend nearly 10 years just editing a book, but with what he has to deliver, I can see why
Yeah I remember reading that, too. But as the years have passed, I believe it less and less. Like, sure, maybe he had a broad outline of what he intended Book 3 to be. But that structure likely changed as he cemented the ideas in Books 1-2. Sometimes when my boss asks me if I have finished an article, I'll say: "Yep, putting the finishing touches on it now," while adding a new "to do" item in my daily notes. :carcus:
 

Lawliet

Awkward Artist
I don't think JK Rowling should be able to lay claim to all magic school story settings, but I agree that there is way too much University stuff, considering everything else that should probably be a priority before he finishes the series. Most of the second book feels like an attempt to correct that aspect of book 1. Becoming mired in that formulaic approach to me reveals how despite a handful of moments of brilliance, the books are pretty uneven. Waylaying any details about the core namesake of the series until the final book feels quite lazy to me, and also potentially catastrophic. What keeps me coming back to them though isn't the craft in which they were written, but how layered it is, and how much it rewards second and third readings, stands up to theory scrutiny, etc.
I always thought the unevenness was part of the design actually, in that it is meant to mimic a "real life". As in, this is meant to be the autobiography of one man, and since real life is not neatly paced and plotted out, the same would apply to his journey. Hence all the seemingly pointless digressions and meanderings. I think that's what the author was going for.

Though I suppose there's a point where this becomes less a justification and more an excuse. I could certainly do away with some chunks of the story (again, mainly in book 2, like the bandit hunt section) and the author could have made more progress regarding the "Kingkiller" plot line. It's ironic that my favorite parts are those set in the University as opposed to Kvothe's adventures outside. This series is weird.

And yeah, the fan theories this series generates is something (just check out the Kingkiller facebook page), to the point of ridiculousness. The community looks way too deeply into these books sometimes.

I'd say that while it's not a profound series, it is a fun one.
Well it's certainly not an epic about a struggler, which explores human nature :guts:

Yeah I remember reading that, too. But as the years have passed, I believe it less and less. Like, sure, maybe he had a broad outline of what he intended Book 3 to be. But that structure likely changed as he cemented the ideas in Books 1-2. Sometimes when my boss asks me if I have finished an article, I'll say: "Yep, putting the finishing touches on it now," while adding a new "to do" item in my daily notes. :carcus:
I sometimes do that too, while developing software. Truly a universal experience :ganishka:

Pfff, come on.
:ganishka: To surprise you even more (or not?), my previous favorite was A Song of Ice and Fire (books 1-3).

Admittedly, most of the books I've read in my life are non-fantasy, so me having a favorite fantasy novel series isn't saying much.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I always thought the unevenness was part of the design actually, in that it is meant to mimic a "real life".
Then it’s a bad design, and Chronicler truly needs to step in and edit the fuck out of the book before he prints it.
 

Aazealh

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:ganishka: To surprise you even more (or not?), my previous favorite was A Song of Ice and Fire (books 1-3).
Would you believe me if I said I had predicted this? :slan:

Admittedly, most of the books I've read in my life are non-fantasy, so me having a favorite fantasy novel series isn't saying much.
Don't worry, I'm just teasing you a bit. To be honest I don't have super strong feelings about it. I thought it was alright back then, and some parts are genuinely good, but I agree with Walter it would have benefited from a stricter editor. And less cringey teenage shit.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Hey, NERDS, instead of debating your nerd books why don't you let us get back to what this thread was really intended for: talkin' about MOVIES! Read any good movies, lately!?

To be fair, the Silence of the Lambs movie is very faithful to the original novel (I'd say about 95%). The only real deviations I noticed were the absence of Clarice Starling's childhood scenes in Montana, where she witnessed the fateful mass slaughter of baby lambs at her uncle's farm. Also, the movie contains virtually no references to the events from Red Dragon (probably because Dino de Laurentis owned the rights to that).
They even managed to get the more subtextual and thematic elements across like the sexualization of women's bodies permeating everything, including Clarice's workplace. Like, it was simple and direct without them having to wave their arms around going, "Look at THIS, it's IMPORTANT!" Imagine trying to carry that over into Hannibal. =)

The funny thing is, Jonathan Demme was signed on to do Hannibal. Thomas Harris started writing it even before the Lambs movie was released. In his 1994 interview, Demme said that the sequel to the Lambs was gonna be taking place in Europe and South America. You ever watched the end credits of Silence of the Lambs? At the very end, there's a phrase that says "a luta continua", the Portuguese for "the struggle continues." Not only did that Easter egg indicated a sequel, but (by virtue of being in Portuguese language) even hinted at its Brazilian setting. In the Hannibal novel, it's revealed that Dr. Lecter indeed lived in Brazil for a while after his escape and had plastic surgery done there, to alter his appearance. This quirky little end credits phrase plus Demme dropping out of directing Hannibal even before the novel was released shows just how closely he kept in touch with Harris.
I'm old enough to remember all this going down and thinking it wasn't right. I read the book before the film came out and yeah, it was way more pulpy and comicbook-like because Lecter was made into some sort of unstoppable superhero (hey, we got an evil rich chomo Bond villain to make Lecter look good by comparison!), but the problem with that is it's his story so he gets his way in the end, but at the expense, and total assassination really, of Clarice Starling's character.

Had the Lambs' cast and crew returned, we would've gotten a far better Hannibal movie than we did. It's too bad Demme and Foster didn't like Clarice getting brainwashed by Dr. Lecter and becoming his accomplice.
It was a bewildering turn at the time, you could argue it's actually a more daring, original and appropriately dark and self-aware ending (Hannibal is charismatic and seductive monster, duh) than the more traditional anti-hero reversal the film opts for (the cannibal serial killer with a heart of gold!), but that still doesn't mean it sold on the page. I'm glad the film largely excised a lot of his childhood stuff though, I preferred not having some lame excuses for why Lecter was the way he was. But it's too bad Demme and Foster didn't come in and put their own spin on it. The ideal scenario would be to let Harris help adapt his own book with them and make the tweaks for film himself, "For chrissakes Tommy, we can't have Tony Hopkins suckin' Jodie's fuckin' titty onscreen!"

Ironic, because Dr.Hannibal Lecter has all the characteristics of a typical early 20th century pulp villain - the Eastern European nobility background, genius intellect, being raised by a sexpot Japanese aunt, cannibalism and refined tastes in art. In some ways, he is not unlike Dr. Fu Manchu or Fantômas. Only Thomas Harris' meticulous research and writing talent could elevate Dr. Lecter into a high-brow literary character.
Well, I think it's more like he started as a high brow literary elevation of an archetype that eventually devolved with every iteration into Dr. Fu Manchu. Lecter got less and less interesting the more prominent his role became until all his mystique and menace was replaced with gory cliches.
 
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I finished Hannibal yesterday, and I’m not ashamed to say I liked it a lot. Is it better than The Silence of the Lambs? No. Is it as bad as the critics say? Absolutely not.

There were a couple of hokey parts I thought were unnecessary (for example, Mason Verger having his martinis mixed with the tears of children), but overall I thought it was very entertaining and well written. I just wish there was a decent follow up. Oh, well. Maybe in another ten years?

Next up is Red Shadows by Robert E. Howard.
 
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Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Since I finished up Kingkiller Chronicle again, I've finished The Road, Agency (new Gibson novel, sequel to Peripheral), and I'm on to the final book in the Book of the New Sun series. After that, I'd like to go back to a few of Cormac McCarthy's books, which I'm finding I like a lot more as I've gotten a bit older.
 
I read Lolita as I'm a sucker for (Russian) classics. I've really struggled with this one and hated reading it because of it's content and the despicable protagonist (the second fictional character I feverently hate, though he's nothing like Griffith). After finishing it, I thought about it for hours. It's a brilliant book.

I also started reading manga in French. Excluding Berserk, I always thought they were huge time wasters. It's a real fun way to pick up a new language as the panels give a lot of hints as to what is going on.

I already read dragon ball (great place to start), naruto (way harder to read and less fun than dragon ball, apart from the chuunin exams) and fist of the north star (big letdown) in French. Currently working my way through one piece which is easily the best of the bunch. After that, I think I'm ready for some seinen for a bit more of a challenge, starting with JoJo.
 
Read any good movies, lately!?
"Watched any movie adaptations of the books you should have been reading lately!?" :troll:


They even managed to get the more subtextual and thematic elements across like the sexualization of women's bodies permeating everything, including Clarice's workplace. Like, it was simple and direct without them having to wave their arms around going, "Look at THIS, it's IMPORTANT!" Imagine trying to carry that over into Hannibal. =)
Closeups. Lots and lots of them. That was Demme's secret weapon, something he borrowed from the masters like Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. Especially whenever Starling enters the room, the camera zeroes in on the faces of male characters, as they react to a woman "invading" their space. You see the closeup "male face reaction shots" everywhere throughout the movie, from the entomologist nerds that I.D the death's head moth to Dr. Lecter himself. No words are needed when you got a masterfully executed closeup shot.

I'm old enough to remember all this going down and thinking it wasn't right. I read the book before the film came out and yeah, it was way more pulpy and comicbook-like because Lector was made into some sort of unstoppable superhero (hey, we got an evil rich chomo Bond villain to make Lector look good by comparison!), but the problem with that is it's his story so he gets his way in the end, but at the expense, and total assassination really, of Clarice Starling's character.
Yeah, Hannibal diminished the effectiveness and diabolical malevolence of Dr. Lecter's character that Thomas Harris had built up in the first 2 novels. Originally, Dr. Lecter killed people for no reason other than his amusement or if they got on his nerves (eating his patients who kept missing their appointments, for example) or if they offended him (such as that flute player whose poor music skills kept fucking up the Baltimore Philharmonic Orchestra's sound). Nowhere in Red Dragon or Silence of the Lambs did he kill anyone for being evildoers. At least in the original Hannibal novel, Mason Verger is fully fleshed out as a chomo who raped and tortured even his own baby sister. Making a villain like Dr. Lecter more sympathetic may work if we at least get to learn about his early life and what made him the way he is. Also, you can at least cheer for a villainous character if the people he's fighting against are so much more eviler than he is. At least with the book, you got a "bad vs. evil"-type of story. But (by omitting the Margot Verger character and Dr. Lecter's horrific childhood scenes in wartime Lithuania) the movie version dispenses away even with that, degenerating into a "good vs. bad" story. And unsurprisingly fucking up in the process.

It was a bewildering turn at the time, you could argue it's actually a more daring, original and appropriately dark and self-aware ending (Hannibal is charismatic and seductive monster, duh) than the more traditional anti-hero reversal the film opts for (the cannibal serial killer with a heart of gold!), but that still doesn't mean it sold on the page.
Re-reading the Hannibal novel now, I feel like Thomas Harris could have stuck to Dr. Lecter's roots by having him mutilate and cripple Mason Verger not for raping those kids but for offending his personal sensibilities. Like, have Mason showing up drunk and high to his (Mason's) court-mandated appointment with Dr. Lecter and puking all over the doctor's art collection in his office, for example. Or for annoying the doctor by constantly bragging during their appointments together about his family wealth, hanging out with Pol Pot and Idi Amin and getting away scot-free for his sex crimes. Mason's comeuppance at the hands of Lecter should have come not because of his crimes but because he was rude to the doctor. That would have fit Dr. Lecter's character much better, IMHO.

I'm glad the film largely excised a lot of his childhood stuff though, I preferred not having some lame excuses for why Lector was the way he was. But it's too bad Demme and Foster didn't come in and put their own spin on it. The ideal scenario would be to let Harris help adapt his own book with them and make the tweaks for film himself, "For chrissakes Tommy, we can't have Tony Hopkins suckin' Jodie's fuckin' titty onscreen!"
But that was how the symbiotic relationship between Starling and Lecter came to be, in a fucked up Freudian way. By him suckling Starling, he became her surrogate father, and she - his surrogate baby sister. It couldn't have been done any other way. That's what drove home the disturbing nature of their new relationship - they didn't become lovers out of romantic feelings for each other but because they each fulfilled the other's want and helped cope with the traumatic loss of a loved one. Starling's childhood flashbacks in the Lambs revealed her father getting murdered. Dr. Lecter's childhood flashbacks in Hannibal revealed his baby sister getting murdered and cannibalized. Hannibal's ending essentially weaves those two storylines of bereavement to a full circle by making Lecter and Starling menders of each other's hearts.


Well, I think it's more like he started as a high brow literary elevation of an archetype that eventually devolved with every iteration into Dr. Fu Manchu. Lector got less and less interesting the more prominent his role became until all his mystique and menace was replaced with gory cliches.
Because there's definitely pulp fiction influence to Dr. Lecter. Always been, just not blatantly obvious in the earlier novels. My English professor from college knew Thomas Harris personally. They weren't friends or anything, but they hung out a couple of times over at a writers' workshop in the early '70s. (think it was Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Middlebury College in Vermont, or maybe someplace else). It was one of those workshops where published veteran writers taught those who aspired to become writers (fun fact - one of those mentors was James Dickey, who wrote the original Deliverance novel). One thing that my old professor remembered about Harris was his fondness for the pulp magazines from the '30s and '40s that he grew up reading as a kid. He even owned a bunch of old beat up issues of Black Mask, Dime Mystery Magazine and Detective Short Stories from that era. He loved pulp stories for their blue collar aesthetic - fiction aimed at the working class, with zero pretentiousness and no ulterior motives about it. These stories were never gonna win Pulitzers and Bookers or be honored as "high-class" literature by the literati. They were designed to thrill and entertain, not to push the author's personal philosophies onto the reader or prove some kind of a point. Harris also liked the pulp writers' creativity and imagination. However, he was not fond of their amateurish, hackwork-quality writing. My professor recalled Harris showing him an old pulp thriller story called "Death Stalks the Night" by a now-forgotten 1930s pulp writer named Hugh Cave. That story was about a psychotic serial killer who murdered his victims by spraying them with acid. His M.O was to spray sulfuric acid on his victims' hands and feet. And as the victims screamed in agony, this Acid Killer would finish them off by shooting another acid stream into their open mouths. Harris pointed out "Death Stalks the Night" as a showcase of pulp era's fiendishly creative storytelling marred by shitty writing. As typical of the old hardboiled pulp thrillers, the dialogue was laughably bad, the characters were one-dimensional, the pacing was sloppy and the story had overall very clumsy, verbose prose. "Death Stalks the Night" was a formulaic tale of a square-jawed, tall and handsome guy saving a blonde bombshell chick from a demented killer. It was high on gun-toting/two-fisted action, but short on brains. But one thing that stuck out to Harris, the one thing that he really liked, was the story's villain, the Acid Killer. The villains is what he found most compelling and interesting about pulp fiction tales. Mind you, this writers' getaway happened while Harris was still a journalist and was years before he wrote his first novel, Black Sunday. His knowledge of Hugh Cave's "Death Stalks the Night" and also Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me" (both proto-serial killer stories written decades before that term was coined) showed that he was already fascinated by serial killer characters way before he created one of his own.
Thinking about it now, I believe Thomas Harris wanted to learn to write pulp stories, but with high-quality literary prose. Basically, he wanted to combine the dark and lurid storytelling of Cornell Woolrich, Jim Thompson, Paul Cain and Hugh Cave with the complexity and dimensionality of the literary writing style of Truman Capote, William Faulkner and Thomas Wolfe. And he kind of succeeded - Dr. Hannibal Lecter was as closest we'll ever come to seeing a high-brow pulp villain. One can argue that Dr. Lecter progressively devolving into cheesiness in the last two of his novels was not so much a "degradation" of his character but as reversion to its potboiler pulp foundations.
 
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I finished reading Red Shadows. Aside from a lot of racial insensitivity, it was a decent pulp story. I’m looking forward to reading more of Howard’s stuff.

Up next is The Incal!
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Now that's a post!
Closeups. Lots and lots of them. That was Demme's secret weapon, something he borrowed from the masters like Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles.
And let's not forget his mentor, and the FBI Director in Silence, King of B Movies, Roger Corman. I agree Demme's style in the film is perfect because of the intimacy of those closeups and because he deftly switches from grounded, straightforward, almost documentary-like storytelling to aggressive, intimate, hyper-realized moments, often in closeup. There's numerous examples, the deep closeups on Lecter's eyes during the lambs reveal, Clarice and her fellow trainee cutting back and forth going over the case in closeup with dark backgrounds, pretty much anything in Buffalo Bill's dungeon, but the best example is actually a deleted alternate take of Lecter discussing Bill where the scene actually transitions from Lecter clinically breaking him down as seen/heard in the film to the lighting slowly changing and the camera slightly moving in and around his face as his timbre and intensity increases and the scene turns red until Lecter appears as Satan himself. It's really weird! So I get why he cut it because it was too much and took you out of the movie, but it goes to show the way he contrasts those two styles in the film otherwise actually serve to make each better and the film more real, intimate and visceral.

Originally, Dr. Lecter killed people for no reason other than his amusement or if they got on his nerves
Re-reading the Hannibal novel now, I feel like Thomas Harris could have stuck to Dr. Lecter's roots by having him mutilate and cripple Mason Verger not for raping those kids but for offending his personal sensibilities.
Agreed, and I'd take it a step further and, if he cared at all, have Lector tacitly approve of Verger's monstrous behavior as the only redeeming quality of a bore. The only part of it that rings true for me is that Lecter sees Verger as a lesser creature than him, and that while they, particularly the killers, might fraternize on some level, they're also a threat to each other, like apex predators. Lecter wouldn't see Verger this way, but as a lesser monster to prey on himself for his amusement. Making Lecter into some kind of relative moral avenger with a traumatic childhood that perfectly explains his behavior by definition demystifies him. I prefer the interpretation that whatever Dr. Hannibal Lecter the human is or has been, he was born, he was a baby, he grew up, went to medical school, is incidental to his true nature or what's inside, which is fundamentally different from a human being, like a human vessel possessed by a demon, walking among us. More simply, I think the explanation given in Silence is perfectly sufficient, "He's like some kind of vampire."

Hannibal's ending essentially weaves those two storylines of bereavement to a full circle by making Lecter and Starling menders of each other's hearts.
It's not without thematic merit or clever storytelling execution, though at best I still think it a bit muddled and it does a disservice to both characters. And it really doesn't work for me practically, where Starling has essentially been chemically lobotomized with drugs if I recall, at least to start. That would otherwise have appeal to me as a tragic end, but playing it like she's at all complicit, or later happy, rather than another of Lecter's victims makes it a disturbing end for her character in a completely different and undesirable way. To the point about Lecter, better that he simply maims or kills her too, proving there's nothing fundamentally different, or redeeming, about that relationship for him, and certainly not for her. It's cool that Harris basically wanted to "go there" and do the ending we secretly wanted but he couldn't dare, it's still unique and I'm glad it exists, but on another level it also doesn't work, and ultimately just seemed like a way to shoehorn them together and give Lecter a win and a twisted happily ever after because the story is called "Hannibal" rather than "Verger" or "Starling" (a change is emphasis which may have better served all).

"Death Stalks the Night" was a formulaic tale of a square-jawed, tall and handsome guy saving a blonde bombshell chick from a demented killer. It was high on gun-toting/two-fisted action, but short on brains. But one thing that stuck out to Harris, the one thing that he really liked, was the story's villain, the Acid Killer. The villains is what he found most compelling and interesting about pulp fiction tales.
Thomas Harris wanted to learn to write pulp stories, but with high-quality literary prose.
And he kind of succeeded - Dr. Hannibal Lecter was as closest we'll ever come to seeing a high-brow pulp villain. One can argue that Dr. Lecter progressively devolving into cheesiness in the last two of his novels was not so much a "degradation" of his character but as reversion to its potboiler pulp foundations.
Very cool info and analysis. I think it goes back to what we've been saying about Lecter working better as an almost neutral evil figure looming large and working his machinations in the background, on a level other characters can't match despite, or because of, Lecter's practical disadvantages (like being imprisoned, or being insane as Will once said). Putting him in the foreground without limitations and trying to explain him ruins that because we shouldn't be able to comprehend him and there's no tension because he has no peer. The same thing happened with another of pop culture's great pulp villains that also transcended to be one of the best in cinematic history: Darth Vader. Both were at their most powerful when given little actual screen time but casting a shadow across the whole story. Once you put the light directly onto them, make them the main character in fact, they start to resemble those boring, square-jawed heroes Harris didn't find as compelling, and worse, no opponent of theirs could seemingly be a match for them, nor could they live up to the potential of their own mystique. By trying to explain or expand on what makes them so interesting, and intentionally or not make them less uniquely one-dimensional and more understandable, they also become more average. So Lecter went from being the ideal, high-brow, literary serial killer of fiction to an anti-hero slasher one might include alongside Jason or Freddy Krueger.

I finished reading Red Shadows. Aside from a lot of racial insensitivity, it was a decent pulp story. I’m looking forward to reading more of Howard’s stuff.
I've said it before, but if you haven't already read Howard's Conan. It's great, and save for a few stark examples there's less racial insensitivity there. Sometimes Conan even seems to experience prejudice as a Cimmerian, except when he's in the jungle and becomes the great white hunter by default.
 
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