The purpose of a short overview of only twelve serial killers escapes me, because I presume there are tomes referencing every single American serial kThe purpose of a short overview of only twelve serial killers escapes me, because I presume there are tomes referencing every single American serial killer (or at least most of them) and acting as introductions. I was testing Kindle in my phone the other day, and this was available for free in Amazon's Kindle books, so I figured I wouldn't be losing anything by at least trying this out.
Well, I did finish this, since I was morbidly curious about how much the level of craziness would grow, but otherwise I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed.
Obviously, there are interesting details here. John Gacy performed as a clown, and was known as an outgoing and succesful businessman. One of Jeffrey Dahmer's drugged victims escaped and the police believed he was his lover, because Dahmer (who worked at a chocolate factory at one point) was so well-spoken and calm, but if they had checked his apartment when they escorted them back there, they would've found the decomposing body of one of his latest victims on the bedroom floor. Well, later this happened: "There's a goddamn head in the refrigerator!". Ted Bundy worked at Seattle's Suicide Hotline crisis center, and earned a commendation from the police for saving a toddler. David Berkowitz had no success with women, so he decided to off them instead.
All these, however, I'd rather read from a proper and coherent reference book, or from an individual biography of one of the killers. Keller's approach is much too simplistic and, as he admits, subjective. A bit more polishing would have been great, too, since there's repetition in the parts where the victims are listed. It's all and well to note every single victim and treat them with respect, but at least a bit of variation sentence-wise would have been nice. I found no reason why one should read this instead of a Wikipedia article....more
I was wandering in the library today, looking for something to relax with before going to class, and I was drawn to the comic book shelf, since thereI was wandering in the library today, looking for something to relax with before going to class, and I was drawn to the comic book shelf, since there was a lot of interesting stuff that was possible to finish in two hours. I didn't read the blurb of The Wolf Man, so I thought this would be about the psychological condition where a person believes himself to be a werewolf. Turns out the story was far less interesting than that.
As the most prominent patient of Sigmund Freud, Sergei Pankejeff was used (anonymously) to prove the validity of psychoanalysis, so obviously psychology needs to be an interest at some level at least before attempting to read this, because beyond that the story has very little to offer. There are diversions to historical events and Pankejeff's family, but it didn't help that I don't hold Freud's theories in very high regard. Not only he decided that there should be a predetermined limited time period for Pankejeff's treatment, but he also made absolutely outrageously far-fetched conclusions based on dreams and childhood events (some of them, surprise surprise, supposedly never happened), and wrote that Pankejeff's illness was a fixation (seems to imply that his psychological problems were just a matter of the will).
Pankejeff himself admitted later that he doesn't believe to have been cured, and resented being the poster boy for psychoanalysis. The final frames of the comic represent that: it seems there has never been relief, and the darkness has remained in one form or another. In a way the ending is impressive in its understatedness, but everything before that is just psychology jargon with very little substantial content. The artwork, however, is strangely appealing. It consists mostly of simple sketches, but it's at its best when it has been broken into shadows, symbols, and vague forms. Even the broken mind can be beautiful.
"Rage is a child's form of seduction, provoking punishment to satisfy a sexual desire". Ugh....more
On top of everything else, I'm participating in a saga course at uni, where we read four sagas during the two months and discuss generally about IcelaOn top of everything else, I'm participating in a saga course at uni, where we read four sagas during the two months and discuss generally about Icelandic sagas and their features. This type of introduction is priceless, because it helps to understand how and why sagas are an integral part of Iceland and its history (even today they influence Icelandic authors, and twenty years ago The Book of Icelanders was read as fact in elementary schools).
I somewhat grew to like the simplicity. William Morris's translation is still terse, but also flows beautifully, and the archaic expressions add texture to the language. The form does take time to get used to, but the context and purpose of the sagas explain the presence of family trees, whose presence might seem pointless at first. It's debatable as to how much of the historical aspect of the sagas is true, but they were originally intended as records of history as much as stories about the exploits of certain Icelanders (saga genres vary from family, kings', romances, bishops' etc.). The family lists in Gunnlaug places it in the family saga department, but I don't think it's necessary to remember all the characters, as some of them are there for other than storytelling purposes.
After all, when everything else except the basic storyline is stripped away, what's left is an entertaining and tragic story of Gunnlaug's efforts to be a better man and win Helga as his wife. People throughout the ages have had similar worries and desires, so when Gunnlaug's proposal is rejected by Helga's father, because Gunnlaug is too restless and about to go abroad, some of us can recognize the father's need to want only what's best for his daughter. Gunnlaug therefore departs, and I assume he's welcomed as Helga's fiancé only when he has gained experience and capital.
Echoing Greek tragedies, there's foreshadowing, and the idea of fate eventually catching up on you is carried throughout the story. Foreshadowing can be off-putting sometimes, but in this case it was interesting to see how the events unfolded into the inevitable tragic outcome. Dreams reveal the life of your son, the suffering your loved ones will endure, and no matter how hard you try to escape them, you will be caught by the superior forces that inhabit your enemies.
The saga of Gunnlaug still focuses surprisingly little on what the various family members mentioned did, but I expect some of them will be explained in other sagas. The historical context is only brushed lightly upon by explaining with a few sentences what's going on in the countries where Gunnlaug's travelling. King Ethelred seems to have no problems with Icelanders, but warns Gunnlaug of a Norwegian viking who lends some money from Gunnlaug. Really though, how stupid are you that you just decide to lend money to a complete stranger, because he does after all promise to pay it back! Christ...
Speaking of Christ, the writer of the saga seems to have a problem with pagan traditions: "Next to this befell those tidings, the best that ever have befallen here in Iceland, that the whole land became Christian, and that all folk cast off the old faith". Perhaps not surprising, but the era of Christianizing the Nordic countries is fascinating. Obviously I disagree with the author, but at least his own misgivings and attitudes towards "heathens" don't interrupt the story too much. When in doubt, just wield your axe and all your problems are solved (or not.)
The characters are mostly described in black and white terms, but Gunnlaug's perfection does suffer a small dent when you start to think about the purpose of his journey. Who cares if you forget your promises made at home and wander around in kings' houses and enjoy their hospitality for way longer than you were supposed to, even though poetry is clearly not appreciated anymore? Maybe there's a diplomatic aspect I don't understand, but Gunnlaug adds a sense of ambiguity to the saga's characterizations.
Overall, the fairy-tale like repetition and redundancy won't stop me from reading more sagas. This one at least had a quality of magic and adventure, and something about the pagan era fascinates me to no end. In this case, simplicity leaves more room for imagination....more
Jarruttelua alkupuoliskon aikana. Edestakaista jaarittelua, ympäripyöreää jahkailua, teksti kiertää kehää kuin Liisan rukki. Ei luoja. Matin ja LiisanJarruttelua alkupuoliskon aikana. Edestakaista jaarittelua, ympäripyöreää jahkailua, teksti kiertää kehää kuin Liisan rukki. Ei luoja. Matin ja Liisan pirtissä nukutaan, syödään, haukotellaan, poltellaan, kinastellaan. Yleensä realismi on parhaimmillaan ajatuksia herättävää sekä hyvällä tavalla karkeaa, mutta Rautatie on pahimmillaan vain pintapuolista ja yksitoikkoista arkiaskareiden luettelointia.
Ahon kuvaus pääseekin oikeuksiinsa (aivan liian vähäisessä) luontokuvauksessa. Varsinkin ensimmäisen kappaleen alku hengittää nurkassa paukkuvaa pakkasta, korpimetsän hiljaisuutta ja tupien tulisijojen lämpöä. Kun Lapinlahdelle on ilmestynyt rautatie, se tunkeutuu vaivihkaa Matin ja Liisan arkielämään. Uni häiriintyy ja asiasta kinastellaan, kunnes rautatiestä kasvaa lähes myyttinen abstrakti asia, joka vetää hitaasti mutta varmasti puoleensa. Matin ja Liisan taipumus peitellä omaa naiiviutta ja tietämättömyyttä on hyvin tuttua vielä tänä päivänä.
Aika ei ole staattinen. Uusia keksintöjä tulee, käytännöt muuttuvat, maisema muuttuu. Mikään ei pysy samana, ja jotkut tempautuvat tahtomattaan mukaan kun jotkut istuvat rohkeasti kyytiin ja antavat nykyajan puksutella eteenpäin. Matti ja Liisa eivät uskalla myöntää toisilleen ja muille olevansa pelokkaita. Uteliaisuus ei tunnu mukavalta, koska suuren ja mahtavan rautatien kohtaaminen aiheuttaa lopulta vain pettymyksen. Junaakaan pariskunta ei taida ikinä täysin ymmärtää (aluksi Matti luulee sen tarkoittavan tavallisia vaunuja, joita vetää halkoja syövät hevoset). Sää (ja mieli) kuitenkin kirkastuu lopulta: "loristen laski sula vesi yönsä päivänsä rinteitä pitkin, riipaisi kerrassaan kaikki hanget ja nietokset pelloilta ja aitovarsilta alas alankoihin ja notkomaille, joissa lahnankukkia sitten sadoittain sikisi puronvarsille, ja tuore kesänurmi siellä täällä viherteli".
Moni asia pelottaa, mutta lopulta ne eivät välttämättä olekaan aivan niin elämää hallitsevia kuin on luullut. Aho vaikuttaa olevan puolueellinen maalaisten elämäntavalle, mutta ehkä muutoksen kanssa voi sittenkin elää kun on ensin saavuttanut mielenrauhan. Junan rautainen ja koliseva hahmo ei jyrääkään kaikkea alleen niin kuin se eräälle lehmälle teki.
Ehkä minäkin pystyn hyväksymään sen, että Aho tuntuu etsivän esikoisessaan vielä omaa tyyliään....more
I avoid romantic comedies. Obviously I've still seen a few, and that's why I mainly cringe when I see another trailer from another film about a bunchI avoid romantic comedies. Obviously I've still seen a few, and that's why I mainly cringe when I see another trailer from another film about a bunch of asswipes. Other overly romantic stuff gives me the same reaction. If I want something light to read, I turn to children's books or horror (preferrably Stephen King). As with everything, there are exceptions (although in this case, very few). When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Notting Hill (1999) (Rhys Ifan's character!) are two examples of movies that aren't my favourites, but which I've still seen at least twice. They have a point, and it's not necessarily a saccharine one. The first Bridget Jones is another one. It's just goofy, down-to-earth, and Bridget herself is the same: ordinary, not a polished model-type with a Pepsodent smile, and has awesome friends.
I've just never read the book, and now I thought would be perfect chance when I'm trying to go through some London books. The problem was the chick lit genre, which I've always found extremely off-putting. I've only read one before this, and it was torture. I've read countless of blurbs and reviews, though, but none of them have actually made me want to try reading the actual thing. The plot lines have mostly just given me a headache. I probably wouldn't have read Bridget Jones, if I hadn't seen the movie first. So, curiosity got the best of me (or maybe the heat of summer weather).
A longer introduction than perhaps necessary, but I thought it's important to understand the background where I'm coming from. Chick lit seems to rely on relatable characters and a sense of fun. Did I relate to Bridget? Hell no. Was this light-hearted fun? Not really.
I'm not in a similar situation with Bridget and her friends. I'm single, that much is true, but I don't have a problem with it or with people in relationships. I don't feel the need to trash men in every conversation (unless there's a very cogent reason, but that applies to women as well). These women don't have an ounce of common sense. Bridget takes Daniel's flirtations at face value, believing he's practically in love with her, and then complains when he's reluctant to commit to her. He said to her face, out loud, that he only wants to have fun! We all have our problems in relationships, and we all make mistakes, but I have trouble understanding why anyone would purposely dig themselves a hole. Have some self-respect. No one likes time wasters, but if you try to explain something into something completely different, then it's on you when things go pear-shaped.
Bridget is a gullible woman, who seems unable to control herself. We all have those problems in some areas, but am I going to be entertained by a book whose main character is supposed to be an endearing disaster? There was nothing funny about Bridget and her antics. She just made me sad. A woman in her thirties, and her life is filled with weight issues and neurotic self-analyzing. A lot of people (not only women) do worry about their weight, and think their self-esteem will magically jump into high heavens if they lose some fat. Bridget's problems are therefore relatable to some (completely understandable, because no one wants to feel like they're alone in something), but what are they really signalling? It's ok to view yourself as a complete useless slob and constantly beat yourself up? Being on a perpetual diet means you can write numbers into your diary, but in reality make little effort to be healthier?
It's not only that I don't understand Bridget, but the characters are very thin. The main love interest is supposed to be a big deal, but he's a mere shadow lurking somewhere in the background, so I never got a sense of who he is. He's forgotten for most of the novel, and then suddenly he appears again like some deus ex machina to make Bridget feel better. What the hell? But it's in a diary form, you say. Yes, but that's no excuse to make an important character virtually non-existent and a mere plot tool. I still have no idea why he's the one for Bridget.
There are some good bits here, though. Someone who admires Joanna Lumley and Susan Sarandon can't be entirely hopeless, and the description of Bridget's godson's birthday was hilarious. I sincerely hope I'll never end up into a situation like that, since it actually reminded me of a nightmare I once had. I also appreciate that Fielding clearly wanted to write something that's not made of pink glitter, but the actual execution missed its mark. Bridget is sassy, that much is true, but her other qualities - oy. If you identify with some of this, cool, but if you don't... There's little else to grab onto.
Somehow I'm guessing Bridget's obsession with self-pity won't end in the other books. She can wallow in it as long as she likes, though, because I'm not listening anymore. There's being sad for a valid reason, and then there's fishing pity and trying to build your self-confidence through others' opinions. Personally, I find it exasperating when everything has to be made a bigger deal than it actually is....more
Ibsen's plays are a problem for me. They never appeal to me as much as I would like to, although they have a lot that should make me like them. PlaysIbsen's plays are a problem for me. They never appeal to me as much as I would like to, although they have a lot that should make me like them. Plays are obviously at their best when the director and actors breathe life into them and when the scenes are interpreted in different ways in different productions. Ibsen's plays, however, don't even make me interested to see them on stage.
Rosmersholm isn't really an exception in this regard, but I did like it more than the others I've read. It carries its White Horses, the ghosts from the pasts, throughout and there are grand themes from politics to marriage. It all seems to lack depth, though, and the dialogue isn't particularly impressing. Maybe if the play had focused on something more specific and expanded that into something greater? Act four was what really ruined the preceding scenes for me. It's silly, implausible, and sudden. The ending would probably work in a Zola novel, but Ibsen doesn't handle it well. It's almost like it belonged into a different play altogether.
Where Ibsen does succeed, however, is in characterising Johannes Rosmer. I didn't feel his anguish or any of the oppressing presence of the past, but it was interesting to follow Rosmer's struggles to decide whether he should continue his position as a traditional aristocrat believing in Christian values, or to follow the path of liberalism and therefore achieve possible happiness. Rebecca is another well-developed character, who ends up being the catalyst at both social and political levels. The slow build-up gradually reveals the truth behind the characters' masks and uncertainty is replaced with disillusionment and tragedy. I just wish the downright comical ending wouldn't exist....more
Like so many other kids, I was first introduced to the spotted dogs when I saw the Disney movie. Thinking about it now, I think part of the reason whyLike so many other kids, I was first introduced to the spotted dogs when I saw the Disney movie. Thinking about it now, I think part of the reason why I liked it and The AristoCats (1970) was the animation style. The sketch-like style achieved with the cheaper Xerography technique made them slightly rugged, and the only contemporary animated films I've seen that have the same tone are the ones by Sylvain Chomet. Being a cat person, I don't think I ever cherished the 101 Dalmatians (1961) as much as I did The AristoCats, but I wanted to see if the novel has the same charm than the worn out VHS tape we used to have.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is indeed charming and cute, but without underestimating the reader. The Dearly family on a walk with their cook and butler in tow, the infamous Cruella de Vil who was expelled from school for drinking ink now covers everything with pepper and loves fire, Jasper and Saul whose favourite tv show is What's My Crime? and dream of being contestants in it (a parody of the charming What's My Line, which I really recommend checking out from Youtube if you're into game shows and pre-70s celebrities), all the dogs with different personalities etc.
The Dearly family might seem too perfect and syrupy at first, but in the end they come across as very genuine and lovely people (and dogs). Cruella is an over the top caricature-like villain in all her diabolicalness, but somehow it works. I suspect children would find her funny instead of too scary, despite the fact that she's extremely evil. The inner lives of the dogs show themselves as mysterious for the people in the book, but the reader gets to know all the secrets and root for Pongo and his rescue operation. You know everything will turn out alright for them, but you never know who they meet next. The little boy represents all those who are scared of the unknown: he's bad only because he has never known any dogs. It's easy to be dismissive of those who aren't part of your life.
On the other hand, when read with adult eyes there seems to be a stance about domesticity that some may take issue with. Missis Pongo is gentle and motherly but a real dimwit (not knowing the difference between left and right even after an explanation is a source of great amusement for the characters etc.). Cruella is glamorous but evil and a rotten housewife. The comparison is noticeable, but I don't think it poses a big problem, especially when you consider how Mr. Dearly takes care of the puppies and the determination Missis has to find her puppies. There are actually several points where it could be argued that Smith went into the opposite direction than what might be assumed from the publication year.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is heartwarming and quirky, but it didn't quite win my heart. It doesn't have the edge I'm looking for in children's literature, and I just can't make myself to be interested in the adventures of animals (despite being a huge animal lover; a personal zoo would be nice). A lovely light read for a summer day, though, and the different dog personalities are somewhat amusing. The touching ghost dog scene is also particularly noteworthy, and the one where the dogs wander into a church, because it makes you think about Cruella de Vil from an entirely new angle. So there's a lot that speaks for the novel, but it still failed to reach me completely. If Smith has the same approach and writing style in I Capture the Castle (1948), though, then I'll look forward to reading it....more
Rossetti's paintings are out of this world. In his poetry he goes even further by describing intimate relationships. The sensuality was beautiful andRossetti's paintings are out of this world. In his poetry he goes even further by describing intimate relationships. The sensuality was beautiful and it's easy to understand why the poems were controversial (a couple falls asleep after sex etc.), but in the end the purpleness and the excessive praise for love and beauty proved to be too much. Even in small doses....more
One of those short and nifty stories that you read and probably like as well, but which you'll forget in the months to come. Pushkin has a much lighteOne of those short and nifty stories that you read and probably like as well, but which you'll forget in the months to come. Pushkin has a much lighter touch than his fellow Russians, and I think that is starting to be a problem for me. Not once did I actually feel the protagonist's greed, and the matter-of-fact ending abruptly wrapped things up....more
The topic is extremely important, that goes without saying, and the concept of the comic is very much appreciated. I just felt that the execution coulThe topic is extremely important, that goes without saying, and the concept of the comic is very much appreciated. I just felt that the execution could have been better. The art is wonderfully vibrant and colourful, but the story itself is much too rushed and feels superficial and crushed underneath the heavy message....more
The ending stops you right where you are, and it feels exactly like a sudden flash of light after you've been sitting in the dark. Greene conveys theThe ending stops you right where you are, and it feels exactly like a sudden flash of light after you've been sitting in the dark. Greene conveys the atmosphere very effectively and the fear of the dark is palpable. It's amazing what is achieved with so few words. All short stories should be like this, and more importantly, all those who hate short stories should find stories like these to understand their appeal....more
A few years back I found the HBO show and immediately fell in love. The snarky and (literally) rotten Crypt Keeper introducing and concluding every epA few years back I found the HBO show and immediately fell in love. The snarky and (literally) rotten Crypt Keeper introducing and concluding every episode, the gruesome twists of the stories, the unashamedly uncensored content, all the familiar names that were involved either behind or in front of the camera etc. How about an episode directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, William Friedkin, or John Frankenheimer? Or seeing Judd Nelson giving a dubious steak recipe to Christopher Reeve (co-starring who else but Meat Loaf)? Or watching how Roger Daltrey plots to kill Steve Buscemi (this particular episode has an amazing body horror moment, by the way)? There are so many great and surreal episodes, though, that I've already forgotten half of them and it would be exhausting to list all of them here. Fortunately the whole show is available in Youtube, so go check it out!
Anyway, when I familiarized myself with comics and 1950s horror comics in particular, I started to contemplate whether I should see if the comic version would be as fun as the show. In a lot of ways it is. People seem to resort to killing pretty easily to get rid of unwanted individuals, and obviously that creates all kinds of situations, where often the bad guys end up dying in various gruesome ways.
There are many similar elements, like the Crypt Keeper (according to the show, the lovely spawn of a two-faced sideshow freak and a 4000-year-old mummy) referring to the readers as "kiddies", the lame but fun puns (a dead guy who narrates the tale is a "ghost writer", a woman who rots at the end "would have been a rotten actress anyway" etc.), and the twists at the end of the stories. The different point of views work great in a comic format, for example in the story where we see everything from a man's point of view who seems to scare everyone he comes to contact with, and at the end we see why.
The differences in the comic aren't negative, though. The voice-overs of the hosts wouldn't work in the show, but here they move the story smoothly forward, giving an atmosphere of a bedtime story of sorts. There are gruesome moments but the violence usually happens off stage. We see the minced meat, but not the actual grinding. It adds more drama and tension when the reader waits for the revelation. The only things I didn't care for, though, were the Crypt Keeper's appearance (an old man looking like an aged rocker instead of a skeletal corpse) and the guest hosts. Those are just minor quibbles, though, so I can get over them.
The stories might occasionally be a little clichéd and the 1950s mindset is guaranteed to cause some giggles, but that's part of the fun. Tales from the Crypt doesn't quite fall to the "so bad that it's good" category, because this is a genuinely good series, but there is a quirky tone throughout that can only be found from the older horror comics. The formula of each tale (introduction, story begins, story ends with a twist, conclusion) might be boring after a while, but these are so addictive that once you get absorbed in the world, you can't get enough. The anthology format also allows you to have a bit of a nibble every now and then, if you don't feel like reading that much at one time. The artwork is mostly great as well, especially when the colouring is spot on....more
I'm going to London in August (a girls' trip with mom; lots of pubs and food is expected), so I figured it would be fun to read a pile of books that aI'm going to London in August (a girls' trip with mom; lots of pubs and food is expected), so I figured it would be fun to read a pile of books that are about or set in the city. Advance travelling so to speak. It's something that I've never done before, and should get me even more excited about the trip.
My first choice turned out to be not so great, though. Five Hundred Buildings of London is not bad by any means, but for me it was just very uninspiring. The cropping of some of the photos is not always so great, and colour photos would have made the architectural details pop out, but now the buildings look very muted and boring. The structure's a bit off as well: if I wanted to find out more about a building, I had to flip back and forth between that page and the index at the end. That said, there are some interesting and fun tidbits, and some buildings I really want to see some day (like the pink Gothic building!). Overall, though, I wouldn't go out of my way to try and find the book....more
My only reason for picking this up was, of course, Joseph (here named John) 'Elephant Man' Merrick. I first became aware of him when I saw the heartbrMy only reason for picking this up was, of course, Joseph (here named John) 'Elephant Man' Merrick. I first became aware of him when I saw the heartbreaking Lynch movie, so naturally I couldn't miss a first-hand account from the doctor who took care of him. I didn't expect, however, the writing to be so vivid and engaging. I was fully prepared for dry-ish essays which would perhaps include a lot of medical details, but instead they are almost in a form of a short story.
There are twelve essays altogether. Treves mostly recounts his experiences with different patients and occasionally starts musing about varied things. Like with most collections, not all of the writings managed to keep me interested, but the overall quality was great.
The Receiving Room describes the age in the mid-19th century before ambulance service. The image is powerful: people who accompany the wounded move like a wave towards the London Hospital and have to be stopped by the porter, two drunken and brawling women covered in blood, one efficient nurse who can handle all kinds of things also likes swigs of gin now and then but is always extremely professional. The unhygienic conditions and the prevalence of sepsis make you grateful of the efforts of the 21st century.
A Cure for Nerves is the story of a woman in her own words, a woman whose situation was much too common back in the day. She is a neurotic woman. Her husband is unsympathetic. He claims her ailments are imaginary and that the illness is a grievance to himself. He's sick of her moanings, and that she's perfectly fine because he is fine (what a load of horseshit logic). All she has to do is pull herself together! He also humiliates her in front of their friends, so he's just an all-round perfect spouse. When she visits a doctor and later remembers the letter that he wrote to recommend her as a patient to another, she finds that in the letter the doctor completely undermines her. The beginning is incredibly depressing but eventually the woman is forced to face her fears and miraculously gets better. Not sure how I feel about that, but an interesting piece nevertheless.
Two Women continues with the sombre mood when Treves examines the traits of her female patients. One of them is a suburban woman who keeps her breast cancer a secret as long as she can to save her husband from grief. The other one is a Whitechapel woman, whose drunk husband beats her (but not much, because then she obviously wouldn't be able to earn a living and support her family). The husband ends up torching his wife during a heated argument, and just before she dies she claims it was an accident.
Now that I'm writing my review a couple of days after finishing the collection, I realize that there's a lot of sadness running through it. There is hope too, like when a patient recovers and personally comes to thank Treves for saving his life, but the melancholy that comes from death, injuries, and broken hearts can't be ignored.
A few times Treves goes into another direction entirely. For example, in one essay he describes a nightmare he once had in India (which reads like a proper horror story), and in another one he discusses the topic of afterlife and apparitions, and makes notes of astronomer Camille Flammarion's article "At the Moment of Death". It appears that Treves didn't believe in the supernatural, but instead leans towards thinking that apparitions don't appear to people that are healthy mentally and physically. He does admit, though, that a negative experience (not seeing anything that would confirm Flammarion's claims) is not an argument. He just simply hasn't seen anything yet.
Despite liking the other essays as well, the one I will remember forever is obviously The Elephant Man. Treves's attitude felt off-putting at first, since he doesn't shy away from constantly poking at Merrick's deformities, calling him "the most disgusting specimen of humanity" he had ever seen and "a perverted object". It's understandable that someone like Merrick might provoke a reaction of some kind from others, but it was uncomfortable to read it from Treves. The tone did change later, when Treves realized Merrick was actually a lot smarter than he seemed.
Never in all his life had Merrick anyone to talk to, but he longed for conversations. He also became an avid reader and ended up loving romances the most (he understood the type of Treves's house in the context of Jane Austen'sEmma). The one thing everyone should know about Joseph Merrick, though, is his child-like adoration of things that were taken for granted by others. He went into the theatre and treated everything he saw as something that belonged to the real world, and enjoyed everything he did very deeply. He burst into tears when he met the first woman who had ever smiled to him and shaken his hand.
There is undoubtedly embellishment in all of Treves's essays, and in The Elephant Man he makes it seem like Merrick was a prison of sorts in the Mile End shop, when in fact Merrick himself proposed the owner that he should be exhibited. Still, the core of the story is inspiring. Merrick was taken care of for the rest of his life (thanks to an abundance of donations from the public) and he learned to function in the society. It's unclear what people really thought about him (whether he was still considered an oddity or even a pet), but he seemed to enjoy himself.
His last wish was to see the countryside. The image of him sitting on a field in the sun and gathering violets... That will always be how I'll remember him.
"It would be reasonable to surmise that he would become a spiteful and malignant misanthrope, swollen with venom and filled with hatred of his fellow-men, or, on the other hand, that he would degenerate into a despairing melancholic on the verge of idiocy. Merrick, however, was no such being. He had passed through the fire and had come out unscathed. His troubles had ennobled him. He showed himself to be a gentle, affectionate and lovable creature, as amiable as a happy woman, free from any trace of cynicism or resentment, without a grievance and without an unkind word for anyone. I have never heard him complain. I have never heard him deplore his ruined life or resent the treatment he had received at the hands of callous keepers."...more
Poetry is a funny thing. I don't read a lot of it, and most of the time it remains elusive and hidden from all understanding. I have had better luck rPoetry is a funny thing. I don't read a lot of it, and most of the time it remains elusive and hidden from all understanding. I have had better luck recently, and clearly when a poem hits me, it hits me hard.
Coleridge. The language (which, admittedly, takes a bit of effort) has a rhythm that swallows you into the depth of the rumbling sea and covers you with the smell of salt. It sweeps you off your feet and makes you feel the weight of the albatross around your neck. The melody dances with the sea creatures and good spirits. When the sailors rise, it's time to go home, but the eeriness of the moment promises no happy ending. A ghost ship drenched in a slimy pale green colour is what I envisioned. A little too well for a 2am reading session.
What about the meaning of this all then? There are some obvious interpretations (one of them could not be spelled out more clearly at the end), and which one you choose might depend the most on what the poem makes you feel. I'd personally leave out the "albatross represents Christ" -thing altogether, because it ignores the overwhelming presence of nature.
I guess the conclusion we can draw from this is that I tend to be awestruck by poetry that moves me with its use of language and imagery, instead of being overly closed by metaphors and such....more
Anyone who browses my GR shelves won't fail to notice my love of classic cinema. The 250 Quintessential Noir Films -list in iCheckMovies is currentlyAnyone who browses my GR shelves won't fail to notice my love of classic cinema. The 250 Quintessential Noir Films -list in iCheckMovies is currently my life blood, so obviously I shrieked from joy when a blogger I follow recommended a film noir-inspired comic (she was actually used as a model for one of the characters, which is pretty neat). When the protagonist wakes up in a bath tub after a hard night of partying and finds a dead starlet in the living room, there's no doubt that you're in for a fun ride.
It was immediately clear that the authors have captured the genre's tone with incredible precision. A research assistant helped in maintaining the authenticity of 1940s L.A. with its twinkling lights, orange sunsets, and seedy back alleys, but reading the afterwords of each issue there's no doubt that the authors' enthusiasm for classic films and listening to 40s music while working helped a great deal as well.
Reading the comic is like following a movie: the voice-over à la Sunset Boulevard (1950), the rhythm of the text, and dialogue make up a very addicting mixture. When you combine all that with excellent art that plays with light and shadows like the best film noirs do, you get perfection. The art also has varying styles: some scenes depict vague memories as hazy forms surrounded by cigarette smoke, and some have the protagonist juxtaposed with a b&w background. These lend the story a sense of mystery and ambiguity, especially since the story appears to have a lot of subtlety. Because of that this will definitely handle multiple reads in the future.
On the other hand, the characters are believable in their noir surroundings. There are the usual archetypes of noir and hard-boiled fiction, but they don't feel at all clichéd or worn out. They might have been if the protanogist had been a private detective, but because he's a screenwriter the story immediately has more appeal. Some of the peripheral characters remind you of real people: the German expatriate director, the Montgomery Clift -look-a-like Tyler Graves etc. Even a few very real people make an appearance: Clark Gable's entrance came hilariously out of nowhere, Humphrey Bogart seems to pop up everywhere you go, and Bette Davis is mentioned as almost stabbing a creep with a nail file (makes total sense).
The articles at the end of each issue are also worth the read, despite that some of the topics have been dealt with millions of times before: Peg Entwistle, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Lana Turner vs. Johnny Stompanato, Jean Spangler, James Stewart, and Our Gang are all sharp peeks to the world of Tinseltown. For once I read the reader letters as well. Lots of great film and tv recommendations, and all coming from people who are passionate about old films....more