Month: March 2004


What to Do ‘Til the Essay Gets Done

(Soundtrack: Excuse 17–Such Friends Are Dangerous)

I’m supposed to be writing an essay on Archibald Lampman right now. I’m sure I’ll get to it, but for now I thought I would toss a few links at you good people…

1.David Allison’s Cakes & Money 2.0 is up and running! Right now he’s looking for positive reviews of Courtney Love’s America’s Sweetheart, and of course he has posted one of his own! Personally, I loved the album! And David, you might want to check out “Courtney Love:
While In My Gut the Creature Writhes and Snarls and Tells Me What I Need”, a great review by Tim Byrnes
, in which the author asks the poignant musical question: “Do (many) rock critics hate women?” I think the answer is pretty obvious…

2. Marc Singer discusses Jonnathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude, Rick Moody’s (& Ang Lee’s) The Ice Storm and the bronze age Fantastic Four. The post contains the immortal line: “Well done, Roy Thomas. Well done.” Look for it. This guy never disappoints!

3. If you haven’t already read Jim Henley’s Gaudy night: Superhero stories and our own at Brainwash, I suggest that you do so! And don’t neglect the comments–particularly Kip Manley’s important question:

With great power comes great ethical questions, yes: but must capes and masks and noms de guerre necessarily come along, too? It seems they must, to play by these rules. So why? And what do we lose by acquiescing? And what would we lose by breaking them?

To his credit, Kip doesn’t deny that there might be good answers to these questions. Although he does use the term “superhero apologists”, and I object to that. Quoth Dennis Hopper & Christopher Walken in Search and Destroy: “Don’t apologize. You don’t have to do that.” Anyway, my candidate for a viable explanation is that the superpowers (+ the costumes) serve as an “existential spotlight”… If these protagonists really are latter-day Puritan Saints and/or Antinomians, then it only makes sense that they would have to draw attention to themselves and their spiritual struggle. Calvinists are strange creatures: yes, they’re obsessed with individual morality and a relationship to God unmediated by social factors–and yet, for all intents and purposes, the “conversion” doesn’t happen until the “conversion narrative” is written and performed!

4.Alright, time to get back to Lampman!

He’s known as “Canada’s Greatest Nature Poet”–but luckily he’s more than that. You don’t have to like what you write about in academia, but it sure helps…


O differing human heart,
Why is it that I tremble when thine eyes,
Thy human eyes and beautiful human speech,
Draw me, and stir within my soul
That subtle and ineradicable longing
For tender comradeship?
Is it because I cannot all at once,
Through the half-lights and phantom-haunted mists
That separate and enshroud us life from life,
Discern the nearness and the strangeness of thy paths,
Nor plumb thy depths.
I am like one that comes alone at night
To a strange stream, and by an unknown ford
Stands, and for a moment yearns and shrinks,
Being ignorant of the water, though so quiet it is,
So softly murmurous,
So silvered by the familiar moon.

Good afternoon friends!


Guerillas in the Missives

(Soundtrack: Julie Ruin)

(Disclaimer: This post would’ve been much better if there were a greater variety of images available out there–but we work with what we’ve got here at Motime!)

It was doomed from the start.

Supergirl’s Daring New series, I mean.

Paul Kupperberg was on board, ready to move beyond the already excellent work he had done with the character in the underrated Superman Family. The “daring” part of the title referred to the fact that these stories would focus on a young woman’s “adventures” as an undergraduate psychology major at the University of Chicago. Kara’s super powers are not at all an end in themselves here, nor do they have anything to do with “empowerment”–as in all of the best exemplars of the genre, the powers serve as a kind of “existential spotlight” upon the protagonist. Superheroes are not about “good n’ evil” Tim!

The “origin story” is a Calvinist conversion experience–the subsequent issues are a record of the putatively “elect” recipient of grace’s spirititual struggle. And if anyone thinks that Puritanism is “Manichean”–I’m here to tell you that you’ve been doing too much Mencken! Take two sermons by John Cotton and get over yourself. The Puritans got “beyond good and evil” two hundred years before Nietzsche…

Ah, but how do you shine a spotlight on a person without fetishizing them? It isn’t as easy it sounds–unless you’ve got artists like Carmine Infantino & Bob Oskner on hand to create a look for the protagonist that is somehow warm, dynamic, and yet, because of its “defamiliarizing” angularity and triumphant rejection of basic anatomy, also wax-proofed against hormonal immersion! I think that this is crucial in a medium like comic books. I’m not a big fan of that “male gaze” nonsense about classical Hollywood, chiefly because I think Barbara Stanwyck refutes this theory all by herself, anytime she looks at you (or speaks!):

However, female characters in comics cannot signify their agency with their eyes, gestures, or voices and I think it does make a lot of sense to apply the “patriarchal camera-eye” critique in this case.

But Infantino & Oskner’s Kara is a personality. A true subject.

Here’s a scan of a page I found from issue #19:

Unfortunately, before she even gets off the ground, she’s buried beneath this Barbie Doll debut cover by Buckler & Giordano:

Issue #1 is entitled “A Very Strange and Special Girl”. I would say that, while the interior artwork (which I couldn’t find anywhere on the net) emphasizes the “special” and “strange” part of the equation, the cover (and, by implication, the marketing strategy) focuses squarely on the “girl” (a far more egregious offender, in this regard, is the cover for issue #13, by Hannigan & Giordano, which features an airbrushed Kara on the moon, heavily made-up around the eyes, sporting her brand-new mini-skirt, and striking a Britney-pose beneath ol’ glory… I wish I could show this one to you, but you’ll just have to imagine it! I think it’s also pretty significant that the “daring new adventures of” was shorn away from the title in #13).

Infantino didn’t get a chance to do a cover until issue #17, and by then the series was already dead (they let it run until #23, hoping that the buzz from the upcoming “Major Motion Picture” would generate some interest in the title–it didn’t…)

The lettercols dramatize the gap between the creators’ ambitions and the expectations the release of a Supergirl book was likely to arouse at that time. Many letters praise the stylized artwork while expressing concern that it is driving readers away. Implicit in this is the idea that a comic book about a female superhero must be capable of doubling as an aid to an adolescent boy’s sex-fantasy life–and there certainly aren’t any letters (a la She-Hulk) from dorks asking for this protagonist’s phone number!

Many readers deplore the fact that the artwork isn’t “mature” enough–by which they they mean that Kara, as drawn, isn’t “sexy”. Never count out the power of wishful thinking, though. A year into the proceedings, some people evidently decided that they couldn’t justify buying the book unless they pretended that Infantino’s stylings were becoming more accessible to appropriation by the male gaze. Think I’m kidding?

In issue #18, Charles D. Brown praises #14 for “Infantino’s more adult art, in which dear Supergirl actually looked sexy for the first time in 14 issues.”

In the same issue, Robert Hagiwara opines that “Carmine and Bob seem to be falling into a more mature mood, which suits Linda and Supergirl much better…”

Frankly, I don’t see it… Are they referring to the mini-skirt?

Meanwhile, Dorothy Lyra Joyce wishes that Infantino would stop: “making Kara look as if she’s slightly hunchbacked: and she’s so short-waisted and has hips so large for someone who is (now being drawn) so waspishly waisted.”

Yep. She looks strange all right.

I wish I had more time to devote to this (I also wish I had all of the issues of the series–I seem to be missing a bunch! I used to have them. I don’t know what happened!)

Good Afternoon Friends!



(Soundtrack: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers– Greatest Hits)

Johnny Bacardi was right–Milk Plus is an incredible site! Sure enough, one of their panelists has a great essay up about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Nietzsche’s concept of the “eternal recurrence”. As you probably know, I’m kind of a contrarian, but I am thrilled to be part of this consensus… It’s an epoch-making film!

In other news, I’m done with Lillian S. Robinson’s Wonder Women… It wasn’t bad–it’s a very engaging read–but it certainly wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s very much in the “superheroes as (potential) empowerment fantasy” camp… I think Robinson really misses the boat by spending so much time on Byrne’s asinine Sensational She-Hulk and none at all on Infantino’s Spider-Woman and Daring New Adventures of Supergirl! (I would tell her so myself tonight–she’s giving a talk at our University–but I’m working and I can’t get out of it, goddamnit!)

The author laments that instead of “teaching that sisterhood is powerful… [this series teaches] that power is powerful, and power is most often modified with super” (104). More importantly, Robinson is unhappy with the character as an examplar of “third sex” pseudo-feminism that doesn’t do real women any good (“She-Hulk’s feminism is so one of a kind that she does not–cannnot–share her strength with other women and therefore empower them”) Well no kidding! This is John Byrne after all…

Of course, I’m dead-set against this construction of the genre anyway–and I think Robinson’s work makes my case for me! Good superhero stories deal with existential or epistemological issues…not socio-political ones. In the final analysis, Wonder Women can’t do anything but hearken back to the golden age of Moulton’s Amazons…and it’s significant that Robinson cringes whenever she has to discuss the fact that Diana left her feminist niche for the great wide world and had to adopt a mousy secret-identity.

More understandably, she also deplores the fan reaction to Byrne’s She-Hulk:

the She-Mail letters from fans–most of them presenting themselves as terminally horny adolescent boys–provide monthly reinforcement of the notion that Shulkie, as she is nicknamed, is not only the top female in comics, but also the most desirable woman on (at least) this planet.

Yep. That’s gross. In the final analysis, She-Hulk is way more of a Madonna than a Corin Tucker, Carrie Beownstein, or Kathleen Hanna (or Courtney Love, for that matter), and that is a shame…

But see, this is why I’m so much more interested in Infantino’s female superheroes. If Robinson had read those letters pages, she would have seen that those same fans were writing in to complain: “what the fuck man!, where’re the curves you bastard! I can’t even jerk off to these comics. You mean I’m supposed to treat these women as subjects instead of objects? Quit messin’ with my head!”

As far as I’m concerned, subjectivity-for-all is the only true feminism… This sisterhood nonsense is a creepy throwback to the Harem.

I’d better go now, but I’ll type up a few of those letters later tonight, just to show you what I mean…
Good day friends!



Movie Movie

Okay so I’m starting to locate some film blogs!

You got yer Masked Movie Snobs (these guys even have a philosophy!); you got Howard Owens (who appreciates the magnificence of In A Lonely Place and thus has instantly earned my respect); then there’s John Lars Ericson (whose nominees for Greatest Films of all-time are basically the antithesis of mine–he’s a Kubrickian & clearly not a fan of screwball–but hey, that’s cool…); and that’s just the beginning!

On a related note: Aaron Haspel breaks out master-Blaster Wyndham-Lewis in support of Terry Teachout’s assault on the sham that is Charlie Chaplin’s reputation! Teachout also gets in some good jabs at James Agee’s overrated film criticism! All I can say is: “me three!” Seriously, there’s nothing behind Agee’s anti-bourgeois sneer…he’s completely lost: those aren’t reviews, they’re cries for help out of the bottom of a solipsistic well! Oddly enough, this same quality is what makes Let Us Now Praise Famous Men so damned fascinating!

And I’ve joined! I kicked things off with modified versions of my posts on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and It’s A Wonderful Life

Back to comics tomorrow!

Good night friends!


Don’t mind me…

Archibald Lampman has a full-nelson on my brain right now; however, should you be less preoccupied, here are some good places to visit:

Johnny Bacardi thinks we’ve all been way too hard on Byrne & Claremont for the very human sin of getting old and running out of ideas–and I quite agree…

Good review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (he seems to love it as much as I do, and that’s saying something!) at El Bicho’s Hive, a movie blog which I’ll add to my roll as soon as I post this!

H at The Comic Treadmill is now plowing through the seventies All-Star Comics run–praising the Giffen/Wood art and taking some (well-earned) jabs at Gerry Conway’s inability to plot a team book along the way… H also admits to deriving olfactory gratification from old comic books–as a fellow old-newsprint fetishist, I’m happy to hear someone speak the name of this forbidden love… let’s hope it does some good!

Also–let’s all hope that the good people at Peiratikos haven’t been driven from the blogosphere by the unjustified invective that was spewed in their direction last week…

Finally–Steven (“go ahead and call me Steve–I might even prefer it…”) Wintle is sick, and that’s not right… Get better man!

Good afternoon friends!



Hail Vernal Equinox!

My title speaks for itself, I believe… it’s taken from a piece by the wonderful Robert Benchley, one the finest humorists of the 20th century! Did you know that there’s a Robert Benchley Society? Of course you do, if you just read that last sentence!

Okay, I have to go now! In the meantime, I encourage you to take a look at Bruce Baugh’s spiritual autobiography/film list (that’s what Rick Geerling & I are calling these things!) and contribute one of your own.

Also, I’m much obliged to the people taking part in this discussion on the Comics Journal Messageboard for leading me to The Life of Reilly, a massive website devoted to exploring the ramifications and inanities of the equally massive (& inane?) Spider-Clone storyline that Marvel threw up in the mid-nineties… I’ve never read any of these, and, frankly, my obsession with the seventies issues that provide the backstory is completely Gwen Stacy-based… Am i really me? is not a question that interests me… Are you really you? Now that’s a question worth asking!

Still, I’m gonna plow through this site over the next couple of days, because I’ve got a lot to say about ASM #139-151 in the months ahead, and I don’t want to be in the dark any longer about the later permutations of the Jackal’s charade! Join me, won’t you?

Hope it isn’t snowing where you are!



Speaking of Movies!

Well, Rick Geerling got into the act, offering up a very interesting top 35 over at his blog yesterday (he’s got two–very different–Capra films on there, alongside The Muppet Movie and Rock n’ Roll High School!) Also, Steven Wintle is discussing films of a very different sort–it’s not the Warner Bros. I’ve been obsessed with for years, but I’m certainly interested in learning more about how the other half was living on the Burbank lot!!–I hope Steven does more of this (and all of the Cerebus I’ve been reading lately has me wishing for a big post on Foghorn Leghorn!)

Also, yesterday’s comment-thread was particularly rewarding, I think!

Continuing on the movie-front:

Christine & I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tonight, and I have to say, I really loved it! It’s not like I’ve been a Kaufman fan all along either–I thought Being John Malkovich was amusing, but I never want to see it again; and I hated Adaptation with an Elaine-vs-The English Patient fervor! Anyway, this one’s completely different–no stale swipes at Hollywood genres, no kvetching about the problems writers face when they have to “compromise”, just a fascinating plunge into the related problems of memory and character-as-destiny… I don’t want to say too much about the film, ’cause I’m sure a lot of you will want to see it!

I can tell you that it’s very much in the “Punch-Drunk-In-Translation” vein, with the added benefit that here the social environment doesn’t even have to be “surrealized”, because we know from the start that most of these events are taking place inside a person’s brain… The film does a wonderful job of conveying a real sense of the “heteroglossia” that maturing writers strive for–memories of loved ones become reified chunks of otherness within the mind, paving the way for an infinite array of possible recombinations, the best of which have the substantiality of actual relationships! That’s creativity folks!

Despite the tagline, this really isn’t another kick at the innocence vs. experience can… My favourite scene features Carrey & Winslet (who are both excellent) wandering through an empty, darkened building on the beach, testing each other… It looked and sounded so much like a haunted house scene that I gestured toward/buried at the core of Darkling I Listen that I guess I’m prejudiced in its favour–but forget about that! You get a brilliant dramatization here of the only real power that we possess: the ability to look at ourselves… Who’s doing the looking? Who’s under the microscope? Who knows? But you know you can do it, and that’s all that matters, right? The ability to accept. It’s the only possible basis for human equality, and it’s good enough for me… Rationalization is self-inflicted brain-damage… I’m telling you, this movie is (quietly) thrilling… Especially if you know and love Dieterle’s Portrait of Jennie! I want to go see it again next week, and i think Christine does too!

Man am I tired! I’m not sure if this made any sense at all!

Good night friends



Hawks & Dave

(Soundtrack: The Replacements–Tim)

{n.b.–I just added another 20 films to the “favourites” list below, although I still couldn’t find a place for David Salle’s Search & Destroy (see comments)}

Ask and ye shall receive. Somehow, I just knew that The Forager was a Hawksian! On the matter of Citizen Kane vs. The Maltese Falcon, JW says, basically, they’re both good, and Falcon tells a more meaningful story, but The Big Sleep is much better than either of them (this is similar to my own response, except that I would stash It’s A Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, or The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp behind door number 3…)

I won’t deny that Hawks is a fascinating guy, and it’s crazy how he managed to tell the same story over and over again, in just about every genre you can think of, and almost always in an outrageously entertaining way! But I guess he’s too concerned with human action (as opposed to perception) to fully ensnare me in his project. The Big Sleep is a perfect example of this–I mean, it’s a great movie, but, frankly, it doesn’t have much to do with Chandler… I’m sure some people think that’s a good thing, and the fact that both Murder, My Sweet and The Lady in the Lake come closer to approximating the worldview of the original novels doesn’t make them better films… Still, it’s an amazing thing to watch the director contort Philip Marlowe into a Hawksian man-of-action…

I’m not sure how clear this post is–but what it boils down to is this: in a Hawks film, you never wonder what a character is thinking, you wonder what he/she will do. This is the antithesis of Capra/Borzage/Dieterle/Cassavettes, where feeling/perception is the whole show. And getting back to The Forager–I think it makes sense that a person who loves Kirby’s work as much as JW does would also love Hawks! There really is no way to make a judgment about this stuff. When you get to this level of technical virtuosity and artistic maturity, it’s all about whose worldview dovetails more closely with your own!

What do the rest of you think?

Is there a film-based equivalent of the comics blogosphere?

It doesn’t seem like it. I mean, sure, we all review a movie occasionally, but I haven’t found much in the way of a dedicated community of film bloggers. Yes, there’s Michael’s Movie Palace, which I read religiously, but that’s kind of an hermetically-sealed affair. Michael doesn’t engage in the kind of cross-blog discussions that I’ve come to cherish in the past half year. I wonder why this is? The IMDB messageboards are certainly a hotbed of activity. Don’t any of those folks have blogs?

Maybe I’m outta my tree, but I just tend to assume that anyone who loves comics must also love movies–the two forms are so linked in my mind. I may love Hawthorne, Hammett, Melville, and Dickens, but I don’t go to them when I’m actually writing–my creative binges have always been fuelled by coffee, Capra and Spider-Man (along with Keats, Shelley, & Frank O’Hara…)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to prod my fellow comics-bloggers to discuss their own favourite films. Would we detect a connection between their preferences? Or do most people operate on one wavelength at the theatre, and a completely different one at the comic store? Do comic book fans tend to like animation more than the average person? (I don’t want to offend anyone, but to this point in my life animation has always left me cold!)

Sean Collins did some wonderful stuff back in October on horror films, and I’d love to see more of that kind of thing around the web!

We all know that Top 30 lists are pretty useless, and I’ve only got about 10 minutes to come up with one, but they have been known, occasionally, to generate discussion… Let’s see if this one does (there’s no real order here & I’ll try not to double up on directors!):

1.Capra–It’s A Wonderful Life/Bitter Tea

2.Powell & Pressburger–Life & Death of Colonel Blimp

3.Coppola–Lost In Translation

4.Anderson–Punch-Drunk Love

5.Stevens–Alice Adams/Swing Time

6.Dieterle–The Devil and Daniel Webster/Portrait of Jennie


8.Cassavettes–Minnie & Moskowitz

9.Huston–The Maltese Falcon

10.LeRoy–I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang

11.Sturges–Sullivan’s Travels

12.LaCava–Stage Door

13.Sam Wood–Kings Row

14.Ray–In A Lonely Place

15.Scorsese–After Hours

16.Dmytryk–Crossfire/Murder, My Sweet

17.Walsh–The Strawberry Blonde

18.Curtiz–Mildred Pierce

19.Wyler–These Three

20.Ben Hecht–Angels Over Broadway

21.Mayo–The Petrified Forest

22.Negulesco–Three Strangers

23.Siodmak–The Killers

24.F.F. Coppola–Peggy Sue Got Married

25.Rudolph–Mrs. Parker & The Vicious Circle

26.K. Vidor–Stella Dallas

27.Milestone–The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

28.Rossen–Body & Soul

29.McCarey–The Awful Truth

30.Hitchcock–Shadow of A Doubt

How does that list tally with a preference for Grant Morrison, Ditko, Dave Sim, Mark Gruenwald and the Gwen Stacy Clone Saga?

I’m too close to it. I can’t tell!

Good night friends!


morning addendum–maybe that should have been a top 50, because I’d like to add these:

31.Coens–Miller’s Crossing

32.Gillian Armstrong–Little Women

33.Welles–Touch of Evil

34.Hawks–Bringing Up Baby


36.Lubitsch–The Shop Around the Corner

37.Ramis–Groundhog Day


39.Kazan–A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


41.Montgomery–The Lady in the Lake

42.Minnelli–The Clock

43.Hanson–Wonder Boys

44.Leisen–Remember The Night

45.Zwigoff–Ghost World

46.Wes Anderson–Royal Tenenbaums

47.Andre de Toth–Pitfall

48.Dahl–The Last Seduction

49.Cuaron–Great Expectations

50.Woody Allen–Manhattan

Okay! I feel a little better now!



Heartily Recommended!

I suggest you all check out Marcus Singer’s new blog–I Am Not the Beastmaster. He’s off to a great start, posting on Spidey Super-Stories, Cockrum’s second stint on The Uncanny (get the joke, Freud fans?), and The Alan Alda school of super-hero team writing! Here’s a quotation from that last piece:

There is, in fact, something oddly liberal about all this emotiveness, but only in the way that conservatives have turned liberalism into a perjorative (and a deeply inaccurate one) – and since I’m a fan of liberals who roll up their sleeves, tackle poverty and Depression and racism and sexual discrimination and pop Hitler one in the jaw while they’re at it, I find that this caring, sharing stuff bothers me precisely because it breathes a little life into the lie, because it helps conservatives to confuse the political goals and ideals (and impressive achievements) of liberalism with the fairly ephemeral popular culture that emerged in the decade of its decline.

Wonderful, no?

Also, John Commonplacebook doesn’t blog much about comics, but whenever he does, it’s always a treat (which is not to say it isn’t a treat when he writes about how dreadfully overrated Saul Bellow is, or The Passion of Caviezel–he’s always good!). Anyway, today he’s discussing Morrison’s run on The New X-Men, and it’s great. I wish I had something to contribute, but I just haven’t been able to get my hands on these… Oh well, later on this year, I’m planning to read Morrison’s entire oeuvre, but until then, I’ll have to content myself with the fascinating criticism that his work has generated. Such as:

Despite the drone of anti-superhero, anti-mainstream pygmies, Morrison has used a corporate super-hero vehicle to humanize his vision, to show us compassion and love at their thrilling work of resisting the antibodies of evil, to map a new world in which evil itself cannot be defined as the alien to be destroyed because it is the part of the self that must be mastered. With considerably more intelligence than his literal-minded detractors, he bends a corporation and its low standards to his own good will; with more grace and courage than most of his contemporaries in high and low art, he aims to redefine evil, life and love and to generally increase the amount of understanding and kindness in the world. He is a radical in the etymological sense, paring away all the accrued meaning to find its root in our primary circumstance of existing as a self in relation to others–and nowhere is this radicalism more apparent than in his criminally underappreciated dialogue, which eschews mere naturalism to acquire a sometimes breathtaking terse lyrical eloquence. He believes some strange things and he writes little colored pamphlets subsidized by the consolidating colossuses that bring us war and disinformation, but his business is information and peace, and our dirty money is better spent on his pamphlets than on many of the hardcover novels put out by the same colossuses. New X-Men is one of the new century’s great works of art.

I can well believe it.

I bid you good day friends!


Looking For Blithedale?

(Soundtrack: Sheryl Crow–The Globe Sessions)

Since I installed a stat counter, I’ve discovered that, more often than not, when a Googler from outside of the comics blogosphere stumbles across this site, they were led here by a quest for information on Hawthorne’s masterpiece, The Blithedale Romance! Actually, BR is running neck and neck for the title of top keyword reference with “Subbluecollar” and various formulations of the question “how do I make a synthetic woman?”! Now, I don’t want to help the second group, and, sadly, I don’t have any news for the first–except that I love Subbluecollar (especially “Photo Booth”) and I wish they’d come back… they were poised to inherit the mantle of the Pixies, and I don’t understand what happened!

However, I do have an essay on Hawthorne’s novel to offer, “The Extremities Die First: Sympathy and the Sublime in The Blithedale Romance–I’ve just posted it over at PleaseMo’. Looking it over, I’m not very happy with the piece, but it’s not easy to write about your favourite work of art–I’ve read Blithedale about ten times in the past five years, and I love it for different reasons every time. I’m obsessed with the book, but can never quite get a fix on it–that’s greatness, as far as I’m concerned…
Anyway, the novel I’m currently working on is, in large part, my attempt to ambush Hawthorne on his own home turf (prose fiction), and I’m much happier with it than any of the critical work I’ve done on Blithedale… That said, if you’re out there and you’re writing a paper on the book, I hope you’ll find something of interest in “Extremities”… At least you know the enthusiasm is there!

Also–everyone go read Tim O’Neil’s Cerebus piece–it merits your attention, even if you, like me, haven’t read the whole series! Then come back and check out what I had to say to Christopher Butcher late last night! (and then go ask Sean Collins to elaborate on why Citizen Kane is indisputably superior to The Maltese Falcon–I think we’re due for some more Collins film-blogging anyway! Perhaps we could get The Forager to opine on this matter too?)

Good day friends!