Flannery O’Connor’s masterpiece of Southern gothic, Wise Blood, received an unusually effective film treatment. It probably had a lot to do with the cantankerous John Huston helming it, someone with enough weight to throw around to keep it cleaving to the same dark vision that inspired it. For those who sneer at “literary” it might be good to remind you that the first chapter initially came to life as her master’s thesis and other portions of it drew on stories first published in Mademoiselle, Sewanee Review, and Partisan Review.
Huston’s 1979 film scores with a fantastic cast: no one could capture the strangeness of Hazel Motes like Brad Dourif. I can’t find the name of the actress who played Leora Watts, but she fearlessly capture the role. Of course Harry Dean Stanton and Amy Wright as the preacher and his Sabbath Lily shine. Ned Beatty and William Hickey — and of course Huston as the fire-and-brimstone grandfather who messes up Hazel in the first place.
I caught this just before leaving Ireland; I hadn’t seen it many years but it was just as good as I remembered and even more chilling. The strangeness of Dan Schor’s Enoch Emory has a wistfulness that my younger self overlooked, a terrible heartbreak and loneliness.
The finale of the film can’t quite catch the uncanniness of the novel, but it does an amazing job with adapting a complex and strange book. “No man with a good car needs to be justified.” Coming from Michigan, that phrase had even more resonance for me. It speaks to the dream of mobility and freedom that the car industry sold in the lush times of consumer dreams in the post-war era — while papering over those atrocities. They came out in strange ways sometimes, as they did for Hazel Motes. Look it up, and enjoy a little trip with “the Church of Christ Without Christ. Where the blind can’t see, the lame don’t walk, and the dead stay that way.”
Check out the round up of worthies over at Todd‘s.
Available now! Let me know if you want it signed and/or personalised. In case you need a refresher on the subject matter:
A gothic novel of mystery, romance, and pockets. Follow cousins Alice and Lizzie as they are kidnapped from Lord Mangrove’s funeral cortege, spirited away by highwaymen, then sold to nefarious seamen until they’re captured by pirates without so much as an improving book to read!
A nice surprise awaited me when I got home tonight, thanks to my neighbour who must have met the FedEx deliverer. Usually they just ring the doorbell that doesn’t work and then leave.
It’s always a lovely feeling to open a box full of your books. Stella’s lovely cover looks good in print, too. I will put up links for you to buy signed author copies. I should do that with Unikirja as well, as I’ve got a couple copies of that as well. I don’t know if Tease will be selling copies or making them available at a third party site.
This makes up for the wretched day I wasted trying to have a yard sale in 100° weather (no, it was not a success). But it did motivate me to clear out more — or at least prepare it for clearing. Baby steps, perhaps, but making progress.
I started out the day purposefully: I got a needed oil change, ran to the store and then came to campus. There things began to bog down a bit, not only because there was a lot of email to get to and a call from the Dean but then there was the printer not working. I haven’t bought new ink for my printer at home, so I’ve generally relied on the printer here on campus. When we got new printers and a whole new print admin system, I was the only one who never had a problem printing. Everyone else was screaming for blood because of course they decided to change the system at the beginning of the semester. So I’ve taken advantage of the one colleague in the building to have him print a couple of emergency things and will hope the Mac guy gets around to me soon.
Yes, we have one person in IT who’s competent in Macs. We have (last I knew) over 200 Macs on campus. And you wonder why our last Mac person quit to go to Skidmore where she has fewer headaches and more pay… oh, that’s right. No wonder at all.
Kit Marlowe’s The Mangrove Legacy will be available from All Romance Ebooks on December 15th! You can get The Big Splash there now (as well as at Noble Romance and Amazon).
21st Century Gothic will be printed on my birthday 🙂 though it won’t be available until 2011.
I just got word that my presentation “Bringing a Medieval Woman to Life” (about writing a play on the life of Christina of Markyate) got accepted for the Great Writing Conference in London next June. Looking forward to that. I’m also considering a conference in Akureyri, Iceland as well. We shall see. Yeah, don’t remind me of that note which says “Just say no!” I am (on the whole) doing less. Well, less of some things. Combining things, too, seems helpful (work that does double duty). But yeah, it remains the case that there is so little time, and so much to do!
I just received a copy of the cover of the new collection 21st Century Gothic which features my essay on Graham Joyce’s [AKA William Heaney’s] Memoirs of a Master Forger. It was one of those projects that comes out of the blue and then — typical for me anyway — I forget all about it and am pleasantly surprised to be reminded again. I had actually overlooked the deadline in the midst of all the tenure folderol and was tempted to beg off the project, but Danel convinced me to give it a go and I have to say I’m very glad I did. I look forward to reading the rest of the collection.
Speaking of forgetting: most of you know how I hate to let anything go to waste, writing-wise. Ages ago (yes, years) I wrote a gruesomely funny little short story called “Touched by an Angel” that I had accepted for publication and then promptly forgot. Yes, the vintage is clear from the title; I’m hoping somewhere the show is still living on in syndication. Anyhoo, eventually I realised that it had not appeared, so I looked into it and found that the magazine had folded, so off it went elsewhere.
Lather, rinse, repeat. That’s the nature of publishing. Almost everything can find a home eventually, I suppose. You just have to find the editor who wants it. It’s always a tricky thing for me as I have an annoying habit of mixing together things that don’t belong together according to conventional wisdom. So at last “Touched by an Angel” appears in Kalkion, an on-line publication. Do drop by and read it or at least tweet or Facebook it (even if you don’t read it, it helps). If you like funny and gruesome, you’ll enjoy it.
I need to write up the WONDERFUL backstage tour I had of the National Theatre and the production of Terence Rattigan’s After the Dance I saw there afterward, but I have a matinée of Women Beware Women there this afternoon, so it will probably have to wait. I did finally get to the British Library to renew my card and do a little work, so more of that likely to happen as well — it’s not all idleness!
Have you checked out The Mangrove Legacy recently? I only ask because I am thinking about the end of it. It will take some weeks yet, of course, but I can see the resolution now and I am also contemplating polishing it up to send off to one or two places. Like everything I do (apparently) it doesn’t quite fit into a neat marketing niche. But who knows? The lazy way of novel writing — for those of you who say you want to write but just can’t find the time — this story is up over 90,000 words now.
All it takes is patience and 500 words or so a week. It’s really not so much: just persistence and commitment.
So many things require the same; we worry about the big issues and agonize over decisions, but much of our life results from the simple steps — and continuing to make them. I am always reminding myself of this. It’s worth doing.