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Showing posts from September, 2015

After-Dinner Conversation: Thoughts on Hannibal

Two years ago, writing after the end of Hannibal's first season, I called the show a rich but ultimately unsatisfying feast.  I admired a lot about Bryan Fuller's take on Thomas Harris's novels and their sadistic, cannibalistic central character: its use of visuals and music to set an almost oppressively dreamlike tone, its willingness to flout the conventions of good storytelling, its clever reinvention and reuse of the central set-pieces of Harris's novels.  But at the end of its first season, I still didn't have a strong sense of what Hannibal wanted to be, what story it wanted to tell.  The show seemed to be having far too much fun staging gruesome tableaux of murder victims and letting its demonic title character (played with a perfect dry mischievousness by Mads Mikkelsen) pull the wool over all the other characters' eyes.  What it wanted to achieve with any of those elements, what emotion it wanted to evoke, was utterly unclear to me.

Two years later, wi…

Recent Reading Roundup 38

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For a number of reasons, I found myself neglecting my literary fiction reading in the first half of 2015.  I tend to bounce back and forth between litfic and genre--too much of the mimetic stuff and I find myself longing for something about more than a few people and their emotional issues; too much SF or fantasy and I end up wishing for something more concrete to hold on to.  So this last month I've been indulging in the "respectable" end of the literary spectrum (not all of the books below are properly litfic, but most of them are marketed that way), and, unsurprisingly, finding the same mixture of good and bad there that I do in genre.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North - There was some surprise when North's novel ended up on this year's Clarke shortlist.  Or, at least, there was on my part, because the plot description for Harry August, in which a British man experiences his life during the middle decades of the 20th century again and agai…