Archive for May, 2007

If I could, I’d do no writing at all here …

May 27, 2007

So I’m currently reading this – James Agee Rediscovered: The Journals of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Other New Manuscripts, (Lofaro, Michael A., and Hugh Davis, eds.), and unlike many “Journals of …” collections I have read, this one only deepens my affinity for the author, rather than diminishing it (I’m looking at you, F. Scott). Let Us Now Praise Famous Men has long been one of my absolute favorite works, one of those feats of writing that have profound impact and insight, and I’ve always wanted to get a clearer picture of Agee before, during, and after his experience. I think the reason I have such high regard for the book isn’t so much the way it shows me what is good writing, but rather the way it shows me what it means to be a good writer. My point is that I had high expectations for the journals, and so far it delivers. It also makes me fantasize about throwing all my energies into being an Agee scholar; there aren’t too many out there, and sadly Let Us Now Praise Famous Men isn’t a staple of a literature curriculum. It isn’t passed up completely, but still, I feel like A Death In The Family gets too much academic attention and isn’t near as rich. While I give kudos to the editors for selecting the journal entries as they relate to the title work (as will later volumes for Death In The Family and so forth), I think my obsession with Agee has reached the same level as Shelley, so I want to see everything he ever wrote down, because everything feels relevant and related. Facsimile edition, here we come. Until then, I’ll have to settle for this, but that’s okay. For now.

excuse the mess

May 25, 2007

I’m in the middle of restructuring, and merging posts from other places, and all sorts of other related wastes of time and energy. So, sorry for the sparsity and lack of zip right now. Check back soon – I should have more old and newer posts from my scattered assortment of blogs back up. 

The Other Side

May 25, 2007

This week’s comics includes a great collected trade from Vertigo you should check out: The Other Side, written by Jason Aaron with art by Cameron Stewart. While I’ve always had a soft spot for comics like The Nam or Vietnam War Journal, the latter of those was probably my favorite for its more unflinching depiction of war and the characters’ knee-deep-in-it placement.  While I’ll always applaud Marvel for even putting out The Nam, I always felt like too many issues left the devastation in the background, in the form of explosions on the horizon with characters reflecting back on it from their safe distance.  That and the Punisher cameo.  When I found Apple’s Vietnam War Journal, it seemed a much more intense and authentic experience – it wasn’t a Marvel comic, so you knew someone was going to die and stay dead; hell, it was in black-and-white – anything goes.  Anyway, let me get to the point before I further digress into my criticisms and verbose rants (insert trademark symbol).  It’s been many years since either of those books have seen print, and – as far as my memory serves – the comic shelves haven’t seen a war comic in quite some time, aside from a handful of Ennis titles.  So it was a pleasant surprise to see Vertigo putting out this mini-series last year; even more so that it was good, damn good.

Jason Aaron is related to the late author Gus Hasford (The Short Timers, among others, which became Full Metal Jacket), and it was nice to see that unforgettably great phrases like “get ready to run like a bald-headed chicken fucker” run in the family.   In fact, one of the great things about this title is the superb balance of good dialogue and resonating imagery.  Whether it be talking rats taking dibs on a young private’s eyes when he dies, ghastly uniformed skeletons in the chopper waiting to land with everyone else on board, or heaps of bodies unceremoniously populating the setting, the line between the “real” and the “unreal” becomes moot in war, and they are both just as haunting.  Cameron Stewart is a good asset to Aaron’s script as well, and his art delivers the same “damn-creepy” factor which I liked in some of his past work, like Seaguy.

If you missed the mini-series, pick up this newly released trade; it is not your typical Vietnam War story, and while that is one of its greatest strengths, it is such an engaging read that even the most rigid advocates of formulaic plot will have trouble not enjoying it.  Yes, even you die-hard Marvel people (sorry, I couldn’t resist).  While you’re at the comic shop, look for Aaron’s newest from Vertigo, Scalped.  It is just as good, and I’ll have a post for it later.  Trust me, Captain America will come back, Superman will still fly, and The Crisis of 52 Infinite Civil Wars will come and go and come back again and again, and you won’t be missing too much by passing on those and instead trying out something new.  Who knows, when it’s done this well, you may never go back to tights and capes again.  Besides, Steve Rogers never had dialogue as good as “I’m ready for death … and yonder the fucker comes.”

The Other Side

May 24, 2007

This week’s comics includes a great collected trade from Vertigo you should check out: The Other Side, written by Jason Aaron with art by Cameron Stewart. While I’ve always had a soft spot for comics like The Nam or Vietnam War Journal, the latter of those was probably my favorite for its more unflinching depiction of war and the characters’ knee-deep-in-it placement.  While I’ll always applaud Marvel for even putting out The Nam, I always felt like too many issues left the devastation in the background, in the form of explosions on the horizon with characters reflecting back on it from their safe distance.  That and the Punisher cameo.  When I found Apple’s Vietnam War Journal, it seemed a much more intense and authentic experience – it wasn’t a Marvel comic, so you knew someone was going to die and stay dead; hell, it was in black-and-white – anything goes.  Anyway, let me get to the point before I further digress into my criticisms and verbose rants (insert trademark symbol).  It’s been many years since either of those books have seen print, and – as far as my memory serves – the comic shelves haven’t seen a war comic in quite some time, aside from a handful of Ennis titles.  So it was a pleasant surprise to see Vertigo putting out this mini-series last year; even more so that it was good, damn good.

Jason Aaron is related to the late author Gus Hasford (The Short Timers, among others, which became Full Metal Jacket), and it was nice to see that unforgettably great phrases like “get ready to run like a bald-headed chicken fucker” run in the family.   In fact, one of the great things about this title is the superb balance of good dialogue and resonating imagery.  Whether it be talking rats taking dibs on a young private’s eyes when he dies, ghastly uniformed skeletons in the chopper waiting to land with everyone else on board, or heaps of bodies unceremoniously populating the setting, the line between the “real” and the “unreal” becomes moot in war, and they are both just as haunting.  Cameron Stewart is a good asset to Aaron’s script as well, and his art delivers the same “damn-creepy” factor which I liked in some of his past work, like Seaguy.

If you missed the mini-series, pick up this newly released trade; it is not your typical Vietnam War story, and while that is one of its greatest strengths, it is such an engaging read that even the most rigid advocates of formulaic plot will have trouble not enjoying it.  Yes, even you die-hard Marvel people (sorry, I couldn’t resist).  While you’re at the comic shop, look for Aaron’s newest from Vertigo, Scalped.  It is just as good, and I’ll have a post for it later.  Trust me, Captain America will come back, Superman will still fly, and The Crisis of 52 Infinite Civil Wars will come and go and come back again and again, and you won’t be missing too much by passing on those and instead trying out something new.  Who knows, when it’s done this well, you may never go back to tights and capes again.  Besides, Steve Rogers never had dialogue as good as “I’m ready for death … and yonder the fucker comes.”