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Karim Ghahwagi (Karim)
Username: Karim

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 83.93.30.31
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 12:31 am:   

I grabbed Thomas Harris' novel RED DRAGON off the shelf again yesterday. I think it is the third time I've read this and still it is just impossible to put down. You don't feel cheated either, i.e. short chapters don't always end with dumb cliff hangars etc. This is as close as one can get to a perfect suspense / horror / police procedural. This novel reads so short and yet it is some 350 pages. I'm imagining someone at an editor's office receiving those three or four opening chapters... I am still impressed by the way Harris can use one sentence to capture the presence of a character, or that thirty page section where he gives us the history of Francis Dolarhyde. Funny thing is that so many try to emulate that sparse style and the cold observations in some contempoary thrillers, but nothing quite like this (including Harris himself in later works) The way that Harris also somehow manages to work the little poetic moments into this terrifying and savage novel is quite amazing- Actually he did it quite well in Hannibal Rising, but of course that was a different story. What a bloody brilliant book Red Dragon is.
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Mick Curtis (Mick)
Username: Mick

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.163.48.60
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 12:37 am:   

Isn't it just? I'd never heard of Harris until The Silence of the Lambs was first published, and a friend was given two review copies of the first edition by mistake, and he gave one to me. That was a great book, as was Red Dragon - I loved the scene where Blake's painting gets eaten, and was very sorry that wasn't included in Mann's film of the book, although the "remake" put it back in.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 81.129.20.239
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 12:51 am:   

I've not read any of these. I actually liked that Red Dragon movie, and that particular scene. For some reason Fiennes really shone in the part, gave the film it's heart. Not a bad little film at all.
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Karim Ghahwagi (Karim)
Username: Karim

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 83.93.30.31
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 01:03 am:   

Yes! shocking scene that - when he eats the Blake watercolour. Good it was reintroduced the second time. SILENCE was amazing as well, not quite as tight, but more poetic (and not if you add flayed women into the mix of course- (shudders) I remember a copy going around high school at the time. Kids were literally reading it in one night and passing it on to someone else who would do the same. I have heard from several people who claimed that they literally dropped the book at the jolt in the end where Francis suddenly appears at Graham's home.
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Karim Ghahwagi (Karim)
Username: Karim

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 83.93.30.31
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 01:11 am:   

Mick you have a galley copy of Silence! Jealous!

Tony the books are well worth checking out. Things about both film versions were good and not so good. A version somewhere between both is where I try to remember the films. You know Finnes was good and the better actor perhaps, but I always found him to be too attractive for the role.
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Hubert (Hubert)
Username: Hubert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.22.224.127
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 11:49 am:   

I read SILENCE after seeing the film and really liked the book's terse style. HANNIBAL the film I found disappointing at first, but it gets better (and better) with repeated viewings. I recently discovered the classical piece "Cor Meum" was written especially for the film, a nice surprise. Is it just my copy of the dvd or is everything filtered through a bluish haze? Saw RED DRAGON and really liked Fiennes, especially his relationship with the blind girl. It would be great to see another Lecter/Starling film . . .
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.156.110.243
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 01:20 pm:   

RED DRAGON and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS are both excellent novels, steeped in the tradition of American Gothic the latter seems influenced by Woolrich's BLACK ALIBI, or at least by the Val Lewton film based on it, THE LEOPARD MAN. My favourite passage in RED DRAGON is the bit where Will Graham works out how the killer finds his victims crime detection as hermeneutics!

I'm a bit annoyed by the way Hannibal Lector has gained cult status as a character through the films I never found him as interesting as Francis Dolarhyde or Jaime Gumb, because Lector is a supervillain: an icon of evil, like Dracula, rather than a damaged and dangerous human being.
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Albie (Albie)
Username: Albie

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.195.236.131
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 01:43 pm:   

Wouldn't it require a greater madness to sway a greater mind?

Mmmm.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.156.110.243
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 02:20 pm:   

Er no, I don't think so. Any more than it would require greater brain damage or dementia to wreck the mind of a genius. People break easily, regardless. And a great mind might be like a Ming vase: exquisite, fragile and impossible to repair.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 212.74.96.200
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 07:11 pm:   

Tony, you might know RED DRAGON as the film MANHUNTER too, by Michael Mann.

And yes, I'd agree with most of the above. Harris's reportage prose slips into dark poetry at times in those early books, and there are flashes of it in the later ones too. Though a lot of people are disappointed by HANNIBAL RISING, I was glad of the book. I'd take it over no new Harris at all.
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Karim Ghahwagi (Karim)
Username: Karim

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 212.97.200.24
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 10:50 am:   

That was what I was thinking Mark, regarding Hannibal Rising. It did have preposterous moments, as did the ending of Hannibal, but damn the man can write. I read Rising in one sitting and especially enjoyed the first third of the novel. As Joel says, the Lector super villain thing got out of hand. The first books are terrifying because they feel real, as soon as Lector seems to have super powers, well the effect is lost- demystifying Lector works against his power as a character.
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Albie (Albie)
Username: Albie

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.195.236.131
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 12:36 pm:   

>>Er no, I don't think so. Any more than it would require greater brain damage or dementia to wreck the mind of a genius. People break easily, regardless. And a great mind might be like a Ming vase: exquisite, fragile and impossible to repair.

But wouldn't you need have been inside all the brains of every person who went mad to be able to gauge that?

Advantage Albie-ro.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.141.211.203
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 01:33 pm:   

I think the thing with Fiennes was, he felt ugly.
I watched Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs recently, the latter on the projector. It was amazing. Red Dragon is a good film but SOTL is fantastic. At the end my son said 'Is Lecter a real person?' and thought him 'mint', almost heroic. I sort of knew what he meant. And surely that's a great sign if someone confuses a character with being real.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.26.213.192
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 01:36 pm:   

Check out Martin Amis's hilarious comments on Thomas Harris here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnKrEJgqv08

The passage starts at 7 minutes and 25 seconds.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.152.204.65
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 02:02 pm:   

He's remarkably restrained, given his personal involvement with a real serial killer.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 78.152.204.65
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 02:27 pm:   

It's such a pleasure to hear Amis speak. Shame about Hitchens. We need these voices and minds, whether we agree with them or not.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.26.213.192
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 02:30 pm:   

Indeed. His cousin Lucy Partington. Amis's book Experience is painful to read on that subject.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 04:04 pm:   

You know, I've been reading through some of the tributes to Hitchens....

Take Andrew Sullivan, for example: he seemed to need to cram his site with clips of he and Hitchens together: you almost can't reflect on Hitchens there, without having Andrew foisted upon you at every turn.

I see the same thing in so many tributes: everyone reminisces on the time they sat next to Hitchens, or they spoke to Hitchens, or Hitchens said this to them, or said that to them....

If Christopher Hitchens had a high whiney voice with an American accent, would he be getting all these gushing eulogies? Are all these luminaries mourning today the loss of a particularly stimulating aural sensation?

Judging by some of his more outrageous statements, I think Hitchens wouldn't disapprove of my reflections. See how I need to put myself next to him, too?
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.36.203
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 07:32 pm:   

Hitchens was primarily a prose writer, so your point - if I understand it - is stillborn.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 07:52 pm:   

Of course, Proto, of course.

And Mother Theresa was primarily altruistic.
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.36.203
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 08:18 pm:   

There isn't a question mark big enough.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 08:42 pm:   

What about this one: ?

I think you're reading both too much and not enough into my off-hand comments, Proto. I'm simply stating what indeed I have noticed, perhaps I'm deluded, but indeed, I have noticed something: of the many many tributes coming out, a large proportion of them involve the tribute-er reminiscing upon their personal contact with Christopher Hitchens. Sometimes (as in the case of Andrew Sullivan, and imho only), cramming-ly, glomming-onto-ingly; frankly, embarrassingly.

Second, I do wonder, in a whimsically dark sort of way: if Christopher Hitchens had an "uneducated" accent and a rather annoying timber to his voice, if all these massive pouring-forth tributes would be the same right now, despite whatever he wrote? Would he, given his literary output, be as big a luminary as he is now?...

Note too how his personal larger-than-life aspect has figured so singularly into his many tributes, leading to another question: if Christopher Hitchens had been a tea-totalling agoraphobe, would all be as it is now, as well?...

Why are we remembering Hitchens? Because he was indeed a great writer? That's what they want us to believe, first and foremost. Or deep down, is it merely because he was, in the parlance of my high-school days, "cool"?

And so, Hitchens, given his against-the-grain comments on Mother Theresa, would I'm sure, not mind me reflecting so....
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Protodroid (Protodroid)
Username: Protodroid

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 109.79.36.203
Posted on Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 10:09 pm:   

Thanks for the clarification. Personally, I find the opposite is true. I was going to buy "Letters to a Young Contrarian" but the cover photo: Hitchens posing with a cigarette and upturned collar was so palpably fake that it actually put me off.
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Tony (Tony)
Username: Tony

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.35.255.174
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011 - 10:27 am:   

But he was obviously 'cool' to others. Yes, all the tributes i heard this week described his physical being/presence.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 82.26.213.192
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011 - 11:11 am:   

Have you ever heard H G Wells speak? Or George Bernard Shaw? They did pretty well for themselves. Despite sounding like pub weeds.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011 - 02:41 pm:   

Probably an entirely different era, Gary... one not so dominated by modern media, but where their writings took precedence.

I also find it rather amusing, the way so many of these religiously-minded "friends" of his pshaw-ed and "Oh, that Christopher"-ed his vicious comments upon religion; whereas they'd go for the jugular for others making lesser, less brutal comments. It shows yet more levels of dishonesty among his admirers. Perhaps Hitchens was simply more intelligent, more urbane and witty, than all those lesser-ones... in that case, it reveals the elitism, and prejudices, of his now crowding eulogizers....

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan it seems still cannot contain himself from (metaphor alert: ) cramming his fat face up against the corpse's in every funeral photo

And I hear religiously-minded U.S. radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt is going to run 3 straight hours of interviews he did with Hitchens on Friday's show... it's cooler to be dwelling on the self + Hitchens on the cusp of a high Christian holiday, it seems; than wasting any time upon Someone who is, apparently, not great....
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2011 - 03:11 pm:   

But I do like this quoted passage Andrew provides from Christopher, on writing:

To my writing classes I used to open by saying that anybody who could talk could also write. Having cheered them up with this easy-to-grasp ladder, I then replaced it with a huge and loathsome snake: "How many people in this class, would you say, can talk? I mean really talk?" That had its duly woeful effect. I told them to read every composition aloud, preferably to a trusted friend. The rules are much the same: Avoid stock expressions (like the plague, as William Safire used to say) and repetitions. Dont say that as a boy your grandmother used to read to you, unless at that stage of her life she really was a boy, in which case you have probably thrown away a better intro. If something is worth hearing or listening to, its very probably worth reading. So, this above all: Find your own voice.

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