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Re: Re: Serial killer conventions, Gaiman

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  • Steve Law
    ... No impoliteness there surely, it was just a comment on the story. To me the graphic torturing and slaying ran counter to the mood required for it to be an
    Message 1 of 12 , May 10, 2003
      Me:
      >> But I think the sheer artless
      >> grislyness of the story undermined and muddied any
      >> value it had as dark satire.

      Ernest:
      >Which is a less than polite way of saying that
      > David's and _my_ taste suck <wicked grin>.

      No impoliteness there surely, it was just a comment on
      the story. To me the graphic torturing and slaying ran
      counter to the mood required for it to be an effective
      satire.
      Perhaps I'm too sensitive. The whole 90's prurient
      obsession in ultra-amoral sadistic serial killers is
      too strong for me. The subject matter is too horrific
      - it's morbid unhealthy. I mistakenly read "American
      Psycho" once, and although it's also supposed to be
      dark satire that element for me was utterly eclipsed
      and swamped by the intolerable explicitness of the
      violence. Perhaps Gaiman's serial-killer convention
      idea could have been done effectively, but he shows
      the monsters instead of keeping their dark work
      hidden, and that's a mistake.


      Steve Law



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    • Jane Bigelow
      ... Steve, If so, then I am also over-sensitive. I haven t read the work in question, and I doubt very much that I will, but I ve encountered enough similar
      Message 2 of 12 , May 10, 2003
        At 01:17 PM 5/10/03 +0100, Steve Law wrote:
        > Me:
        >>> But I think the sheer artless
        >>> grislyness of the story undermined and muddied any
        >>> value it had as dark satire.
        >
        > Ernest:
        >>Which is a less than polite way of saying that
        >><>.
        >
        > No impoliteness there surely, it was just a comment on
        > the story. To me the graphic torturing and slaying ran
        > counter to the mood required for it to be an effective
        > satire.
        > Perhaps I'm too sensitive.

        Steve,

        If so, then I am also over-sensitive. I haven't read the work in question,
        and I doubt very much that I will, but I've encountered enough similar
        things to know what you mean.

        >The whole 90's prurient obsession in ultra-amoral sadistic serial >killers is
        > too strong for me.

        Without in any way approving of censorship, I'm worried by some of that
        obsession. I *don't* mean to imply criticism of anyone on this list--you
        all clearly read other things as well, which of course means that for you
        it isn't an obsession. There are people using the library where I work who
        seem to read only the most graphic horror and "true crime". Some of them
        do make me nervous.

        Why, I wonder, does current literary criticism allow any amount of
        description of violence and pain, but condemn more than the briefest
        description of happiness or beauty? Society as a whole does seem to want a
        break now and then. A few years ago, Jane Austen was the inspiration for
        several films. I don't know if there was any overlap in audience, though.

        Jane
      • David S Bratman
        ... I read Gaiman - I think he s the best current male genre fantasy author - and Jane Austen is my favorite pre-20th century novelist, period.
        Message 3 of 12 , May 10, 2003
          At 01:26 PM 5/10/2003 -0600, Jane wrote:

          >Why, I wonder, does current literary criticism allow any amount of
          >description of violence and pain, but condemn more than the briefest
          >description of happiness or beauty? Society as a whole does seem to want a
          >break now and then. A few years ago, Jane Austen was the inspiration for
          >several films. I don't know if there was any overlap in audience, though.

          <raises hand> I read Gaiman - I think he's the best current male genre
          fantasy author - and Jane Austen is my favorite pre-20th century novelist,
          period. I've read some of her books several times, I've seen all the
          feature films made of her work, and I'm in the middle of collecting them on
          DVD.

          But this is not as extreme a juxtaposition as one may think. Steve may
          compare Gaiman's serial-killer convention with _American Psycho_, but
          they're not the same thing at all. Ellis glorifies in violence; Steven
          King wallows in it; Gaiman is in this piece remarkably restrained,
          considering his subject, and shows very little actual violence. Compare
          the torture of the journalist in Gaiman, which cuts off as soon as the
          killers say what they're going to do to him, with the gruesomely detailed
          account of the mutilation in King's _Misery_. Only the Dr. Dee episode in
          an early "Sandman" is a bit much even for me.

          Steve may be giving you the impression that these are all of a piece, but
          they're not. I'm appalled that you're getting the impression that to like
          Gaiman is to like gruesome horror. It's not so.

          - David Bratman
        • Steve Law
          Jane wrote: Steve, If so, then I am also over-sensitive. I haven t read the work in question, and I doubt very much that I will, but I ve encountered enough
          Message 4 of 12 , May 11, 2003
            Jane wrote:
            "Steve,
            If so, then I am also over-sensitive. I haven't read
            the work in question, and I doubt very much that I
            will, but I've encountered enough similar things to
            know what you mean."

            Hi Jane. Glad to hear you feel the same. Don't
            whatever you do go anywhere near 'American Psycho'.

            "There are people using the library where I work who
            seem to read only the most graphic horror and "true
            crime". Some of them do make me nervous."

            Is David Bratman one of them?

            :-)

            "Why, I wonder, does current literary criticism allow
            any amount of description of violence and pain, but
            condemn more than the briefest description of
            happiness or beauty?"

            I don't know. It really is deeply unfashionable to
            like happy endings or media that celebrates simple
            positive values. To be cynical and 'punk' and
            anti-establishment is the new orthodoxy. Sometimes I
            think it's just sublimated teenage cool: "I don't care
            about anything, me."


            Steve Law

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          • Steve Law
            Steve may compare Gaiman s serial-killer convention with _American Psycho_, but they re not the same thing at all. Ellis glorifies in violence; Steven King
            Message 5 of 12 , May 11, 2003
              "Steve may compare Gaiman's serial-killer convention
              with _American Psycho_, but they're not the same thing
              at all. Ellis glorifies in violence; Steven King
              wallows in it; Gaiman is in this piece remarkably
              restrained, considering his subject, and shows very
              little actual violence."

              I didn't make any direct parallels between "American
              Psycho" and Gaiman's serial-killer convention, only
              very general ones to do mainly with their mutual
              subject matter/sub-genre.

              "American Psycho" was actually written to be a moral
              protest *against* the market for extreme sadistic
              material in popular fiction and the desensitisation it
              represents - although it walked a very fine line.
              Ellis was trying to say "You like this stuff? Well
              consume this!", and make the reader choke on it.

              I found with Stephen King (early stuff, I don't read
              him anymore) that I liked his heroes and became
              engaged with his characters, and that makes a
              difference. Characterisation is his big thing. And I
              think there's also a difference between horrible death
              at the hands of a psychopath and horrible death at the
              pistons of a possesed laundry machine. Human monsters
              are much more disturbing.

              "Steve may be giving you the impression that these are
              all of a piece, but they're not. I'm appalled that
              you're getting the impression that to like Gaiman is
              to like gruesome horror. It's not so."

              That wasn't my intention. I read American Gods
              remember. 'Tweren't very gruesome, just dull. I had no
              idea Gaiman was so highly thought of. I will seek out
              some more of his books. Can you recommend one?


              Steve Law


              PS: If anyone wants to risk some early Stephen King
              I'd particularly recommend "The Dead Zone", "The
              Stand" and "Christine". Anything that came before "It"
              will probably be a good holiday read (except "Pet
              Sematary" or "Cujo").



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            • David S Bratman
              ... Gaiman doesn t give me the impression of having any such intention, which is why I continue to distinguish him from Ellis even on the broad level you say
              Message 6 of 12 , May 11, 2003
                At 11:02 PM 5/11/2003 +0100, Steve Law wrote:

                >I didn't make any direct parallels between "American
                >Psycho" and Gaiman's serial-killer convention, only
                >very general ones to do mainly with their mutual
                >subject matter/sub-genre.
                >
                >"American Psycho" was actually written to be a moral
                >protest *against* the market for extreme sadistic
                >material in popular fiction and the desensitisation it
                >represents - although it walked a very fine line.
                >Ellis was trying to say "You like this stuff? Well
                >consume this!", and make the reader choke on it.

                Gaiman doesn't give me the impression of having any such intention, which
                is why I continue to distinguish him from Ellis even on the broad level you
                say you're comparing them on. He is, among other things, courageously
                goofing off with very dire material. This puts him in the company of
                writers like John Bellairs and Joss Whedon.


                >That wasn't my intention. I read American Gods
                >remember. 'Tweren't very gruesome, just dull. I had no
                >idea Gaiman was so highly thought of. I will seek out
                >some more of his books. Can you recommend one?

                I like best _Neverwhere_, but if you didn't like _American Gods_ for the
                reason you state, I very much doubt you'd like that either. His comics
                writing feels different because of its medium, but you've read
                "Sandman". I'd guess you probably just don't like Gaiman. I have plenty
                of authors in that category.


                >PS: If anyone wants to risk some early Stephen King
                >I'd particularly recommend "The Dead Zone", "The
                >Stand" and "Christine". Anything that came before "It"
                >will probably be a good holiday read (except "Pet
                >Sematary" or "Cujo").

                The one King horror novel I read all the way through was _The Dead Zone_,
                which I picked up at the suggestion of a friend (the same one who
                introduced me to "Cerebus") who thought I'd like the conversation between
                the hero and his parents, when he awakens in 1975 from a five-year coma,
                and they befuddledly try to explain what's happened in the world in the
                previous five years.

                He was right: I liked that conversation. But otherwise I was dismayed by
                the extremely crude prose, the blatant manipulation of the plot, and the
                way King makes up improbable facts to meet his plot needs.


                >"There are people using the library where I work who
                >seem to read only the most graphic horror and "true
                >crime". Some of them do make me nervous."
                >
                >Is David Bratman one of them?

                I'm more interested in counteracting that impression than anything else
                that's come up in this entire conversation. As a general rule I don't read
                horror at all, and I absolutely refuse to see almost anything that could be
                considered a horror film. If "Sandman" were pure horror, I wouldn't read
                it either.

                - David Bratman
              • Joshua Kronengold
                ... He s one of the two most highly thought of graphic writers, and has one hugo (American Gods, which I wouldn t have voted for, and didn t) and one Mythopeic
                Message 7 of 12 , May 13, 2003
                  =?iso-8859-1?Q?Steve_Law?= writes:
                  >That wasn't my intention. I read American Gods
                  >remember. 'Tweren't very gruesome, just dull. I had no
                  >idea Gaiman was so highly thought of.

                  He's one of the two most highly thought of graphic writers, and has
                  one hugo (American Gods, which I wouldn't have voted for, and didn't)
                  and one Mythopeic (_Stardust_, which I did).

                  >I will seek out
                  >some more of his books. Can you recommend one?

                  _Stardust_ is a good stand-alone start; lyrical, fey, and enchanting.
                  I like Neverwhere a lot as well, but it seems to have somewhat
                  narrower appeal.

                  Have you read all of Sandman, or just the "Cereal Convention"
                  sequence? It does get brilliant at times, and while it certainly gets
                  gruesome, is far more "fantasy" than "horror".


                  --
                  Joshua Kronengold (mneme@...) "I've been teaching |\ _,,,--,,_ ,)
                  --^--him...to live, to breathe, to walk, to sample the /,`.-'`' -, ;-;;'
                  /\\joy on each road, and the sorrow at each turning. |,4- ) )-,_ ) /\
                  /-\\\I'm sorry if I kept him out too late"--Vlad Taltos '---''(_/--' (_/-'
                • dimwoo
                  Joshua wrote: Have you read all of Sandman, or just the Cereal Convention sequence? It does get brilliant at times, and while it certainly gets gruesome, is
                  Message 8 of 12 , May 13, 2003
                    Joshua wrote:
                    "Have you read all of Sandman, or just the "Cereal Convention"
                    sequence? It does get brilliant at times, and while it certainly gets
                    gruesome, is far more "fantasy" than "horror". "

                    No, I read perhaps 10 or 12 issues. I used to have a friend who had a
                    large collection of comics so I read his, but he moved away.
                    Although "Sandman" was Gaiman's own in the early 90's (and I did
                    enjoy most of it - I was just piqued by the serial-killer thing)
                    Gaiman was usually called in to take over comic series Alan Moore had
                    either created or reinvented, and I just never found him to be as
                    good. It was worse than just stopping reading them, watching your
                    favourites dwindle.

                    But the consensus here is against me, and I will check out the
                    recommendations people have made. Wouldn't want to miss out due to
                    some past prejudice. However, if I still don't like him I'm going to
                    be *very* cross.


                    Steve Law
                  • Jane Bigelow
                    ... David, I don t know that I d rate Gaiman quite as highly as you do, but I have read & enjoyed some of his more recent works. This whole discussion has got
                    Message 9 of 12 , May 14, 2003
                      At 05:06 PM 5/10/03 -0700, David B wrote:


                      ><> I read Gaiman - I think he's the best current male genre
                      > fantasy author - and Jane Austen is my favorite pre-20th century novelist,
                      > I've read some of her books several times, I've seen all the
                      > feature films made of her work, and I'm in the middle of collecting them on
                      > DVD.

                      David,

                      I don't know that I'd rate Gaiman quite as highly as you do, but I have
                      read & enjoyed some of his more recent works. This whole discussion has
                      got my curiousity aroused. I'll clearly have to find a copy of at least
                      the first episodes of Cerberus.

                      Jane
                    • Jane Bigelow
                      ... Steve, Thank you, too. I must write that it feels very odd to me, having spent much of my younger life as a liberal, agnostic, freedom-loving person, to
                      Message 10 of 12 , May 14, 2003
                        At 10:59 PM 5/11/03 +0100, Steve wrote:
                        > I don't know. It really is deeply unfashionable to
                        > like happy endings or media that celebrates simple
                        > positive values. To be cynical and 'punk' and
                        > anti-establishment is the new orthodoxy. Sometimes I
                        >"I don't care
                        >"
                        >
                        >
                        > Steve Law

                        Steve,

                        Thank you, too. I must write that it feels very odd to me, having spent
                        much of my younger life as a liberal, agnostic, freedom-loving person, to
                        find myself on the conservative side of some issues. (I don't feel as if
                        _I_ moved all that much.) Maybe I'm not oversensitive, but just a raving
                        optimist: I think happy endings are not only possible, but reasonably
                        likely with luck and a certain amount of sense. A good author has little
                        difficulty making me believe them.

                        Jane
                        >
                      • Jane Bigelow
                        David B, Since these are my words quoted below, I wnat to make it clear that I **do not** consider you to be some kind of horror freak. I specifically said
                        Message 11 of 12 , May 14, 2003
                          David B,

                          Since these are my words quoted below, I wnat to make it clear that I **do
                          not** consider you to be some kind of horror freak. I specifically said
                          that I was not criticizing anyone on this list, and I meant that. Please
                          accept my apologies if my post has distressed you.

                          Jane

                          >
                          "There are people using the library where I work who seem to read only the
                          most graphic horror and "true crime". Some of them do make me nervous.

                          Before that, I wrote: "I *don't* mean to imply criticism of anyone on this
                          list--you all clearly read other things as well, which of course means that
                          for you it isn't an obsession. >>

                          >>
                          >>Is David Bratman one of them?
                          >
                          > I'm more interested in counteracting that impression than anything else
                          > As a general rule I don't read
                          > horror at all, and I absolutely refuse to see almost anything that could be
                          > "" were pure horror, I wouldn't read
                          > it either.
                          >
                          > - David Bratman
                          >
                        • David S Bratman
                          ... Thank you, but I didn t think you meant that necessarily as a criticism, you see - just as a desire to distance yourself from that kind of work. And not
                          Message 12 of 12 , May 14, 2003
                            At 08:03 PM 5/14/2003 -0600, Jane wrote:
                            >David B,
                            >
                            >Since these are my words quoted below, I wnat to make it clear that I **do
                            >not** consider you to be some kind of horror freak. I specifically said
                            >that I was not criticizing anyone on this list, and I meant that. Please
                            >accept my apologies if my post has distressed you.

                            >
                            >"There are people using the library where I work who seem to read only the
                            >most graphic horror and "true crime". Some of them do make me nervous.
                            >
                            >Before that, I wrote: "I *don't* mean to imply criticism of anyone on this
                            >list--you all clearly read other things as well, which of course means that
                            >for you it isn't an obsession. >>

                            Thank you, but I didn't think you meant that necessarily as a criticism,
                            you see - just as a desire to distance yourself from that kind of
                            work. And not only do I not ONLY read that kind of stuff, I don't read it
                            AT ALL, so I'm just as distant from it as you are, I hope. I didn't think
                            Steve meant his comment seriously - he did put a smiley on it - but I
                            wished to disassociate myself from it even as a joke.


                            >I don't know that I'd rate Gaiman quite as highly as you do, but I have
                            >read & enjoyed some of his more recent works. This whole discussion has
                            >got my curiousity aroused. I'll clearly have to find a copy of at least
                            >the first episodes of Cerberus.

                            May I repeat what I wrote to Wendell on this subject? It may have gotten
                            buried amid all the other stuff I felt obliged to say to him:

                            I'd recommend picking up the second volume of the reprint series, titled
                            "High Society". If you find yourself enjoying it, but find the _internal_
                            references (i.e. to previous events in the storyline) to be sufficiently
                            bewildering that it's interfering with your appreciation, go back and try
                            the first volume, which is titled simply "Cerebus". It's less polished and
                            harder to read, but explains everything that's going to get
                            explained. After "High Society" comes "Church and State" (two volumes),
                            followed by "Jaka's Story" (1 volume), and I think 90% of Cerebus fans
                            would tell you to stop right there.

                            - David Bratman
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