Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Flying Seaguy

Another post from Sean that I'll file under "I Wish I Had Said It Like That".

It made me think of my recent negative experience reading G.K. Chesterton's The Flying Inn. Now, I really like Chesterton's essays and I really like his Father Brown mysteries, but his full-on, philosophical/allegorical fiction, like The Flying Inn and The Man Who Was Thursday, doesn't really provide what I'm looking for from, well, fiction. That is: when I want to read a philosophical essay, I'll read a philosophical essay. I don't particularly want to read an essay that has been transmogrified into a story that I then need to decode back into an essay.

And thinking about Alan Moore and my problem with The Flying Inn reminded me of my problem with Grant Morrison's Seaguy and, to a lesser extent, Seven Soldiers. In his capsule on Inside Man, Michael Sicinski writes that he doesn't "want to seem like yet another dumbass critic implicitly trumpeting the amazing power of genre to rein in idiosyncratic directors", and I feel the same kind of self-consciousness saying that, for me, Morrison's more straightforward comics - Doom Patrol, Animal Man, We 3, The New X-Men, JLA, parts of The Invisibles, and, to a lesser extent, The Filth - work better for me than Seaguy does. They do, though, and I think it's because they provide story first and all of the big themes and ideas seem to grow organically out of it, rather than starting with the big themes and ideas and coming up with a story that enacts them in code.

And, while I'm on a roll, I sort of have the same issue with some of Chuck Palahniuk's books: I get the sense with books like Survivor and Lullaby that he's just paying lip service to the storytelling aspects of these novels and his characters are really there to act as mouthpieces for his rants.

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