According to Freud, one of the key characteristics of the Uncanny is the doppelganger. In which case, Eleanor Catton’s marvellous debut novel, The Rehearsal, is one of the most uncanny books I have read, because it is crammed with doubles. So much so, indeed, that in many instances we do not see the original, only the doppelganger; and some of the doubles are themselves doubled. Continue Reading »
j/j: Do you feel that there is benefit in working with apparitions and/or ghosts in your pages? If so, how do they benefit? If no, please fill me in on the narrative of what the “dead dream” in your new and exciting book: A Child is Being Killed.
CZ: Ghosts to me are secular and I believe in them. They’re psychological shadows, dead events and people who literally stay. The stayed energy of things past, a person who died or left whose energy is still imprinted in your nervous system, a trauma or tragedy you haven’t been able to “integrate” into what you conceive of as your current living reality/story, so it comes up repetitively in memories, dreams, art, conversations. Ghosts are presenting themselves to be understood and witnessed. I find it useful in that sense to work with ghosts in narrative. To see where they might fit, to make room and try to bring them out of shadows, so we don’t have to feel the torture and confusion of their semi-existence. Perhaps all a ghost needs is to be gently touched or held, or given a lamp of its own. Continue Reading »
One may say that the human ability to understand may be in a certain sense unlimited. But the existing scientific concepts cover always only a very limited part of reality, and the other part that has not yet been understood is infinite. Whenever we proceed from the known to the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word understanding.
-Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy
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And so the journey is finally over. Begun in the snowy December of 1933 by a young man not yet turned 19, and completed now, two years after his death at the age of 96. Or not quite completed; the main narrative ends half way through a sentence, to be followed by a handful of diary entries, and then by pages from a much longer, much more discursive journal. But it is an ending of a sort, and after so long, so frustrating a wait, it is more than welcome. Continue Reading »
Love and Rockets: New Stories, vol. 6 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez
“The Love Bunglers,” serialized from 2010 to 2011 in New Stories vols. 3 and 4, didn’t mark the end of Jaime Hernadez’s decades-long string of Locas stories, but it at least gave readers the sense of an ending. Jaime has been following the lives of people in and around the fictional southern California community of Hoppers since the early 1980s, particularly the life of Latina former punk scenester Maggie Chascarrillo , and “The Love Bunglers” both documents a horrific event from the Chascarrillo family’s past and restarts Maggie’s relationship with on-again, off-again boyfriend Ray.
Reactions from fans were effusive, and rightfully so. I know I got weepy at the end of vol. 4. The online chatter about Jaime’s contribution to New Stories vol. 5 was quieter, and maybe this was inevitable. These Jaime stories read like a deliberate swerve away from “The Love Bunglers.” Whereas the latter marks big changes in the life of a pair of beloved characters, Jaime’s vol. 5 pieces introduce Tonta, the kid sister of a supporting character who readers hadn’t seen for years, and then follow her around for a couple of summer days. The proceedings in vol. 5 are beautifully drawn–Jaime’s pacing, polished line, and expressive character work are some of comics’ great constants–but the work seems to anticipate its reception as whatever came after a soaring, heartbreaking career high. And maybe readers will remember them that way. But New Stories vol. 6, which completes Jaime’s set of Tonta stories, is still–sneakily–very, very good. If “The Love Bunglers” drew some of its power from years upon years of character history, the Tonta stories are remarkable for the opposite reason.
With the exception of Tonta’s sister Vivian, who plagued Maggie and Ray in earlier Love and Rockets comics, Jaime works with a cast of almost entirely new characters, many of whom belong to Tonta and Vivian’s fractured extended family. Jaime traces the family’s history largely through allusion and ellipsis, letting his characters reference events that took place off-page throughout the last several years. A picture of distrust and long-held anger emerges, and it’s as vivid as anything else Jaime has produced in the last decade. In all of this, we also accompany Tonta through typical teenage bullshit: pining for boys in bands, trying to arrange for rides, realizing your teachers are people. These scenes are endearing, goofy, and sweet–and by the end, tragic too, as we realize we may have seen the end of a girl’s childhood. Continue Reading »
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