Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jesus, Sudan, Mervyn Peake, and Grant Morrison

It’s a big day:

•You’ll find me dropping by that East Village Arts Festival I mentioned before (7pm-on), in the courtyard of the Immaculate Conception Church, 14th St. and First Ave.  Nearby are a couple photos I took of Grace Church, elsewhere in the Village, which is unrelated but which I always thought was the most pleasant-looking (almost Narnia-like) spot in Manhattan, so there it is.

Sudan splits into two countries today.  Really.  What do you mean you didn’t hear about that?  Guernica magazine has details – and an unrelated interview by Elizabeth Koch of fiction writer Lynne Tillman, by the way.

Speaking of Sudan, did you know that Islam teaches that Jesus, born of a virgin birth, will return from Heaven at the time of Judgment to battle and defeat the Anti-Christ?  What an insane religion.

Lest I make over-light of Islam’s downsides, though, Judith Weiss suggests checking out this article on fears that pro-democracy groups are not the most influential in Egypt’s emerging new government.

•Today would have been writer Mervyn Peake’s hundredth birthday.  His mid-century three-novel series hovered time- and style-wise somewhere between gothic and “goth,” and the fourth novel in the series, Titus Awakes, was thought never completed – but they recently found a manuscript of it that his wife and sometime-co-writer completed but never published.  It’s out today.

My files suggest that I first learned of Mervyn Peake around 2001 and e-mailed an acquaintance of mine about him, to which she replied that she was reading a similarly-toned novel by one China Mieville.  Indeed she was – and she would go on to date him.


The new Peake book is reportedly more metafictional than the preceding books – and so is the often-strange work of another Brit, comic book writer Grant Morrison, who’s making an appearance in Manhattan this month, from which I plan to tweet.  He’s releasing a book on superheroes, called Supergods, this month and writes Action Comics starting in September, when DC relaunches its tweaked universe.

Morrison has had far better luck doing comics than movies so far, and in an interview he reportedly summarized his efforts in Hollywood by saying: “When I did Area 51, they said can you make this character more like Shia LaBeouf...then can you make it more like Bruce Willis...then the next week, can you make him more like Robert Downey Jr.  Then the final comment was ‘Does this have to be Area 51?’” 

I am reminded that I basically jettisoned any dreams of writing for Hollywood when I heard that Tom Wolfe – Tom Wolfe! – was powerless to prevent major changes being made to the plot of the Bonfire of the Vanities movie, and indeed that he only heard about some of them secondhand through Spike Lee, oddly enough.  And so I blog.


Franklin said...

You know, I was all set to pre-order that Grant Morrison book until I saw Deepak Chopra had blurbed it.

Todd Seavey said...

He is undeniably a loon, but it's sort of fitting, like if a priest wrote a glowing cover blurb for a Lord of the Rings edition. I wouldn't let it deter me.

Peter said...

Oh no, Maeve Gilmore was never, ever, Peake's "sometime-co-writer". She was a painter, not a writer.

Todd Seavey said...

Ah, thanks for that correction. I guess she was also his biographer and was a short story writer before this posthumous collaboration, though. It must be strange to become the co-writer of someone you loved only after death, a bittersweet mingling of minds like Douglas Hofstadter's vivid recollections of the deceased's way of thinking in _Le ton beau de Marot_. And now I sound a bit goth.