Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

The devil is in the details.

Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Damien_England on Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:56 am

:( Man, this is hard for me. First off, I want to say there was a HUGE amount to admire in the book, the writing once again was often first-class and the confessions were an awful lot of fun (even if they DID conform to comedy cliché: the closet-gay cop, the repressed nun, etc.) I'm not a massive fan of magical realism per se, but the premise of the story suspended my disbelief in much the way as Heart Shaped Box.

And here's where I get to the painful part, because, trust me, I'd much rather be spending these paragraphs dissecting the likes of Stephanie Meyer than a guy with as much verve, wit and imagination as Joe Hill.

First up, waaaaay too many pop culture references this time around, IMO. In the world of Judas Coyne, I loved this aspect of Joe's writing - a faded rocker with links to the great & good of that world, the sacred, the profane. Here Terry's ability to, um, play Horns, somehow carving out a prime-time music chat show in that whole world of celebrity just felt inauthentic and unbelievable somehow; I didn't buy "Hothouse" for a second. Moreover, each time there was a backstage Paul McCartney anecdote or an umpteenth Rolling Stones nod, I felt yanked clean out of the story. Just not convinced, outside of concepts expressly involving characters steeped in moviedom or the music biz (Jude, Bobby Conroy, etc.) always linking characters to the gliteratti is necessarily a good idea. Too hungover to state exactly why, except to say it somehow damages the "self-containment" of the fictional reality like Chad's face at the window. Christ, I read enough about J.K. Rowling, Ronnie Woods, and McCartney every day in the tabloids to want to read about them in my escapist American fiction. The Judas Coyne cameo, however - now THAT'S how it should be done! 8)

Secondly, those forced idioms. At times, it felt as though nearly every saying, cultural image or pop song pertaining to the devil was mined ten times in the discourse of the story, which became a real annoyance. To put it into context, it's the equivalent of OD'ing on phrases like: "it's a dog's life" and "dogs dinner" in a book about a dog, and dragged the writing down a notch. Sometimes more than a notch. (For example, the novel ending on one.)

Thirdly - perhaps most importantly for me as a reader - I couldn't help feeling that the novel's symbolism became overwrought as it progressed, the metaphors, the similes. Constant references to cherries signposting events re: the chaste girl's impending violation: cherry bombs, cherry trees, cherry-coloured hair, etc. Fire & snakes in practically every possible connotation. HORNS is clearly a novel full of dramatic purgatorial imagery: the furnace, the old foundry ... but somewhere in the process, I felt things just lost focus as those symbols vyed for significance in almost competing narratives -especially near the end. The Horns receded in importance, there was the appearing/disappearing cross, the sermon, the snakes, the flaming car, The "Treehouse of The Mind", and I couldn't help but feel the latter was from a separate script entirely (Wasn't this originally The Fear Tree to begin with?) I found the notion of Perrish finding the morse letter in the attic deeply moving, but as the treehouse motif progressed into its latter (and slightly confusing ) Hell phase, it stifled it's power, for me.

Which brings me to my fourth problem - that old chestnut of length. If anything the final words of Merrin's letter: "US" seemed the natural place to end the novel, or would have, had things been re-jigged around somewhat and the more conventional action beats of the denouement already been meted out. If Ig's guilt and the existential horror of his protuberances were ever to be resolved then surely this had been the time. What happens instead is a somewhat staggered ending that slowly erodes the initial gut-punch of that letter. I'm of the belief that there are far too many nearly great 450 + page novels, and not nearly enough new 250 page classics out there, but if you look at great symbolic works with killer concepts like Animal Farm, Lord of The Flies, Heart of Darkness, Dracula, they're nearly all either novellas or fall into the latter category. Somewhere, Horns forgot economy.

Plotwise, I had no problem with the flashbacks and loved the Ig & Merrin backstory much more than I was expecting (especially because its unjustly seems to have taken a little beating) But where I really felt I "got" the dark, imperfect harmonies of Jude's redemption script or Alec kissing Imogene in The Rosebud Theatre, I don't know what I took from the experience of them burning in that treehouse, primarily because Merrin died of noble intent. Come to think of it, Ig's damnation as an innocent man made little sense to me either, or why exactly he was damned. By guilt? By the memory? For pissing on the Virgin Mary? It recalled for me a scene in Shutter Island where DiCaprio's character embraces his late wife in a burning room, and she crumbles into embers. By the end of that movie, that single image made so much sense to me, likewise their shared damnation.

Perhaps Ig and Merrin's shared fate would have done that for me too had Merrin, at the last gasp, embraced her own darkness, Marion Silvers style, indulging a little Hugh-Selby self-immolation with Lee & Terry and a wooping crowd out at the foundry for feeling so damn alone in her illness and what she'd done to Ig - sex and death those old destructive bedfellows. But she didn't. She loved Ig to the extent that she had no intention of fucking other people, and certainly not as a whore.

Perhaps the fact that I can take no single image of her story: the cross, the burning tree, the letter, is a good thing. I can't do it with the horns as a metaphor either, or any tangible sense of how and why Ig is punished, by whom, or what, or whether it's all just better left as uproarious a mess as the theological mess itself. Satan embraced as the original superhero, or Satan as the primordial fucking curse? I've no idea, but shades of grey is all we have (and if you want to read a novel that explores the idea of Old Nick as gloriously ambiguously, if not more so, then check out James Robertson's "The Testament of Gideon Mack.")

I hope I haven't offended Joe in being as candid as I have (you are a grafter, a lover of the genre, and a hero, and whether I dig one book as much as the last one dude, I love you) But I've spilled my guts enough now, am in a glass house with a big stone with the length of this after all those hiferlutin' words about 'economy', and have to get some fucking work done. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a peacher who is about to blow my cover, and some falling masonry I need to attend to. And no I don't have fucking horns. Just a great name, and an exquisitely tailored all-in-one velvet cap & waistcoat.


7/10


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Last edited by Shane on Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Well, a Damien in any case .

Postby Damien_England on Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:07 am

Note to Mods: Tried to edit top of post or header to mark for spoilers later in the post, but the guy in red pyjamas won't let me edit it. At all. Please don't pull the post from the boards - it took me 20 minutes, a bowl of Cheerios, and most importantly ... you'll make me cry.
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Well, a Damien in any case .

Postby Betsy_Boo on Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:22 am

You've given me a lot to chew on here. I do want to comment but I want to give it some thought. One thing, I appreciate the fact that you were specific in the issues you had with the book.
"We'll always have Paris."

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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Well, a Damien in any case .

Postby Lenny on Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:23 pm

Nice review Damien.
I understand what you are saying about all the pop culture, devil referrences. If every book I pick up from Joe is like that I can see where it would get tiresome. It does pull you out of the story after so many. BUT while reading this one book it kind of came off to me as playful and fitting for this story. To me it just seemed to fit and I enjoyed it. No I wouldn't want that in every story I read, it would get exhausting.
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Well, a Damien in any case .

Postby Damien_England on Sat Mar 20, 2010 1:29 pm

Ok Betsy, cool. :) I've posted on the blog before, but not the messageboard, so had I known the edit option goes zippo after about a minute, don't think I would have written my reservations as a rambling stream of consciousness I couldn't come back to tidy later. Just hope Joe n' people who loved Horns get the fact I liked a lot of it too. I'd hate to piss on anybody's bonfire.

Just felt it lost focus and indulged a tad too much whimsy at times, really (blue dress, etc.) which was a shame; but my philosophy about novels I'm not entirely sold on by the end is pretty much the same as movies in that if you encounter one scene or character you find simply unforgettable, regardless of what's going on at the periphery, then it was not a waste of time. In this case: Merrin.

Don't think I'll ever forget the sweetness of that letter or the revelation that yeah, she damn well HAD flashed a signal from the pew - especially since her curt dismissal of their love in The Pit to go the whole 'fool around with a few fuck buddies' route had already partly traumatised me (we're talkin' Sandy showing up in leather catsuit levels of trauma here, ok? :( )

That was the moment any reservations I had about the plot (which the more I think about it, I valued for the reverse of other critique I've read, i.e: the human love story over and above the nebulous horror aspects) were massively won back. It was only in the final 60 pages they were lost again.
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Well, a Damien in any case .

Postby Damien_England on Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:21 pm

P.S: Putting the devil idioms thing to one side, here's the thing with the pop culture refs, Lenny cuz it would have taken me a post as long as the above one to explain the thing completely. There are good ones and bad ones, but it's totally subjective. Some jive with me, some don't. A lot of it has to do with subtlety. Having Merrin's sister called Regan in a two-tier Exorcist nod is fine, but do that kinda thing 15, 20 times in the course of a story and you have half a story & half a fanboy in-joke.

There's other factors too. I mean, we're often hammered to death in the U.K. with what are supposed to be our national heroes and icons: Harry Potter, The Beatles, etc. so what might still have a cache of cool about it to an American has become tired & old hat for a Brit sometimes, by virtue of all the repetition.

I'm not saying anything Joe has specifically written displays that kind of cultural disconnect because it hasn't and he strikes me as a culturally savvy guy. Just trying to explain my own reasoning behind why I like subdued real-life pop culture content in fiction. 'Course good fiction can and very often SHOULD be grounded in real life, but sometimes the minutae of reality leaks into a fictional reality, drip by drip, like a corrosive chemical, burning out the thin threads that keep me in that world. The Ronnie Wood stuff, for example, I got bored with because his affair with a Russian waitress has been in & out of the tabloids here for, like, forever.

And then a hell of a lot of more unscrupulous authors will readily use a cultural touchstone or event like the death of Princess Di or 9/11 to somehow give legitimacy to the emotional struggles of their characters, but that's another issue ... :roll:
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Well, a Damien in any case .

Postby Damien_England on Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:11 pm

:shock: And as a P.P.S, to THAT, (damn that lack of an edit fuction) - have been discussing this over dinner with a friend, and think at last I've finally cracked it. Without wanting to somehow tabulate this into a mathematical theorem and sound like Prichard PhD from Dead Poets Society, ("Rip boys, RIP! I don't hear enough ripping!") the pop culture references I dislike are the random ones in novels set in the present day, because they seem to date the quickest and pull me out of the story with a greater (obviously quantum, divided by time/space) pull.

i.e: it doesnt happen in the same way in novels set within my lifetime: the sounds of the seventies: Steely Dan, David Bowie etc, referenced in The Lovely Bones or Phil Collins n' Huey Lewis & The News in American Psycho.
That pulls me BACK into those eras (even Jude was mostly looking back to the halcyon of his glory days, right?) but not OUT of the present moment in terms of thinking about a parallell reality running concurrently, now, and outside of the fiction.

Um ... Does that make any sense to anybody? Anybody at all?


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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Well, a Damien in any case .

Postby Shane on Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:22 pm

Damien_England wrote:Note to Mods: Tried to edit top of post or header to mark for spoilers later in the post, but the guy in red pyjamas won't let me edit it. At all. Please don't pull the post from the boards - it took me 20 minutes, a bowl of Cheerios, and most importantly ... you'll make me cry.



Damien,

No worries on the post getting deleted. I don't work that way here, so your hard work and typing are safe. I am sending you a private note in here, so please check your mailbox when you get a second.

Also - my advance apologies for having to edit your subject name; there's only so many characters it'll allow, and to put up a spoiler warning, which this post needs, required me to snip the extension of it.

-Shane
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Betsy_Boo on Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:14 am

Finally made it back...
Damien, I do appreciate how detailed you were in your review and I won't pretend to have the writing ability to discuss in detail your issues with HORNS. You are a good writer and I understand what you're saying here. For me, almost everything that bothered you about HORNS I actually liked. I liked the little connections Joe made with "cherries", "horns"...loved the puns and pop references. I thought it was all very clever. We do agree on the pathos of the love between Ig and Merrin...and that she is (in a sense) the real "hero" of the story. I can't remember the last time I was so moved by a fictional relationship.

I will say I did have a problem with the idea that Ig and Merrin were "damned". And personally, I still don't know if that's the case. Neither of them were evil...simply human...and they both had good hearts. There were times as I was reading this that I was reminded of the story of Job...that perhaps this was what would've happened to him if he'd turned away from God. Which in religion is what sin is...a separation from God. As characters, God and Satan are strangely absent from the story, but you can't help but wonder if they are pulling the strings in the background.
Whether Ig and Merrin ended up in "hell"...well, I guess it depends on your viewpoint. I'm sure they thought it was heaven.

I wish I could explain better what I mean.
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Damien_England on Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:01 am

Well, you express yourself pretty succinctly which says as much about your writing ability as my meandering sprawl about mine, Betsy (especially after me bleating about economy. :mrgreen: )

Plus, I was hungover, see. [idiomize] Da devil made me do it! [/idiomize] I think the bottom line for me is I've learnt I have a much lower threshold for puns, idioms & pop refs than I thought I did, really. (I also don't know how The Beatles figure into my "past decade is better" slide rule, seeing as two of 'em are still living, but obviously, long-dead singer with an obscure hit = optimum pop culture ref for me. :? )

Yeah, I'd much rather a writer said: "He had sleek dark, shoulder-length hair parted in curtains." than "He had hair just like that Severus Snape dude out of Harry Potter." but that's just me.

I'll still be recommending Joe's stuff to people as a horror writer of integrity; and as I wanted to say in my comments in the "100 pages in, & still boring" thread, mud-slinging about success going to his head or selling out just because you didn't like one novel gets right up my nose. Especially since, if he'd ever been that way inclined he would have traded in on his dad's name in the first place instead of risking failure and going it alone.

Moreover, am REALLY looking to the Twittering From The Circus of The Dead and The Devil on The Staircase shorts, seeing as that's the medium where I found him. (Forget those cumbersome novels, Imogene Gilchrist is STILL my favourite Joe Hill character after all this time ...)

God bless ya Betsy for taking the time, and happy reading with The Testament of Gideon Mack. (Trust me, it's a journey.) I don't know if Merrrin & Ig ended up in Hell or their own little slice of warped Heaven, but it recalled this little erm, [hypocrite] contemporary pop culture reference [/hypocrite] for me, anyway. (Hey man, The Blues is timeless, even from Jenny Aniston's exes, right??? :shock:) -----------> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hX-nuY9LJAs
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Selena on Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:41 pm

Damien - you're too cool! You should get drunk more often if this is what comes out after a night of drinking... :mrgreen:

I'm not a massive fan of magical realism per se


Oh I am! I LOVE magical realism. The whole paradox tickles me. But to each his bone! :wink:

I'd much rather be spending these paragraphs dissecting the likes of Stephanie Meyer than a guy with as much verve, wit and imagination as Joe Hill.


Bwah! Now there's a writer worth ripping... but another time and place, eh?

Here Terry's ability to, um, play Horns, somehow carving out a prime-time music chat show in that whole world of celebrity just felt inauthentic and unbelievable somehow; I didn't buy "Hothouse" for a second.


yes, I agree with you. I actually sat there for a minute, blinking at the page, saying "really?" to myself.

Christ, I read enough about J.K. Rowling, Ronnie Woods, and McCartney every day in the tabloids to want to read about them in my escapist American fiction. The Judas Coyne cameo, however - now THAT'S how it should be done!


To the latter, yes. Rather like King showing up in his movies. Fun! To the former... yes and no. I don't mind tagging, for the most part. Although I find, as I get older (*ahem*) some pop-culture references just get lost on me. But I do think tagging like that puts a work into context. You say it brought you out of the story. I can see that. I think my brain just skips over things like that. I don't read for detail, I'm afraid (you clearly do - it's a beautiful thing!) but rather for essence. I feel a book, rather than reading it bit by bit. For me, it's a flow. Those little bits that pop out, like fish jumping, surprise me sometimes, but I'm still IN the story.

In other words, I'm easy. :) Someone can suspend my disbelief pretty quickly - I'm naive that way and eager to be convinced. Which is why I can love magical realism the way I do. You, clearly, are more of a skeptic. Not a bad thing - thank goodness for guys like you. I'd be in big trouble if folks like you didn't exist! :mrgreen: But I can see how things like that would pull you up short - and on the other hand, not faze someone like me at all.

Secondly, those forced idioms. At times, it felt as though nearly every saying, cultural image or pop song pertaining to the devil was mined ten times in the discourse of the story, which became a real annoyance.


Devil in a blue dress was just delightful to me. I actually laughed out loud and the ridiculous cleverness of it. You're right, it was a DELUGE of imagery. It was relentless. Rather like life. The longer we live it, the more we realize that it just doesn't end. Until it does...

I couldn't help feeling that the novel's symbolism became overwrought as it progressed, the metaphors, the similes.


But in its merciless presentation (and I agree, it was overwhelming) didn't it perfectly mimic our instant-gratification, video-game, ADHD culture? It was quite persistent - perhaps intentionally so. And the weight of it was incredible. Like the weight Ig was carrying around, falsely accused of a crime he didn't commit, living with that constant burden. Talk about crosses you have to bear...

What happens instead is a somewhat staggered ending that slowly erodes the initial gut-punch of that letter. I'm of the belief that there are far too many nearly great 450 + page novels, and not nearly enough new 250 page classics out there, but if you look at great symbolic works with killer concepts like Animal Farm, Lord of The Flies, Heart of Darkness, Dracula, they're nearly all either novellas or fall into the latter category. Somewhere, Horns forgot economy.


Here I'd completely agree. More editing or more meat! 8)

Come to think of it, Ig's damnation as an innocent man made little sense to me either, or why exactly he was damned. By guilt? By the memory? For pissing on the Virgin Mary?


I think it was intentionally unclear and ambiguous. It's horrible and heinous to us, as humans, to see injustice in the world. And it's hard to reconcile - why do bad things happen to good people? This author takes a theological question and turns it on its head. The innocent aren't innocent. They are damned - we are all damned. We are all living in our own personal hell. Look at the scene in the waiting room at the beginning of the book - the woman with the child, the receptionist, the doctor - there is no escape from the human condition. Evil and goodness exist, side by side. Perhaps they are actually fruit from ONE tree ... or treehouse? :wink:

Perhaps Ig and Merrin's shared fate would have done that for me too had Merrin, at the last gasp, embraced her own darkness.


Ah now this... as much shadow as there was in the book, I would have liked to actually see MORE there. But perhaps Merrin's shadow WAS her innocence. Her seemingly altruistic decision may have been the ultimate selfish act. Maybe she was protecting herself far more than she was protecting Ig. I think so. The easy thing to do was walking away. The hard thing would have been staying and facing her own personal demons.

Satan embraced as the original superhero, or Satan as the primordial fucking curse? I've no idea, but shades of grey is all we have...


Indeed! Isn't that all we ever have? Is there ever an easy choice? Do we cut the baby in half? Solomon never had the choices we are faced with today - and in the same breath, all choices are the same. We are universally damned to our human condition.

Just a great name, and an exquisitely tailored all-in-one velvet cap & waistcoat.


Too cool. :wink:

(p.s. Okay, you know you're on an intellectual site when the bot-prevention question is "What is the fourth planet in the solar system"!! :lol: )
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Doose333 on Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:55 pm

Come to think of it, Ig's damnation as an innocent man made little sense to me either, or why exactly he was damned. By guilt? By the memory? For pissing on the Virgin Mary?

was it really damnation or is it more a means to an end. I kind of viewed it as after losing Merrin, Ig was dead inside. He was given a chance to set things right but perhaps whatever forces were behind the giving of the powers needed it to be when it happened, if it had happened at any other time Ig would not have been able to accomplish his goals.

Satan embraced as the original superhero, or Satan as the primordial fucking curse? I've no idea, but shades of grey is all we have...

You could also view this as a Darth Vader kind of character. A dark scary, powerful being, that in the end is really a good person pushed to extremes, having to do "evil" things to balance the universe.
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Damien_England on Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:34 pm

:mrgreen: Wow, thanks guys and esp. Selena for that fab point-by-point reply sesh. I'll avoid the trap of boring myself shitless navel-gazing pop culture refs this time (dead ... horse ... flogging ... it. :cry: )

Think I did myself a bit of a disservice on the gooseberry juice saying I don't like magical realism. It really depends how the concept plays out with the rest of it. In Horns, I loved the concept, I loved Merrin. I got pissed off with Ig morphing between human being I cared about one minute, and a metaphysical/horror/pastiche/theological satire/snake charming furnace dweller the next.

As for the overloaded symbols, I agree about the surfeit of ideas echoing some universal dischord, smorgasbord, attention defecit, whatever, or even the weight Ig's forced to carry, but I really meant that more in terms, not of general atmosphere (the ambience of sin, human frailty, and confusion is fantastic in HORNS) but how certain ideas or themes for me, began to choke one another towards the end and monkey with the narrative. Hard to explain, but it reminded me a little of King's "The Sundog" - awesomely clever concept that just collapses by the end into a sonic fire and light show.

I need a second reading to get a better handling of the ending, but it was enough for me to know their treehouse of the mind led Ig to the attic and the letter, without the fireworks that came after. It was enough to know Merrin had flashed the cross at him in church without more hoopla with the crucifix afterwards. I LOVE the point you raised about Merin's decision potentially being rooted in fear, i.e: of saving herself from the pain of facing it the hard way, and how that could account for a less than clear cut salvation in a hereafter, and I agree - I WOULD much rather read a novel with the balls to send its protagnosists to hell rather than Heaven, however that reunion is interpreted, spiritually speaking.

So I'm left wracking my brains as to why, after the letter, I simply just stopped caring. Not really a skeptic, just emotionally spent on "US." The scene with Terry & Glenna coming back to the foundry and surveying the devastation felt quite generic action movie too. Tad bolted on. Y'know, the kinda epilogue scene you see at the end of a blockbuster. This sounds fucked up, but I could almost see the camera panning up the ashen branches of the old tree as Terry disappeared into the dust, and a CG imp flying into the camera for the credits set to thrash metal. God help us if some MTV tosser for a director gets his hands on this material. I know Joe has quite a laissez-faire attitude to the process, but seriously. Watch out. :roll:

Oh, and Doose - as for Darth n' the devil, he was badly burnt, liked fetish leather, and fell into a lava pit so man, you must be onto something. :twisted:
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Betsy_Boo on Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:21 pm

I feel like an imposter even commenting on this thread. You are all truly brilliant writers!

BTW...I loved Glenna as a character, but that's probably because I relate to her. So earnest, so caring but just a tad bit trailer park.
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Re: Thoughts of A Devil's Advocate (Spoilers)

Postby Selena on Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:46 pm

Damien_England wrote::mrgreen: Wow, thanks guys and esp. Selena for that fab point-by-point reply sesh. I'll avoid the trap of boring myself shitless navel-gazing pop culture refs this time (dead ... horse ... flogging ... it. :cry: )

Think I did myself a bit of a disservice on the gooseberry juice saying I don't like magical realism. It really depends how the concept plays out with the rest of it. In Horns, I loved the concept, I loved Merrin. I got pissed off with Ig morphing between human being I cared about one minute, and a metaphysical/horror/pastiche/theological satire/snake charming furnace dweller the next.

As for the overloaded symbols, I agree about the surfeit of ideas echoing some universal dischord, smorgasbord, attention defecit, whatever, or even the weight Ig's forced to carry, but I really meant that more in terms, not of general atmosphere (the ambience of sin, human frailty, and confusion is fantastic in HORNS) but how certain ideas or themes for me, began to choke one another towards the end and monkey with the narrative. Hard to explain, but it reminded me a little of King's "The Sundog" - awesomely clever concept that just collapses by the end into a sonic fire and light show.

I need a second reading to get a better handling of the ending, but it was enough for me to know their treehouse of the mind led Ig to the attic and the letter, without the fireworks that came after. It was enough to know Merrin had flashed the cross at him in church without more hoopla with the crucifix afterwards. I LOVE the point you raised about Merin's decision potentially being rooted in fear, i.e: of saving herself from the pain of facing it the hard way, and how that could account for a less than clear cut salvation in a hereafter, and I agree - I WOULD much rather read a novel with the balls to send its protagnosists to hell rather than Heaven, however that reunion is interpreted, spiritually speaking.

So I'm left wracking my brains as to why, after the letter, I simply just stopped caring. Not really a skeptic, just emotionally spent on "US." The scene with Terry & Glenna coming back to the foundry and surveying the devastation felt quite generic action movie too. Tad bolted on. Y'know, the kinda epilogue scene you see at the end of a blockbuster. This sounds fucked up, but I could almost see the camera panning up the ashen branches of the old tree as Terry disappeared into the dust, and a CG imp flying into the camera for the credits set to thrash metal. God help us if some MTV tosser for a director gets his hands on this material. I know Joe has quite a laissez-faire attitude to the process, but seriously. Watch out. :roll:

Oh, and Doose - as for Darth n' the devil, he was badly burnt, liked fetish leather, and fell into a lava pit so man, you must be onto something. :twisted:


I appreciate this SO much... I've been struggling, too, since I read it... It isn't that it wasn't good. It was. It isn't that it wasn't "as good" as HSB. I actually felt the characters (and esp the main char - Ig) were more likable (I never did connect with or like Jude very much...) but there was SOMETHING "off" for me. You've helped me identify some of those things. See, this is why I love details-people! :wink: I thought it was just because it wasn't as fast-paced as HSB, but that wasn't quite everything...

I, too, was frustrated with Ig's back-and-forth, and I TOTALLY resonated when you referenced Sundog. *nodding* That was exactly it. And the ending... it probably couldn't have ended any other way, really, but yes, it felt very action-movie to me, too. The camera panning, yep yep, I saw it all.

I think, at the end, it lost it's humanness at that point for me, and that's when I stopped caring. Even in magical realism, it's the HUMAN factor that makes us care, even if freakishly weird and otherworldly things are happening. I need that human connection, or I'm gone. Somewhere along the way, Ig lost that. Maybe that, though, was the point.

I really appreciate your perspective, Damien! Thanks so much for sharing it!
*~*~Selena~*~*
Selena
 
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