black leopard, red wolf (book). the last four fantasy novels i've read have all begun with some variation on "those who appear in this account" lists of dramatis personae. that could seem cute or superfluous, as the maps that frequently accompany them often are (the maps in this book, speaking of, are pretty unnecessary), but without a robust character list black leopard, red wolf would be confusing as hell. in fact, it is confusing as hell even when you can flip back to the beginning to remind yourself that the ipundulu is a vampire lightning bird and that sasabonsam (who drinks blood, except when he doesn't) is the winged brother of asanbosam (who eats flesh), and so on. it is also exhausting, as the very stories-within-stories structure and super-intricate world-building that have inspired comparisons to tolkien's middle earth, george r.r. martin's lands of ice and fire, and, like, hieronymus bosch make it extremely slow going. the comparison to george r.r. martin is an important one, for marlon james is equally fixated on sexual violence; it's been a long time since i've read something even more rape-y than a game of thrones, &c. james uses it to make important points about everything from power and exploitation to trauma and identity, and i can appreciate that, but it's rough going. that said, james blends african mythological and storytelling traditions with magical realism and surrealism to create something both ancient and new. i have absolutely no idea if it would appeal to the majority of fantasy readers, but i know i'm going to head back and read james's a brief history of seven killings, and i'll read the sequel to black leopard, red wolf when he writes it. i'm budgeting a month for it, though.

the invisible man (film). if you're the sort of person who worries that seeing too many trailers for thrillers will ruin them for you, i have bad news and good news about the invisible man. bad: as a reboot of one of universal's classic monster movies (along with dracula, frankenstein, the mummy, and so on, although most of the reboots were scrapped after the mummy tanked), its premise and basic structure aren't much of a secret even if you didn't see a bunch of previews for it on cable television this month (though this version centers the victim, elisabeth moss, rather than her tormentor*). good: even if you have been marinating in those previews, at least two of the scenes in them—including one so striking that it's featured as a still in the majority of the movie reviews i've seen—aren't in the movie at all! put that in your juul and smoke it! the invisible man was written and directed by leigh whannell (who also wrote saw**), a detail that could have squelched my interest in the movie if i'd known it ahead of time. i did not know it ahead of time, however, and i am glad that i carried on with our friday-night plan of overpaying for a home-premiering new movie and watching it from our sofas as though we were at our beloved nitehawk cinema in williamsburg. we had to make our own snacks, which was unfortunate, but we could get up to pee whenever we wanted without missing anything (the invisible man is, oddly, more than two hours long), which was pretty great. anyway, it was entertaining, especially if you get a kick out of bad things happening to tech zillionaires.

*fun fact: a tormentor is also "a fixed curtain or flat on each side of a theater stage that prevents the audience from seeing into the wings." related: teasers. quarantrivia!

**i couldn't sleep the other night and a twitter thread about cary elwes sent me down an internet rabbit hole that involved reading plot summaries of all of the saw movies. it was a dark time.

No comments: