Thursday, February 01, 2007

I Hate You I Hate You I Hate You!

And now that the commercials are running for your new lobotomy, it is hard to keep believing that you did, indeed, DIE, before writing that twitching abortion called HANNIBAL. It was the only thing I could believe after reading that idiotic, narcissistic, five-dollar handjob that was created for the sole purpose of the nickel-slot porn climax of getting the evil doctor and Clarice Starling together. Take notes, kids: this is how you go from and exciting and creative artist to money-grubbing hack job with one whiff of a gold-plated Oscar. Little bitch.

I read Hannibal once. My stomach started sinking sometime after the first part when Harris switched from straight third person to over-dramatic second person with no reason, other than a need to step in and say, "Hi! Lookit me! I'm a famous storyteller! Hi!" Through the course of the book, it just got worse, and predicting the inevitable bullshit ending became painfully easy. Part of the exhilaration of Silence of the Lambs was the indefinable relationship between Starling and Lecter. It was an uncomfortable intimacy with shades of sexuality, mentoring, paternal love, and a deep undercurrent of fear. After all, Lecter is a crazy fuck. Right? Not that it mattered in Hannibal. Suddenly "crazy fuck" equaled "sexy beast." Right.

Other things that made it all go wrong:

  1. Krendler. Clarice screws up on the job and a bit character from Lambs becomes the Evil Villain in Hannibal. Krendler is just one of the many characters who comes back for Hannibal, and he's not just an annoying, power-hungry bureaucrat anymore, he's like some kind of comical study in "bad guy" overkill. Except the author isn't joking. Krendler's demise is ridiculously gory and the sign of an author who is overcompensating from the pressure of too much success.
  2. The emasculation of Agent Crawford. His wife is dying, his loses the will to go on, can't help Clarice with her problems, and eventually dies of a heart attack. By removing Crawford--another source of conflicted feelings for Clarice in Lambs--from the equation, the path to Lecter is cleared. This isn't at all transparent.
  3. The forced cameos of just about everyone from Lambs. Barney from the institution shows up, even Senator Martin has a small bit. Ardelia Mapp is there, too, of course. It is clearly difficult for Harris to come up with new characters; when he does, they are over-the-top and completely unbelievable, for instance...
  4. Verger. Great idea at first. This is the guy Lecter put in the hospital all those years ago--a curiosity in the first two novels and now, finally, the reader learns the extent of his injuries. And that he is also a Crazy Fuck. Yippity-do. It's a crazy town throw down. But then we learn his method of revenge and it all gets very silly. It's like reading a screenplay for Friday the 13th Part 14--what new and inventive ways can we think of to kill people that will involve buying lots of cow intestines and buckets of dyed syrup? Throughout the book, Harris delights in playing "What's grosser than gross?" If only his audience consisted only of 12-year-olds. Maybe it does now.
  5. The Ending. What can be said of the fumbling, infantile leap in logic that brings Clarice and Dr. Lecter together? Drugs, the end of her career, and her dead father's bones drive Clarice straight to crazy town, apparently. Not to say that Lecter can't find love somewhere...I suppose even crazy-killer-fugitive-cannibals can find love...but not with Clarice. She was special because she was a real, honest, flesh and blood girl--what he valued in her also rendered her untouchable to him. I think Lecter would have seen it exactly that way. It is true that they felt something for each other, but not THAT. And to take it there felt dirty and fumbling in the backseats of cars with those once mentioned boys. Cheap.

Needless to say, the sight of Hannibal Rising makes my skin crawl. Not for fear, but for rage and, ultimately, simple disappointment in an author I once admired.


Blogger whirleegig said...

I did not read it because you told me not to and I was a dutiful girl. Thanks for the advice!
Too bad I saw that miserable movie. At least I didn't pay for it. I saw it on the TeeVee.

1:15 AM  

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