Monthly Archives: June 2015

Mr. Holmes and the Inclusion of an Iconic, if Horrific, 20th Century Event

Sir Ian McKellen‘s (@IanMckellen) newest film, Mr. Holmes (@MrHolmesMovie), is an interesting take on the all too familiar Sherlock Holmes tradition of super-sleuth-doing-super-sleuthing kind of stuff, albeit as he’s nearing the end of his life and suffering the effects of old age. However, having just watched the film, I’m left somewhat perplexed at the inclusion of a direct reference to the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m perplexed because I guess I’m meant to be. What I mean by this is that the film-makers obviously meant this aspect of the film to have such an effect, because it jars one’s sensibilities at the point of reference, causing one to perform a kind of cinematic double-take, where you’re sitting in your comfy cinema chair, feeling all caught up in the scenes of England-of-yesteryear, what with steam trains and old cars and men in hats and women in gloves and apiaries and stuff, and then you catch a glimpse of a Japanese woman with horrific scarring to her face, just before you see the sign for Hiroshima Station and the scorched landscape beyond.

Teaser_poster_for_Mr_Holmes

And I guess my problem with feeling perplexed about this is that it’s just way too oblique as a reference, and as such can be readily disposed of before we set our minds to work on the purpose of its inclusion, and believe you me, there is a purpose to its inclusion, it’s just that it’s way too disjointed from the rest of the film to make itself known readily or to haunt us in the way that such an event should haunt us. Whilst still in the midst of my perplexity, I feel it’s a little too soon to come to any sort of conclusion (so watch this space), but wanted to give mention to a Hiroshima reference that works exactly as intended in describing the sense of horror that accompanies the senseless use of an horrific weapon on hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The reference to which I allude is Georges Bataille’s “Concerning the Accounts Given by Residents of Hiroshima” (1947), trans. Alan Keenan, in Trauma: Explorations in Memory, ed. Cathy Caruth (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 221-235. Perhaps the film-makers should read it, then reflect on their use of such an event?


James Ellroy: Visions of Noir

A must for fans of James Ellroy’s work…

English Postgraduates

‘James Ellroy: Visions of Noir’, 2nd July 2015, will be held at the University of Liverpool and sponsored by the Department of English. This conference will examine Ellroy’s influence on the genre, his inspirations as a writer and his achievements in forging an idiosyncratic and unique style. We seek to foster an interdisciplinary approach in order to explore subjects such as Ellroy’s reinterpretation of the history of Los Angeles and the United States, as well as the connections between genre fiction and cinema through film noir. Our keynote speaker is journalist and critic Woody Haut, who has written on how Ellroy’s work has led to a reassessment of crime fiction as ‘at its most subversive not when it retreats into the confines of the genre, but when it stretches its narrative boundaries and rules regarding subject, style and plot.’ His works include Neon Noir: Contemporary American Crime Fiction (1999)…

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Walter Mosley Event – 2nd July

A great event to attend for anyone interested in crime fiction…

English Postgraduates

Walter Mosley heads to the city from New York for a rare UK appearance. Hosted by Writing on the Wall, the event will explore a shared literary heritage and transatlantic experiences of race, class and equality. Walter Mosley is one of the most versatile and admired writers in America today. He is the author of more than 43 critically acclaimed books, including the major best selling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins and Devil in a Blue Dress. His work has been translated into 23 languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Click the image below for a link to ticket sales for this event.

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Madeline Heneghan Co- Director, Writing on the Wall says:
‘It’s a real coup to have such an iconic…

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Top-Knots, DFW, Men’s Fashion

A radio interview with David Foster Wallace’s sister, Amy, hears her tell of DFW wearing his hair in a top-knot and being discouraged to do so by his family, sensitively, so as not to hurt his feelings. Amy’s explanation of why DFW should not be wearing his hair in a top-knot was that it’s kind of the thing that little girls do – I’m paraphrasing here – and that the reason the family had to be so sensitive about breaking this news to him was that he had a problem with feeling that he wasn’t ‘masculine’ enough. But DFW was obviously rocking this look at a time when others weren’t – and fair play to him for that. Doing anything that makes you stand out is kind of tough, and wearing a top-knot sometime in the 80s, I’m guessing from Amy’s recollections, must have been a pretty hard look to pull off for a guy from the Mid-West. Fair enough, you might say, but, what of the current surge in top-knot wearing?tumblr_mwypodYTTl1s968ago1_1280

The current trend for top-knot wearing is interesting, and controversial. It doesn’t always work, but don’t knock a person for trying. Anyhoo, here are a couple of links to do with men wearing top-knots – although the New York The AWL feature has lots of pictures of ones worn at the back of the head – surely not a top-knot by its very definition (a top-knot should be worn above the occipital bone, and preferably above the recession, IM humble O).


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