Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Human Form a Fiery Forge

I can think of no better way to begin the new year--and this new blog--than with a dynamic discussion of a very ancient force: evil. In Thomas Harris's novels, evil is more than an adjective; it's architecture--originless, adamantine. It's every brick holding up the cathedral (or, in Hannibal's parlance, the Memory Palace), and it endures. It's this quality of endurance that makes Hannibal such a fascinating figure; there's no stopping him. What he does, he does--he's just a speeding bullet, beautifully machined.

At least, that's what Steve and I have been telling each other for more than a year now. We each read the books that make up the Hannibal saga years ago, and the action captured us. In bars, on the streets of Iowa City, in different people's apartments--on scratchy cell phone calls between Iowa and L.A. for Pete's sake--we've tried our best to nail down and synthesize the best features of Harris' engrossing narrative. And now? The newest installment, Hannibal Rising, has just been released from Delacorte Press. How can we resist? We've gotta take this conversation worldwide.

Over the next weeks, Steve and I will look at the new novel, and the whole Hannibal series, from a variety of perspectives. I'll tell you now that my focus will be on how the system of evil that Harris so expertly configures in his first two works--Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs--evolves over time. If you're wondering about how I read the third book, Hannibal, I've got plenty to say about what happens to the idea of evil there, too.

So, I'm off to purchase my copy of Hannibal Rising. Also in my holster: Dragon, Lambs, and Hannibal. Maybe some poetry, as well. I'm hoping Steve will come across with his unique brand of textual analysis--and I'd like to hit him up for his take on the various film adaptations, too. This is going to be cool.

3 comments:

Edan Lepucki said...

I am too much of a coward to read Thomas Harris himself, but I can't wait to read your potent analyses.

My name is Patrick Brown said...

I'd be especially interested in hearing what you guys think of Manhunter vs. the other Lecter adaptations. I'm a Michael Mann guy myself, so I think Cox is the one true Lecter. Hopkins can slurp, suck, and sneer all he likes...

Kiki said...

Point taken, Patrick--I'll leave the true film analysis to Steve (who I suspect will agree with your comment, esp. concerning Mann's directorial genius). For my own part, it's impossible to read these books without seeing Hopkins as Lecter in every scene. This is because, in my youth, I saw "Lambs" before reading any of the books. D'oh.