An olio-podrida of a post

Well, Kick-Ass was a most enjoyable way to spend an evening. I won’t be too spoilery here, but the most significant difference between the movie and the comic rests on the concept of failure. The comic is far more open to genuine failure while the film moves towards a more conventional notion of the protagonist arc. That isn’t a criticism: there’s a particular pleasure in seeing a convention judiciously deployed, and there’s at least one moment where I (according to Mr Millar) “orgasmically whooped”. Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl) steals the show, but my abiding memory will be Nicholas Cage’s creepy channelling of Adam West.

I’m going to hold off reviewing the latest Green Lantern issues (as well as Mark Millar’s new Nemesis) since the whole epic concludes next week. Amongst the other books this week, I’ve really enjoyed Allan Massie’s The Royal Stuarts. Massie has a wonderful capacity to balance the broadest historical knowledge with a novelistic empathy for individual circumstances. It somehow never struck me that Charles I, on his way to the scaffold, must have remembered the fate of his grandmother, Mary Queen of Scots, at Fotheringhay. Likewise, the “mournful procession of the James” (two murdered, two killed in battle, none living longer than 43) seems less of a dynastic failure when put in the context of the civil wars in England and France. Just started Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey, which certainly deserves its comparisons to Calvino and Borges; and for non-fiction I’ve picked up Matthew Dennison’s biography of Livia, the wife of Caesar Augustus. Plus, I have a stack of books from Imprint Academic – their new Library of Scottish Philosophy, including selections from James Beattie, Adam Ferguson and Dugald Stewart. Life is short, as they say, and the reading list long. I also read David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: if he doesn’t win the Booker this year, it’s a travesty.

Is this the future of reading?

A couple of curiosities as well: the great Canadian poet Christian Bök, whose work I’ve enthusiastically reviewed, has embarked on a new project. Poets have always aimed for immortality, and his work may be about to achieve it by being encoded in the DNA of a bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans (a hardy lifeform nicknamed Conan the Bacterium). It will outlive humanity, although the Giant Sentient Scorpions of the year 86,329 will probably lack the key to his poetic cipher. Reminds me of Shelley Jackson’s project of using tattoos on different people to create a novel. And is the best cross-over of all time…. Aliens vs Pooh?

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