Tänään on 14.12.2018 01:30 ja nimipäiviään viettävät: Jouko ja Ove. Käytämme EVÄSTEITÄ | MOBIILIVERSIO M.BLOGIVIRTA.FI
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Thomas Berger: Little Big Man

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The cover shows an Apache man, though the book famously depicts the Cheyenne. Photo is by Edward Curtis. I'm doing an essay on the anti-Western Western novels of the 1960's and 1970's, mainly focusing on the latter decade. I read earlier Ishmael Reed's The Yellow-Back Radio Broke Down , which I really couldn't get into, though reading some articles about it helped a bit. It was funny enough at times. Yesterday I finished a more famous novel, Thomas Berger's Little Big Man (1964) that's known also - actually better - as a movie by Arthur Penn, starring Dustin Hoffman. Neither of the books have ever been translated in Finnish, which is a pity. This was a great novel, epic in scope, hilarious in execution, though it's actually never laugh-out funny, though I remember the film being very funny. Maybe I didn't catch every meaning or phrase. As everyone knows, I'm sure, what happens in the course of the book, I won't go into there, so here are instead some observations.  Little Big Man should be included in the canon of postmodern novels. Berger uses a framing device in which a young scholar named Ralph Fielding Snell who studies American Indian culture gets to meet 121-year old Jack Crabb, whom he interviews in length. I think that's basically a postmodern narrative device, and actually a bit reminiscent of Vladimir Nabokov, especially when Fielding Snell's voice is a bit stuffy.  Jack Crabb then again is a different animal. He narrates his own story in a vernacular language that's all the time slightly off, he uses "says" and "said" in a same paragraph, and words like "knowed". With this, Berger gives him a particular voice, he's intelligent, though not educated. Crabb is also an unreliable narrator. There are moments when the reader begins to suspect this, though Crabb always comes off sincere. Fielding Snell then adds a short epilogue in which he says he thinks Crabb may not have told him a true story. Really? This is interesting, since it also gives the novel a postmodern aura. Maybe nothing in the book ever took place. It's still a great story, worth telling. (Jack Crabb's voice also makes me think this book has affected Joe Lansdale a great deal, especially Paradise Sky reminds me of Little Big Man .)  Jack Crabb is played by Dustin Hoffman in the film. It's been a while since I saw the movie, but I seem to remember he's very affable in it. In the book, Crabb is more unpleasant and more opportunist, possibly uncapable of really loving anyone, so Hoffman is possibly miscast. Am I right in this regard or did I just misinterpret everything I read?  PS. I'm not sure whether I'll ever get back to regular blogging. Seems like time is running out, and there are fewer and fewer books I read that I don't already write about, be it for a book of my own of a review, so it feels a bit weird to write about them both in English and in Finnish. Beside the essay I mentioned, I'm working on a book on Finnish horror literature, which is taking my time. Should be out next year or maybe in 2020, so don't expect too many reviews of American noir or hardboiled here soon. I hear already someone saying I should write about Finnish horror in here... 

Avainsanat: blogging big berger aura article arthur anti animal length latter language joe jack it intelligent horror hear he's funny finnish finished film fielding famous ever essay edward deal culture canon by book saw running review ralph radio played photo old movie moment me literature like yellow write who western weird voice vladimir thomas taking some sky seem scope dustin hoffman arthur penn the yellow-back radio broke down little big man ishmael reed western novels thomas berger


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