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Journal of No. 118


November 23rd, 2012

Shambling Towards Hiroshima, by James Morrow @ 08:59 pm


Shambling Towards Hiroshima is kind of an odd duck, even coming from a guy who wrote about a two mile long dead Jehovah floating in the Atlantic. But where some of his other books tackle some mighty big questions in a mighty amusing and thoughtful manner, Shambling only nudges up against the big question of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Mostly, it's a lighthearted romp, as the Navy turns to the Hollywood monster movie makers to help out on a secret project involving weaponized iguanas of unusual size. It's nice to see fictionalized Willis O'Briens, James Whales, and the like coming along for the ride. It does turn less wacky at the end, since it's hard to derive a good belly-laugh from the hibakusha. Unfortunately, that turn doesn't work very well. Not that I'm averse to having my romp taking a turn for the dark -- and it's not like it comes outta nowhere, since there are not too many degrees of separation between radiation and some of those early kaiju films, starring Men in Suits -- but that it isn't done very effectively in the story. It is largely told, not shown -- coming out of the mouth of a character, rather than forming an integral part of the novel. Nevertheless, very enjoyable as a quick, quirky read.


Also, Morrow makes an egregious error (ok, maybe it's just the narrator who is unreliable) when he says the source material for The Haunted Palace is Lovecraft's Colour Out of Space, rather than The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.


I stumbled on an essay by Morrow about the book, and find myself half-lamenting that I don't live in the alternate universe in which his first idea was completed:
As my wife and I walked out of the lamentable Roland Emmerich version of Godzilla, I turned to her and said, “You know, even in degraded form, it’s still a potent myth. I’m going to try doing something with it myself.”

So I went home and outlined a novel called What Rough Beast, which I never wrote. According to my notes, Godzilla travels to Washington DC in 1995 to inspect the controversial Enola Gay exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute, his intention being to incinerate the city unless the curators prove willing to acknowledge certain political, military, and human truths about Hiroshima.



Yeats, fer Crissakes. Read a book!
 
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Journal of No. 118