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Beware the grotesquery - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Beware the grotesquery
I've heard of "grotesqueries" before, with lines like "his eyes slid up her body" being used as examples of things that are, well--off-putting. But in that case, we know what it means: his gaze on her. It's not that hard. So I didn't take those warnings particularly seriously.

Until I picked up the novelization of X-Men 3. I won't put a spoiler about the exact situation, since it's vaguely possible that someone didn't see it this summer, but the scene involves the character Wolverine kneeling by a grave. It has previously talked about his adamantium claws being extended and retracted, and how sharp they are. And then, in what's, I'm sure, meant to be touching, instead of "touching the gravestone" or "laying his his fingers on the stone" or whatever, which would be clear images, he, and I am not joking, "laid a set of fingertips on the grave." A set. Not necessarily his, not in any way attached to him. I could not shake the image of him putting down a bag of fingertips he'd accidentally clipped off with his claws, maybe while he was sitting there in meditation.

Please, Mr. Wolverine... stick to just touching the stone, kthnxbai. I didn't need the image of discarded body parts left among the flowers.
29 comments or Leave a comment
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: October 12th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL. Ewwww....

You know what? Most novelizations are really poorly written, even when the author has done some decent tie-in or original work. Every time I pick one up, I'm like, please, hire me to do this, because frankly I could make this work as a novel rather than a glorified script.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 12th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, other than that line, this one isn't too bad. Not great literature, but not bad.

But it's true. My favorite example of a horrible one was Salvatore's Attack of the Clones. Here, you have a prime chance to look into Anakin's psyche during the highly emotional Tusken massacre, and the best he can do is, more or less, "Boy, he was really mad." The juvie novelization was much better. (I even remember the last line, about the wedding, in which Padmé thinks that here, "there was only Anakin, and the scent of dying roses.")
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: October 12th, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, other than that line, this one isn't too bad. Not great literature, but not bad.

That's probably because Claremont wrote X-Men comics from 1975-1991 (and brief stints after that), so he's at ease with it. I still find he's too wordy, but he knows the characters.
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: October 12th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh yeah, I remember that...I thought that was a good ending line too. The adult novelization kept having weird lines and turns of phrase--like Anakin was constantly "assuming a casual pose" or some similar phrase.

What did you think of the RotS novelization? I forget who wrote it...Matthew Stover. Okay. For some reason I keep getting him and Salvatore confused. Whatever the case, I read that one a while ago, but I remember really enjoying it--the author did some interesting things with introspection on different characters at important plot points, playing with style and such...I don't remember exactly, but it struck me as a book the author tried to make good on its own merits rather than just a novelization.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 12th, 2006 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was better written, but there were apparently way too many red herrings floating around, and I hated most of them with an abiding passion. (Especially the whole, "Oh, Padmé trusted Obi-Wan so much more than HER OWN DAMNED HUSBAND" line of thought. It's one thing to say, "I'm not sure I can trust him," it's another thing entirely to latch oneself onto another man and never even attempt trust of the one you love.)
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: October 12th, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've actually been planning to read this one, because Stover is pretty awesome. My second-favorite Extended Universe Star Wars novel is "Traitor," which was one of his, and did what I thought was impossible: reworked our understanding of the Force without destroying the earlier understanding of it. Balanced and painful.
greyathena From: greyathena Date: October 12th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
that made me laugh out loud. :) I'm always entertained by those types of "wow, I really think you meant to phrase this differently" situations.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 12th, 2006 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know. It's like Leno's headlines, or those supposed mistakes people make on insurance forms (I somehow doubt they're real). In realistic fiction, you might be able to sort of get away with it, but in SF/F, where it's distinctly possible that eyeballs are rolling up people's dresses and fingertips are left lying around like cannibal's trophies, you have to be careful!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 13th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)
*snort* Now I can't get the image of some eyeballs rolling up some poor lady's skirt. As for the fingertips, I haven't read the X-Men 3 novelization, but no doubt I will henceforth associate a bag of fingertips with it. =)
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's what made it such a deeply disturbing image. It's so... plausible.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 13th, 2006 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
And potentially in character, too, with Logan, and with presumably that particular person's grave.

From: eiluned Date: October 12th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, you've discovered the joys of Chris Claremont's prose. About ten or so years ago, he wrote a set of novels that are supposed to be sequels to Ron Howard and George Lucas's film Willow. Now, I love Willow, so I thought I'd give them a try.

It was a miracle that I got through the first one. He writes entirely too much. He's too damned wordy (which comes across in his comics as well), and the purple prose...

He ought to give up comic books and start writing cheesy romance novels.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 12th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually don't mind most of it--it's bland, at worst--but I have a feeling that the severed fingertips are going to be the only image I'm left with when I've finished it. Which is bad for a book based on a movie based on comic books.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 13th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I started the Willow tie in series. A couple points for Willow using an Obiwan quote but, other than that . . . oh, the pain, the pain. Most of the characters I liked from the movie were dead or written out within the first chapter or two. That might not have been so bad if it hadn't been for the curious amnesia the other characters began to have over the ones who were missing or dead. I tend to like character driven plots and, once I've emotionally invested in characters, I tend to resent authors who toss them aside and expect me to forget about them a couple paragraphs later.

Er, getting back to Wolverine, I can see him leaving fingers on a grave given half a motivation. Of course, they'd generally be someone else's fingers, most likely ones belonging to whoever put the person in the grave in the first place. I think one of the things to come out of his healing ability is that he's not into his own pain and suffering as a way to make statements (other than statements about how much tougher he is than everyone else). He's not the type to bleed all over a grave to prove he's upset.

And he'd be more likely to casually stuff his fingers under a bush or something if he accidentally cut them off, especially if someone who would snicker at anyone incompetent enough to accidentally cut off his own fingers was around.

ratcreature From: ratcreature Date: October 12th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually with Wolverine's healing he might even be able to cut of a set of his own fingertips and leave it there without too much trouble. Granted, perhaps the adamantium coating of his skeleton might prove problematic, but he could leave the cut-off flesh of his fintertips for sure! :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 12th, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's more or less what I was picturing. And it was kind of gross. And funny. Like some weird mob warning or something.
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: October 12th, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now, I know I have a absurd sense of humour, but that cracked me up!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 12th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it was freaking hilarious. I put the book down just to imagine Wolverine sitting there, philosophically snipping off his fingertips, arranging them like a little bouquet while new ones grew back, maybe tossing in a sprig of baby's breath...

But I somehow think that wasn't what Claremont was aiming for. ;p
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: October 12th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is disturbing. And darn funny. and should totally be fic.
aebhel From: aebhel Date: October 13th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my God.

.....*dies laughing*
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: October 13th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
It has a Pythonesque quality to it.:p
prelud From: prelud Date: October 12th, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ouch! Logan, careful with those claws!
From: leeflower Date: October 12th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
*snort* This post should have come with a bevarage warning-- my keyboard only barely escaped death by coking.

Thanks for this. Man that was funny.
tante_in_hp From: tante_in_hp Date: October 12th, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Things like that reinforce my determination to become an editor. Who in their right minds let that stay in the manuscript? Ew, indeed.
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: October 13th, 2006 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Ew, what an oddly plausible image!

That novelisation really irritated me, because Claremont peppered the first half of the book with pointless digressions involving his own comic book characters who had nothing to do with the novel. After that, he must have been nearing deadline, because it gallops along to the finish with no real explanations about anything. I rarely buy novelisations, but I bought this one in the hope that it would explain what was meant to be going on with the characters in the movie. It did explain one major problem, which made me happy, but it wasn't worth the postage!
aebhel From: aebhel Date: October 13th, 2006 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, the only novelization that I recall actually enjoying was the one--I think it was written by Terry Brooks--for The Phantom Menace.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that one was actually really good, and only gets better as more info comes along--there's an early scene between Anakin and a Tusken raider that becomes desperately sad when added to the massacre later on.
aebhel From: aebhel Date: October 14th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Probably has something to do with the fact that Terry Brooks is actually a good writer in his own right, unlike a lot of the people who end up doing novelizations.
matril From: matril Date: October 13th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my. How did that one get past the editors?
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