In August I wrote my friend-back-home (Molly) a crammed-in story-short on the back of a Sandman postcard, and I had forgotten that I had taken a keepsake photo. The story is another Old John Grim-er, who is some disreputable character I fashioned after – and I just can’t be more honest! – Tom Waits (or my imagined-up, yellow-toothed crooked Tom) and my wild untameable backyard. No foolin’! I lost my eye to a creepvine (and I wear a daisy there for good measure).
Front of the Story Card (with a little how-do from Death!)
The Back of the Story Card
Old John Grim sat on a porch and you smiled at him on your way to work, and he smiled back with teeth like yellow dominoes. He was smoking a pipe and he smelled like a clove and he had eyes like no man. And he was there in the morning, and he was there through the night. One day, for no particular reason, you said Hello. He said Hello. Then you said Goodbye – and he said Goodbye. And when he died, you gathered up all the old newspapers piled in his yard and you wrapped him up like a present and you mailed him to New Orleans, because that’s where he belonged. Then, one hot summer day, you got yourself a delivery. In a gold and charcoal box lined with shag was a 1952 quarter and a bag of yellow dominoes that smiled back at you when you opened it.
I thoroughly enjoy doing this stuff, and I think – I hope! – Molly got a kick out of it.
This week, Chris Wilson’s and my reviews come together at The Graphic Classroom as “The Bard in Two Parts,” where we make a sizable dent reviewing Shakespeare adaptations.
The Merchant of Venice by Gareth Hinds
Shakespeare has weathered countless adaptations into prose, comics, new-theater, and films – and most of the time with mixed reviews. Generally, these efforts come of rash underlining and focus on just one of a multi-thematic reading, and consequently forget that —let’s say — the boy Hamlet’s rage conveniently dissects the royal-line from Denmark, or that Fortinbras had crossed the border with an army. While a little less popular, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE has been hammered into film history (at least six by my count!) and multiple retellings (like Arnold Wesker’s play THE MERCHANT), and — like here — into its second graphic novel.
Part of my collection-development plan here in Bradford is to punctuate a wicked-awesome graphic novel section with classic adaptations; while I don’t foster any illusions about making unaware youngins fans of The Bard, I do think it’s important to make available certain canonized works in fresher mediums – if available. I did the same with Beowulf, as it — like Shakespeare — is almost always force-fed through a dated edition to sophomores who couldn’t give a damn. Archaic language does of a student an enemy make, anon. I am, however, skeptical of adaptations, but because I had already just a solid experience with Gareth Hinds, I jumped on THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
I wasn’t disappointed.
You can read the rest here. What’s cool is that Gareth Hinds responded, saying: “Thanks! That’s a great review — very positive and also very thoughtful and well-written. Please pass along my thanks to Michael.” Received and lauded, o’ great one. Candlewick Press will be publishing his King Lear in ’09 and The Odyssey in ’10.
Spend any given time in a particular library system and you’ll become well acquainted with the ghostly undercurrent of patronage. A book misplaced on the shelves is lost; there is an abyss nearby where doomed socks go that is an aisle, tattered and never-ending, where wayward volumes sit. The patrons of this necropolis can come above, too. A shadow of a man today donated two boxes of books. They were left on the circulation disk, sitting there when I arrived.
Its tastes were mine. Classics (and Austen), and SciFi, and Arnold and Sagan. I couldn’t resist the gifts! – I shadowed a pristine copy of Watership Down, a beaten-up The Gunslinger, and an old Latin Composition from 1901.
It’s a shame it left no rosary for me to brandish when it comes for them after-hours.