The discussion you started earlier continued. There will be even more later in the week. Be sure to come back tomorrow as well, as Stephen Graham Jones will be guest blogging.
The Roundtable Continued:
I didn’t think the footnotes were as successful as a storytelling device, When I think of digressions, I think of Herodotus---called the Father of History, the Father of Lies. His book The Histories contains all sorts of digressions. He spends a good portion of the book talking about Egyptian history. That’s the kind of storytelling I enjoy. Since the footnotes interrupted my flow of reading, I regarded them as unwanted intrusions. Even after getting into a flow of reading, looking up at the story and looking down at the footnotes, I didn’t like them that much.
I did like that it was a trilogy and I agree with Anne that the middle section was the weakest. I liked the deconstruction of the horror genre going on throughout the book. That was its strength to me. At first I was worried---it can be really annoying to watch a film with a film geek. Did anyone else like that aspect of the book?
I don’t think I had as much of a problem with the second section as the rest of you seemed to. To be honest, my larger problem was with the very beginning of the novel, which, in retrospect, should have been expected based on the idea of Jones writing this study of a trilogy of movies – there was the whole having to learn the characters and have all of the camera angles set up, etc.
Getting back to the footnotes for one more aspect of them – do you believe they are all accurate? Do they need to be? This was, after all, a novel. Did you assume Jones did his research on everything? Or that possibly he truly is an expert on both horror movies and 80’s hair metal bands? Did the fact that Black Christmas really was a movie, or that Cinderella really pumped out three or four albums in the late 80’s lead to your assumption that everything in the footnotes was from our own reality, and not necessarily the reality of the fictional world Jones created?
Based on the premise of the book, and the fact that I recognized many of the movie titles and band names, I have to admit, I assumed they were accurate and believed Jones probably did research on the movies. I thought he might have known the music – there wasn’t that much information in that area and that which he included is pretty common if you were a fan of the hair metal genre – though when he slides out of the hair metal bands, and the movie business, I’m not as sure. Were I to find out that something was not exactly accurate, as I believe most of it to be so, I don’t think it would affect my reading of the book.
I’ll have to answer “all of the above” in regards to the validity of the footnotes. Jones really does possess an encyclopedic knowledge of many things. Horror films, music, literature, manufacturers of cowboy boots, old-fashioned western shirts with pearl snaps, and Conan are just a few areas of expertise for him. So I’m quite certain that many of the footnotes simply flew off the top of his head.
At the same time, the movie information was so extensive and exhaustive, with release dates, directors, and other specific facts, that I assumed he also did some serious research. I believe I’ve seen him allude to various reference books that bolstered the movie data. And, of course, he refers to sources such as Mark Whitehead’s SLASHER MOVIES in the acknowledgments section. And that is a real book, or at least it’s on Amazon, which hints at my next point…
While I tip my cap to Jones’s extensive knowledge of these subjects, and to his detailed research, I’m not necessarily ready to believe that every single footnote is one hundred percent true. As Dan says, “This was, after all, a novel.” So I’m also willing to accept the fact that he might have twisted some “facts” to support the needs of the story or even a particular page. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the footnotes are small whimsies, seeded throughout the text the way mischevious software developers sprinkle Easter eggs throughout their code.
And, finally, there is always the potential for error. With this many notes it would be an understandably human issue to just flat out get a fact wrong.
All of which is to say that I don’t believe the veracity or accuracy of the footnotes matters at all to the enjoyment of the book. I didn’t read these footnotes as scientific fact. Unlike some people, those folks who actually wanted to see if gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate make napalm, I didn’t feel the urge to fact check. There were a few footnotes that I questioned but they didn’t impact my thoughts on the novel. The footnotes enabled me to add a few movies to my Netflix queue so that was real enough for me.
I agree with Scott’s assertion that if all of the footnotes are not accurate it would not change my enjoyment level. In fact, to be truthful, I think if I don’t find out that he made up at least one or two things I’d probably be more disappointed than to find out he made an error with one he intended to be correct.
Did Jones’ afterward prompt to think about looking for any of the many other examples he gave of books, comics, movies, etc. that had intrusions such as his own use of footnotes?
Have to say, I also thought that some of the dialogue was just a little short, or maybe flat. But I think that it worked due to the horror film aspect of the novel, where in a novel that I might have tried to read as something more realistic, that is, within our world, I think this would have bothered me.
And, not to give it away, but was the ending a surprise to anybody? Did the reference to the name on the notebook cause you at all to think of the short film that Jones acknowledges in his afterward? It’s the first thing that I thought of when I read the name – and I must admit, it was one of the first film references I would have caught without him stating it. Did anybody else think it was slightly odd that he noted this in the afterward and not in a footnote?