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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
12/26/08 -- Vol. 27, No. 26, Whole Number 1525
Table of Contents
Free Viewing BBC's "Day of the Triffids" (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
I have on several occasions recommended the BBC adaptation of John Wyndham's THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS. It is one of the classic science fiction novels and this adaptation is faithful enough that the viewer can sit with the book and follow page by page what is on the screen. Those who subscribe to NetFlix and can watch their "Watch Instantly films" may be pleased to know that the BBC DAY OF TRIFFIDS is one of their choices.
Incidentally, this has been a free service of NetFlix for its members, but it has been available only on PCs. It was a loss I really felt when I migrated to a Mac. As of this month the service is supported on both PCs and Macs. On PCs you must go in with Internet Explorer. On Macs it is supported through Safari. [-mrl]
The Strange Power of Hercule Poirot (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Evelyn likes detective stories. She is watching two different classic TV detective series at the same time. She is watching the David Suchet "Hercule Poirot" series and the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes" series. The Holmes stories are mysteries, pure and simple. The Poirot stories are bizarre horror stories, though the fact that they are horror is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. With the Holmes stories someone drops dead saying cryptically something like "the speckled band," and somebody will go to fetch Sherlock Holmes so he can explain to them what it meant. That is just flat mystery. A Poirot story is different and a little scary. Poirot generally is around people he knows and suddenly one of them kills another. First of all, you might thing they would wait until the self-professed "world's greatest detective" is not around. But the amazing thing is this. How many of your personal acquaintances murder each other each year? For me it is a bad year if there are more than two murders among my friends. Somehow it happens to Poirot all the time. If Poirot nipped down to the chemists' for a packet of sweet biscuits and some mustache wax you could be certain that the chemist has just secretly poisoned someone. Such is the power of Poirot. Somehow Poirot actually inspires people to kill each other with his presence alone. And then they do not expect Poirot will catch them and put them into little gray cells. [-mrl]
Calendars (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
For those of you who track such things and want to save a little money on the second most overpriced common stationary item, calendars, I pass along the following information. The year 2009 is a non-leap-year starting on a Friday. The most recent identical year was 1998 if you want to recycle an old calendar. If not, you can, as you can any year, use May of the previous year for January. Then about mid- to late January you can get a new calendar at a half or a quarter of what they cost now. (The most overpriced common stationary item is the greeting card.) [-mrl]
The Golden Decade of the Western (part 2) (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Last week I was discussing a question from John Hertz about why so many of my favorite Western films come from the 1950s. Here I am not confusing "good" and "enjoyable for me." These are my subjective reasons for liking the 1950s Western.
I was saying last week that some of the technical advances led to some of the best Western movies being made in the 1950s. And giving THE BIG COUNTRY as an example I was telling how color, high- fidelity sound, good musical scores, and widescreen all contributed. In my opinion the 1950s was really a sort of Golden Decade of the Western film. Competition with television led filmmakers to use the wide screen and Technicolor. And it is hard to overrate what the musical scores did for the Western in the 1950s.
John Ford's pre-1950s westerns had music, of course. But they were made with a mindset formed with the singing cowboy. Ford would even use familiar Americana songs to sell the film. He had film titles like SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. But Ford would rarely arrange for a good original theme. Instead he would frequently take a timeout in the film to have a song by the vocal and instrumental group The Sons of the Pioneers. In the 1950s this approach was insufficient to compete with television, but home televisions would have one speaker and not very good fidelity. A big picturesque films score gave the audience what their televisions could not. And composers like Dimitri Tiomkin, Jerome Moross, and Elmer Bernstein with their brash scores became an integral part of the Western film.
It is easier to see how the 1950s Western varied from the 1940s counterparts than from the 1960s. Certainly there were some major Westerns made in the 1960s. But there were signs that the public was tiring of the style of Westerns made the previous decade. Attempts were made to vary the style of the Western and add new element.
Prior to the 1950s, Westerns rarely questioned American values beyond perhaps lightly suggesting that perhaps the Native American should have been treated better than they were. Indians in Westerns were generally friendly pieces of scenery or boogey-men who attacked wagon trains and stray cavalry soldiers. Generally before 1960 the meaningful Western was a rarity. They would not cover any issues of any depth. (One that did was THE OX BOW INCIDENT.) THE BIG COUNTRY questioned a guns-blazing diplomacy. HIGH NOON was intended to complain about fair-weather liberals who were unwilling to stand in solidarity against McCarthyist Red Scare tactics by the government. While HIGH NOON was a liberal allegory in the 1950s, following 9/11 it has become much more adopted by the right wing. However, it had a more complex and politically charged storyline than almost any pre-1950s westerns.
So with all these elements in place, the 1950s Western when at their best could outshine their predecessors. Why did Westerns not just keep getting better? In my opinion the storyline suffered becoming either empty again, violent, or too polemical. The Italian "Spaghetti" Westerns rarely told much of a story and instead were the sewing together of as many hyper-dramatic scenes as possible. They artificially create over-the-top highpoints. The plot was not the main point of these Italian Westerns--that was the super-dramatic showdown in the street with close-up of hands reaching for guns, sweat on brows, and drawn-out tension. Sam Peckinpah's featured long drawn-out sequences of what was then strong violence. Other films were meant to spoof the earlier Westerns or just take a lighter touch. It is hard to take seriously films like BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and CAT BALLOU, because they do not takes themselves seriously.
I would say of the post-1950s Westerns THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES is to my taste one of the best. That is because of the menagerie of character types and the powerful final sequence. But generally some of the magic went out of the Western. This is not to say there are not some decent later Westerns. Clint Eastwood's UNFORGIVEN stands out. SILVERADO is a valiant attempt at the big brash western with a little comedy mixed in. It has a fine score. Its storyline muddies in the second half, however. In the 1960s and later the Western was pulling in several different directions, but was usually not telling as good a story.
And there was one more factor particularly. Education was stressing the subject of history less. In the last few decades fewer audience members really could put Westerns into the context of history. Westerns are a sub-category of historical film. For today's young viewer I think the Old West was almost of fictional universe like the "Star Wars" universe.
The Western is not dying and probably will not die. It is just becoming a rarer genre. I would say it peaked in the 1950s and today is just not what it used to be. [-mrl]
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: With marked similarities to CARRIE, this is a Swedish vampire film. Oskar, the most bullied boy in school, makes friends with a girl who appears to be his own age, but is somehow different. The somehow is that she is a vampire, living a life as isolated in her way as Oskar is in his. The two form a bond against a background of vampire-related killings. In spite of the fantasy motif this is a serious film about serious problems. Tomas Alfredson directs John Ajvide Lindqvist's adaptation of his own novel. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Every school has one. He is the one kid who is the easiest mark and the one who is always the target of cruelty. The most bullied kid is school is twelve-year-old Oskar (played by Kure Hedebrant) who is reaching a confused puberty facing his parents' broken marriage and his living without friends in an atmosphere as cold as the Swedish winter around him. One day playing with a knife, taking his frustration out on a tree, he runs into a girl just his age. Eli (Lina Leandersson) is new to his apartment block. Though she says she cannot be friends with Oskar, she is clearly interested in him. And she is strange. She seems unable to eat candy or come out in the light of day. Soon there are reports of murders in the area. One person sees an adult committing the murders, another sees it as a young girl. Eventually Eli tells her secret to Oskar. She is a vampire. Yes, she is twelve years old like Oskar, but she has been twelve for a very long time. Together they form a sensual and intellectual relationship and Eli tries to get Oscar to fight back against his tormentors. But this may not be the best plan.
The combination of young bullies, families that do not work, revenge fantasies, and supernatural powers may bring to mind Stephen King's CARRIE, though the pacing and style are all-Swedish. The viewer may want to put on a sweater before even watching this film. The cold of the setting and the insular people who talk in isolated sentences creates a real chill in this film. Oskar is the mortal, but he looks almost like he is a vampire himself with his unnaturally white skin, his light blond hair, and his bright red lips. Eli is dark-haired with wide, hypnotic eyes. Together they form a friendship that they both desperately need.
The dialog is spoken in a Bergmanesque style, frequently given with two or three beats between sentences. That makes reading the subtitles easier, but it also separates the viewer from the characters and leaves an unsettling feeling. The silences in the film speak as much as the words. For non-Swedish speakers it may be difficult to tell the adult characters apart. Frequently the viewer is left with a feeling that he does not quite follow what the film is saying. Alfredson said in an interview that he intentionally left some of the film unexplained. There certainly are unanswered questions. The final scene does not seem to fit logically with what came before it and is left unexplained.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is not a piece of throwaway fluff. It is a dark film of pain, most not of a supernatural origin. It is illuminated by the presence of presence of a vampire, but it is a deep and unsettling film. I rate LET THE RIGHT ONE IN a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1139797/
IF I WERE DICTATOR (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: This is a fluff film, a wish-fulfillment fantasy without much structure, and that is of often-questionable humor. Justin Routt writes, directs, and stars in a film that amounts to little more than a laundry list of pet peeves. Humor is a matter taste and this humor mostly is not to my taste. The story really is just an exercise in groovy fascism. One ordinary guy gets the chance to be the ruler of the world and fine-tunes it to eliminate his lowbrow pet complaints. Rating: high -1 (-4 to +4) or 3/10
IF I WERE DICTATOR is reminiscent of the old H. G. Wells classic THE MAN WHO COULD WORK MIRACLES. However, it is not nearly so polished. The soon-to-be-dictator (played by Justin Routt) is unemployed and living life in the slow lane. He is leading a pointless existence thinking about everything he does not like about the world. Then he realizes he can take what he has around the house and invent a device that makes him the ruler of the world. Suddenly he is dressing like Benito Mussolini--whom he somewhat resembles anyway--and making rules for the world to follow. (One would think the most powerful man in the world would have a slightly nicer board room.)
At this point the film could almost be a newspaper essay. An imaginative set of peeves could have made at least an amusing film. Unfortunately, the dictator's complaints are on the level that he does not like lawyers or dentists. He will say something like it is illegal to put chewing gum on the underside of a table. Then we see someone doing it and the police coming along and arresting her. A large proportion of the complaints have something to do with toilets or flatulence and the dramatization makes full use of rude noises.
That brings me to the invention that gives the dictator power over the world. This was another opportunity for Routt to have come up with an imaginative invention that would give political power. Barring a good answer to the question of what is the invention, at least it could have been left a mystery. Routt does leave it a mystery at least temporarily. Eventually we do find out what the powerful invention is, and it makes no logical sense.
I would say that Routt could not sustain the humor for the length of the film, but at least for me he really has only one or two gags that do not seem tired. Other people may like more. The film could have benefited being shorter, but it is extended long enough to really outstay its welcome. It would be one thing if Routt was making good use of this time, but it is padded showing fascinating sequences like the will-be-dictator making eggs or trimming his nose hair or cleaning a toilet. I do not have to pay to see these things in a theater. Routt needs to constantly ask if the reader is better off for having seen each scene he includes.
Best touch: The cutest character of this film is the pre-dictator's pet pig. This is Justin Routt's first film, but unless he gets just the right audience he will not go far making films like this. I rate IF I WERE DICTATOR a high -1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 3/10.
Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1322926/
THE WRESTLER (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: Boxer/actor Mickey Rourke makes an acting comeback as a professional wrestler trying to retire and come back to his personal life. Like his character, Rourke has been scarred by his years of fighting but can still make a pretty good grab for the viewer's empathy. Darren Aronofsky tells a solid character-driven drama with simplicity and impact. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
Barry Levinson's 1982 film DINER was one of those films that had an all-star cast, only nobody knew it yet. The film was a start for such familiar faces as Kevin Bacon, Steve Gutenberg, Ellen Barkin, Daniel Stern, and Paul Reiser. All these became familiar faces. One other new face was Mickey Rourke, but that face no longer even exists. Rourke balanced careers as an actor and a prize-winning boxer. Sadly, that boyish Irish face was rearranged too many times in the ring. Today it looks more like a battlefield. Rourke's face is now only occasionally recognizable as that of the same person. But he is still acting. In his new film THE WRESTLER, directed by Darren Aronofsky, he looks more like some foe of Conan the Barbarian. He wears his blond hair beyond shoulder length and has a face that looks like it has been used to slam doors. He plays a professional wrestler who knows he has to get out of the business that he has allowed to be his only life for far too long. Here for the first time Aronofsky gives us his first work that can be considered such a personal story.
Randy "the Ram" Robinson is a household name to wrestling fans. Twenty years ago he was at the top of his game. Under the credits we see wrestling magazines singing his praises. That twenty-year- old acclaim is what he lives on these days. He trades off of that fame in the wrestling circuit making barely enough money to pay his rent in a trailer park. The fights he fights are scripted morality plays with winners, losers, injuries, and moves all planned in advance. People remember that years ago he fought and won in a classic fight against another wrestler called The Ayatollah. Randy knows he has just enough name left that in the game he will get just the money to survive. His one shot at real money he will get if he agrees to a promoted rematch with The Ayatollah. He is going to cash that final chip in when he has a heart attack. He keeps secret the knowledge that he can never fight again. So it is time to retire. But does he have a life to retire to?
His best friend is Pam, a stripper at a club where Randy goes. Marisa Tomei, who unfailingly gives a good performance film after film, plays Pam. Here she has just the right balance of street vulgarity and delicacy. Randy wants Pam's help to try to win back Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) the daughter he always ignored when his fighting career came first. All this could have been cliche but Rourke and Tomei give us a very tender relationship. His effort to bond with his daughter is equally poignant. Aronofsky's REQUIEM FOR A DREAM was about drug addiction. This film is about a man addicted to the cheers of the fans. Randy's best moments have all been in front of screaming crowds and he is facing giving that up. Aronofsky's only false move is the very final shot, which verges over onto melodrama.
Mickey Rourke has what it takes to grab an audience. But how many roles are there going to come his way for his particular character type? Like his character he may have just one more shot. I rate THE WRESTLER a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10
My question is this: Popular actor Mark Margolis (who may be remembered as Alberto, the Latin assassin in SCARFACE) is fourth billed as the character Lenny. He is a favorite of Aronofsky, and I expected to see him. Was his part cut? I completely missed seeing him in the film.
Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1125849/
CHE (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: Two more of Che Guevara's diaries are adapted into film. Steven Soderbergh makes two long films that can be seen as one very long film covering Che's Cuban and Bolivian guerilla campaigns. Benicio del Toro looks the part, but Soderbergh does little to flesh out his other characters. Just following what is happening is hard work. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
CHE is not really one film but two. When I saw it, it was in two parts, one about the Cuban insurrection and one about the Bolivian one. Each part had opening titles and closing credits. I do not know if that is how it will be released, or if it will be stitched together to make a single film. It could even make a trilogy if one included Walter Salles's film, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES. All three are based on the accounts of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. "Part One" is a dramatization of his REMINISCENCES OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR and "Part Two" of his BOLIVIAN DIARY.
Then again "Part One" and "Part Two" are really not so different. They are accounts of Che in Cuba or Bolivia fighting in (or slogging through) the forest or going into little towns to win converts and to try to get food and weapons. The two accounts are somewhat disjointed dramatizations of what it is like to be a guerilla. The difference in the campaigns was probably that Batista's Cuban army was not well trained and organized. The Bolivians seem more organized from the start and had training and support from the United States. They are much more effective against the insurgency. Intercut with the Cuban insurgency is a sort of flash-forward to Guevara's 1964 trip to New York City to address the United Nations, done in a sort of documentary style and in grainy black and white. We see just a bit of disdain as he deals with Manhattan liberals, apparently feeling they only talk the talk while he walks the walk--and incidentally, shouldn't he be getting back to the revolution, any revolution? He is at home in the forest, not at a cocktail party.
One problem both parts have is that the films avoid expository lumps to explain what is going on, but at some cost the comprehensibility. United States audiences may have trouble telling characters (and occasionally armies) apart. Keeping up with the subtitles may be an additional problem, particularly since there is not enough contrast with the background to make them readable. Shooting it English-for-Spanish would be an artificial touch but would have made the film more clear. Each part starts by showing a map of the territory where that part takes place and one at a time showing the important locations. This is one step more abstract than remembering people's names at parties. Looking in on the guerilla war for about 130 minutes each part may be taxing. Seeing both films together may actually be something of a project. In addition, director Stephen Soderbergh does little to characterize the fighters or make clear what the strategies are. Here there is an almost documentary style that is a little harder to follow. We get to see a little of Che's discipline and his philosophy of fighting, but nobody beside Che is given much dimension.
Most of the actors besides Benicio del Toro will probably be unfamiliar to United States audiences. "Part Two" has small fleeting roles for Matt Damon and Lou Diamond Philips. Joaquim de Almeida may be familiar from CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER and DESPERADO. The score by Alberto Iglesias is effective, but used sparingly and is rarely used in battle scenes. Soderbergh is going for a natural documentary feel for the fighting and does not use the music to orchestrate emotion.
By seeing the two revolutionary actions only through the eyes of Che and then in a somewhat confused manner, the viewer will not get a good understanding of the politics and will only get a feel of a little of the experience. Certainly the extremes of the Castro Regime are played down with one quick reference that there were executions when Castro took power. This is not an objective view of the conflict but only Che Guevara's view of himself. I rate CHE +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
"Part One": http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0892255/
"Part Two": http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0374569/
Westerns (letter of comment by Dan Kimmel):
In response to Mark's comments on Western films in the 12/19/08 issue of the MT VOID, Dan Kimmel writes, "Having just seen THE BIG COUNTRY for the first time I think classifying as a 'good western' is exactly on the mark. It's very pretty and entertaining, but compared to SHANE or HIGH NOON or THE SEARCHERS or RED RIVER it's not in the same league. My example of a 'good western' that ought to be much better known is THE NAKED SPUR, one of the Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart collaborations." [-dk]
I can just speak to why I like BIG COUNTRY.
I think it is in the same league as the others, but perhaps it is forgotten because it is in part a film of its time. There is more to a film than if it has a good story (and I think BIG COUNTRY does). To kids today KING KONG is this old fantasy film vaguely interesting if you don't mind black and white films. Even we can't see it the way a 1933 audience would have. I remember seeing BIG COUNTRY when I was eight years old on a screen a lot bigger than I was. I think it was only later I appreciated what it was saying.
You talk about what league Westerns are in. For me THE SEARCHERS is a bit discombobulated. SHANE and HIGH NOON are good, but I am not sure SHANE says much and HIGH NOON speaks to 1950s politics and modern cynicism. BIG COUNTRY talks about seeing past the flash into the substance of a man. It is a lesson applicable to modern life as much as it was in the 1950s. I think that puts it in a fairly good league. [-mrl]
And Dan replies:
If the film works for you, it works for you, period. But don't dismiss SHANE, one of the truly great Westerns. It says something about being a man, about the early settlement of the west (well, within the context of the genre), about the effects of violence on those who live violently. It was one of the first films to show someone be shot down not as a big dramatic moment, but as a pointless death in the mud (the scene with Elisha Cook) which had a big impact at the time.
THE BIG COUNTRY was okay. If I was reviewing it I'd give in three stars. SHANE is four stars, one of the outstanding achievements of the genre. It takes more than pretty pictures and scenic vistas to make a great western. :-) [-dk]
I have said that SHANE was one of my top 10 Westerns, just not my top 5. That isn't dismissing it, but I was just saying I don't see a strong message in it. I like it more for the drama and the feel of the desolate prairie. Our differences are matters of taste. [-mrl]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
BLACK NO MORE by George S. Schuyler (ISBN-13 978-0-375-75380-0, ISBN-10 0-375-75380-X) is a 1931 science fiction novel. In his introduction, Schuyler says his work is based on the researches of Dr. Yusoburo Noguchi and Bela Cati (fictitious characters, I should note). And the premise? That someone has invented a process to turn black people into white people. For some reason, the cataloging data provided does not label it science fiction, but just "Afro-Americans--Fiction" and "Human skin color--Fiction". (I never even realized that there was a separate category for "Human skin color--Fiction"!) (Schuyler was apparently a fan of science fiction--if not a science fiction fan in the "fannish" sense--and particularly liked the work of H. G. Wells. One can certainly see similarities to THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, but even more perhaps to THE INVISIBLE MAN.)
There is no little irony, I think, that in the novel Dr. Junius Crookman develops his technique in Berlin, or that Crookman explains that the (supposedly) thick lips and broad noses of Africans are merely figments of our imagination brought about by cartoonists and minstrel shows, and "on the other hand, many so- called Caucasians, particularly the Latins, Jews and South Irish, and frequently the most Nordic of peoples like the Swedes, show almost Negroid lips and noses." The novel was written a couple of years before Hitler took power, and four years before the Nuremberg Racial Laws, but one suspects that the groundwork for them was already being laid.
Schuyler is very clear on what he believes the issues are. The first questions the reporters ask Max Disher/Matthew Fisher (the first "converso") are what is his name, how did he feel, what was he going to do, and would he marry a white woman? I use the term "converso" because it seems particularly apt--the "conversos" were those Jews who converted to Christianity after the Reconquest of Spain in 1492. Even though they converted, the other Catholics decided they did not trust them or consider them true Catholics, so the concept of "Limpieza de Sangre" was invented, where everyone's genealogy was carefully examined for any trace of Jewish blood, especially when a marriage was contemplated. And in BLACK NO MORE, this idea of tracing one's ancestry also appears (although with somewhat different results).
Schuyler has his own set of prejudices, of course. (Or he is using other people's prejudices for ironic effect? But I am somewhat skeptical of this latter explanation because of the casual way they appear, as opposed to the fairly overt way he expresses white prejudices about blacks.)
For example, "He was not finding life as a white man the rosy existence he had anticipated. He was forced to conclude that it was pretty dull and that he was bored. As a boy he had been taught to look up to white folks as just a little less than gods; now he found them little different from the Negroes, except that they were uniformly less courteous and less interesting. ... There was nothing left for him except the hard, materialistic, grasping, inbred society of the whites." (pages 42-43)
And while decrying the economic loss to Negro businesses, he says regarding those providing hair straighteners or skin whiteners that while some were Negro-owned, "[they] were largely controlled by canny Hebrews." (page 62)
Schuyler is very clear on his opinion of the "separate but equal" doctrine expressed in the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v Ferguson: "The economic loss to the south by the ethnic migration was considerable. Hundreds of wooden railroad coaches, long since condemned as death traps in all other parts of the country, had to be scrapped by the railroads when there were no longer any Negroes to jim crow. Thousands of railroad waiting rooms remained unused because, having been set aside for the use of Negroes, they were generally too dingy and unattractive for white folk or were no longer necessary. Thousands of miles of streets located in the former Black Belts, and thus without sewers or pavement, were having to be improved at the insistent behest of the rapidly increased white population, real and imitation. Real-estate owners who had never dreamed of making repairs on their tumble-down property when it was occupied by the docile Negroes, were having to tear down, re build and alter to suit white tenants. Shacks and drygoods boxes that had once sufficed as schools for Negro children, had now to be condemned and abandoned as unsuitable for occupation by white youth. Whereas thousands of school teachers had received thirty or forty dollars a month because of their Negro ancestry, the various cities and countries of the Southland were now forced to pay the standard salaries prevailing elsewhere." (pages 102-103)
At times, one has to remember when BLACK NO MORE was written. When a characters says that something would happen "before you could say Jack Robinson," I found myself thinking that this was also really a word play on Jackie Robinson--until I remembered that Jackie Robinson was still sixteen years in the future!
However, some lines seem prophetic. When the narrator says of Max/Matthew's thoughts, "At last he felt like an American citizen," this sounded a lot like what many blacks were saying after Barack Obama's election as President.
This novel is similar in some ways to Ray Bradbury's "Way in the Middle of the Air" from 1950 (collected as part of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES) or Douglas Turner Ward's 1960 play "Day of Absence", in which one day all the blacks disappear from a Southern town. Maybe there should be a category for "Ethnic group disappearances?- Fiction"! [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary. -- Robert Louis Stevenson
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