Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pure camp

It has been some time since I read all of Jane Austen's novels and watching Persuasion and The Jane Austen Book Club again reminded me how much I have missed reading the stories. It's not that the movies aren't good, but I miss the language and the full scope of Austen's vision. I find more and more that I miss language and the exercise of reality and fantasy while I lose myself in a good story -- or even a mediocre one. It's like coming home tonight from running errands and the landlady asking me if I've ever heard of the movie, Barbarella. Of course I have and it's one of my favorite very campy movies, right up there with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Flesh Gordon. Movies like that you can't find in a novel -- at least not that I've found, except for Motel of the Mysteries. Then again, one of the books I recently read and have yet to review borders on camp while maintaining the pretense of being a serious look at a historical personage with religious significance. Puts me in the mind of David Niven telling a cab driver who wanted Niven's honest opinion about his play about Abraham that he made Abraham sound like a butcher from Queens. Can a writer flout historical accuracy in order to make a point based on religious significance without pandering to accepted history or wounding religious cattle? Camp has its place but camp that pretends to be revelation of the inner working of ancient minds misses the point.

It's a fine line to walk, much like the tightrope that stretches between real friendship and sycophantic pandering.

That is all. Disperse.

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