Author Topic: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel  (Read 4318 times)

I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« on: July 17, 2020, 09:47:37 AM »


Tbh he's not someone I'd want to read, as much as I love his films, but I'd like to read other people talking about it.

Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2020, 11:15:28 AM »
I have to get this. One of my favourite living writers.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2020, 07:01:52 PM »
I'm a huge fan of Kaufman's but the AV Club gave it quite the poor review (https://aux.avclub.com/with-his-massive-debut-novel-charlie-kaufman-disappear-1844281977) and as I'm easily led I'm now going to wait for one of you lot to read it and let me know if I should buy it or not.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2020, 08:55:33 PM »
He might be one of those writers who's really suited to one medium and one medium only, which isn't uncommon. Reading the script to Synecdoche, New York is almost unbearably tedious, but it translated into a mostly brilliant film - granted, a script is intended to be filmed and played out rather than read on a computer screen after the fact, but it does make me wary of reading anything by him in novel format where he'd arguably have more freedom to wallow and piss about for ages.

I suppose it goes both ways too; I think if someone like Chuck Palahniuk were to write a film script it'd be ghastly, the same way it was ghastly when Cormac McCarthy did the same. Being a good writer doesn't mean you're good at writing everything, the same way a great reality TV director would probably make a terrible movie. I also disliked John Darnielle's novel, despite him being probably one of the best lyricists writing today.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2020, 09:30:20 PM »
This will be pound shop Pynchon, I reckon.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2020, 09:06:47 PM »
I'm a huge fan of Kaufman's but the AV Club gave it quite the poor review (https://aux.avclub.com/with-his-massive-debut-novel-charlie-kaufman-disappear-1844281977) and as I'm easily led I'm now going to wait for one of you lot to read it and let me know if I should buy it or not.

He tends to be very divisive though, doesn't he? The recent thread on Synechdoche, New York seemed to be pretty evenly split between those of us who loved the film, and those who hated it. So I personally am not going to be put off by any negative reviews of his stuff. And to be honest I can completely see why someone would hate Kaufman's work, as much as I love it myself.

Anyway, I bought the book as soon as I saw this thread, because I love Kaufman's films, and I'm always going to be interested in any project of his. In the case of someone like Kaufman, I like to know as little as possible about his films going into them, and always avoid trailers and discussions until I've seen them. So I'll read the reviews after I've finished the book. But anyway, I'll post my thoughts here when I'm done.

This will be pound shop Pynchon, I reckon.

I'm only a few chapters in, but it's more pound shop Nabokov[1] than it is pound shop Pynchon. Although that's being unfair. I think Kaufman has quite a distinctive voice that comes across in his films, and it does here too.

Anyway, all I can say right now about it is that I don't have any more concerns that he won't be able to translate his screenwriting skills across to write a decent prose narrative. Whether it amounts to something over the course of the whole book is another question, but I'm enjoying it so far. Made me laugh a few times already, so that's a good sign.
 1. More because of the pompous and self-aggrandising personality of the narrator than the prose style.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2020, 09:17:30 PM »
He tends to be very divisive though, doesn't he? The recent thread on Synechdoche, New York seemed to be pretty evenly split between those of us who loved the film, and those who hated it. So I personally am not going to be put off by any negative reviews of his stuff. And to be honest I can completely see why someone would hate Kaufman's work, as much as I love it myself.

That's very true though the writer does seem to be a big fan of Kaufman's films. Still, the AV Club is fairly poor these days so I certainly won't be judging the book by just one review. Chances are I will probably read it at some point too, but it might be a charity shop / cheap ebay purchase in a couple of years time if no one on here enjoys it.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2020, 02:12:20 AM »
Bloke on a Facebook group I'm in (one dedicated to Grant Morrison if that helps you triangulate this book's target audience) got a preview copy and raced about it:

Quote
Alright friends, if you know me, you know I very seldom make a post for anything that's not directly Morrison-related, but this time I'm making an exception because I really do think this is something that many here will probably find extremely interesting.

Tomorrow is the US release date for Charlie Kaufman's first novel, Antkind. I received an advance copy months ago, and being a fan of some of Kaufman's films and also intrigued by how the publisher rep had no idea how to explain the book, I read it.

Now, I don't read much literary fiction. I'm "the comics guy" at the bookstore I work at, and when I do read prose it's usually low fantasy or pulpy sci-fi, but this thing just sucked me right in and didn't let go.

It's a stunning piece of weird metafiction, and the reason I'm bringing it to this group is because it features a surprising amount of themes and ideas that I first came to through Morrison. It's got fiction suits, the viewing of a person as section through time, warnings about the ideas you let into your head, the relationship between creation and creator, the way we interact with art, both ours and that of others... I could go on and on.

I've been kind of impatient for the book to come out so that I could finally recommend it to the people here.

It's not as easy read in terms of content, almost confrontational at times, but I found it to be well worth the time I spent with it, and I think there's a lot in there for a fan of Morrison's favorite themes.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2020, 10:13:08 AM »
I've loved everything else he's been involved with and am a sucker for all things up their own arse and meta so can't wait to get stuck into this. Some of the examples of in that AV Club review included to suggest the book is too self-referential just made me laugh. Really looking forward to it.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2020, 08:18:04 PM »
Is this really 720 pages?!

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2020, 09:57:30 PM »
Picked up a signed copy of this on impulse while snaffling up cheap second hand books at the weekend. Will give it a go once I'm done with Ursula K LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness (which is great).

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2020, 08:00:12 PM »
Currently on Chapter 5. So far it seems to be a satire of the hyper-PC film criticism industry in academia. The guy writes all about race and gender but he's a total sexist and racist at heart. He also has his own pronouns, "thon" and "thonself".

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2020, 08:18:48 PM »
Is this really 720 pages?!

705 in the US edition.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2020, 08:31:54 PM »
705 in the US edition.

Had to take out all those extraneous 'u's

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2020, 11:06:41 AM »
Up to chapter 10 now

Rosenberg meet his black neighbour who is a filmmaker / janitor. They have some amusing dialogues in which the man, Ingo Cutbert (not Cuthbert) reveals himself a little mad. He watches his film and enjoys it.

I like how intertextual it is: there is an unexpected reference to Steppenwolf and so far I've also picked up on references to Daniel Dennett, Walt Whiteman and Anne Hathaway in Havoc on DVD.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 11:38:43 AM by Retinend »

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2020, 01:28:15 PM »
Edit bug

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2020, 05:14:07 PM »
in chapters 10-15 things get a little weird - there's a disfiguring explosion that puts our protagonist in hospital, the film of his dead filmmaker neighbour burned to a crisp. He realizes he has nothing to write about. Yet I said "weird" because he seems to be morphing the identities of the people around him. He puts words into the mouths of the people he is writing about.

This is getting to the absurd point that he describes the death of this filmmaker character two different times and makes the blase remark that he can't remember which was true. He also seems to introduce the notion that this undiscovered filmmaker is a black undiscovered filmmaker after already having met him - it is as if he only remembering what he wants to remember - and that includes the way he recalls what was said and done.

We get a reference to Beckett's great novel "Molloy" and its sequels, which is clearly a big influence on Kaufman, the novelist, in so far as both make a lot of use of a narrator who is not only unreliable, but a little unhelpful in how he distorts reality. Another big influence is Pynchon, who invented this sort of dense essay-like stream of consciousness style. I've never read Infinite Jest but I'd imagine that's similar in style?

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2020, 09:20:58 AM »
I haven’t read Jest yet, but I have read some of his other stuff and I imagine it is an influence.

Scathing review of Antkind here.

It’s interesting to note that Kaufman wrote this book because he can’t get his films made. I think the ideas he has work better with a limit on them and preferably another creative voice, like Gondry, to filter them through.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2020, 10:49:37 AM »
have you read the novel already? I tend to agree with you that he could have done with an hard, Ezra-Pound-like editor to focus on tone. The crazy totally-unreliable narrator is sometimes subtly self-deceptive and sometimes outright insane.

I recall the moment in an early chapter where a woman calls his name, obviously just calling to her dog, and although he is conscious of this fact, he is unable to stop himself being offended by being named after a dog, and rudely attempts to challenge the woman. The man is outright insane, except for when he is (in his own unreliable narration), suave and worldly. In summary, it seems to be implying that the academic world of film criticism is so corrupt that a madman could be published and respected.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2020, 11:28:20 AM »
Haven’t read it, don’t think I’ll bother. If I’m going to read a doorstop mad ideas book, I’d rather read a more nailed-on classic by a famous dead author.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2020, 02:11:10 PM »
Quote
We read according to undeclared handicap system, to the specific needs of the author. We meet the novelists a little way, the poets at least half way, the translated poets three-quarters of the way; the Postmoderns we pick up at the station in their wheelchairs.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2020, 08:52:38 AM »
OK so you're not interested in it. Personally I think Kaufman is one of the most innovative screenwriters ever (I've been a fan since I watched Being John Malkovich aged 14) and this is his first novel, so hell yes I'm going to read it.

Chapters 15-25

It's falling apart a little for this guy. The narrator goes to a couple of therapists. His girlfriend (whom he had left his wife for) leaves him. He's trying to remember the film that burned to a crisp. His publisher isn't interested in a book about a film that might as well never have existed. He lost 3 months in a coma after the explosion that destroyed the film.

As Paul Auster did, Kaufman uses himself as a character in his own novel, as a object of derision in the eyes of Rosenberg, whose films are compared to the work of Judd Apatow. Rosenberg describes Synecdoche, New York, as having "zero entertainment value", and as being an "irredeemable, torturous yawn" which is not an important film, such as "Tobleg's masterful Thyestes/Obliviate", which was entirely shot from beneath glass-floored rooms, is "startlingly poignant", and featured long scenes of cannibalism.

The film does not exist. The book often makes fun of relentless obscurantism and elitism in film. It's a little heavy-handed at this, but this is not a novel for people who expect anything more universal than that. That's my biggest problem with it so far, aside from the un-even-handed surrealism/magic-realism.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2020, 10:49:36 AM »
OK so you're not interested in it.

Oh no, I wouldn’t say that. I’m certainly interested in it, just not perhaps enough to give him 700 pages of my time. I really like him as a screenwriter. I’ll let you read it and if you reckon it’s worth it at the end I might give it a punt.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2020, 05:45:35 PM »
It’s interesting to note that Kaufman wrote this book because he can’t get his films made.

He's got at least one made. He directed it himself and it's out on Netflix next month. I've started a thread for it over in the movie forum: https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=81969

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2020, 08:15:18 PM »
Isn’t the plot of this book more or less identical to Joseph McElroy’s Lookout Cartridge?

Kaufman’s fine-I just don’t think there’s much point in reading him when his obvious progenitors (Kafka, Pynchon, Nabokov, Wallace et al) have already done the same thing brilliantly.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #25 on: August 09, 2020, 11:01:05 AM »
Sorry to be so blunt, but neither of you have the right to an opinion on a book until you read it.

e.g.
"I've never read Lookout Cartridge but I don't need to because (googling "McElroy Influences") Pynchon already did it way better than McElroy."
would be an arrogant thing to say, and disrespectful to McElroy.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #26 on: August 09, 2020, 03:58:33 PM »
Pynchon did do it better than McElroy though. And I’ve only read a tiny bit of LC because it’s almost unreadable.

My opinion wasn’t on the book-it was on Kaufman’s other work, which I’ve seen.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #27 on: August 09, 2020, 04:01:50 PM »
Well your post was unambiguously about "reading" him, moreover listing several authors (not screenwriters) who have done "the same thing" (i.e. write a novel, not a screenplay) better.

To end on a positive note, thank you for the recommendation. Never heard of him but sounds promising.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2020, 09:13:55 PM »
Don't mind me, I'll just use this forum as my own personal notepad .txt file

25 - 45: quick chapters. M. Barassini, liscened practiontioner of hyp"gn"osis and hypnotherapist becomes Rosenberg's guru, moves in with his sister, he gets a good job at a firm marketing shoes, excites the rage of a female colleague, he lusts after a random asian woman, Barassini steals this woman (Tsai) for himself, he falls into a lot of manholes, he develops a clown fetish and a relationship with a clown sex worker, Laurie, member of a sex-positive feminist clown collective called Circus Her-Kiss, somehow burns down the building they live in, criticises the work of Charlie Kaufman, realises that he was born to be a novelizer: a novelizer of the film that was burned; all the while he is being hypnotically regressed back in time by Barassini to experience viewing the destroyed film, he adds crazy details such as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello having amusingly interminable conversations about nothing, "Ron and Dood", doing the same, "Mudd and Chick Molly" (and their girlfriends "Patty and Marie"), doing the same, Michael Collins, the 3rd man on the moon... all these things segue into the abovementioned events so that we are not sure if these characters are real or only fictional.

special note for chapter 33 - amusing digression on an obviously fake John Updike novel called "Balloon Land" - had me in stitches, knowing the style of Updike to be nothing like it. Deliberately absurd - this gives the tone of the whole piece.

chapter 47: exceptionally long look into the mind of Donald Trunp (that was an honest typo which is hilarious if you have the book and can see the name in the book) which seems totally apart from the main thread of the novel, but all the better for that, I must admit - the previous chapters have been exhausting

chapters 48-50: this is somehow getting really good in a way I can't quite put into words: lots of good memories of Pynchon and Kafka coming back to me. Some shades of Garcia Marquez too. It's so irrelevant it almost seems like... textual doodles on the page. The Mudd and Molloy, Abbott and Costello characters are really coming into their own. I like the variety the book is developing, and now I wonder how it will all tie into the strange story at the start of the book of a strange combination of fish and child that is fished out of the sea in some remote undisclosed location. Recently it has become a lot less allusory[1]and that is coinciding with a lot more enjoyment from my side.

If you read all that, does it make you more or less inclined to read the book?
 1. fuck you google dictionary that is a word

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2020, 04:26:27 PM »
If you read all that, does it make you more or less inclined to read the book?
Significantly less. Everything you've written about it makes it sound like the equivalent of one of those books about a white, middle aged writer, written by a white, middle-aged guy, who's having an affair with one of his younger students or whatever. Filmmaker in "not thrilled about academic film criticism" shocker. Self-indulgent pomo shite. They are the thoughts I had reading your responses.

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