Author Topic: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel  (Read 4316 times)

Mister Six

  • Golden Member
  • *****
  • Ridiculously teacakes
Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #60 on: October 18, 2020, 02:19:21 PM »
Have none of you heard of an unreliable narrator before, or the notion of a character's views not reflecting the author's?

I'm somewhere around chapter 15 now and from the beginning, B Rosenberger has been a neurotic, confused narrator wracked by self-loathing, insecurity and a mercurial habit of changing his opinion on a dime. After the hospital stay he's even less reliable, and his memories and perceptions are constantly shifting.

He's also clearly a man who is nowhere as witty or (intentionally) funny as he thinks he is, so that remark about Kermode is totally in character as a bitter little dig. B is also antisemitic (possibly a self-loathing Jew), prejudiced against nonbinary people and holds patronising views of black people. You're not supposed to agree with, or even sympathise with him.

Book has been great so far - at least a few chuckles every page, and frequently loud guffaws. I get the feeling Kaufman was making it up as it went along and it might not hold together, bit from moment to moment it's hugely enjoyable.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 05:02:21 PM by Mister Six »

Chriddof

  • Sad mammal.
Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #61 on: October 18, 2020, 05:46:12 PM »
B is also antisemitic (possibly a self-loathing Jew), prejudiced against nonbinary people and holds patronising views of black people. You're not supposed to agree with, or even sympathise with him.

I get that, and I think others do too - it's just at the current point in time, there are so many people who hold such views for real, and are similarly inconsistent in what they say (either as a deliberate act of attempting to destabilize discussion, or because they're trying to win an argument at any cost) that having to read even a fictional version of it is too much to put up with right now. It just feels very ill-timed and ill-advised all round, really - like if Odeon Cinemas were showing "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman as their big comeback movie after (the first) lockdown.


Mister Six

  • Golden Member
  • *****
  • Ridiculously teacakes
Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #62 on: October 18, 2020, 06:04:32 PM »
There's a wave of anti-Kermode sentiment?

Ominous Dave

  • Still can't be arsed to upload an avatar.
Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #63 on: October 18, 2020, 06:17:19 PM »
Kermode's peak was in the late 90s/early 00s when he was genuinely responsible for bringing some interesting alternative cinema onto UK TV (though he famously did spoil the ending of 'Ringu' in his intro its first UK TV showing, which to be fair he's subsequently apologised for.). But then so did Mark Cousins, who's a much better critic. Since then Kermode has become increasingly insufferable while Cousins has become really a interesting documentary filmmaker.

(This has nothing at all to do with Charlie Kaufman's book does it? Unless it's a clever postmodern digression which is probably the sort of thing he'd like. But Synechdoche New York is a masterpiece even if I can't be bothered to google how to spell it properly.)
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 07:42:14 PM by Ominous Dave »

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #64 on: October 18, 2020, 07:40:19 PM »
I don't think anyone here is confused by the idea of the unreliable narrator. But the fact that it's a book written by Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter and director, is an important part of the book and the experience of reading it. It's definitely one of the most meta books I've read in that regard. I guess he stops short of the Vonnegut thing of actually inserting himself as a character into the story, but you are supposed to be aware that B is a character being written by Charlie Kaufman. If you ignore that context, you're going to be missing out on quite a lot of the jokes throughout the book.

I think B at times reflects Kaufman's views, at other times he clearly doesn't (as in all the times he starts ranting about how talentless Charlie Kaufman is, or starts rhapsodising about the genius of Judd Apatow). B's all over the place in his thoughts; he's not consistent from one minute to the next. But I think it's often quite clear when Kaufman is using him to express his own views (whether directly, or indirectly by having him say the exact opposite of what you'd expect Kaufman's opinion to be, and in a very sarcastic way), and I don't think he's giving himself away accidentally. I think they're very deliberate jokes.

So yeah, the Kermode thing makes sense in the context of B's confused and bitter thoughts, but it also makes sense as being a self-aware meta joke at Kaufman's own expense, because he's petty enough to use his character to call someone he doesn't like an asshole. And I guess I do agree with Retinend as well that he's also just straight up calling Kermode an asshole[1], so I'm not surprised that Kermode took it personally, especially as there is apparently a bit of an awkward history between the two of them.
 1. It makes me think of that Stewart Lee bit, I can't quite remember the context of it, but it's something like, "It was just a joke, however, coincidentally, it's also what I actually think."
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 07:54:14 PM by selectivememory »

Mister Six

  • Golden Member
  • *****
  • Ridiculously teacakes
Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #65 on: October 19, 2020, 04:20:04 AM »
I think B at times reflects Kaufman's views, at other times he clearly doesn't (as in all the times he starts ranting about how talentless Charlie Kaufman is, or starts rhapsodising about the genius of Judd Apatow). B's all over the place in his thoughts; he's not consistent from one minute to the next. But I think it's often quite clear when Kaufman is using him to express his own views (whether directly, or indirectly by having him say the exact opposite of what you'd expect Kaufman's opinion to be, and in a very sarcastic way), and I don't think he's giving himself away accidentally. I think they're very deliberate jokes.

So yeah, the Kermode thing makes sense in the context of B's confused and bitter thoughts, but it also makes sense as being a self-aware meta joke at Kaufman's own expense, because he's petty enough to use his character to call someone he doesn't like an asshole. And I guess I do agree with Retinend as well that he's also just straight up calling Kermode an asshole[1], so I'm not surprised that Kermode took it personally, especially as there is apparently a bit of an awkward history between the two of them.
 1. It makes me think of that Stewart Lee bit, I can't quite remember the context of it, but it's something like, "It was just a joke, however, coincidentally, it's also what I actually think."

Seems like you're trying to have your cake and eat it here. "It's hard to tell when B is parroting Kaufman's views, except in this one instance where he definitely is." Given how unsympathetic and dim his protagonist is written, surely if he wanted to get a dig in at Kermode Kaufman would make B an ardent admirer?

Just all seems very silly to me - the only way it works is with a lot of mental gymnastics about Kaufman playing 5D chess with matryoshka dolls.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #66 on: October 19, 2020, 11:00:34 AM »
Seems like you're trying to have your cake and eat it here. "It's hard to tell when B is parroting Kaufman's views, except in this one instance where he definitely is."

That's not what I said, but OK...

Just all seems very silly to me - the only way it works is with a lot of mental gymnastics about Kaufman playing 5D chess with matryoshka dolls.

It is very silly. It's a very silly and convoluted book, and only gets more so as it goes along. I don't really see it as Kaufman playing 5D chess. I think for the most part he's just having fun with it, and as you said earlier on, it does sometimes feel like he's making it up as he goes along. But fair enough. That was just my reading of it. The Kermode discussion is a bit boring anyway. It's just one throwaway line in a very long book. I think we're only talking about it because Kermode himself drew attention to it in the first place.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 11:34:45 AM by selectivememory »

Chriddof

  • Sad mammal.
Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #67 on: October 19, 2020, 02:29:45 PM »
To make things clear, I wasn't talking about Kermode - I was referring to the main character's racism and stuff. But I don't really have any kind of stake in this topic so I won't argue it any further. Just giving a reason why I and some others don't feel like reading it, while being fully aware that it's an unreliable narrator character and all that. I don't think Kaufman's some massive fascist, obviously.

Tags: