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Forums => Shelf Abuse => Topic started by: peanutbutter on July 17, 2020, 09:47:37 AM

Title: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: peanutbutter on July 17, 2020, 09:47:37 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81NNWUdvN8L.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on July 17, 2020, 11:15:28 AM
I have to get this. One of my favourite living writers.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Small Man Big Horse 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Noodle Lizard 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 on July 17, 2020, 09:30:20 PM
This will be pound shop Pynchon, I reckon.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: selectivememory 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Small Man Big Horse 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Wet Blanket 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: kitsofan34 on July 28, 2020, 08:18:04 PM
Is this really 720 pages?!
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six 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).
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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".
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six on August 01, 2020, 08:18:48 PM
Is this really 720 pages?!

705 in the US edition.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Pearly-Dewdrops Drops on August 01, 2020, 08:31:54 PM
705 in the US edition.

Had to take out all those extraneous 'u's
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: samadriel on August 02, 2020, 01:28:15 PM
Edit bug
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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?
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 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 (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/aug/02/antkind-by-charlie-kaufman-review-absurdism-ad-infinitum).

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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: olliebean 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
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Peru 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Peru 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend 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
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Famous Mortimer 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on August 14, 2020, 11:25:00 PM
Welp. I'm rather enjoying it currently.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: kittens on August 17, 2020, 05:13:02 PM
just finished it. certainly an unpredictable read
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 on August 18, 2020, 09:51:48 AM
chapter by chapter breakdown pls
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: kittens on August 18, 2020, 10:40:17 AM
read it yourself, i had to
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: olliebean on August 18, 2020, 01:51:58 PM
Whatever it is, it’s certain to be yet another turgid, overhyped foray into Kaufman’s self-referential, self-congratulatory psyche.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: kittens on August 18, 2020, 05:07:45 PM
it was pretty good
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on August 21, 2020, 08:10:23 AM
Whatever it is, it’s certain to be yet another turgid, overhyped foray into Kaufman’s self-referential, self-congratulatory psyche.

What a shitpost.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 on August 21, 2020, 05:39:17 PM
Yeah I think that’s unfair on Kaufmann, he is probably more self-aware than that. For example, the film Adaptation, I think, pokes a lot of fun at the sort of creative person he is.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: selectivememory on August 21, 2020, 05:40:42 PM
Yeah I think that’s unfair on Kaufmann, he is probably more self-aware than that.

It's actually a line from the book. The protagonist is a film critic who hates Kaufman.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 on August 21, 2020, 05:57:00 PM
That makes sense. Perhaps Retinend hasn’t got to that bit yet. In any case, I feel he’s doing a valuable service in posting his thoughts on it. I may tackle it when I’ve finished Don Q and had a go at some Bolano.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: selectivememory on August 21, 2020, 06:03:53 PM
Anyway, I think it's pretty good so far. I stopped reading it after a few days, just got sidetracked doing something else, but I've picked it up again in the last week, about halfway through it now. It's very funny in the way that Kaufman's films are. Not necessarily packed with jokes, just lots of strange and absurd dialogue, and set in a world that's just a bit off-kilter. It's a lot denser than I was expecting - can definitely see the relevance of the Pynchon comparisons now. And the main character is just a ludicrous, pompous hypocrite. And I'm really loving the bits when he's put under hypnosis and is recalling Ingo's impossible film.


That makes sense. Perhaps Retinend hasn’t got to that bit yet.

I think he's ahead of me, but it would be easy to forget the line because it's so densely written and the protagonist takes a lot of swipes at Kaufman's work throughout the book (or at least, throughout the first half of it). The only reason I noticed it was because I read that part of the book probably just a few hours after reading olliebean's post, which I did initially think was very harsh as well. 
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on August 21, 2020, 08:30:58 PM
You got me! What can I say.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on August 25, 2020, 07:48:57 PM
Where was I?

Chapters 51-56

At sessions with the hypnotherapist Barassini he is hypnotised into obviously fantastical memories of the film. Bud Mudd and Chick Molly prattle on amusingly within scenes of the Ingo movie. Rooney and Doodle enage in Laurel and Hardy antics and deal with the trappings of fame; end up putting on a show called "Hades and Gentlemen".

B.(alaam) Rosenberg takes on a roommate who goes crazy and confines him in fear for his life to his room, knocking manically. Very little is done with this character, Dominick. On page 475 the book sort of breaks: "B. is gone" Kaufman writes. He mourns the loss of the character.

Chapter 57: Beckett-like prose (à la "Molloy") in which Rosenberg is reborn in the realm of "The Unseen". This is a metaphor for the mystique of the obscure and unseen films that exist and that film critics crave: He imagines he will find Ingo if he "moves eat towards the Unseen Unseen, for hope springs eternal" and he talks to puppets, a character called "the meteorologist" that doesn't really make sense to me (few of the characters do), and finally he makes love to a sort of goddess called "Oleara Debord" whose characteristics or purpose is also hard to determine.

Chapters 58 - 60: he returns to "The Seen" world and now he has a doppelganger. "My replacement is famous." This doppelganger has successfully remade and adapted Ingo's film "frame by frame" into a Netflix show coming soon. He is also a lot less obnoxious than the real B. Rosenberg and ...is jewish! Have I yet mentioned that our Rosenberg is obsessed with letting people know that in spite of his name he is not in fact jewish and that in fact esteemed ideologist of the third Reich Alfred Rosenberg was in fact named Rosenberg? Chapter 59 is a very enjoyable example of what I previous referred to as a "textual doodle". Our Rosenberg cannot stand this and brutally murders him after he is taken out for dinner by him.

The great enthusiasm I had during the previous 10 chapters is wearing a little thin right now. I hoped we would go somewhere with the doppelganger stuff but now he's dead already so that's that.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: QDRPHNC on August 27, 2020, 01:55:38 AM
I'm exhausted just reading your posts.

Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on August 29, 2020, 11:19:06 PM
OK well I may as well say it now, I was keeping a brave face, but this isn't really my kind of literature. I am not having a good time reading it. And I'm supposed to be keeping tracking of this mad plot. 

Still, as Roger Mellie said, "I've farted, so I'll finish":

okay

Rosenberg takes over the life of his doppelganger. He had been living a better more successful life than Rosenberg had been living and is essentially the Rosenberg Rosenberg could be if he wasn't so neurotic. He has a doting girlfriend, Clown Laurie. She is obvious a "new" Laurie, though, not the Clown Laurie whose house he burnt down etc.

It's another example of a fresh start. Nothing that happened so far really matters because the characters have, in a technical sense, no integrity from chapter to chapter. This is much like the effect of reading a book like "Molloy" or "Malone Dies", which are bona fide classics by Samuel Beckett, referenced in this present novel. Such novels as these dismiss the regular conventions of novel, such as any sense of a fictional world's moment-to-moment integrity i.e. internal consistency. That's the genre's form, I understand it, but I still feel a bit cheated and maybe I will discuss later the reasons why it works in the aforementioned works by Beckett, and - I'm afraid to say - does not work for me here.


Chapters 60-75

anyway

...he does Charlie Rose
...he' s a big celebrity
continues to fall in manholes
he's now becoming more and more stereotypically jewish in appearance - Kaufman can't get enough of this gag
...confesses to the murder on Charlie Rose but nothing happens
...revisits the realm known as "The Unseen" to commune with Ingo's puppets for some reason
...there's a vague subplot about a McDonalds type franchise (called "Slammy's") becoming a sort of totalitarian"McGovernment". Just by the way.
...boring footnote: The character whom Rosenberg makes love to in "The Unseen" called "Oleara Debord" is referenced again, but as part of a street name "41 South Oleara Debord". On page 546. I just feel annoyed.
...there's a character called "Hypno Joe" right now and I have no idea what separates him from the hypnotherapist Barassini character we've had the whole damn time
...by this point every one of Kaufman's films has been self-referenced in order to be unfairly insulted in the voice of an odious film critic. Make of that what you will.
...Kaufman's description of some parts of Ingo's film borrows directly from Henry Darger's "Vivian Girls" (p562), and Darger is explicitly mentioned in the text (p630), which seems insecure.
...on page 591 an interesting sort of manifesto for the book's stance on the theme of political correctness. Chapter 70 is very enjoyable in style, but, like most of the parts that are purely enjoyable, a little bit out of step with the odious Rosenberg as ostensible narrator.

Er - Rosenberg has a dream(?) in which he is king of a sort of anthive of Rosenberg doppelgangers (B2, B3, B4 etc) in a post-apocalyptic world. Donald Trumps are replicating everywhere, and they are the servants of the Slammy's McGovernment and there is some sort of war planned between the two camps.

See this almost makes sense when I tell it to you, but I swear to you it doesn't read nearly as clearly as that paragraph did, because Kaufman doesn't say any of this stuff explicitly. One chapter simply begins "Rosenbergen moldering, piled high" (-en is the plural suffix in German, he could have simply written "Rosenbergs"). It doesn't read "A wartorn scene reveals bodies piled high, each bearing my own face" or somesuch conventional literary chapter-opener. Heaven forbid...

anyway

Chapter 75: Rosenberg discovers all the reels of Ingo Cutbirth's film. Obviously this must be a dream sequence, although the "reality" of the novel is stranger than this chapter is. There's not a lot of actual plot going on here when the contents of the reels are described. It it what I earlier called a "textual doodle", and quite fun to read but it suffered from my expectations that something big would be revealed here.

Chapter 76: Ingo is alive and talks to Rosenberg... in a dream, we must presume.

Chapter 77: Now it's far from clear that any of that was a dream sequence. There are far too many mundanities. But it doesn't matter if Ingo is alive or the film is intact because - oh look at that - the film is gone again! (Where Ingo went is not explained. cya l8r). Oh dear. There is a single frame of it which remains, though.

Backstory for one of the several Abott-and-Costello-type duos, Mudd and Molloy.
p645: a sincere statement of purpose for the novel re Ingo's film.

Chapters 78 and 79: we have Slammy's University, Slammy's Space Travel, Slammy's Phones, Slammy's Clinics etc. It sounds like a lot of world-building but don't get the wrong impression: these are mentioned, not described. A lot of this novel feels like "mentioning" rather than "describing." File these chapters under "textual doodles".
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on August 30, 2020, 12:38:02 AM
Ok so the final chapters return to normality and Rosenberg decides that he will renounce criticism and live the simple life. He falls down a manhole and dies.

Now, what do I make of this book now it's over?

The structure of it was essentially real - fantasy - real, which is like Alice and Wonderland or der Steppenwolf or A Christmas Carol or Heart of Darkness. Like these books Kaufman's novel is a tale of learning from one's own mistakes. Rosenberg learns the errors of his ways and endeavours to be a better human.

The style of it was very beckettian, though a bastard child of Beckett and Pynchon. I think that Beckett had better taste than Kaufman in terms of balancing the literary with the demotic. He, like Kaufman, aimed to incorporate some of the grime of the every day world into the beautifying frame of the novel. This novel tries to incorporate some of the mental grime of the real world: the thoughts that "virtue signalling" seeks to assuage. I think Kaufman is gleefully un-PC in this novel. That's my impression - it's provocative at points. Yet I think at an artistic level he's doing it as a means of pouring his own hateful thoughts into a hypocrite mould that implicates all in our current age: we claim to care about racism, but we still have racist thoughts, don't we? The genre of film criticism is chosen, I think rightly, as the home of this kind of modern hypocrisy.

Beckett was not as concerned with fashionable thought as Kaufman is. I think this is because Beckett's imagination was rooted in literature and the literature industry (i.e. all his literary colleagues), whereas Kaufman's imagination is rooted in the faddish world of the film industry (i.e. all his Hollywood colleagues).

On that note, this is the most I've ever had to create my own mental film in order to read a novel.

Most novels require you to use your imagination, but never have I had to translate words to images so much to try to understand what is going on in the writer's mind.

I think Kaufman's language is often very much the language of the screenplay. Characters speak in a way that is authentic to how people speak in real life. He uses quick, witty throwaway lines that would be realized much better by an actor's performance, than they are realized by me in my armchair trying to make heads or tails of the text on the page.

The allusory nature of the text is also more similar to an essay than to a novel. Novels sometimes make allusions, but these will typically be works that the character in question is likely to have read. In the case of Kaufman's novel, Kaufman's own range of knowledge covers a far broader base of interests than the fictional persona of Rosenberg could possible be equally steeped in. The result is a disconnect between the objectives of the chapter and the intentions of the broader work. Naturally this is fatal for such a large novel, because implicit in releasing such a large work is the expectation that we are dealing with a book that unites the disparate and the unified in life: we expect a War and Peace, or a Moby Dick, or a Middlemarch for this sort of length. I didn't get one. Don't expect one. You might enjoy it.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: popcorn on September 18, 2020, 01:06:18 AM
Oh dear.

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Eh4ttq2XYAE5wyk?format=jpg&name=large)
(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Eh4ttrBXgAAeEde?format=jpg&name=large)
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on September 18, 2020, 08:18:18 AM
Quote
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Eh4ttq2XYAE5wyk?format=jpg&name=large
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Eh4ttrBXgAAeEde?format=jpg&name=large

I remember that bit. It didn't bode well with me as I am a huge fame of Kermode, and it wasn't even a witty jab.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: popcorn on September 18, 2020, 10:21:22 AM
It's terrible (and I'm not a Kermode fan). It doesn't make sense. Why would someone write an essay about a film series and title it I, Mark Kermode, Am An Asshole? I think he needed to work harder on the setup.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on September 18, 2020, 10:46:33 AM
What's more "chud" actually has an (insulting) meaning in today's twitter jargon (a corruption of the "chad" meme, e.g. as seen in my avatar). Unless he meant that (which also wouldn't be witty), I have no idea what "C.H.U.D." is supposed to signify.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: El Unicornio, mang on September 18, 2020, 11:03:55 AM
It's these terrible cult 80s films. So I guess a comment on Kermode writing essays about shitty old horror films

(https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/headhuntershorrorhouse/images/d/dd/C.H.U.D._%281984%29.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20190906204232)
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on September 18, 2020, 11:35:10 AM
Thanks for the clarification! OK silly me... that makes sense. Still, it's a shitty dig, because 70s horror exploitation cinema is full of interesting sociological insights, and Kaufman reveals himself to be a little like his snobbish Rosenberg alter ego in treating it as a pointless critical pursuit. Ironically, the one critic he mentions by name is less like the satirically pompous, highfalutin persona of Rosenberg than ...himself.

What did Kermode say about Kaufman's latest Netflix film, I wonder... ?
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: El Unicornio, mang on September 18, 2020, 11:42:17 AM
Thanks for the clarification! OK silly me... that makes sense. Still, it's a shitty dig, because 70s horror exploitation cinema is full of interesting sociological insights, and Kaufman reveals himself to be a little like his snobbish Rosenberg alter ego in treating it as a pointless critical pursuit. Ironically, the one critic he mentions by name is less like the satirically pompous, highfalutin persona of Rosenberg than ...himself.

What did Kermode say about Kaufman's latest Netflix film, I wonder... ?

Yeah, The Exorcist and The Omen are certainly far removed from films like C.H.U.D. But maybe Kermode has some writings about less acclaimed horror exploitation stuff.

He didn't particularly like Kaufman's latest, although not as critical as he was for Synechdoche.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on September 18, 2020, 11:58:40 AM
I do believe he did write his PhD thesis on such horror exploitation films, but that's a vague memory on my part.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: olliebean on September 18, 2020, 04:20:09 PM
It's terrible (and I'm not a Kermode fan). It doesn't make sense. Why would someone write an essay about a film series and title it I, Mark Kermode, Am An Asshole? I think he needed to work harder on the setup.

I think you may have misunderstood what's going on in this book.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on September 18, 2020, 04:29:58 PM
I don't get it either then. It seems to me simply a jab. Just like the several jabs he makes at Seth Rogan Judd Apatow through the book.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: popcorn on September 18, 2020, 04:37:55 PM
I think you may have misunderstood what's going on in this book.

I haven't read it :-D
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: selectivememory on September 18, 2020, 05:07:02 PM
I thought it was just a silly meta joke about Kaufman being petty enough to take a swipe at a critic he doesn't like in the middle of his book. It's not supposed to be clever, or even a good burn (although he is definitely having his cake and eating it, as he gets to make a self-deprecating joke about how petty he is, and at the same time he also gets to call Mark Kermode an asshole).

Kaufman is very present in the narrative as the author of the book; he's always reminding you that you're reading a novel written by him. Most obvious example is that he keeps making horrible and undignifying things happen to his narrator as revenge for the narrator's dislike of Kaufman's work. Whenever B starts in ranting about Kaufman, you know he'll soon be falling down a manhole or getting shat on by a bird, getting fired or getting hit in the face by a plank of wood.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: olliebean on September 18, 2020, 07:01:16 PM
I'm not saying it's clever, or justified, just that it doesn't matter that it doesn't make sense for someone to write a film essay and title it "I, Mark Kermode, Am An Asshole" because the book isn't suggesting that an essay with such a title actually exists within the universe of the book - only within the somewhat distorted universe of the protagonist's thoughts, in which not making sense is pretty much par for the course.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on September 18, 2020, 07:45:32 PM
It's a good point that the tone of the book is, in the style of Paul Auster, a very self-aware one. "I am Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter, writing my first novel, which is about films" is an ongoing metajoke that the Kermode passage is feeding into.

On the other hand that feels like letting him off too easily for that passage. Because another central pillar of the novel is its satire of the highbrow end of the criticism industry. Like Nabokov, Kaufman portrays critics as feeble and parasitic, and there's no way in which Kermode could, reading that, feel like he wasn't directly in Kaufman's sights.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Chriddof 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.

Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six on October 18, 2020, 06:04:32 PM
There's a wave of anti-Kermode sentiment?
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Ominous Dave 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.)
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: selectivememory 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."
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: selectivememory 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Chriddof 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.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Wet Blanket on November 13, 2020, 12:10:13 PM
I enjoyed it and found it an easy read for such a big, self-consciously difficult book. There are laughs on every page, although the Trump stuff towards the end already seems a bit old hat.

Mark Kermode should be pleased he's in the same company as Richard Roeper and AO Scott. I think his inclusion for insult suggests more that Kaufman sees him as a big shot rather than has a personal beef with him.

I would say that, if you only read one surreal, satirical showbiz caper filled with quasi-factual burns and unexpected lurches into real insight, read Norm Macdonald's Based on a True Story. He does it much better and in a fifth of the space.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six on January 03, 2021, 01:12:33 PM
Finally finished this the other day after drifting in and out of it for months - which isn't really a criticism, as the book's total lack of any coherent narrative, consistent characterisation or worldbuilding means that dipping in, chortling at a few chapters and hopping back out is probably the best way to take it in.

Retinend's approach - breaking down the story into discrete elements to be tracked and analysed for deeper/wider meanings and significance - is exactly the wrong thing to do, I think. This isn't a "proper" narrative with a meaningful plot to be tracked or a coherent thesis to be eked out of the text. Rosenberg's memories don't shift because reality is breaking down or he's suffering from a mental disease - they shift because he's a fictional character being tortured by Charlie Kaufman for the author's (and our) amusement. Rosenberg doesn't step into Ingo's film or end up in a bizarre post-apocalyptic hellworld because this is a magic realist text - he does it because he's as fictional as everything else in the novel, and there's no meaningful distinction between the world of the protagonists and the other fictional worlds he experiences within his own supposed "universe". It's all just words dressed up as meaning.[1]

I'm not saying the individual parts are totally without meaning - the book does circle around Kaufman's usual preoccupations (metafictional silliness, the effect of artist on art and vice versa, the nature of adaptation, the dividing line between a simulacrum and the object it represents, the gulf between others as we see them in our heads and who they really are etc etc etc) and there are bits and pieces of genuine satire.[2] But at heart it's basically the novel equivalent of a Monty Python episode, drifting from sketch to sketch with only the most dreamlike, shifting sense of continuity and logic.

To that end, the best thing you can do is read the bits you like and skim-read the rest. After a while, I started skimming lightly over the interminable Mudd and Molloy bits - I've never particularly liked Abbott and Costello, so life's too short to a thousand variations of Who's On Next - and didn't get the impression from the rest of the book that I missed much.

Aside from a little bit of time-twisting/meta fuckery at the end of the book, I'm pretty sure Kaufman just accumulated this novel rather than writing it as such, adding bits to it every now and again, introducing new characters and situations as they occurred to him and ditching them once he got bored, without too much attention paid to structure or form.

Yes, it's ridiculously self-indulgent and though Kaufman says the editor made him cut 200 pages, I think it could easily stand to lose 200 more - although in a curious way I'm glad it didn't. There's at least one worthy gag on each page, usually more than that, and once you grasp that nothing means anything, you can go with the flow and just bob in the eddies and currents of Kaufman's prose. It's certainly funnier than most other novels I've read in the past few years.

Oh, and I haven't changed my mind about the Kermode thing being a storm in a teacup. Rosenberg is a consistently unreliable narrator who is constantly misidentifying directors, film titles and even people in his own life and inhabits a shifting, liminal world in which nothing stays fixed and very little makes sense. He's also clearly supposed to have atrocious taste in cinema and literature, and spends pages rambling on about the intellectual brilliance of Judd Apatow films, so the idea that Kaufman suddenly uses him as a mouthpiece for his own anti-Kermode sentiment in this one bit of the book is absurd.
 1. In this respect it's similar to the book of I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and I can see why that novel spoke to Kaufman.
 2. I'm pretty sure the war between a group of awkwardly progressive SJW clone-children who applaud one another's pompous speeches and a gang of Donald Trump-aping robots, held to the soundtrack of corporate slogans as the entire planet burns, is basically a metaphor for Twitter.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on January 03, 2021, 02:50:39 PM
In my defense, I wasn't consciously "approaching" the novel in a specific way, I was just trying to keep up with the insane plot as I went through.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on January 03, 2021, 03:48:26 PM
Quote
Rosenberg's memories don't shift because reality is breaking down or he's suffering from a mental disease - they shift because he's a fictional character being tortured by Charlie Kaufman for the author's (and our) amusement.

Why is this a more valid interpretation than the interpretation that he is insane?
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Twit 2 on January 04, 2021, 01:05:58 AM
Finally finished this the other day after drifting in and out of it for months - which isn't really a criticism, as the book's total lack of any coherent narrative, consistent characterisation or worldbuilding means that dipping in, chortling at a few chapters and hopping back out is probably the best way to take it in.

Retinend's approach - breaking down the story into discrete elements to be tracked and analysed for deeper/wider meanings and significance - is exactly the wrong thing to do, I think. This isn't a "proper" narrative with a meaningful plot to be tracked or a coherent thesis to be eked out of the text. Rosenberg's memories don't shift because reality is breaking down or he's suffering from a mental disease - they shift because he's a fictional character being tortured by Charlie Kaufman for the author's (and our) amusement. Rosenberg doesn't step into Ingo's film or end up in a bizarre post-apocalyptic hellworld because this is a magic realist text - he does it because he's as fictional as everything else in the novel, and there's no meaningful distinction between the world of the protagonists and the other fictional worlds he experiences within his own supposed "universe". It's all just words dressed up as meaning.[1]

I'm not saying the individual parts are totally without meaning - the book does circle around Kaufman's usual preoccupations (metafictional silliness, the effect of artist on art and vice versa, the nature of adaptation, the dividing line between a simulacrum and the object it represents, the gulf between others as we see them in our heads and who they really are etc etc etc) and there are bits and pieces of genuine satire.[2] But at heart it's basically the novel equivalent of a Monty Python episode, drifting from sketch to sketch with only the most dreamlike, shifting sense of continuity and logic.

To that end, the best thing you can do is read the bits you like and skim-read the rest. After a while, I started skimming lightly over the interminable Mudd and Molloy bits - I've never particularly liked Abbott and Costello, so life's too short to a thousand variations of Who's On Next - and didn't get the impression from the rest of the book that I missed much.

Aside from a little bit of time-twisting/meta fuckery at the end of the book, I'm pretty sure Kaufman just accumulated this novel rather than writing it as such, adding bits to it every now and again, introducing new characters and situations as they occurred to him and ditching them once he got bored, without too much attention paid to structure or form.

Yes, it's ridiculously self-indulgent and though Kaufman says the editor made him cut 200 pages, I think it could easily stand to lose 200 more - although in a curious way I'm glad it didn't. There's at least one worthy gag on each page, usually more than that, and once you grasp that nothing means anything, you can go with the flow and just bob in the eddies and currents of Kaufman's prose. It's certainly funnier than most other novels I've read in the past few years.

Oh, and I haven't changed my mind about the Kermode thing being a storm in a teacup. Rosenberg is a consistently unreliable narrator who is constantly misidentifying directors, film titles and even people in his own life and inhabits a shifting, liminal world in which nothing stays fixed and very little makes sense. He's also clearly supposed to have atrocious taste in cinema and literature, and spends pages rambling on about the intellectual brilliance of Judd Apatow films, so the idea that Kaufman suddenly uses him as a mouthpiece for his own anti-Kermode sentiment in this one bit of the book is absurd.
 1. In this respect it's similar to the book of I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and I can see why that novel spoke to Kaufman.
 2. I'm pretty sure the war between a group of awkwardly progressive SJW clone-children who applaud one another's pompous speeches and a gang of Donald Trump-aping robots, held to the soundtrack of corporate slogans as the entire planet burns, is basically a metaphor for Twitter.

Great post, you’re making me want to give it a bash.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Mister Six on January 04, 2021, 05:04:12 PM
Hooray, cheers! I hope you enjoy it if you do.

Why is this a more valid interpretation than the interpretation that he is insane?

Because Kaufman keeps pointedly injecting himself into the story, unless it's supposed to be a coincidence that B keeps suffering horrible pratfalls every time he complains about Synecdoche, New York or whatever (not to mention the bit where B slips away and Kaufman himself bemoans losing his protagonist). And the circumstances of B's life are too bizarre to plausibly have real-world events occurring in the background that he is misinterpreting/misunderstanding.

But maybe I'm wrong, I dunno. I don't mean to piss on your parade, or how you engage with the novel or anything. The author is dead and all that. I just think most people who approach this as a coherent narrative to be approached in the manner of a traditional A-B-C novel are going to struggle to get through it, and that a lighter touch will help them appreciate it more.
Title: Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
Post by: Retinend on January 05, 2021, 10:39:49 AM
Well I insist I do not have an approach, since I was merely summarizing the literal content of the narrative, but I take your point in the spirit intended: Kaufman certainly does have a devil-may-care attitude towards narrative, as evidenced both here and elsewhere in his oeuvre, let's say.