Several months back I realized that there are quite a few relatively contemporary authors that are not on everyone’s reading list. One clue to this phenomenon was that the best-seller and must read lists being published around the internet and even on ink & paper publications seemed to contain the same dozen or so authors month after month with only a few new authors touted, often because their first novels either came out of some prestigious creative writing school or because they followed the rules of popular fiction espoused by the more established and possibly less imaginative best-selling authors.
Despite its less than successful release, I include the film Big Trouble In Little China on my list of guilty pleasures: high on my list. It tells the story of Jack Burton, who helps his friend Wang Chi rescue Wang’s green-eyed fiancée from bandits in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named David Lo Pan, who requires a woman with green eyes to marry him in order to release him from a centuries-old curse. [Wikipedia]
David Lo Pan is certainly not the first nefarious villain from the mysterious and inscrutable land of ultra-long fingernails and wicked martial arts. You could even include Ming the Merciless in this batch of bad hombres. But isn’t it an easy cliché to engender a fictional villain with unknown magical powers from a distant and unknown country? Remember, Lamont Cranston didn’t learn the secrets to cloud men’s minds of the corner of Flatbush and Avenue J.
I have said it before but it always holds true: when you subscribe to a publicatiion that only comes out twice a year, it’s always a surprise when that neatly packaged journal is found lurking in the mailbox. What is it? Who is it from? Zip open the cardboard container and realize that another six months have passed.
Here’s what the editor, Bradford Morrow, says about this issue:
One of my favorite and most admired novels is Jealousie by Alain Robbe-Grillet. I first met Robbe-Grillet on a back-shelf at Papa Bach: the cover of the Grove paperback of Le Voyeur showing a beautiful naked woman surreptitiously through a bedroom window. I read Le Voyeur and La Maison de Rendez-vous at that time as if they were some new kind of literary magic that I didn’t understand but which I was certain contained hidden treasure.
It wasn’t until I read Jealousie that I began to understand what I eventually learned was the nouveau roman. Jealousie was the key to the magic.