REVIEW: Godling # 11

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Mon Jul 2 20:45:54 PDT 2007

Has it been three months already?  April, May, June-- and now here we
are, at the beginning of July, and I'm just now getting to the latest
installment of one of the most interesting series RACC has going,
Jochem Vandersteen's GODLING.

As I've noted in other reviews of this series, it runs on a strong
golden-age vibe.  Though this issue has, as Saxon pointed out in the
April EoMR, strong silver age overtones, it still-- rape plot point
notwithstanding-- deeply inhales the heady fumes of the golden age--
the rawness and vitality that can't really be qualified, but simply
enjoyed.  It's kind of like LABYRINTH.

Yes, that LABYRINTH-- the one with David Bowie in the really tight
pants.  It's a very creative film, full of ideas and visuals.  It's
also an uneven film-- sometimes trying too hard to make a point or
stretching to make an effect.  But if those rough edges were ironed
out-- it would flatten the entire film.  The special and weird
qualities that have made it a cult classic would be gone, and it would
be a mundane fantasy film (which is a truly weird thing!).

Sometimes, Jochem belabours a point; other times, he tries too hard
for an effect.  For example, in this issue he introduces a number of
female characters, and describes them breifly both in physical and
psychological terms.  Each one stands in counterpoint to the others,
and ultimately to the running first-person narrative of Amanda Reese,
who has accused Godling-- in his timid alter-ego of Quentin
Alexander-- of sexual assault.  Their viewpoints of Quentin and their
own musings about romantic prospects form a complex structure that
deepens the experience.

But that structure is also transparent.  The pace of the story is
stopped dead by these asides.  On the other hand, if he had folded
them in too subtly, then they might be missed, even on that
subconcious level.  By making them obvious-- to the point of
clumsiness-- he also reaffirms their importance in the overall
thematic mix.

And so, while it's clear he's stretching for an effect, that very act
of stretching also makes the effect more palpable.  If Jochem's
writing was more elegant and controlled, I feel it would probably
diminish the thing I love about it-- the rawness, the primal level on
which it affects me.

And so while in the course of these reviews I usually try to offer a
bit of technical advise or offer solutions to writing problems, in
this case I really can't; it'd be like telling Marilyn Monroe to tone
down the sexuality.  She might have given a better technical
performance-- but no one wants a frumpy Marilyn.

Extra points, also, for the (mostly) convincing insight into Amanda's
state-of-mind, and this bit in particular--

>I wondered sometimes if I had any
>part in it. If maybe I led him believe I wanted him to do the thing he
>did to me. It seemed such a strange coincidence this would happen to
>me again.

-- is very telling and natural, and shows her to be quite sane.
Delusional, yes, but not so far gone that the thought never crosses
her mind.  It's a very balanced portrait of a somewhat unbalanced
person's point of view, and one can understand that point of view even
though the flaws are obvious.

Though this last bit-- "I, Amanda Reese, will get my revenge again!"--
was not quite as balanced or convincing.  But, again-- a diamond is
defined by its edges; take those edges away, and there's nothing left.

Looking forward to the next issue.


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