Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Further Adventures of One Page Filler Man


I can’t complain that Jim Mahfood prefaces this book with an essay on Surrealism and then proceeds to try really hard to be Surrealist. That’s what the Surrealists did, after all, and the book feels just like classic Surrealist work: you can see it trying really creakily hard to be ridiculous, and despite that it often succeeds in being fun.

It works best at the end, where Mahfood has collected the shorts that started it all. (One Page Filler Man’s sidekick answers the Anthology Phone and hears: “I just got invited to be in another one of those damn comic anthologies. Six pages this time.” Then it’s off to six pages of adventure.) The long adventure that precedes these shorts drags at times. It’s hard to sustain pure Surrealism for any length of time—especially Surrealism with no edge. With no sex, to be specific. How can you explore the subconscious without sex?

I say stick with Tank Girl.

No previews, sorry.

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  • At 3:25 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    I never quite got through Rene Crevel's Babylon. I am talking out of my ass here, but I think Surrealist fiction is usually kind of a snooze. Even Surrealist drama is best when it's short.

    The only successful surrealist long-form art I can think of are some films (David Lynch, for instance), and usually only when they concede to certain narrative conventions.

  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Agreed. The only exceptions I can think of are Surrealist avant la lettre, like maybe Alice in Wonderland and Woyzeck. Actually, Woyzeck is pretty short.

    Shouldn't be surprising, though, that an anti-narrative movement fails to sustain compelling narratives.

  • At 4:39 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh, God, if you count Alice in Wonderland et al., then surrealist fiction includes some of our coolest classics. Of course, that sort of implies that anything absurd and dreamlike is surrealist. I meant apres la lettre Surrealism, since from your description it seems Mahfood is explicitly attempting to do something Surrealist with a capital S. Though, unlike Friedman, perhaps out of principle rather than expediency?

    According to that definition, maybe the difference between surrealist and Surrealist fiction is that Surrealist fiction is by definition boring? If it's well written and cool, then it's merely surrealist?

  • At 1:02 PM, Blogger Felvidéki Miklós said…

    I found this post pretty late but I think Mahfood did a pretty good job on this book, I laughed my ass of reading these nonsense tales. The comic has enough humor, well alright there is no story (but who said there would be?) It's not too long so it holds my attention and it has a quite catchy art style.

    I don't know if Tank Girl would be better than this,maybe it's cult maybe it's classic, and yes they do have sex in it (now you have it) but it's different and it's not actual anymore (well okay the new IDW tales were quite nice but mainly cause of Ashley Wood's unique style)

    I say if not better, it's just as much as a good read.


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