Monday, February 27, 2012

Dead Lines

[For last week's quotable quotes, click here.]

The hardest part about writing this post each week is choosing the particular lines to cite.  Last night's episode of The Walking Dead, "18 Miles Out," made the decision process especially difficult, since the episode was packed with dramatic confrontations between characters.  But here are some of the best bits of dialogue:

"Now Lori thinks you're dangerous, but you're not going to be dangerous.  Not to us, not to me, not anymore.  How about you look at me?  You and Lori: I get what happened.  When I figured it out--and I figured it out pretty quickly--I wanted to break your jaw.  Let you choke on your teeth.  But I didn't.  That wasn't weakness.  It took everything."
--Rick to Shane

"You have Maggie, and your father, and Patricia and Jimmy, and you gotta stay strong for them.  I wish I could promise you it will be all right in the end.  I can't.  But...we can make now all right.  And we have to."
--Lori to Beth

"You don't get it, do you?  Your husband came break from the dead.  Your son, too.  And now you've got a baby on the way.  The rest of us have piled up our losses--me, Carol, Beth.  But you just keep on keeping on.  Playing house, acting like the queen bee, laying down rules for everybody but yourself.  You know what: go ahead, go in there and tell that little girl that everything is going to be okay, just like it is for you.  She'll get a husband, a son.  Baby.  Boyfriend....She just has to look on the bright side."
--Andrea to Lori

"We're alone.  You, me, Patricia, with only Dad and Jimmy against a whole world of those things.  I don't want to be gutted.  I want to this bed, tonight, with you beside me.  Please."
--a suicidal Beth to Maggie

"The pain doesn't go away.  You just make room for it."
--Andrea to Beth

"If you want to kill me, you're going to have to do better than a wrench.  Probably going to have to kill that boy.  But I am going to think about it [what to do with Randall] a night.  It can't be that easy, killing someone.  Killing anyone.  You know that.  [beat]  That is my wife.  That is my son.  That is my child.  If you are going to be with us, you got to follow my lead; you got to trust me.  [beat]  It's time for you to come back."
--Rick to Shane

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Gothicism of American Gothic--"Inhumanitas"

[For the previous entry, click here.]

American Gothic certainly justifies its show title with this fourteenth episode.  "Inhumanitas" opens with Sheriff Lucas Buck and Father Tilden sitting in a church confessional.  Lucas, though, isn't there to articulate his various transgressions but to learn of the secret sins of Trinity's populace.  Father Tilden dishes the dirt on the townspeople, citing incidents of petty theft, unwanted pregnancy, and marital infidelity.  Lucas seeks
"something [he] can use" in his personal dealings with the locals, and gets a surprisingly juicy tidbit when Tilden confides that Barbara Hudson puts nails in the street to keep cars from speeding by her house.

Corrupt religious figures are a familiar character type in Gothic narratives, and Tilden ties in to that tradition based on the bargain he has made with the devilish Lucas.  In return for snitching on the penitent, Tilden gets the assurance that no harm will come to his church (which, as the sheriff recounts during their conversation in the confessional, has been "miraculously" spared from damage by a wildfire that ravaged the rest of the buildings on that block). 

Macabre rendition of religious icons is another hallmark of the Gothic, and in this opening scene viewers watch a church statue come to life and take on the visage of Merlyn Temple.  Merlyn has turned avenging angel in the hopes of saving her brother Caleb's soul from Lucas.

Later in the episode, Lucas snuffs the life out of a Scripture-spouting Tilden by squeezing the crucifix from a set of the priest's rosary beads in his fist.  Tilden's desperate prayer and the lack of protection provided by Christianity's primary symbol is reminiscent of the scene from the film version of Salem's Lot when Father Callahan is thwarted by the vampire Barlow.

Echoes of Psycho: as part of Merlyn's terror campaign against the sheriff, she turns the water in his lover Selena's shower bloody (the image of the dark fluid circling down the drain is unmistakably Hitchcockian).

As Lucas works his latest scheme against Barbara's husband Brian, he remarks (perhaps only half-jokingly) that the man could remove an unwanted tenant on his land by dismembering his body and burying him in the cellar--a course of action with which the narrators of certain Edgar Allan Poe stories would no doubt approve.

The episode's most ominous note, though, is struck during the climactic confrontation between Lucas and Merlyn.  The sheriff boasts of the dark power latent in his son Caleb, and warns that if he (Lucas) is killed, his evil spirit will flow straight inside the boy.  "The child becomes the man," and the Gothic theme of terrible inheritance is accordingly given a frightening twist.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Countdown: The 10 Most Grotesque Residents of Winesburg, Ohio--#6

[For the previous entry on the countdown, click here.]

#6.Alice Hindman

The residents of Winesburg, Ohio rarely cut impressive figures when first introduced by Sherwood Anderson, and Alice Hindman is no exception.  The 27-year-old woman is described as "tall and somewhat slight.  Her head was large and overshadowed her body.  Her shoulders were a little stooped and her hair and eyes were brown."  Such hints of physical grotesquerie, though, are overshadowed by the oddity of thought and behavior manifest in a character like Alice.  She remains foolishly loyal to a lover who has since moved off to Chicago and taken up with another woman; over a decade later, Alice still clings to the idea that her unofficial "husband" will someday return to her.  Unfortunately, self-enforced solitude is warping Alice in the meantime:
As time passed and she became more and more lonely she began to practice the devices common to lonely people.  When at night she went upstairs into her own room she knelt on the floor to pray and in her prayers whispered things she wanted to say to her lover.  She became attached to inanimate objects, and because it was her own, could not bear to have anyone touch the furniture of her room.
Alice also takes to caressing and whispering to a blanket she arranges in her bed in the shape of a human form.  But her strangest undertaking is her titular "Adventure."  One inclement night, she is suddenly possessed with "a mad desire to run naked through the streets," thinking that the cold rain "would have some creative and wonderful effect on her body."  She heads outside and streaks straight toward a glimpsed male figure--who turns out to be a "somewhat deaf" (and presumably drunk) old man.  Abruptly mortified, Alice drops to the ground, then slowly crawls "on hands and knees through the grass to the house."  And so this Winesburg girl gone momentarily wild makes her shame-filled journey back to a cloistered, spinsterish existence.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies (Book Review)

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk (Gallery Books, 2011)

From where did George Romero get the idea for the modern zombie?  Can zombies learn?  Do they actually moan?  Feel pain?  What is a zombie's life span?  Which state in the Union is least likely to survive a zombie outbreak?  Why is May designated as Zombie Awareness Month?  These are just some of the questions that you need not be afraid to ask, because Matt Mogk has the compelling answers.

Part scientific study, part survival guide, part pop cultural survey, Mogk's book works on many levels.  The author offers witty commentary and flashes a mordant sense of humor throughout, but make no mistake about it: Mogk takes this subject matter seriously.  He adheres to a strictly rational definition of the zombie, insisting that such an entity is "biological in nature, not supernatural or magical."  Moreover, Mogk talks constantly of "the coming zombie pandemic," deeming it a matter not of if, but when.  Such earnestness at first might be off-putting to some--considered willfully naive at best or alarmist at worst--but by the time you finish reading you'll be plenty wary of an impending apocalypse.  In fact, one of the most surprising aspects of this well-researched book is the amount of scrutiny currently being given to zombies by the medical and scholarly communities.

Filled with rigorous speculation and a slew of fun extras (e.g., profiles of iconic movie zombies, quotes from zombie films and fiction), Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies is at once enlightening and entertaining.  Mogk states that he wrote the book "for people who don't know anything about zombies but would like to learn," but there are two other prime audiences as well. First, fans of all things zombie, who (the fans, not the zombies) will delight in the breadth and depth of Mogk's knowledge.  Secondly, this aptly-titled tome is a veritable treasure chest for any writer aspiring to write zombie fiction.  The information presented here is bound to spark a multitude of story ideas, proving that there is still plenty of meat to be picked from the bones of this thriving subgenre.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dead Lines

[For last week's quotable quotes, click here.]

This week's episode ("Triggerfinger") of The Walking Dead put the premium on action rather than talk, but there were still plenty of choice bits of dialogue:

"Your friends drew on us.  They gave us no choice.  I'm sure we've all lost enough people.  Done things we wished we didn't have to do.  But...but it's like that now.  So let's just chalk this up to what it was: wrong place, wrong--" [sudden gunfire]
--Rick, to Dave and Tony's allies stationed outside the bar

"You're a real piece of work, lady.  What, are you going to make this about my daddy or some crap like that?  [scoffs]  Man, you don't know jack.  You're afraid.  You're afraid because you're all alone.  You've got no daughter.  You don't know what to do with yourself.  And you ain't my problem.  Sophia wasn't mine!  All you had to do was keep an eye on her!"
--Daryl to Carol

"Just think about what you felt.  Just for a second, would you?  What you felt.  Everything falling apart all around us, but was the one good thing.   [beat]  You know it's true."
--Shane to Lori

Shane: You know, I'm going to go get him [the wounded Randall] some flowers and candy.  Look at this, folks: we back in Fantasyland.
Hershel: You know, we haven't even dealt with what you did in my barn yet.  Let me make this perfectly clear once and for all: this is my farm.  Now, I wanted you gone.  Rick talked me out of it.  That doesn't mean I have to like it.  So do us both a favor--keep your mouth shut.

"Shane thinks I'm his.  He thinks the baby is his. And he says you can't protect us.  That you are going to get us killed.  He's dangerous, Rick.  And he won't stop."
--Lori to Rick

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Universal Monsters in Our Midst

Funko Plushies Movie Monsters 4 Piece Doll Set

Universal even invades the nursery!  With this not-so-fearsome plush-doll foursome, you can raise your child to be a monstrophile all life long--from crib to crypt.  Here's your chance to circumvent all later fears of a monster under the bed by tucking one right under the covers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Countdown: The 10 Most Grotesque Residents of Winesburg, Ohio--#7

[For the previous entry on the countdown, click here.]

#7.Reverend Curtis Hartman

The Winesburg, Ohio story "The Strength of God" tracks the local pastor's perverse conversion from Presbyterianism to voyeurism.  While holed up in "the bell tower of the church, where on Sunday mornings the minister prayed for an increase in him of the power of God," Hartman catches glimpse of Kate Swift through the upstairs bedroom window of a neighboring home.  This woman "apparently far gone in secret sin" (i.e. she is spotted smoking a cigarette!) leads Hartman to more zealous sermonizing, but meanwhile the minister is guilty of his own private transgression.  Overwhelmed by "a carnal desire to 'peep,'" the married Hartman breaks a small hole in the church window so he can continue to ogle Kate undetected.

Illicit thought of the woman take over Hartman's life, and nearly ends it after the minister spends a freezing night spying in the bell tower.  He is ready to spurn his religion and succumb to lust, but is ultimately saved when he sees the naked Kate kneel down beside her bed in prayer.  "After ten years in this town, God has manifested himself to me in the body of a woman," Hartman declares.  His interpretation of the next-door scene is no doubt a dubious one, and as the subsequent story in Sherwood Anderson's linked collection reveals, Hartman's view of Kate ("an instrument of God, bearing the message of truth") is grossly inaccurate.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You Get What You Pay For...

...And sometimes you pay for what you get.  Check out this irony-rich story from the Huffington Post.

The eatery profiled in the piece gets my vote for the most tasteless theme restaurant in our macabre republic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Beelzebub Tweets

BLZ, Bub

[For previous tweets, click here.]

Love is undoubtedly in the air today.  So I'm heading Down Below for a fresh breath of brimstone.
--8:32 A.M., February 14th

They ought to call it Barter Day: the guy comes bearing candy, in hopes of sampling the girl's heart-shaped box.
--11:51 P.M., February 13th

In my experience, the best way to deal with old flames is smothering.
--5:47 P.M., February 13th

I was going to place a personal ad this week, but the newspaper refused to print "7-Time Deadly Sinner Seeks Same."
--7:29 A.M., February 12th

Painting a bloody pentagram on the wall--now that's what I call a hallmark moment.
--10:00 P.M., February 11th

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dead Lines

Thrilling action.  Stark visuals.  Stunning special fx.  AMC's The Walking Dead has so many exceptional qualities, but perhaps one that gets overlooked is the dramatic dialogue delivered by its cast of characters.  Here are some exemplary quotes from last night's mid-season premiere, "Nebraska":

"We bury the ones we love, and burn the rest."

"That's not my little girl.  It's some other...thing.  My Sophia was alone in the woods, all this time I thought--she didn't cry herself to sleep, she didn't go hungry, she didn't try to find her way back....Sophia died a long time ago."

"Carl said that he would have shot Sophia himself.  That's your son.  He's growing cold.  He's growing up in a world...he's growing up in a world where he needs a father like you, around, alive, and not running off and solving everyone else's problems."
--Lori to Rick

Glenn: I'm sorry I kept it [his knowledge of Lori's pregnancy] from you.
Rick: Don't be.  You did what you thought was right.  Just so happens it wasn't.

"Selfish?  Listen to me, Olive Oyl, I was out there looking for that little girl every single day.  I took a bullet and an arrow in the process.  Don't you tell me about me getting my hands dirty!  You want those two idiots, have a nice ride.  I'm done looking for people."
--Daryl to Lori

"[...] And when that little girl came out of the barn, the look on your face, I knew you knew it too.  Right?  There is no hope.  And you know it now, like I do.  Don't you?...There is no hope for any of us."
--Hershel to Rick

There were plenty of other lines that could have been singled out, including Shane's crazed rants, and anything from the climactic confrontation in the bar with Dave and Tony--a scene so tense, it's a wonder the cameras didn't vibrate while recording it.

I suspect that many viewers come to--or stay away from--The Walking Dead for the wrong reason (expecting an absolute gorefest), but this just might be the most compelling and best-written show on television right now.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

QuickList: The 8 Best Zombies to Date on The Walking Dead

(And by "to date" I mean "to this point," not "someone to take out for a romantic dinner on Valentine's Day")

8.Organ Donor (Episode 1.2, "Guts"): This walker isn't all that visually remarkable, but after his brains are bashed in with a baseball bat, Rick's group (in a neat reversal of human-zombie relations) grossly eviscerates him in order to smear themselves with grue and disguise themselves with death-stench.

7.The Deer Eater (Episode 1.3, "Tell It to the Frogs"): A gray-skinned carnivore with a yen for venison, this walker is the first to wander near the survivors' camp.  He's decapitated by Dale's machete, then gets a Daryl arrow through the eye for good measure, but the undead that will soon follow in his wake won't be so easily dispatched.

6.Unhappy Camper (Episode 2.1, "What Lies Ahead"):  Before being shivved by a screwdriver, this walker that stalks Andrea inside Dale's RV provides plenty of shivers.  His wispy hair and skeletal visage evokes the iconic Phantom of the Opera.

5.Head and Shoulders (Episode 2.6, "Secrets"): Maggie's maggoty attacker inside the pharmacy gets his head nearly knocked off by the shelf wielded by a rescuing Glenn.  The walker's sidewise, dangling gourd furnishes one of the show's most arresting images.

4.Woodchuck Guts (Episode 2.1, "What Lies Ahead"): Suspected of having noshed on the missing Sophia, this downed walker is subjected to an impromptu autopsy by Rick and Daryl (who discover that only woodchuck had been on the lunch menu).  What really makes this ghoul so memorable, though, is that he looks like a zombified Tom Petty.

3.No Wheels (Episode 1.1, "Days Gone Bye"): Who can forget this sun-scorched, legless wretch crawling next to an abandoned bicycle in the show's premiere episode?  Rick's mercy killing of the pathetic figure set the tone for the entire series, demonstrating that The Walking Dead takes its plague victims seriously.

2.Sophia Found (Episode 2.7, "Pretty Much Dead Already"): Her climactic barn-exit (and subsequent execution) formed one of the most heart-wrenching, gut-punching scenes I have ever viewed.

1.The Well Dweller (Episode 2.4, "Cherokee Rose"): Undead and bloated, this walker who stumbled into a well on Hershel's farm gives new meaning to the phrase "morbidly obese."  But by the time the show's heroes get done with him, he's half the dead man he used to be.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Countdown: The 10 Most Grotesque Residents of Winesburg, Ohio--#8

[For the previous entry on the countdown, click here.]

#8.Doctor Parcival

This practicing physician in Winesburg, Ohio earns a spot on the countdown if only for the verbal portrait with which Sherwood Anderson opens the story "The Philosopher":
Doctor Parcival was a large man with a drooping mouth covered by a yellow mustache.  He always wore a dirty white waistcoat out of the pockets of which protruded a number of the kind of black cigars known as stogies.  His teeth were black and irregular and there was something strange about his eyes.  The lid of the left eye twitched; it fell down and snapped up; it was exactly as though the lid of the eye were a window shade and someone stood inside the doctor's head playing with the chord.
This "fat, unclean-looking man," though, is no mere physical grotesque; he also sports a quite unusual personality.  An emigrant to Winesburg, he makes ghoulish hints about his past life ("I may have stolen a great sum of money or been involved in a murder before coming here"), referencing a horrid crime in Chicago in which a doctor was killed and his body stuffed into a trunk.  Parcival isn't serious about being a dangerous fugitive, but a factual detail that he does let slip perhaps shines an indicting light on his character: there's a history of mental illness in his family, with his father having spent his final years locked away in a Dayton insane asylum.

Like a modern update of Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, the doctor tells George Willard (Anderson's stand-in and the protagonist of the linked short story collection) that "I want to warn you and keep on warning you."  This sounds noble enough, until the doctor subsequently professes: "I want to fill you with hatred and contempt, so that you will be a superior being."  Similarly, Parcival belies his own chivalrous surname in the story's climax, when he refuses to go out and attend to a girl fatally wounded in the street.  Fearing that he will be lynched by the people of Winesburg for his callous disregard of the young victim, Parcival desperately conveys a moral (the central idea of a book he has hoped to complete) to George: "that everyone in the world is Christ and they are all crucified."  Here delusions of grandeur seemingly mix with a persecution complex, as Parcival proves more a demented thinker than a worthy mentor figure.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dark Passages: Southern Gods

Southern Gods is a terrific--and terrifying--first novel by John Horner Jacobs.  The book deftly melds genres, working as a combination of Faulknerian Southern Gothic, an occult detective novel (think William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel), and a Lovecraftian tale of cosmic dread.  Jacobs writes incredibly vivid prose, as can be seen in the following excerpted passage, in which one of the book's protagonists leafs through the pages of the infamous Necronomicon:
Sarah breathed into the phone, staring at the gruesome rendering [repetition of "r" sounds reinforces the idea of a shivery reaction].  She turned the page.  And gasped again.  Another illustration, this time of two toddlers, each one gouging out the eyes of the other.  Men and women watched the gory combat [note the contrast here between blindness and the act of witness], their faces like gargoyles [a mere simile to suggest stoniness, or an apt description of grotesque disfigurement?].  Blood ran from the children's eyes, down their bodies, pooling on the floor.  One gargoyle-faced man used the blood to draw an enormous picture of a clawed hand with thirty coins in the palm.  Sarah turned another page.  A woman standing at a bench, a knife in her fist and her own severed hand lying on the floor [ominous juxta-position of images of bribery and self-mutilation].  A horrible silent O for a mouth, as if she was singing.  Through the door, a field.  On the field, a black figure, watching.  Sarah turned the page.  A gigantic face with a dog in its gaping mouth.  The dog's maw held a serpent, and the serpent's tail punched a hole in the back of the face, curved around underneath and became a gigantic phallus with a miniature face at the tip.  In the face's mouth stood a dog [serpent/dog/phallus: base variation on the Ouroboros symbol?].  Sarah turned the page.  A monstrous octopus-like creature [shades of Cthulhu] looking up from the bottom of a well, eyes black and liquid.  Around the rim of the well, tiny people [underscoring the insignificance of humanity in the cosmos] hurled children into the abyss, to plummet to their deaths.

Sarah felt uneasy on her feet, and the room began to distort and skew perspective.  Her stomach tightened and her limbs ached as if she had a fever [the reader of Southern Gods perhaps has the same dizzied, horrified response as Sarah does to this catalogue of atrocities].

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Gothicism of American Gothic: "Resurrector"

[For the previous entry, click here.]

Local shock jock Mel Kirby approaches the influential Sheriff Buck for help in moving from radio into television work, but when Lucas refuses to get involved, Mel vows to get even with him.  An opportunity presents itself when the sheriff's deputy, Ben, shoots Lance Biggs after the man fired on the postal carrier who was delivering bills to his home.  Turns out that Biggs had owed Lucas money, so Mel uses his radio platform to (in Lucas's words) "put a dark spin on this morning's events."

But give the devil his due: Lucas is not to be outdone when it comes to dirty dealing.  With the help of his seductive sidekick Selena, Lucas convinces Mel that a brighter future awaits him: he can make a break into television, but only as a solo act.  Mel will have to dump (i.e. kill off) his radio co-host wife Gloria.  With that in mind, Mel takes Gloria out for a boat ride on Jackson Lake (only on American Gothic does a nighttime foray onto an eerie, fog-shrouded lake fit the notion of a romantic date).  Unbeknownst to Mel, though, Gloria has already been warned by Lucas of her husband's dishonorable intentions.

Meanwhile, Caleb--troubled by the lingering afterlife of his sister Merly--takes steps to release her from her earthly hauntings.  Miss Holt, who runs the boarding house where Caleb lives, has a family scrapbook that contains the instructions for holding a "second funeral"--a "going-away party for the dead."  Caleb enlists the aid of his friend Boone, and when the former insists that they follow the directions exactly so as to adhere to old customs, the latter offers a distinctly Gothic counterpoint: "Burning people at the stake was an old custom, too."

But the best line in the episode belongs to Lucas.  When Mel realizes he's been duped, he moans that he had only come to the sheriff for help.  In response, Lucas flashes some of the grim wit that makes him such a wonderful hero-villain: "Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly."

Monday, February 6, 2012

G-Men: The Last Stand

Tom Brady's prayer goes unanswered in the final seconds, and the Giants edge the Patriots in another classic Super Bowl.  Congratulations to Eli and the men of Big Blue for coming up LARGE once again.

Admittedly, this one is a bit bittersweet, because I remember where I was and who I was with when the Giants made a remarkably similar run to the championship four years ago.  But at the end of the day, sports is all about entertainment, and I can't help but appreciate what an unbelievably thrilling ride the Giants gave their fans all season long.

And finally, thanks to my buddy Kevin B., who tormented me for twelve months straight after his Eagles ruined the Giants' season last year.  His unending smack talk no doubt provided the karma that deep-sixed his team's expected dream season this year and launched New York to such incredible heights.  Way to go, Kev!  You deserve to be the grand marshal of the Giants' victory parade.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tombstone Endzone

I grew up in a graveyard.  That is to say, the street I lived on bordered a cemetery, whose sprawling grounds formed the site of countless bike rides and games of Man Hunt.  The place also sported an unofficial ball field (pictured above).  Every Sunday in the fall and winter, the neighborhood kids would gather there to play tackle football (using the neat alignment of grave markers on either side to establish the goal lines).  On those afternoons when the Giants had a home game, we could even hear the public address system from the Stadium a few miles over in the Meadowlands.

I still carry a lot of fond memories (and an unfortunate scar on my backside, which I accidentally scraped one time while climbing through the hole in the chain-link fence that served as our point of entry) from those childhood days.  No doubt they have left their mark on me in many ways.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Countdown: The 10 Most Grotesque Residents of Winesburg, Ohio--#9

[For the previous entry on the countdown, click here.]

#9.Wing Biddlebaum

Fat and fidgety Wing Biddlebaum--the central character of the story "Hands"--moves about the streets of Winesburg, Ohio "forever frightened and beset by a ghostly band of doubts."  Although he's been living in town for over two decades, he's still a mystery to the other residents, who are unaware of his past life as a Pennsylvania schoolmaster.  Sherwood Anderson's narrator fills in this elusive backstory for readers: the former "Adolph Myers" was wont to express his affection for his charges via innocent caresses, but this hands-on approach leads to his undoing when a "half-witted" student with lusty feelings for his teacher makes slanderous claims of molestation.  Adolph/Wing is beaten within an inch of his life by the boy's saloon-keeper father before being run out of town.  He comes to Winesburg to stay with an aunt ("a black-toothed old woman who raised chickens"--apparently grotesquerie runs in the family), and lives all alone following her death.  No doubt he's been traumatized by the incident in Pennsylvania, left emotionally scarred and alienated from others.  "Keep your hands to yourself," the saloon keeper had raged at him, and now the wounded Wing struggles to express himself.  The warping of his personality manifests in strange physical gestures, most notably in the story's concluding scene, where Wing plucks up and eats bread crumbs off the floor one by one:
In the dense blotch of light beneath the table, the kneeling figure looked like a priest engaged in some service of the church.  The nervous expressive fingers, flashing in out of the light, might have well been mistaken for the fingers of a devotee going swiftly through decade after decade of his rosary.
The religious imagery is certainly curious here.  Is it meant to underscore the chastity of Wing's "love of man"?  Less charitably, it can be read as a deliberate attempt at incongruity, accentuating the oddity of Wing's behavior by describing the man's actions in exceedingly dignified terms.  Yet while the author's sympathy toward his character is debatable, it is hard to imagine the people of Winesburg being endeared to Wing if they ever got the chance to observe his bizarre communion ritual on the kitchen floor.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kingly Trivia

To date, King has written seven novels that contain the name of a female character in the title.  I'll give you Christine; list the other six novels.

Answers appear in the Comments section of this post.