Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Thoughts on Fallen

I don't normally do this, but I'm double-dipping on David Maine's Fallen.  In my last round of thoughts, I focused on the fact that it's a book based on a biblical story that called to my mind professional wrestling.  A few things still need to be made clear.  One of those is that Maine does not approach this story (or any of his similarly-themed books) from a devout attitude.  He's not trying to convert anyone.  He's simply trying to make biblical characters more human.  Sometimes that means that he's closer to Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses than, say, VeggieTales.

As far as pop culture goes, it may help to have Mel Gibson in mind while reading Fallen, specifically his performance in The Patriot, where he plays a father struggling how to respond to the Revolutionary War coming to his home territory.  Gibson frequently portrays desperate men, but in this film much of his desperation comes from the relationships he has with his children, many of whom don't understand what's going on, or are making decisions that exasperate him.  That's the relationship between Adam and Cain exactly, and Cain and Abel, and Adam and Eve.  Imagine Gibson's desperation on a biblical level, if he'd ever made that Judas Maccabee movie following The Passion of the Christ.  Many people now only see Gibson for the endless series of controversies that have followed him for a decade, but I think a certain amount of that follows the kind of life he projects into his films.  As I've said, that's straight desperation.  He's played very few calm men.  No matter what you think of Gibson now, keeping him in mind while reading Fallen would be a good thing.

Another obvious pop culture reference turned out in later seasons of Lost when the story of Jacob began to unfold.  In this TV series, a mysterious island with strange properties causes a lot of people to experience a lot of weird things.  We learn that the man with the earliest experience in this regard is Jacob, who became responsible for the island after his brother chose to reject it and their adoptive mother.  This is another relationship that's very similar.  Jacob's brother and mother were originally introduced in the show as corpses referred to as Adam and Eve, so the connection can be that simple if you want.  The point is, the simplicity and complexity is right there.  Maine has approached what characters who can sometimes be reduced to "the first man," "the first sinner," "the first murderer," "the first victim" and turned them into thinking individuals whose relationships are endlessly complicated.

It's the perfect example of David Maine's instincts as a writer, his ability to craft a story that attempts to explain the human condition in one of the oldest stories we have by making it new again.  Some of it would seem to alienate potential readers, and every best analogy I can make only seems to further complicate that potential, but these are challenges that present themselves, much like life itself.  If you want to accept this particular challenge, it's a rewarding experience.

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