Sunday, December 28, 2008

re: Lulu in Marrakech

Back on October 30th, I blogged about Diane Johnson's new novel, Lulu in Marrakech. Then, I wrote "Recently, the New York Times ran a couple of reviews of the new Diane Johnson novel, Lulu in Marrakech. I haven't read the book, but it's title caught my attention because of the name of its title character. (Johnson's novel is described as a social comedy about a clueless young American woman named Lulu.) What also caught my attention was the newspaper's suggestion that the novel's main character has some connection to Louise Brooks and the character she once played, also named Lulu."

Today, the Boston Globe ran a review of the book by Elizabeth Hand, the critically acclaimed fantasy author. Hands' review is a good one, and like the New York Times reviews, it picks up on some of the thematic / mythological tropes employed in the novel. In her review, Hand writes

The greatest irony, of course, is that the emotionally detached Lulu is as expendable to her government, and others, as suicide bombers are to their terrorist cause. Despite a passing reference to Mata Hari, she has far more in common with her namesake: the blithely amoral, guileless, and ultimately doomed femme fatale Lulu, embodied by Louise Brooks in G. W. Pabst's great film "Pandora's Box." At the end, Diane Johnson's Lulu is being coolly reassigned from Marrakech to London with the prospect of a posh new flat and another man's bed to warm as she goes about her business.
Hand's appreciation of Brooks' is not a surprise. Hand has mentioned Brooks before in her prose. In her World Fantasy Award-nominated short story, Cleopatra Brimstone (2001), Hand mentions the actress, " 'Did you do something different with your hair?' She nodded once, brushing the edge of her bangs with a finger. 'Yeah.' 'Nice. Very Louise Brooks.'"

[A number of other fantasy / horror writers have also referenced Louise Brooks in their work, Most famously and most prominently among them are Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. I have spoken to each of them about their appreciation of the actress. Other genre writers who have given a shout our to Lulu are Fritz Leiber, Jr. and Peter Straub. For more, see "Louise Brooks in Contemporary Fiction" on the LBS website.]

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