“He was more than fat; he was gigantic in that seldom-seen fantastic way that brings to mind thick dough puddings and overstuffed Morris chairs. One of the men who bowled regularly in League Wednesday nights, who was also an avid reader of science fiction, compared Greaseball to a spaceman who had been infected by a spore that had bloated him into moon-proportions. It was a striking analogy, for Bolley’s body was not only hasty-pudding squishy, and waggled flappingly as he stumped forward, but the skin was an unhealthy yellow, pimpled and puckered and strewn with moles, pustules, explosions of flesh, that made him look like some diseased fruit, overripe and rotting within.”
Harlan Ellison, Web of the City
Not to give this too much time — because after all, it’s a juvenile-delinquent pulp from the late ‘50s, and a debut novel by an author who gained prominence in an entirely different genre, a curiosity in other words rather than a masterpiece, and presented as such — but this is a lot of description for an essentially background character, the mark of a writer that doesn’t know how to work in long form yet; it’s a game of the dozens that’s gotten out of hand, with poor Mr. Ellison egging himself on until he stops making sense entirely (“waggled flappingly?”). The contrast is especially sharp in light of the short stories that Hard Case has printed after the novel, which are also standard juvenile-delinquent pulp, but harder, faster, and meaner: a writer punching his weight.
October 08, 2013, 10:06am Comments