The Fish
for 24 September 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


Erin Coull
Production Manager


Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Copy Edit]
Copy Edit

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


T. Jay Fowler

Production Manager

& Ass Kicker


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

In the Lyne of Pale Fire

I never thought I'd find
myself enthusiastically
agreeing with Hugh Grant, but
by gum it's happened. In the
EW story on Lyne's Lolita,
he's quoted as saying, "The
trouble is, that's my
favorite book of all time - I
didn't think anyone should
make a movie of it." That is
the real trouble, not that
Lyne has undoubtedly missed
the point intended by his
content provider.

Lolita, the novel, transcends
its winky-creepy Cliffs-Notes
plot summary because Nabokov
is both brilliant and
talented. Humbert's attitude
is less hermetic than you
imply; there're lots of gaps
and fissures where awareness
threatens to bubble up. And,
as the 1958 Atlantic review
points out, the book is
beautifully crafted, layered
with allusion and
indirection. It's great
writing, not kiddie porn.
Otherwise, it'd be just
another humorless, tedious,
in-Peoria screed. (Did
someone mention Bret Easton

Lolita, the movie, is stuck
with its winky-creepy
Cliffs-Notes plot summary
because that's what movies do
- they show action, not
thought. Even in Kubrick's
hands, Lolita was boiled down
to a series of events. What
the hell did Lyne think he
could add to it - other than
the amped-up pubescent
sexuality he's so
enthusiastic about? A
slammin' soundtrack, man?
Torn sweatshirts? A
bottom-line dollar figure for
Lo's maidenhead?

And speaking of artistes
laboring under the delusion
that controversy = genius:
this week's New York magazine
announces Karen Finley's new
one-woman show. In a
"commentary on domesticity,"
she "vacuums in a backwards
wedding dress, harangues
against the dysfunction of
Pooh Corner, and, on
videotape, drizzles a velvet
canvas with her own breast
milk ('I'm a lactating
Jackson Pollock!')." Pretty
transgressive stuff for an
audience of urban elitists.

Love to all the Sucksters,
Jan Werner

I'm not sure what delusion
Lyne is laboring under. The
nice thing about his movies
so far is they don't require
you to think - well, past the
water-cooler debate of Would
You Actually Let Someone
Sleep With Your Spouse For $1
Million? but you've nailed
the problem - Lolita is a
novel so deftly layered and
multi-allusional with its
language that it practically
defeats photography.

Furious George

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: urban elites

Yes, good to see you're using
that rapier-edged cynicism
and Patriot-accurate vitriol
on fair game. I mean, if you
really wanted to flop out
your 12 inches of
intellect and prove how HUGE
your collective intellect is
you could attempt something
really challenging - say, a
critique of the Spice Girls'
musical depth? Are
[ur]banalities such as the
ones lampooned in your piece
even worthy of attack? And in
your over-eager, salivating
throat-lunge at small-L
liberals, did you not taint
the glorious (not to mention
valid) epicurean pursuit of
polymorphously perverse
hedonism with the same brush
as the conspicuously consumed
"cultivation" characteristic
of your prey?

You bastard, nancy,
hand-wringing hippies!
Redistributing wealth is one
thing, but no one's gonna
stereotype my penchant for
quality Shiraz or John Zorn
recordings! Granted, your
standard sophomoric,
pseudo-lefty scribblings
(ooh! ooh! let's tongue-lash
post-industrial, corporate
oligopolies who neither
peruse - nor give a rat's
arse about - our writing
whilst needlessly
proliferating wanky
neologisms to further
estrange already-alienated
media consumers) usually do
make me laugh, but I couldn't
help thinking that today you
should have been wearing a
more accurate zine-moniker,
say S[MUG] [F]UCK. And before
you get on your altitudinous
equii, I'm a 24-year-old,
degreed, unemployed,
musician/student, not some
Beemer-driving, Zagat reader.

So there. Poo to you with
knobs on.
The Marquis De Sardonic.

Um. What?

Fish With Letter Icon

In the Lyne of Pale Fire


It's disgraceful to see you
denigrate a true "auteur"
like Adrian Lyne, who has put
his considerable filmmaking
talents to the much-needed
task of readapting a novel
originally filmed by the
legendary recluse Stan
Kubrick. What the fuck has
that hack done lately anyway?
Has he addressed the serious
problem faced by a young
couple who is offered
millions of dollars to engage
in an illicit affair? That
kook Kubrick doesn't know the
first thing about making a
film, and Lyne is simply
attempting to do justice to a
novel that Kubrick so
obviously did not "get."

John Gruber

Has Premiere called you for
that chief film critic's
post? If it's not open, it
needs to be. Here's hoping
Lyne remakes Clockwork
with Jim Carrey as

Furious George

Fish With Letter Icon

Nabokov was an astoundingly
good writer, which does not
equal astoundingly great
human being. I've read in a
number of places that he
identified more closely with
Humbert than he claimed to,
and that he was even spotted,
a number of times, entering
hotels with very young (10-,
11-, 12-year-old) girls. I
didn't like hearing this, as
he is one of my favorite
writers; I own all his books,
including his criticism and
essay collections.

I would guess that "the folk"
are probably often more
attuned to what is ethical
and kind than are most
artists or intellectuals.

Melissa J. Price

I hadn't read that about
Nabokov and young girls and
hotels. Maybe he was the
Woody Allen of his day. As
for "the folk" being more
attuned to morality than
artists or intellectuals, I
dunno ... my point was more
that journalists had taken to
this "controversy" without
weighing both sides, without
examining what the artist was
actually saying and what the
public was actually saying.
Put it this way, knee-jerk
analysis is almost never in
tune with what's going on.

Furious George

Fish With Letter Icon

You're wrong about the novel;
it neither champions nor
condemns Humbert. It IS the
most convincing love story of
this century, and Angell's
piece was certainly not
"wheezy." It is a reminder of
how awe-inspiring Nabokov's
mastery of language truly is.

Larry Weissman

Larry, I write for SUCK, so I
can't be that wrong. Look,
the novel doesn't champion
Humbert, he champions
himself. He recognizes that
society sees him as a perv -
but to him, in his deluded
mind, this is love.

As for Angell's piece, which
spent most of its space
recounting past critical
reaction to Lolita before
reaching his arch premise, it
certainly felt like a tired
magazine's calculated and
cloying attempt to regain an
avant-gardist position to me.
It's obviously not a love
story, it's a story of
obsession. Calling Lolita a
"love" story is like saying
that Mark David Chapman's
"love" for the Beatles led
him to kill John Lennon.
Lolita is a story told by a
depraved child abuser; to him
it's love, not to anyone
else. And not to Nabokov,
from his published
descriptions of Humbert.

Furious George

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: suck, lolita, and

Suck has never looked as
ironic as when they write
about irony, that is to say a
juxtaposition of things that
Should Not Be, that is to say
a Salon advertisement at the
bottom of our favorite online
pooper trooper. What gives?
One has to wonder about the
mental stability of the execs
at Salon who seem to think
that readers of Suck "just
might not have noticed" the
scathing critiques Suck runs
regarding said 'zine every
week or so. The question
really comes back, however,
to a ponderance about Suck's
solicitation of such
advertisements - are you
folks really cheeky enough to
ask for donations from the
recipients of your merciless
golden showers? Perhap the
irony is intentional; after
all, if Salon is really dull
enough to take this bait,
they might as well be one of
the fish in our favorite
barrel. Unfair as it may be,
though, all advertisements
make their mark on the
reputation of the host as
well as the object of the ad,
and this really DOES go to
show that Suck is still
blowing as hard as ever to
... um, put some wind in the
corporate sail. Congrats,

Robert J. Kent

If only congratulations were
in order. As it stands, our
smoker's hack does little to
breathe life into the
company's coffers. As it

And just to nit-pick. We
don't actually solicit our
own ads, the nice folks in ad
sales do that for us. And
we've got a feeling that
writers like Sarah Vowell
have little to do with
placing Salon ads. After all,
who among them would be savvy
enough to buy one here?

Fish With Letter Icon

I cannot begin to tell you
how deeply depressed I am at
the news that Adrian Lyne has
been allowed to put his
filthy disgusting little paws
on Nabokov's incredible
masterpiece. You've ruined my
day. It sucks.


If this the worst news the
day has brought you - hell,
if this is the worst news
that Suck has ever brought
you, then you obviously
aren't watching enough TV.

Not that TV brings you worse
news; rather, like liquor and
fine crack, it just makes you
kinda forget what was wrong
in the first place.

Now what were you saying?

Fish With Letter Icon

Of course Lyne misses
Nabokov's blimpoid irony - he
identifies with Humbert: "I
asked myself, 'Should her
sexuality be attractive?' In
the end, I decided it should
because it's Humbert's movie,
and Humbert found her

The reader must supply his
own ironic detachment - it
doesn't come from anything in
Lolita, it comes from an a
priori disgust with
pedophilia. Books that
require the reader to supply
context don't translate well
to the screen. If Lyne really
needed to bollix up a
profound examination of a
pervert's delusional world,
he should have taken on John
Lanchester's The Debt to
- there, at least,
he wouldn't have to depict
children in sexual

While Lyne's identification
with Humbert is kinda creepy,
I think he's more stupid than
fringy. (Polanski, if nothing
else, has had the common
sense to stay away from this
book, hasn't he?) In light of
the tidal waves of stupidity
emanating from all media
(witness the performance of
our most respected
journalists over the whole
royal thang), I'm not
surprised that Lyne gets paid
to make a movie about the
beauty of having sex with
children, or that Mapplethorpe
gets paid to inflict his gay
enema fantasies on us.

This is all really


The funerals are over. It's
safe. Go watch some more
television, Greg.

Fish With Letter Icon

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