Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Eye of Argon by Jim Theis

I have just spent the last week, or so, reading The Eye of Argon and it was the most difficult thing which I have ever read. It was not challenging from an intellectual or conceptual approach, it was a painful trap of typographical errors and misplaced modifiers. I dare to compare The Eye of Argon to James Joyce’s Dubliners, stories about drunks, swindlers, unhappy young brides and generally miserable people. The Eye of Argon was as painful to read as Joyce’s close up of cultural misery.

Here's a typical passage from the tale;
“Taking hold of the rodent around its lean, growling stomach with both hands Grignr pried from his crimson rent breast, removing small patched of flayed flesh from his chest in the motion between the squalid slack claws of the starving beast."

This sounds to me like the “growling stomach” has “both hands” and a “chest” is “in a motion between squalid slack claws of the beast.” The modifiers and the sentence structure make me cringe but, on the other hand, I wish I had the stomach to emulate this style, I might become the next Lionel Fanthrope.

The Eye of Argon is available as a Google Book but only seven, or so, pages of the introduction are available through Google. But that’s enough because the introduction contains the “publication history” or The Eye of Argon. There are a few web sites dedicated to this wondrous work and a Wikipedia entry but I am convinced that this whole tale is a hoax. I’m not certain when it started, it may have begun in 1970 as reports claim or the hoax may have begun in the year 2000, but I’m almost certain this work of fiction is a brilliant and elaborate, internet perpetrated, hoax. I’m also convinced that the cover photo of the Google edition of this book is a photo of Old Faithful or a geyser very near that famous frequently flowing fellow.

While Joyce challenges us to investigate our surroundings and origins more closely, The Eye of Argon has taught me not to investigate bad pulp fiction too closely. From now on, I’ll be inclined to believe internet reports of really bad pulp fiction and avoid the work in question. (Unless the work in question was spawned from the mind of Mr. L. Fanthrope.) The Eye of Argon is actually available in a print now and I have to wonder if the typos have been corrected in the print edition, it might be handy to own a properly edited edition of this nighmare.

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