February 10, 2004

Oh Boy Oh Boy

My parents just sent me a copy of Martin Rowson's comic book, "The Waste Land." Our detective, Chris Marlowe, gets entangled with Madam Sosostris, Phlebas the Phoenician, the butler Sweeney, and the two cops Burbank and Bleistein (who always smokes a cigar). That's right, it's T.S. Eliot's poem redone as a hard-boiled detective movie. An absolute gold mine of literary in-jokes--I'd lost my copy a while ago, and my parents dug one up for me out of the blue. Thanks!

My favorite bits: part IV--"Death by Water." The chauffeur is dredged out of the bay, with the comment "It was Phlebas the Phoenician... He'd been dead a fortnight." (I must remember to post my explanation of the drowned chauffeur in The Big Sleep sometime.)

Later Burbank is marching Marlowe through the desert and Marlowe says, "Who is that on the other side of you?" Burbank responds, "Don't push your luck, Marlowe! That's the oldest trick in the book." (See Eliot's version, line 365.)

[While googling I found "Narrativity and Stasis in Martin Rowson's Tristram Shandy". The paper actually looks pretty comprehensible.]

Posted by Matt Weiner at February 10, 2004 07:05 PM