THE COMPOSITES

Apr 14

"The font suggests In Cold Blood but this book about a con man and murderer  is what The Great Gatsby would have been had it been true: a sociopathic film buff; culture-wide gullibility in a country where wealth is the only measure of good; and a sad crippled dog.  What could be told well in one hour on Investigation Discovery becomes, in Blood Will Out, a deeper, more personal story about the wages of being fooled.”
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"The font suggests In Cold Blood but this book about a con man and murderer  is what The Great Gatsby would have been had it been true: a sociopathic film buff; culture-wide gullibility in a country where wealth is the only measure of good; and a sad crippled dog.  What could be told well in one hour on Investigation Discovery becomes, in Blood Will Out, a deeper, more personal story about the wages of being fooled.”

Follow me on Instagram for my new series of caption book reviews.

Mar 28

“If you look at them in the right way the accused really can be attractive, quite often.” — Franz Kafka, The Trial

Mar 11

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Mar 03

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Feb 26

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Feb 17

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
To this rule, Dr. Jekyll was no exception; and as he now sat on the opposite side of the fire—a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness…The large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips, and there came a blackness about his eyes.
Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile…thickly shaded with a swart growth of hair…corded and hairy…God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic…Edward Hyde was so much smaller, slighter, and younger than Henry Jekyll. Even as good shone upon the countenance of the one, evil was written broadly and plainly on the face of the other…The few who could describe him differed widely, as common observers will. Only on one point, were they agreed; and that was the haunting sense of unexpressed deformity with which the fugitive impressed his beholders.
Read the book on Project Gutenberg

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

To this rule, Dr. Jekyll was no exception; and as he now sat on the opposite side of the fire—a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness…The large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips, and there came a blackness about his eyes.

Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile…thickly shaded with a swart growth of hair…corded and hairy…God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic…Edward Hyde was so much smaller, slighter, and younger than Henry Jekyll. Even as good shone upon the countenance of the one, evil was written broadly and plainly on the face of the other…The few who could describe him differed widely, as common observers will. Only on one point, were they agreed; and that was the haunting sense of unexpressed deformity with which the fugitive impressed his beholders.

Read the book on Project Gutenberg

Jan 28

Dallas Winston, The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
If I had to pick the real character of the gang, it would be Dallas Winston—Dally. I used to like to draw his picture when he was in a dangerous mood, for then I could get his personality down in a few lines. He had an elfish face, with high cheekbones and a pointed chin, small, sharp animal teeth, and ears like a lynx. His hair was almost white it was so blond, and he didn’t like haircuts, or hair oil either, so it fell over his forehead in wisps and kicked out in the back in tufts and curled behind his ears and along the nape of his neck. His eyes were blue, blazing ice, cold with a hatred of the whole world. Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten. He was tougher than the rest of us—tougher, colder, meaner. The shade of difference that separates a greaser from a hood wasn’t present in Dally. (Suggested by queenie-katherine )
Buy at Amazon. Buy at your local bookstore. 

Dallas Winston, The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton

If I had to pick the real character of the gang, it would be Dallas Winston—Dally. I used to like to draw his picture when he was in a dangerous mood, for then I could get his personality down in a few lines. He had an elfish face, with high cheekbones and a pointed chin, small, sharp animal teeth, and ears like a lynx. His hair was almost white it was so blond, and he didn’t like haircuts, or hair oil either, so it fell over his forehead in wisps and kicked out in the back in tufts and curled behind his ears and along the nape of his neck. His eyes were blue, blazing ice, cold with a hatred of the whole world. Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten. He was tougher than the rest of us—tougher, colder, meaner. The shade of difference that separates a greaser from a hood wasn’t present in Dally. (Suggested by queenie-katherine )

Buy at Amazon. Buy at your local bookstore

Jan 16

Patricia Highsmith was born on January 19th, 1921. Above is a repost of the composite for Tom Ripley, from her novel The Talented Mr. Ripley.
[Ripley] combed his light-brown hair neatly in front of the mirror, and set off for Radio City. He had always thought he had the world’s dullest face, a thoroughly forgettable face with a look of docility that he could not understand, and a look also of vague fright that he had never been able to erase. A real conformist’s face, he thought…Really it was only his darker hair that was very different from Dickie.
Otherwise, his nose—or at least its general form—his narrow jaw, his eyebrows if he held them right.  He wasn’t really worried. Tom had at first amused himself with an eyebrow pencil—Dickie’s eyebrows were longer and turned up a little at the outer edges—and with a touch of putty at the end of his nose to make it longer and more pointed, but he abandoned these as too likely to be noticed. The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them. The rest fell into place…He might play up Tom a little more, he thought.
He could stoop a little more, he could be shyer than ever, he could even wear horn-rimmed glasses and hold his mouth in an even sadder, droopier manner to contrast with Dickie’s tenseness. 

Patricia Highsmith was born on January 19th, 1921. Above is a repost of the composite for Tom Ripley, from her novel The Talented Mr. Ripley.

[Ripley] combed his light-brown hair neatly in front of the mirror, and set off for Radio City. He had always thought he had the world’s dullest face, a thoroughly forgettable face with a look of docility that he could not understand, and a look also of vague fright that he had never been able to erase. A real conformist’s face, he thought…Really it was only his darker hair that was very different from Dickie.

Otherwise, his nose—or at least its general form—his narrow jaw, his eyebrows if he held them right.  He wasn’t really worried. Tom had at first amused himself with an eyebrow pencil—Dickie’s eyebrows were longer and turned up a little at the outer edges—and with a touch of putty at the end of his nose to make it longer and more pointed, but he abandoned these as too likely to be noticed. The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them. The rest fell into place…He might play up Tom a little more, he thought.

He could stoop a little more, he could be shyer than ever, he could even wear horn-rimmed glasses and hold his mouth in an even sadder, droopier manner to contrast with Dickie’s tenseness. 

Nov 21

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Nov 15

Vaughn, Crash: A Novel, JG Ballard
His exhausted face, with its scarred mouth…As his pock-marked jaws champed on a piece of gum I had the sudden feeling that he was hawking obscene pictures around the wards…But what marked him out was the scar tissue around his forehead and mouth, residues of some terrifying act of violence…Heavy black hair…Broken and re-set nose bridge…His features looked as if they had been displaced laterally, reassembled after the crash from a collection of faded publicity photographs. The scars on his mouth and forehead, the self-cut hair and two missing upper canine gave him a neglected and hostile appearance…His hard mouth, with its scarred lips, was parted in a droll smile.
Happy birthday JG Ballard!  H/T Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Vaughn, Crash: A Novel, JG Ballard

His exhausted face, with its scarred mouth…As his pock-marked jaws champed on a piece of gum I had the sudden feeling that he was hawking obscene pictures around the wards…But what marked him out was the scar tissue around his forehead and mouth, residues of some terrifying act of violence…Heavy black hair…Broken and re-set nose bridge…His features looked as if they had been displaced laterally, reassembled after the crash from a collection of faded publicity photographs. The scars on his mouth and forehead, the self-cut hair and two missing upper canine gave him a neglected and hostile appearance…His hard mouth, with its scarred lips, was parted in a droll smile.

Happy birthday JG Ballard!  H/T Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Oct 20

“I’ve never placed too much emphasis on the composite drawing. While they can be better than nothing, they are fairly generic…I’ve interviewed guys in prison who told me they breathed a sigh of relief as soon as they saw the published composite because they realized it looked like any man on the street. It didn’t resemble them enough to trigger an identification. Also…the composite would have less and less meaning as he aged, yet that image would be fixed in people’s minds.” — John Douglas, former FBI profiler

Aug 08

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Jul 28

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Jul 17

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Jul 05

Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
Her face is smooth, calculated, and precision-made, like an expensive baby doll, skin like flesh-colored enamel, blend of white and cream and baby-blue eyes, small nose, pink little nostrils—everything working together…Her face is still calm, as though she had a cast made and painted to just the look she wants…Confident, patient, and unruffled.
No more little jerk, just that terrible cold face, a calm smile stamped out of red plastic; a clean, smooth forehead, not a line in it to show weakness or worry; flat,  wide, painted-on green eyes, painted on with an expression that says I can wait, I might lose a yard now and then but I can wait, and be patient and calm and confident, because I know there’s no real losing for me.
Buy the book at Amazon or your local independent bookstore.

Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

Her face is smooth, calculated, and precision-made, like an expensive baby doll, skin like flesh-colored enamel, blend of white and cream and baby-blue eyes, small nose, pink little nostrils—everything working together…Her face is still calm, as though she had a cast made and painted to just the look she wants…Confident, patient, and unruffled.

No more little jerk, just that terrible cold face, a calm smile stamped out of red plastic; a clean, smooth forehead, not a line in it to show weakness or worry; flat,  wide, painted-on green eyes, painted on with an expression that says I can wait, I might lose a yard now and then but I can wait, and be patient and calm and confident, because I know there’s no real losing for me.

Buy the book at Amazon or your local independent bookstore.