Wednesday, September 20, 2006

For All You Hannibal Lector Fans

Yesterday's Publishers' Weekly contained this little nugget of information:

"Thomas Harris’ next book featuring Hannibal Lecter will be released Dec. 5, according to an announcement from Bantam Dell Publishing Group. Hannibal Rising will have a first printing of 1.5 million copies and will be published simultanesouly (sic) as a Random House Audiobook and in a large print edition."

The funny thing is, a few weeks ago, I was in a Border's bookstore waiting for a friend to find the book she was looking for. I came across a shelf of Harris' books and found myself thinking it had been a long time since his last release. I opened up each of his four books and checked the copyright date. Here's the list of his books and the year they were copyrighted:

1975 Black Sunday
1981 Red Dragon (six years later)
1988 The Silence of the Lambs (seven years later)
1999 Hannibal (eleven years later)

I remember thinking that The Silence of the Lambs had been such a huge success, Harris had been able to take a leisurely approach to his next novel. My follow-up thought was, "Well, I don't think Hannibal did quite as well. I wonder if he's back to the six/seven year schedule."

Hannibal was savaged by the critics and by many readers who didn't care for it (including me). The over-the-top tone gave me the unsettling feeling he was mocking the fans of Hannibal Lector. Maybe Harris felt trapped by the success of his character. Maybe, he felt a love/hate relationship with Hannibal. I don't know. I just remember feeling let down by a book I'd eagerly awaited.

If the book is published in December, Harris will be right back on schedule with seven years since his last book.

Harris is a terrific writer, and I am looking forward to the new book . . . and the inevitable movie. All four of Harris' books have been made into films.

3 comments:

David de Beer said...

The over-the-top tone gave me the unsettling feeling he was mocking the fans of Hannibal Lector.

hmm, I don't know about that. This was the first real disappointment of Harris' novels to me, but still, it happens to everyone sometime.

Maybe Harris felt trapped by the success of his character

now that is an interesting thought, didn't think about it.
My own take was that it was an interesting experiment, but where Harris went wrong was in trying to "explain" Lecter, by going into his psyche and childhood, blabla.
In some ways, Lecter lost that creepy mystique he had going for him in the first books.
Ultimately, I felt it was a game attempt by Harris to try and look at the psychopath from the inside, but he did not quite succeed. My impresion was that Harris himself battled to get "into character", if that makes sense. And if the author struggles, you can hardly expect readers not to.

Although many people liked this. I preferred Red Dragon and Black Sunday myself

Maya said...

I agree. When you look behind the curtain, the Wizard loses his mystique.

My favorite of the four books still is Red Dragon, and I will look forward to reading the new book.

David de Beer said...

When you look behind the curtain, the Wizard loses his mystique

lol! I am getting Wizard of Oz backflashes!