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But Cassius could not pretend more than an instant that such a God existed. His landscapes are beautiful and nostalgic even when menacing, full of the gold of the rye fields and the drift of leaves. This is the world as Bad Place, ruled by a Bad God. Cassius encounters a variety of believers, each attempting to put an acceptable face on the world.
All make their cases; none convince. There are the trivially self-serving and ugly homilies at the church his mother forces him to attend, of course, but also powerful consolatory discourses like this from the African American security guard working a grotesque church youth event:. There is no white god. But there is a black God.
Giant and mighty. And he snuff you out you so much as bad mouth him in an empty room. He know about murder and rape. He know about stealing for food and killing for food. He know about being an outcast.
But all these discourses are inadequate to the sheer material evil of the world that Cassius encounters. For most of the book, Cassius is a compellingly written character. Again and again, other characters are self-deluding and hypocritical, and Cassius calls them out. He is always right, always better, always heroic even when weak and in despair—and it starts to make the deck seem stacked in his favor. Almost all of them want to sleep with him except the ones he actually wants—but nothing good, plot-wise, comes of being a girl who friendzones Cassius.
Most implausible is the sequence where the church secretary, old enough to be his mother, flirts aggressively with him in front of his entire religion class. Unfortunately the daughter herself is virtually absent from the novel. Cassius is white and straight; his best friend Max is black and coming to terms with being gay. At one point the boys pretend to be a gay couple, mockingly and with grotesque exaggeration, in order to anger and disgust their enemies.
Many horror novels are haunted by racism and homophobia; relatively few center gay characters or characters of color. Perhaps the most difficult to accept aspect of Baal is its treatment of bodily difference. From the very first scene, when evil is introduced via a hermaphroditic man with Downs syndrome, Harms uses grotesque, rubbernecking descriptions of age, disability, and body size to signal the presence of evil.
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Fatness, indeed, justifies almost anything here. Baal , in short, risks reinscribing for the reader the very hierarchical, hateful, violent father-system it denounces at a rhetorical level. That is by no means all this intelligent, creepy book does—but it is impossible to ignore. Baal is a beautiful, fascinating and thoughtful horror novel—a Midwestern regional novel in a genre that tends to be either placeless or coastal, and a novel which names and foregrounds race and sexuality.
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But it still reiterates some of the more conservative horror tropes: abused and dead girls as fascination and motivation for the boys and as titillation and motivation for the reader, boys as heroes and moral actors, the physically different as a marker of evil. Perhaps future work from Harms will be as innovative about gender and embodiment as Baal is about language and region. In this unique in-gallery program, a variety of artists will respond to the paintings of Jack Whitten through dance, music, and poetry.
Each performance will start on the half hour in the following order:. Douglas Kearney is a poet, performer, librettist, and educator. He has a particular interest in ekphrastic poetry and has performed his work at many art-related spaces. He has performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras and wind ensembles, wailed away for belly dancers, and rocked samba in the streets. He is currently the woodwind player for the St.
Paul—based new music ensemble Zeitgeist. An improvising musician, percussionist and composer, Davu Seru performs regularly in the Twin Cities and abroad as a jazz musician. Davu currently works in a trio with French clarinetist Catherine Delaunay and French bassist Guillaume Seguron, leads the band Click Song with Marc Anderson, Nathan Hanson, and pick-up band , and is coleader with Mankwe Ndosi of the Mother of Masks, an Afrocentric improvising ensemble of poets, storytellers, activists, and musicians.
Deja Stowers began dancing at the age of four in the drill team African Perfection. She continued to dance throughout her junior high years, and later studied with masters of West African dance. Her personal works look through a specific African American lens to create art for social change. Monday Sept. As Louise Edrich says "Roberta Hill is a poet who understands struggle, and generously imparts her passion for renewal. A reception and book-signing will follow. Going to the Great Minnesota Get-Together?
Take your special animal with you or add it to our amazing Animal Lit exhibit, up all day!
All ages and drawing abilities welcome, and you can pop in for 5 minutes or stay as long as you like. Lundquist, Emil J.
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