Review: Peckinpah

D Harlan Wilson’s Peckinpah is one of his best works, and that’s saying a lot.  Wilson takes his own flare for high-minded weirdness and jacks it up a billion notches.  The book is structured in jagged bits and pieces, and it covers a wide variety of topics.  Only about half of the chapters involve the actual story and characters.  The rest of Peckinpah includes theories on the nature of ultraviolence and short essays about Sam Peckinpah himself.  It can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re in for.

Part of Peckinpah is a classical revenge tragedy starring Samson Thataway and Felix Soandso.  Thataway is a surreal character.  He and his Fuming Garcias are almost the living embodiment of ultraviolence.  They carve a trail through the earth with their LeBarons, performing gruesome executions and epic acts of random destruction.  Felix Soandso’s wife is killed during the massacre, and naturally he sets out to take revenge on the Fuming Garcias’ insane leader, Samson Thataway.  Along the way we learn more about who Sam Peckinpah was and some sophisticated theories on ultraviolence.

In my opinion, Wilson really flexes his muscles when he shows us his violent scenes using film references.  Peckinpah is like a literary version of Natural Born Killers, Kill Bill, and some of the more violent anime out there.  Certain scenes are described with camera angles, moving shots, close-ups, fade-outs, and sound effects.  These scenes are some of the most vivid stuff I’ve ever read.  Overall, D Harlan Wilson isn’t content to write a revenge story.  Instead, he uses his sharp and colorful style to examine and dissect a dead director and his love affair with ultraviolence.  Truly, Peckinpah is an ultraviolent romance.


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