At War with Time

Greg Hunter is here today to talk about Noel Freibert's Old Ground.

Noel Freibert’s Old Ground has a premise that puts it somewhere between a B-horror film and a Pixar release. Years of neglect have turned the Old Maple Grove cemetery into a home for a cast of odd characters: Otto, a frog; White Foot, a dog; and Silver Spoon and Cliffie, who converse from inside their graves while their bodies rot. The arrival of a wrecking crew threatens to disrupt the secret routines of the cemetery residents, and the residents’ response might alter the ratio of living to dead.

Old Ground sits closer to horror than to Toy Story, of course. Midway through the book, the wrecking crew’s boss smells a flower, then realizes it’s covered in worms. A couple pages later, skulls rise from roses in a scene that would suit a Mario Bava movie. But although Old Ground has its share of spooky genre beats, calling it a horror story isn’t exactly right either. It’s closer to a work of the eerie, in Mark Fisher’s understanding of the word. Readers find presences where they’d expect absences, along with questions about how much agency the things they’re seeing possess.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Paste magazine has posted their best comics of the year list, and it seems completely incoherent to me. I know a lot of people like to argue with these things, but I think a list like this is nearly useless unless it is the product of a single person's viewpoint.

—For example, the novelist Jeff VanderMeer is not entirely my cup of tea (I have yet to read Annihilation or its sequels, which may connect with me as his earlier work didn't), but he has a well-developed set of aesthetic principles, and so when he discusses his favorite books of the year, and he includes comics by Nicole Claveloux and Jesse Jacobs on the list, it means much more, about the books, about VanderMeer, and about the list as a whole.

—Dominic Umile writes very briefly about a new Seymour Chwast book on war.

Chwast remembers Iraq’s “55,000 civilians killed” toward the end of his book’s timeline, and among his concerns is exactly the kind of thinking that motivates the censorship of war photojournalism. An editor’s choice to kill a photographer’s dispatch before it goes to print, or the Pentagon’s unconstitutional policy against media coverage of coffins coming home—Chwast looks at the consequences of war, but also at the steps taken by people in power to absolve a military power of its sins, to sanitize the theater of war.

—The most recent guests on Process Party are Joe Sacco and Sophie Yanow.