Friday, April 05, 2002

One of my favorite books is Count Jan Potocki's Manuscript Found In Saragossa. I review it in the December 2001 journal

Some years ago, knowing my fondness for the book, author Ian McDowell (not to be confused with any other Ian Mcauthors) found for me a copy of the film. It was on two VHS tapes, and had been copied so many times that, despite having started out in black and white, it was now picking up colour. I watched it for weeks, over and over -- two and a half hours worth of quirky, brilliant, intricate, funny, scary, sexy, and strange film, and then put it away and later gave it to a friend: things like this, I thought, should keep moving. Set in Spain, acted and directed by Poles in 1965, it was special. Once I'd given it away I started to doubt that I'd ever seen it all. I'd run across mentions of it from time to time (Angela Carter, saying that the way she and Neil Jordan constructed COMPANY OF WOLVES was inspired by the film of Saragossa.)

And I put it into American Gods.

Last August, a message came in on the FAQ line, from someone at a DVD company, letting me know it would be out on DVD around now, and would I like a copy?

I said yes. (You had to ask? This is why I love being an author.)

And it arrived, a crisp and clean black and white print, a full half hour longer than the version I'd seen. It may be the oddest and coolest film ever made, for those who like stories.

Rotten Tomatoes has collected some of the reviews over at The Saragossa Manuscript (1965): Zbigniew Cybulski, Iga Cembrznska, Joanna Jedryka, Wojciech Has. You can buy it at any of the Usual Suspect places. Tell people you want it for your birthday. Find out if your local library or video store is going to get it in. You need to see this film. Trust me.


Bob Garcia, publisher of A WALKING TOUR OF THE SHAMBLES, the funny-scary 48 page book by Gene Wolfe and me (cover by Gahan Wilson, Illustrated by Randy Broeker and Earl Geir, you know the routine) has got the orders in from Diamond distributors, and found them woefully low, mostly because the book was listed way at the back under horror books, and most comics stores don't read through that far. (The Diamond catalogue is the size of a phone book. I do not blame them.) This means that the print run is going to be small -- about 2,500 copies altogether. If you want one, I'd order it from Bob's AMERICAN FANTASY website directly, or from DreamHaven Books , who will certainly order enough copies from Bob to keep people happy for a few months after publication. Check with your comic store or SF/Fantasy Bookstore if you think they may be getting it in, or ought to and have overlooked it.) (This was a public service announcement on behalf of Bob Garcia, and because I hate seeing things go for silly money on ebay as soon as they're sold out.)