Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud

Review copy provided by First Second.

The Sculptor seems aimed at young artists and wannabes: a sad-sack sculptor makes a deal with Death that he can sculpt whatever he wants, with his bare hands, in exchange for shortening his life to 200 days. Death’s motivations in this are pretty dodgy, and the text spends hundreds of pages crapping all over the main character (David) and then aims for cheap pathos in the ending.

Oh, sorry, do I sound unimpressed?

The thing is, there was enough good stuff about The Sculptor that I did want to keep reading. One of the things that favorably impressed me is that for all the rest of the times he falls for young-artist-narrative cliches, McCloud is clear that having your work turn out exactly as you intended doesn’t solve everything. Or sometimes anything. That’s pretty important–it’s a mistake I see a lot of young writers making, thinking that the only problem is that it’s not like it is in their heads. Stuff is like it is in David’s head, and nobody cares. He sometimes has bad ideas, he sometimes has obscure ideas, he’s terrible at promoting himself…and superpowers don’t change that.

Some of the sculptures are cool to look at on the page, and it’s an idea that’s fun to think about: if you could sculpt any material with your bare hands, including granite, concrete, etc. at very large scale, what would you come up with? How would you present it to the world? But the idea is better than the execution. The rule isn’t actually “do the worst possible thing to your characters,” it’s “do the worst possible thing that’s interesting.”

Ah well. Even at several hundred pages, it’s a quick read. And it’s not terrible. It’s just…well, it’s just like its protagonist: you start to think its lack of success is because it’s ultimately pretty shallow.

Please consider using our link to buy The Sculptor at Amazon.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

Tags: bookses precious

  • Worldbuilding: continuing thoughts after panels

    I was on a worldbuilding panel at ConFusion that was labeled Worldbuilding 495, intended to be graduate level in contrast with another panel that…

  • ConFusion schedule

    I will be in attendance at ConFusion next week, my dears, and here is what I am doing, officially and on the program: Saturday, 10:00 a.m.,…

  • Fourth Street schedule (specifically mine)

    The panel schedule is up for Fourth Street Fantasy con, which starts in about a week. (That is: there’s a social event Thursday night.…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened