The clichéd image of a writer sitting before a battered typewriter with a sheet of paper fed through the roller and the ominous number “1” hammered into the top of the page is the most prominent in the literary world. Today’s writer sits before a computer screen with a single cursor blinking at him or her, beckoning for new worlds, new characters to be created.
Thomas Harris, over the years, has offered us a world and a unique character in Hannibal Lecter. His latest installment in the Lecter series, Hannibal Rising, takes us to the origin of madness. Harris ushers us to the rural mountainous regions of Eastern Europe wherein we find the youthful Hannibal traipsing his way through life under the watchful eye of a loving family.
Thus, we embark on a journey that, collectively, will cover half a century. The reader is introduced to the etiology of Hannibal’s psycho-pathology. Harris utilizes this latest installment to fill gaps in our knowledge of this now infamous protagonist. It reads like footnotes to its predecessors, offering explanations to that which we have witnessed in other novels.
Hannibalpossessed mystical qualities that immersed the reader into a dark and mysterious world. Emotive words and descriptive passages placed the reader inside the novel. In Hannibal Rising, the prologue and first chapter promises to take the reader to that place once again. You, as the reader, prepare to delve into that dark intricate world of Hannibal Lecter’s mind.
Something goes awry, however, and we are locked out. The Kafkaesque Door-keeper blocks our ascent and we are not allowed access to that world. We can only observe from afar as the story unfolds.
If one reads the entire series, Hannibal Rising not only follows Red Dragon chronologically but stylistically as well. Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal also follow a progression toward a captivating literary style. The former style tells the reader a story while the latter style places the reader in that world. Either style is not wrong or right for it is a matter of taste.
Hannibal Rising is a fast read, tells an intriguing story and is well worth the purchase. I consumed it within one evening. In the world of movie making, there is often a studio version and a Director’s version of one movie. I believe Hannibal Rising is the publisher’s version. I would love to read the writer’s version of Hannibal Rising. Hopefully it will survive the literary cannibalism of the Marketing Monster.