shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


next: losing the hugo!

Girl power dominates (minus one).

Now we drink.

Nebula Awards Winners

Winners of the 2004 Nebula Awards were announced at a banquet Saturday evening, April 30, in Chicago, Illinois.

# NOVEL Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold (Eos)

# NOVELLA "The Green Leopard Plague", Walter Jon Williams (Asimov's Oct/Nov 2003)

# NOVELETTE "Basement Magic", Ellen Klages (F&SF May 2003)

# SHORT STORY "Coming to Terms", Eileen Gunn (Stable Strategies and Others)

# SCRIPT The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson (New Line Cinema; based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien)

Other awards, as previously announced, were presented: the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award was given to Anne McCaffrey, and the Service to SFWA Award was presented to Kevin O'Donnell, Jr. Both were present to accept their awards.

Via Locus

first night

critical mass
Originally uploaded by gwenda.
I put up a few photos (three) from last night... I figured I'd save the majority for when everyone's dressed up fancy later. Plus, my head hurts. Here is Mr. Rowe doing what he loves best.
Click here (or on the photo) to see the others in the set.

Update: Christopher put up an entry with a little more detail about our evening last night. Off in search of hangover food!


off to Chicago

In five minutes.

Will attempt to post updates and photos and things from the hotel, assuming my wireless card likes the hotel's wireless network--by no means a sure thing. (Surely some techie SF type could fix that, you say, but I have found it to be pure luck whether it works or not on hotel networks.) Mr. Rowe has a far more coherent entry.


go read

The sassiest cat in town, Mr. Gavin J. Grant, has a brand new piece of fiction up at SciFiction called "Heads Down, Thumbs Up". Don't take my word for it. Go see:

Mrs. Black repeated her question, but then the border wobbled over us again. She sighed. There was a knock at the door, and the school secretary came in.

"Yes, yes," said Mrs. Black before the secretary could say anything. "I know, I know."

She turned to us. "Boys and girls. Two minutes of heads down, thumbs up."


just in case you haven't seen this elsewhere already

gilmore gossip circle alert

You know who you are. Surely tonight's episode will be less lukewarm than last week's.

The synopsisy thing:

After Rory (Alexis Bledel) tells Logan (Matt Czuchry) that she can't have a casual relationship with him and they should go back to being just friends, she is amazed when Logan insists he is ready to commit to her. However, when he brings her home to meet his powerful and intimidating family, Rory is shocked by his parents' negative reaction to the relationship. The following day, Logan's father (guest star Gregg Henry) apologizes to Rory and offers her an internship at one of his newspapers. Meanwhile, when Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) is put on bed rest by her doctor, Lorelai (Lauren Graham) calls Luke (Scott Patterson) to fill in as the substitute chef at the Dragonfly Inn.

Yanic Truesdale, Liza Weil, and Sean Gunn also star. The episode was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and directed by Michael Zinberg.

Sounds good. Although, you really should dump the guy after you end up puking your guts out and sobbing to your mother over him and start dating that nice smarty Marty!

holly black alert

The excellent YA and children's writing-focused Cynsations has a short interview with Holly Black. They chat about Tithe and other things:

What was your initial inspiration for creating this book?

I had a visual image of a girl in the middle of a circle with the cuffs "softly burning" her wrists. I jotted it down on piece of paper and started thinking about why metal would burn someone. I remembered that iron burned faeries. I also remembered a short story that I'd written for a creative writing class about a faery changeling that was really more a very long vignette. Putting them together was the beginning of the looooooong process of writing TITHE.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

Conservatively, it took me about five years to finish writing TITHE. I have about three completely different drafts. I really had no idea how to structure a novel. I had a very hard time learning the shape of a book.

This makes me feel so much better about still being in revisionland.

Go read the rest.

Some nice publicist type, send me an ARC of the sequel Valiant, okay? Puh-leeze?

a piece of advice & talking about oprah*

Do not make a big deal out of how girls can mow the lawn too and proceed to do an okay job at it, because the only thing you have accomplished is proving that yes, you can mow the lawn. Which really isn't all that fun.

Unrelatedly: All the Oprah Book Club bashing that's going on is troubling me. I don't think making generalizations about what kind of books are better than other kinds of books and what kind of reader is better than what other kind of reader is all that useful. Here's how I think about it. Whether you love or hate Harry Potter, you must admit that J.K. Rowling's books get people into bookstores--more than that, they got them into a section of the bookstore many of them hadn't been in before, the Young Adult/Teen section. Which is now a booming genre full of great books. Rowling's books made room for more books. They created a market.

I think Oprah's BC had to have at least a somewhat similar effect on literary fiction (which, whether you think her picks good or bad, is where most of them are shelved). Not to mention increasing the odds that a publisher might take a chance on a literary manuscript, because one)there was a slim possibility it would be chosen by O or two)they'd had a book picked by O already that gave them more capital to spend and less need to make a profit on every other book. (I do not pretend to be a businesswoman, so my analysis may be faulty here -- as may ALL my analysis, all the time. That doesn't stop me.)

Oprah knew her audience and picked books they would like; I honestly do not think that if the word of mouth among book clubs and Oprah readers on her first few titles had been bad that they would have continued to sell as they do. You can show me figures that dispute that, but until I see them, I'm choosing to think that if the books weren't connecting with these people, they wouldn't have continued to buy them. Dismissing a book entirely, just because it isn't your cup of tea (even though many intelligent people have liked it), seems a little silly to me. It reminds me of nothing so much as people who ghetto-ize genre fiction in general.

Perhaps the thing that bugs me most though is the assertion that these people were buyers, not readers. Buyers have a place and can still end up having an effect that helps readers, not to mention writers. Also, I think some of those people probably did turn into habitual readers. And that makes it worth it. I really DON'T see any negative effect from Oprah's Book Club, except perhaps the fact that we're still talking about the tiff with J. Franz so many years later.

Good day, everybody.

*This morning, I forgot to add that I once witnessed two girls beat the literal hell out of each other on the L after one of them said bad things about Oprah and wouldn't take them back. Just saying...


orange ladies

Finalists for the Orange Prize for new women writers have been announced:

Journalist Diana Evans has been chosen for her debut 26a, about twins living in London brought up by their Nigerian mother and dissatisfied British father.

New York-based Nell Freudenberger's Lucky Girls is a collection of short stories set in Asia.

The third contender is Meg Rosoff's How I Live, about a girl sent to England from New York for one 'perfect summer'.

How I Live Now is a completely beautiful young adult novel that I highly recommend. And the Freudenberger was okay too.



Finally, a weekend where it feels like things are back on track. Because several people seemed interested in the whole working out a writing schedule thing, here's how we did the schedule thing. Let me preface this by saying, there's part of me that really resists the idea of planning this, but I've made peace with it. At this point, there's just too much going on otherwise that will eat up life if time isn't carefully carved out.

We started out with a list of dates; these were dates when one or both of us would be going somewhere for some sort of writing-related purpose. Nebula Weekend (next weekend, yeep -- Chicago folks, yell if you want to get together for a drink), Wiscon (Memorial Day, also soon), Sycamore Hill (June, Christopher), Worldcon/Glasgow (August) and World Fantasy Convention back in Madison (October, maybe just me, maybe both of us). Damn, we're attempting too much conference travel this year. As opposed to last year, where we only went to Mexico, Wiscon and Raleigh to get married.

Anyhow. We figured with those things spread out as they are, we could use them as kind of lampposts around which to schedule things -- also trips tend to be disrupters, so making deadlines just before one turns out better than just after.

Then we each made another list of major writing projects we want to get done. Then another list of semi-writing-related things we both need to do -- web content for the new Say... site, for instance, Say... layout, for another.

After that, it becomes a little too random to talk about, but basically we assigned major goals to certain periods of time, then backed in mini-deadlines for the increments we would need to accomplish to actually finish on the Real Big Deadlines. Real Big Deadlines subject to adjustment, but only if you're more than two weeks away from them. Theoretically.

Next we'll probably make a list of things we can not do and also be able to do these other things. Having an aggressive writing schedule should save us money as less going out and being silly ensues -- money which will be needed to buy the insanely expensive tickets to Scotland. (Wealthy benefactors, we're still waiting.)

Did I mention we did this outside in beautiful weather, eating Mexican food and drinking a nice bottle of wine?

So far, so good. The weather enforced a strict Inside The House policy this weekend (freaking snow in April?!), which helped too. Christopher's almost done with the Say... layout, which was on his calendar. I just finished the cutting part of the Girl's Gang revision (17,000 words lighter - yay!) and made my notes on how I'm going to approach the rewrite/reshuffling stage that's coming up. (Of course, I put off starting this, which was my weekend goal, until after 11 last night, watching nearly all the TV we had DVRed; ah, the beauty of deadlines.) I also did some bonus clean-up on the pages of the new book I've got so far.

My major goals are to finish the GG revision by the weekend before Wiscon and to break the 100-page mark on the new book by then too. Hard work? Sure. Doable? Absolutely.

Oh, I should also mention that we only attempted to schedule through June, so we'll have to do more when we get there.

Two little things I noticed in the cutting process (about which more soon). If you have a conversation or a tense scene going on and there's too much stuff between one piece of dialogue and the next, you can almost certainly cut the stuff in between. And, relatedly, you really do not have to walk the reader through your character's reasoning: readers are good at supplying that themselves, it just gets tedious.

Happy week ahead, and, please, send the sun back.

p.s. I probably owe you email. It's on the calendar. Promise. (But maybe not until May.)

planned to read it anyway

But had I been on the fence, this WaPo review of Wesley Stace's Misfortune would have convinced me:

In this debut novel, Stace uncorks a ripping transsexual romp set in Romantic-era England, and it reads like some inspired collaboration between Charles Dickens and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar: full of orphans, decadence, flouncy skirts, greed, deception, amnesia, incest, murder, religious and social intolerance, ballads, books, letters, wild farce and all manner of meditation on sexual identity. It calls to mind another regal androgyne, Virginia Woolf's Orlando, though not as literary or as tiresome. This is a fun book. Rose Old, a.k.a. Miss Fortune, is just the kind of narrator an old-fashioned yarn needs: one who makes you suspend disbelief not just willingly but with great enthusiasm.

that whole hwy 30 thing always messes up everything

Gwenda Michelle Bond's Aliases

Your movie star name: Sushi Wilson

Your fashion designer name is Gwenda Glasgow

Your socialite name is Onzie Roark Any

Your fly girl / guy name is G Bon

Your detective name is Mammals Jackson County High

Your barfly name is Apple Champagne

Your soap opera name is Michelle Hwy 30

Your rock star name is Sour Patch Kids Time

Your star wars name is Gwegeo Bonchr

Your punk rock band name is The Uncaffeinated But Happy Anne Bonny Action Figure

(Via Lor-Lor Antwerp.)


& he promises to update more often

Christopher's taken the plunge and come to the dark side of Blogger. Check out his new site, which I'm still making little tweaks to even as I type this. (Well, even before and after I type this.) You can even subscribe to his site just by entering your email address in a handy little box--in case you don't believe the part about updating more often. (He promises!)

The New UnCommonwealth is here.

Please drop him a comment and let him know you made it so I won't be blamed for single-handedly destroying his readership. And update those blogrolls.


yes, yes, I'm still telling you to read this book! (updated)

I just put up my first post at the LitBlog Co-op, about the book I would have nominated if I'd been able this time around. And it's a bona fide science fiction title at that.

There've been lots of new posts made at the LBC this week, so make sure you take a look at everything. And please comment if you feel so moved--this really should be a conversation between readers.

That's probably it for me today. Have a good weekend.

Updated: So, I have to share the 100 most frequently used words in Air from its A text stats page because it makes a little poem (it's also beautiful in its arrangement over there and in words that are larger than the others):

again air always am asked away business called came children chung come day door down dress else even everything eyes face fashion felt find friend full get go going good hand head help herself house husband joe ken knew know kwan let light little look looked love machine mae man men money mother mr need new nothing now oh old own people said sat saw say see seemed sezen shen siao someone something sound still stood suddenly sunni take tell things think thought time tung turned tv two village voice want wanted water went wing woman work world year yes

Not to mention Air wins with most uses of all its Statistically Improbable Phrases: fashion expert, oatmeal cloth, village bread and hundred riels.

leaving you with the finger

This may be my favorite news story ever -- and it's on the Wendy's finger fiasco. (Long story short: the woman who found the finger in her chili was arrested today.) I particularly love the final paragraphs:

The finger case took another turn last week when authorities compared the Wendy's finger with the DNA of a woman whose fingertip was chewed off by a leopard in Nevada. Authorities, however, ruled out a match.

The probe put to rest speculation that the finger might be that of Sandy Allman, 59, of Pahrump, Nev. Allman lost the tip of a finger Feb. 23 when a leopard kept on her rural property attacked her.

The case of the Wendy's finger has drawn media attention from around the world and, according to Wendy's officials, led to a sharp drop in sales. Last week, Wendy's doubled its reward to $100,000 for leads in finding the finger's original owner.

On Thursday, Wendy's announced it would offer free Frosty shakes to all Bay Area customers this weekend as a show of goodwill and commitment in the wake of its investigation.

Free Frostys! Oh, and, hey, by the way, have you lost your finger lately?

See also: NYT story

Via Boing Boing.


because reading is fundamental

Word of Mouth, an Association of Women Authors, has sent a letter to Oprah asking that she reinstate her book club. The excellent Wendi Kaufman, aka The Happy Booker, is a member, and gives us this news. From the letter:

However, the writer M. J. Rose, a novelist and long-time reporter on publishing news, has noticed something different. Her research suggests that the drastic downward shift actually happened six months after the attacks: fiction sales really began to plummet when the The Oprah Winfrey Book Club went off the air. When you stopped featuring contemporary authors on your program, Book Club members stopped buying new fiction, and this changed the face of American publishing. This phenomenon was a testament to the quality of your programs, the scope of your influence, and the amazing credibility you possess among loyal Book Club readers.

Sales figures, in the context of the literary market, do not merely reflect profits; they are an indicator of literacy as well. A country in which ordinary people flock to bookstores to buy the latest talked-about work of fiction is a vibrantly literate country. Every month your show sent hundreds of thousands of people (mostly women, who are the largest group of literary fiction readers) into bookstores. The contemporary books you chose sold between 650,000 and 1,200,000 copies apiece. Each Oprah selection gave readers a title to investigate and a subject to explore. Importantly, your Book Club also gave readers a chance to see these authors on the air and to hear their words. Not only books but the writers themselves became accessible to everyone, inviting all readers into the community of literature.

I must admit I'm a big ole Oprah softy, though I can barely manage to watch the show these days (and almost never do). Favorite episode: it's a tie actually. Well, a three-way tie, even.

1. The show where she admitted cocaine use and cried about it. (For I am sometimes mean and small.)

2. The show where she revealed that she has a team of guardian angels that watch over her and help her find her running shoes when they are lost.

3. The one with the man who had lived his whole life as a woman until he found out he was really a man with a rare genital deformity and was married to a nice man and had adopted kids and everything. He was from my home county! (The big controversy after this came out was not anything especially gender-related; it was whether the softball trophies from her/his years on the team should be returned or not.)

And let us not forget that this was the venue on which Mr. Armstrong chose to announce that he would race in the 2005 Tour de France there earlier this year (though not his retirement).

Anyway, enough Oprah reveries.

This is a worthy cause. Such authors as Francine Prose, Ann Beattie, James Alan McPherson, Louise Erdrich, Amy Hempl, Arthur Golden, Shirley Hazzard, Oscar Hijuelos, Jhumpa Lahiri, Cynthia Ozick, ZZ Packer, Silas House and Jane Smiley have signed. If you've published a book of nonfiction, fiction or poetry, you can add your name here.

See also: Carrie's thoughts.


from this point forward, nobody messes with Foer


RB: But this, my son’s dog, Rex, is a little thug and snaps at Rosie’s feet and really tries to push her around as if he were a much larger dog. What’s your dog’s name?

JSF: George. Actually George is a girl. She was found tied up in a nearby cemetery, the week after George Plimpton died. Plimpton was one of those people who you don’t really appreciate their presence until they are gone. I didn’t know him, and I’d only met him once and that was just shaking hands. But I felt really moved when he passed away.

(Among a much lengthier exchange about dogs and, you know, books and stuff. Which I already linked to, but I'm linking to again!)

lamest made-up sighting ever

The allure of "sighting" a celebrity or some other notable type has always eluded me. In fact, the only sighting I've ever truly been thrilled by was recognizing paleontologist Jack Horner from an unnamed description in a David Quammen essay that rendered him drinking from a brown bag and reading a giant book and muttering to himself in the university library. But this made up sighting of Jonathan Safran Foer that was sent to Neal Pollack and Ms. Tingle (and who knows what other bewildered bloggers) really takes the cake. I reproduce it below for your mockery, from Mr. Pollack's site:

"So my friend Kristy and I saw Jonathan Safran Foer at the Duane Reade on Broadway and 8th Street. This was April 7th, around noon. He was wearing his coat that he wore in that Pages Magazine profile. He picked up one of those cheap $1.89 shampoos. It was green, and he stared at it for a really long time, maybe 20 seconds. I walked really slowly by him (my friend was in the candy aisle then) and he said kind of loudly, "Holy shit," and he was still staring at the shampoo, and I had to get out of that aisle to laugh. My friend Kristy was there too and she can verify. Safran Foer was alone as far as we could tell. He looked at the shampoos for a long time and then left without buying anything. He seemed really confused when he left. Kristy and I were going to follow him but he went into that subway station across the street, the 8th street one. It was definitely him, because Kristy and I were both at the 92 Y reading too, and saw him there, that was the night before."

I so think we should all make up the most banal sighting stories ever and send them to each other and strangers.

(Via The Tingle.)

"Making a fetish of realism is a mistake"

From a Ceci Connolly story on House in today's WaPo:

Some real-world docs grouse that "House" is giving healers a bad name.

Philip Brachman, who ran the epidemiology program office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and investigated the first anthrax epidemic in the United States, in the 1950s, is disturbed by the portrayal.

"It plays down the seriousness of what physicians do," he says after watching the show and reading several scripts. "I don't think this is typical."

Even more unusual -- some would say unbelievable -- are the cases House and his team of doctors-in-training tackle each week. Brachman says the episode in which a woman develops a tapeworm in her brain from eating ham was just one of the wacky cases he had trouble swallowing.

And then there was Sister Augustine, the demure nun who developed a near-fatal reaction from an copper IUD accidentally left inside her for 30 years. Turns out that before she took her vows, she had lived on the streets, got into drugs and attempted to self-abort a pregnancy.

As head of the allergy division at George Washington Hospital and former president of the Medical Society of D.C., Daniel Ein is pretty familiar with allergic reactions. In all his years practicing, he's never seen or heard of that one. "From a medical point of view, it's terribly farfetched," Ein says.

But that's the whole point.

"Making a fetish of realism is a mistake," says Laurie.

It's TV, people!

(Note: The new "recover post" function on Blogger actually seems to work!)

wednesday hangovers, scattershot to real content edition

Beatrice gets a Mrs. Beatrice! Congratulations, Ron. Courthouse weddings are definitely the way to go.

How much does a monkey cost? A special ops monkey, anyway? (Via Jenny D.)

Scott Esposito reviews Quinn Dalton's new collection Bulletproof Girl, which is in the TBR stack right now.

Birnbaum interviews Jonathan Safran Foer. He likes Rosie, I now like him. (Not that I didn't like him before, I just hadn't really considered the issue.)

Maud Newton has some happy-making Fran Lebowitz news: Lebowitz revealed that she went for years without so much as entering the room where her writing desk and implements were located. She marveled at writers who claim to have writers' block but manage to produce whole books on the subject of their crippling blockage. And she said she's writing again now.

When pressed, she said she hopes to finish her forthcoming, very short book, Progress -- a modern-day answer to Tom Paine's Common Sense -- in the next few months.

I've been rereading some of the essays in the Annie Lebowitz Reader lately and wishing desperately for new ones.

Greg van Eekhout's been posting a short piece of fiction inspired by a theme word for several days now. (Buckle, moonlight, recidivism and beasts have made appearances.)

Lauren Cerand shares an email from NBA Exec Director Harold Augenbraum saying he was misquoted as calling the five NBA nominees (you know the "five women from NYC") "parochial." Lauren gives the sage advice of: Cupcakes: Ask the reporter to record the conversation if you're interviewed. That way, your words will be more accurately conveyed, and you can always go back and force the publication to run a correction if that's not the case in the final piece. I would go one further and say that you should record it yourself, or take notes if it's a phone interview, so you have something with which to challenge the reporter if need be. No professional journalist will mind and often they will feel the need to take better notes themselves.

Also, the Israeli army doesn't like D & D players.

That's all for now.

fidgety season

I've felt unbelievably cooped up the last few days. The weather's too beautiful, there's too much that needs doing, and my brain is telling me it needs a vacation (but there are no brain vacation days to be had). There's a dozen topics I want to post on, but not right now. (Feel free to throw some topics in the comments or via email; I can use yours instead.) One of the geraniums bit it and the plant food we bought made all the leaves on everything very angry (and holey), but at least all the other flowers seem to be alive. This lazy funk will go away, soon, promise.

I'm very much looking forward to some play-time next weekend in Chicago for the Nebulas, not to mention a trip to the Lush store.


(No, really, I just yawned. Don't you feel all real-time and like the future now?)

One thing I have to figure out is a writing schedule. The rewrite is languishing from lack of time and the new book is creaking forward slowly. The good thing is I live with a writer who is basically in need of the same thing, so maybe we can come up with something and shame the other person into sticking to it. I want a deadline by which to finish this revision and a sketch of a schedule that will get me a very fast first draft of the new one. (Then I'll figure out how to swing a research trip down to the coast in between Wiscon and Glasgow and Madison again -- assuming we actually go to all three of those, Wiscon's the only for sure for sure and World Fantasy would be the most likely to get pushed off our calendar.)

Scintillating watching someone not make decisions, isn't it?

Enough of that. Next post is hangovers.


... (or "yeah, right")

finally: gilmore gossip circle alert!

New episode for first time in forever. Gather!

When Stars Hollow's oldest resident dies and leaves his house to the town, Luke (Scott Patterson) has an ulterior motive for volunteering to help turn the house into a temporary museum. Dean (Jared Padalecki) is also working on the project, and offers Luke some unwelcome advice about the dangers of dating a Gilmore girl. To get publicity for the Dragonfly Inn, Lorelai (Lauren Graham) does an interview with a travel magazine, but immediately regrets the unkind comments she makes about being raised by Emily (Kelly Bishop, who does not appear in the episode). Meanwhile, Lane (Keiko Agena) suspects that Zach (Todd Lowe) is having a fling with music store owner Sophie (guest star Carole King), while Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Paris (Liza Weil) are both devastated by trouble with their respective boyfriends.

Melissa McCarthy and Sean Gunn also star. The episode was written by Daniel Palladino and directed by Jackson Douglas, who plays Sookie¿s husband Jackson on the series.

tuesday hangovers, miscellaneous edition

The SF Chronicle does a piece on Wes Stace (aka John Wesley Harding) and the writing of his new book Misfortune, which I am very much looking forward to. Music critics are the new literary critics, or something. (Via Mark.)

Literaisons is writing a paper on Infinite Jest. David Foster Wallace fans might want to tune in.

I'm with Mr. McLaren on Justina Robson's next book. Sounds most fabulous. I'm also with him on "Woman beats off burglar with gnome" being a pretty great headline. (See, I just steal all my content -- mwahaha!)

New Oxford American food issue is out. Yay!

MathFiction. Fiction featuring mathematics revealed! Via Jeff.

Sad day for cycling yesterday -- Armstrong retires and Tyler Hamilton gets a two-year suspension.

Last, the June 10th installment of the InKY reading series will feature Christopher Rowe, Mark Rudolph, me and musical guest Dennis Sheridan on Strange Fiction night. Very exciting.

no quibbles.

You're One Hundred Years of Solitude!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Lonely and struggling, you've been around for a very long time.
Conflict has filled most of your life and torn apart nearly everyone you know. Yet there
is something majestic and even epic about your presence in the world. You love life all
the more for having seen its decimation. After all, it takes a village.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

(Via The Happy Booker--or should I say Ms. Ullysses?)


ebook that baby

Mr. Rowe's "The Voluntary State" is now available (free) in ebook format at Fictionwise. If you're into that sort of thing, you can go here to download. I like the description, myself:

"A ragtag band of Kentuckians foment revolt in a future Tennessee transformed by tremendous technological and social changes. Also, there's a talking monkey."

And, of course, you can also still read it at SciFiction.

on hearing and believing

I've pretty much been ignoring the flap today over Michael Chabon's talk "Golems I Have Known, Or, Why My Elder Son's Middle Name is Napoleon" because I think Chabon's a sharp guy and was speaking to a sharp audience and am unable to really believe that he would bend the truth for dramatic effect without indicating so on the subject of the Holocaust.* I make this assumption, of course, without having heard/read the talk in question, which makes me lazy and uninformed.

Nextbook has put the entire thing up online as a counter to the charges and I'm feeling just lazy and guilty and uninformed enough to go listen. You might want to too. If nothing else, you'll get to hear a MC talk for free.

The site's message sez:

As part of Nextbook's Writers Series, Michael Chabon gave a lecture titled "Golems I Have Known. or, Why My Elder Son's Middle Name is Napoleon." An article in the April/May 2005 issue of Bookforum, described on the cover as "Michael Chabon's Holocaust Hoax" and excerpted here, has refocused public attention on his presentation.

Nextbook has received Chabon's permission to make the entire lecture available on This way, readers may draw their own conclusions about Chabon's performance, rather than relying on the account woven into Paul Maliszewski's pointed argument. "Golems I Have Known" was recorded on November 12, 2003, at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

*And since I don't really have all the context here, even if he did, there's not automatically anything wrong with bending the factual truth in service of a greater truth, in my opinion.

local boy makes good or something like that

Gavin reviews Lovecraft Tales, edited by Peter Straub, for the LA Times Book Review:

Lovecraft's oft-parodied style (all those adverbs) is in full, glorious effect, starting with his earliest, clunky stories, such as "The Statement of Randolph Carter" and "The Music of Erich Zann." Lovecraft reveled in the English language: This is a writer whose thesaurus, if marked up, would make excessively, affrightedly good reading. However, if read after the perfect age (which anecdotal evidence suggests is in the early teens), Lovecraft lives up to his reputation for overblown, occasionally repetitive descriptions. "Most daemoniacal of all shocks is that of the abysmally unexpected and grotesquely unbelievable."

Indeed. But right there is another of Lovecraft's attractions. For outside of a story, most of us — touch wood! — might never expect to experience such a shock. Lovecraft's amazingly atmospheric tales, his great eye for detail, the slow and unending buildup of dread: What's not to like?

How about that?

monday hangovers, e-panel edition

The Emerging Writers Panel "Emerging Southern Women Writers and Bloggers Discuss Labels" is up and out -- as are participants Tayari Jones and Quinn Dalton's new books (you know what to do about that). You can read the panel here. (This is the first one of the e-panels done live; we used AIM. It was fancy and high tech.)

You should also check out Dan Wickett's explanation of that voodoo that he do over at The Happy Booker's. Dan is literally the hardest working man on the interweb and his efforts deserve all the notice and celebration they get. Now, if only he'd start his own blog.

In other news involving southerners, someone turned Jeff into a dog!

auspicious opening to the week

Tanenhaus gets his first brownie. You just know he's breaking out the champagne.


spring thing

We spent the weekend yard-working and hanging out in the back yard, under sun and stars, with extremely cooperative weather. The tax refund came on tax day and was immediately invested in a lawn mower. Marigolds, wave petunias, dahlias, daisies, something I don't remember the name ofs, pansies, and some sort of billed-as-an-ugly- duckling plant are all set up in pots outside. My pretty gardening gloves are now more Revenge of the Dirt Hands. But all is good. The house is unrecognizable from the outside. The neighbors saw the snake instead of us. There are tiki torches. The dirt beneath the fingernails is gone.

Deep breath.

Another week.

And we bought an extension cord so we can write outside.

there's a joke to be made here, likely involving the term "check out" but i'm tired


Brighton District Library officials are at a loss as to why a Web site aimed at homosexual men has listed the library bathroom as a place to meet for sex.

Library Director Charlene Huget said Wednesday the posting was discovered by someone outside the library who notified library officials.

It appears that the link proclaiming the library's washrooms as a 'cruising' place has been on the Web site for a couple of months, Huget said. It appeared someone e-mailed the site regarding the restrooms in December and January, 'but there haven't been any postings since,' she said.

'It was quite an unpleasant surprise,' Huget said. 'We've notified the police, and we've also notified this Web site that the local police department has been contacted and they are monitoring the location.'

You can't say they weren't doing their part to celebrate Library Awareness Week, huh?

(This would be in Michigan, for the curious.) (Via Lithaven.)


saturday hangovers (dirk benedict edition)

I didn't mean to flatline there but things went a little crazy. Long week.

Ron has a dispatch from Karen Spears Zacharias at the Southern Kentucky Festival of Books (we have book festivals all over!) in Bowling Green, where she hangs out with Silas House (who is in fact Hott and has a marvelous reading voice -- great accent).

The New York Times picks up the AP story on the litblog co-op, which includes some excellent comments from Richard Nash.

The Happy Booker notes another change in the google graphic. (Someone give this woman a horoscope column.)

Transition to Benedict

Earlier in the week, Mark scoffed at CNN's inclusion of Dirk Benedict's reading taste in a CNN story headlined "Celebrities Go For 'Esoteric' Books."

As some of you may know, there are those among us who have had more than a few glasses of wine while listening to the A-Team soundtrack and pretending to weld. (The welding music is very distinctive.) We have purchased Mr. T punching dolls and bobble-heads and rubber duckies. We have recounted the possibly apocryphal story about how someone we knew once knew went to Thanksgiving at Mr. T's house and discovered that his toilet was made of bright red porcelain. We have purchased the A-Team boardgame off e-bay and played it by the pool in Florida, never quite understanding why there were two Faces provided. Which brings me back to Dirk Benedict. Mr. Benedict's memoir Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy: A True Story of Discovery, Acting, Health, Illness, Recovery, and Life (I link to the Amazon page so you can read the "reader reactions") was the top prize in one of the very first ... Oscar Party contests. I won and the book came in the mail. The book, of course, chronicles Benedict's battle with testicular cancer. (I would be remiss if I didn't also point you to this site, where you can read excerpts!)

I'm not going to inflict actual sections of the book on you myself, but to buttress Mark's point I will just tell you that it has a Foreword, a Preface, something called Seven Principles and Twelve Theorems, and an Introduction -- all before the book even starts. Surely, a book with so much front matter must be one of the great classics of our time, no? Well, no. Though apparently it is one of the great classics of the macrobiotic diet people.

But, what does Mr. Benedict read, you ask? According to CNN: Actor-author Dirk Benedict, who reads two books a week, said it wasn't easy to pick a favorite. But he said "West With the Night" by Beryl Markham "defies categories. Adventure, Autobiography, Inspiration, Romance, Travel, History, Feminism ... all of these and much, much more."

I was halfway interested, in truth, before I saw the answer.

Today, Christopher is using our shiny new lawnmower to tame the wild grasses of the yards, front and back, and then we will be gardening with nowhere near the prowess of Ms. Welty. But we do have cute little gloves.

Enjoy your sunshine.


poem for friday


So much of what we live goes on inside--
The diaries of grief, the tongue-tied aches
Of unacknowledged love are no less real
For having passed unsaid. What we conceal
Is always more than what we dare confide.
Think of the letters that we write our dead.

-- Dana Gioia

(Is it still poetry month?)


one of those days

Today, I'm being one of those excuse-makers. Probably not much to see here until later/tomorrow.


and disappointingly named, too

Snake update: it wasn't a garter snake at all, but a brown snake. The grass must be mowed so that this treacherous creature without even the decency to be poisonous no longer haunts our clumpy turf.

tuesday hangovers

Garter snakes really can be scary. No, really, especially when they're in your jungle-like back yard.

Also, my morning was better than yours because I got to start off by reading a new Christopher Rowe story that was sitting in my inbox. It's damn good, too.

Lots of linksies, so let's get to it.

The Happy Booker notes the Google Graphic Holiday Alert phenomenon, saying: Did anyone notice the a little something different about the Google today? Trust the Happy Booker, who has missed more than a few holidays of national import by not paying closer attention to Google drawings— World Book Dayor International Women’s Day ring a bell?—when the drawing changes, something big is up. She also wants you to hug your librarian. Can both of us be wrong? ... Didn't think so. Go. Hug. Your. Librarian.

Christopher Marlowe's author portrait deconstructed: Why is it we've never seen Marlowe and Johnny Depp in the same room at the same time? A little fishy. Would you stab this man in a barfight? Look at him: he's a fucking kitten. Lots more where that came from. Thanks to Alan, who just finished a really long poem.

Collected Miscellany interviews Nick Arvin. For me, in this case, at a certain point in the process it became apparent that the material I hoped to explore could not be contained in a short story's length. The approach does change when you know you're trying to writing something that will be longer than a short story. A good short story will often contain no more than one or two scenes, whereas in a longer work, each scene has to be cast such that it opens into the next, and there's somewhat more freedom to explore descriptions of setting or emotion or whatever catches your fancy.

The Things That Death Can Buy shall henceforth be known as Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits -- or Laila's very interesting account of how the name of her forthcoming story collection changed. (For the record, I think both are fine titles.)

Babies are Fireproof has the linksy goods on Sam Chang winning Iowa Idol. Would have been more exciting if Ben Marcus had won, even if he's not from Appleton.

Mark Sarvas reveals that J.M. Coetzee is a cyclist (and an "accomplished" one at that, according to the lively imaginings of the Austin freshman at that link), and throws down the hill repeat gauntlet.

Jonathan Strahan talks about YA and why he's excited by it right now.

Tod Goldberg's writing class rules. I like this one best, but only because Tuesdays make me feel slightly mean: 5. The term, "But that's how it really happened." A few quarters ago, someone said this during week three and I responded, as I'm want to do, "I don't give a fuck about how it really happened, this is fiction." The student subsequently began to cry, which is never good, because, well, I never want people to cry because that just sucks, and then I had to stop the class an explain exactly why I don't give a fuck, which made the person cry even more. So here's the deal: if you want to write what really happened, write nonfiction.

And last, but certainly not least, more coverage of the Litblog Co-op by Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Education. He interviews Dan Green of the most excellent blog, The Reading Experience.

(Yes, you can send me books. The address is over in the righthand column.)


hug your librarian.

C and I just took a little trip down to our library, where he wished the librarian happy National Library Week, which was acknowledged in a disgruntled way. The librarian said, "Yeah, all we get is a changed Google graphic." Then he and C talked about Unshelved, an online comic that's kind of the Box Office Poison of libraries. You really should check it out.

In honor of this observance, here's the books I checked out after a few idle minutes browsing in the New Books section. These are all random picks, some extremely random, so if you have information for good or ill that may effect me actually reading these books, please do me a favor and comment, okay?

Winners by Eric B. Martin
Sock by Penn Jillette (less random)
Auggie Wren's Christmas Story by Paul Auster (woefully out of season but mercifully slight)
Death of an Ordinary Man by Glen Duncan (I, Lucifer was great fun)

And that is that. Of course, none of these are on tap immediately. Currently reading Pashazade, Redmond O'Hanlon's Trawler (Yay! Is there anything better than a new O'Hanlon book?) and Witch Child by Celia Rees. And two out of those three are from the library, too.

Long live the place where the books are free.

"are you new?"

Check out Ms. Eek on the Steve Earle show she went to last night:

Steve Earle fans are large. Cornfed and tall, they make standing at the back by the light board, where one gets to stand when one wanders in after Allison's opening set, very uncomfortable. I'm 5'8" in flats, and I spent the first half-hour doing that hopping up and down to get a look at the man. Normally I am fine in the back because indie rock kids are shriveled and stumpy, thanks to that clove habit nobody will admit to having when they were 13. But Steve Earle fans are tall and robust and do not care that they are blocking a short girl's view and never have to bend down to tie their faux-vintage Pumas or dig a book of matches out of their Roos pocket, the bastards.

Don't get me started on how the irk (indie rock kids) shun dancing and anyone who dares.

the dangers of writing too much (!)

Justine's posted some thoughts on waiting for the next book in trilogies and why it takes so long for them to come out. In so doing, she calls attention to (her husband) Scott Westerfeld's insane writing pace:

Typically publishers reckon that only libraries, obsessive fans (such as me—I won't bore you with the list of writers I must have in hardcover) and rich people buy hardcovers. Most people wait for the paperback. Some say the main job of the hardcover is to be an advertisement for the paperback (though if none sold at all there wouldn't be any paperback).

I've been watching this process with Scott's first Midnighters book, The Secret Hour. The hardcover came out a year ago, now the paperback is out and selling even faster than the hardcover (which did just fine). At the same time he has a paperback original, Uglies, out. Together the two paperbacks are generating a lot more Scott Westerfeld attention, a steady flow of fan mail, and are driving sales of the newly-released hardcover Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness. Most excellent.

Ideally a publisher wants an author to write a book a year, so that once a year the author has a new (hardcover) book out at the same time as their previous book appears in paperback. That way the sales of paperbacks and hardcovers feed on one another in an endless cycle and the author is never forgotten. That's the theory anyway.

Scott has gone even further: he'll have four new books out this year: Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness and his vampire novel, Peeps (I reckon its his best YA so far), in hardcover, and Uglies and its sequel Pretties in paperback. On top of that there's the paperbacks of last year's Midnighters 1 and So Yesterday. Next year he'll have three new books: Midnighters 3 Blue Noon (hardcover), Specials, the final book in the Uglies trilogy (paperback) and an as yet unnamed (and unwritten) hardcover followup to So Yesterday and Peeps. Then of course there'll be the Midnighters 2 and Peeps paperbacks. Too much Scott Westerfeld is barely enough.

By which time Scott will have suffered a nervous collapse. Frankly, I don't recommend writing at the pace he's been maintaining for the last few years.* But it sure makes for some excellent cross promotion. You liked the Midnighters books? Why not try Peeps? You liked Uglies why not try So Yesterday? And so on . . .

Justine's musing was prompted by the reader reaction she's getting from fine people everywhere reading her first novel Magic or Madness (have you, yet?). And I can tell you that the sequel is well worth the wait. Now, I'M impatient for book three -- which is even more frustrating. Write fast. All of you, write fast. (But especially Justine.)

Make sure you peek at the back flap. Excellent author photo. Well done, missy.

more BASS stuff

Michael Chabon posted a short update on the 2005 edition of Best American Short Stories, which he is, of course, editing:

Introduction and selection of the twenty "best" stories published in the US during 2004. Quotation marks are required, of course, given the subjective nature of the undertaking. It would take up too much room on the cover (and sell far fewer copies) to call it, more honestly, The Stories to Which Michael Chabon Responded with Greatest Enthusiasm Among The 150+ He Was Sent, by Katrina Kenison the Series Editor, from the Far Vaster Pool Which She Skillfully and Doggedly Fished.

The much-rumored inclusion of three overtly "genre" stories (two fantasy, one sf) among the final twenty is mistaken. There are at least four, the fourth being a marvelous piece of noir by Dennis Lehane. Another selection, Tom Bissell's dazzling "Death Defier," can easily be read as a variation on the classic story of Central Asian, Great Game adventure. Just as Kelly Link's "Stone Animals," overtly a fantasy, can also be read as a piece of classic suburban-New York domestic fiction. That is the great thing about genre. It's as much about structures created in the mind of the reader as in the structure or pattern of the text itself. Genre isn't just a box to be stuck in; it's also a window to look through.

As one of the early rumormongers about the inclusion of "genre" stories, I'd like to clarify one little point. In my posts, I think I made it clear I was only talking about SF types being included (of which apparently there are just the three -- Kelly Link, Cory Doctorow and Tim Pratt), because that's what I was most excited about. I have no idea if other people were using the term genre during the speculation on what the third story was, but I'd not be surprised (or if I used it and just don't remember, for that matter).

Whenever I use the word genre, I use it very imprecisely to mean the field of speculative fiction, or science fiction/fantasy. I suspect lots of people who read this site use it to mean the same thing (and in fact I do this so automatically now, it wouldn't have ever occurred to me to make it clear). So if anyone was saying "three genre stories," I would bet they meant three stories by writers whose work is associated with the SF field.

I was definitely never implying there weren't stories from other genres included, and I don't think anyone else was either. A tiny clarification, but one I couldn't resist making, just because of the slightly chastising edge in MC's update -- the sentiments and substance of which I fully agree with.

Does anyone know if people primarily concerned with/related to other genre categories use the term the same way? Mystery/crime fiction, for instance?*

And I'd just like to say again that this is one volume of BASS I can't wait to purchase and MC deserves credit for casting a wider net than usual and pulling in such interesting stuff.

(Via The Millions.)

See: My
posts on this topic

Updated*: Mr. McLaren answers my question in the comments:

"Mystery people certainly do use "genre" as a shorthand for "our genre" the same way SF/F people do.

I've seen it literally hundreds of times in that context.

It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that the same were true for the romance community, or amongst Louis L'Amour/Zane Gray fans, etc."

I'm not surprised either; I figured as much.

quick monday hangovers

Beatrice has several fine posts this morning, including one on Poppy Brite's difficulty in expanding her fan base for her new, non-horror work and a guest author post by Quinn Dalton on hiring your own publicist.

For those who wanted to read the LA Times piece on the Litblog Co-op, but not enough to register or visit bugmenot first, Tod Goldberg's put the whole piece up in this entry.

Mr McLaren rounds up a few worthwhile bookish links, including one to the haunted bookshelves I covet. (Bad Magic's on the nightstand.) He also has a fascinating post on language and lexicons.

You really will want to go see No True Bill's photo of the Luxor Hotel's beam attracting a megaton of moths. Pretty.

Laila of Moorish Girl posts about her writing retreat at Hedgebrook. Drool...

The day beckons. More later.


Jeff has a new blog to focus on kicking the habit (of smoking). Stop by and be supportive, but don't make any sudden movements or say anything that could be misinterpreted. Also, if any electrical equipment needs hooking up, make sure it's going to be easy. (These are lessons I learned the hard way.)



Outside is so much better than inside this time of year -- it's been such a dreary and wet winter that I'm only now remembering what it is I really love about this place. Spring has sprung. Outdoor furniture was purchased, assembled and set up in the (desperately in need of mowing) back yard. George the Dog sat with his face held up in the breeze and ruled the place while Gillian Welch's Time the Revelator played (then Calexico, then miscellaneous other stuff, including Patsy Cline). It's our first spring in this house, but the Welch and the breeze and the grill and the nice white made it feel the same as forever.

We sat outside and read. Christopher reading Charlie Stross's Iron Sunrise, me reading Pashazade by Jon Courtney Grimwood.

This morning we repeated with waffles instead of wine and I read Rick Moody's Believer essay on the NBA media nattering. My favorite part was footnote number 5 -- if you don't have footnotes, it's not The Believer! -- affixed to Laura Miller's name. It reads:

I have neglected to include here reference to Wyatt's third piece, the fifth written in the paper about the award, published after the prize was given to Lily Tuck's novel The News From Paraguay. It's just as slipshod as the earlier pieces. He misquotes my speech, which he could easily have checked (even the New York Observer managed to do as much), so that I appear to laud Tuck's "astonishing quality," an incredibly awkward phrase I hope never to fall prey to during my professional lifetime. He also mocks Tuck for never having visited Paraguay while writing her novel. I bet, however, that the Times did not complain that Alice Sebold never visited Heaven in pursuit of The Lovely Bones.

It seems to me that what I like best about this piece is Moody's quiet snarkiness. (Snark! Snark! Snark! Snark!) It seems that snark is merited, even in The Believer, once snarked upon. For instance, the section that the footnote above was appended to:

The fourth article in the Times was by Laura Miller. Though I know her personally and like her quite a bit, I have almost always found her opinions on books parochial and blandly provocative.

Now, Laura Miller may be a far bigger person (not in the sense of gigantism but forgiveness and spiritual largesse) than me and shrug this off. But I would love to see her face the next time, say, Moody enters the room at a party. Great personal affinity? Even in litville, nobody loves being called parochial. Especially in the area at which they make a living.

Anyway. Then we went for a bike ride and came home to sit outside with some friends. Later, I inflicted the DVRed nonmasterpiece Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on one suspecting and one unsuspecting soul. DTV! Sarah Jessica Parker bests a dog through the help of Aqua Net and Helen Hunt as the "bad friend."

A trip to IMDB reveals that most everyone in the movie experienced immediate career death afterward (with the exception of the three largest female roles, played by SJP, HH and Shannen Doherty, respectively, and the best-friend-to-the-male-lead Jonathan Silverman) -- karma at its finest. We couldn't remember whether this movie was made in reaction to the successs of Footloose or the timing was just serendipitous (or due to some forgotten "dancing in the streets in tight clothes" movement in the Real World around then). Was this related or unrelated to movies in the Breakin' school, which came out around the same time? Film scholars, step forward.

This is the mania of spring.


a little happy-making thing

The April issue of The Believer includes the news that: "Beginning in May, Amy Sedaris will be writing a monthly advice column for us, called Sedaratives. Amy will respond to your questions on every conceivable topic, particularly those in which she has absolutely no knowledge."

I have a special place in my heart for advice columns.

See also: The Rake on the actual contents of the issue.

"united by a love for literature"

The LA Times takes a look at the Litblog Co-op and does an excellent job of getting across what this is about. AND AND AND quotes Steve Erickson, whose books, as you know, I love dearly:

Los Angeles writer Steve Erickson, whose fantastical novels, including the recent "Our Ecstatic Days," tend to get warm critical receptions but cold sales, welcomed the added attention at a time when he said mainstream outlets are devoting less attention to literary fiction.

"There's no doubt that as book reviews around the country … become more and more indifferent to fiction, some sort of guerrilla action is called for," said Erickson, who teaches creative writing at CalArts. "The attention my recent book got from blogs like Rake's Progress … and the Agony Column and Small Spiral Notebook and whatever ones I'm not even aware of, was at least as intelligent and insightful as any from the conventional press."

Erickson sees the potential effect of the blogs as a positive move toward a broader, and more democratized, discussion.

"I can't help thinking this is the future, and I also can't help thinking that the more the future moves from the media capitals of L.A. and New York out into the hinterlands, the better for literature, culture, fiction, whatever," he said.

Registration required, but go read it anyway. I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of this effort. You've added the LBC site to your blogrolls and feed readers, right? And those of the participants?

The weather outside is lovely beyond belief. Bike day!


you'll want to go check out

...this and this.

Pretty exciting, huh?

(This may be my sole post today, as Blogger is being even more tempermental than usual.)

worm "Revolution," The Beatles


more things to worry about (in handy list format)

Holly Black is on a roll today. She's posted a list of things that can go wrong, in honor of some friends who have their first books coming out. A sampling:

Contract sent to wrong address.
Contract stolen by gypsies who finish book and turn it in.
Roommate thinks contract is junk mail and throws it away.
Contract actually from Satan. You sign anyway.
Book not completed by contract date.
Book completed by contract date, but terrible.
Only copy of book blows out of car in friend's hilarious re-enactment of Wonder Boys.
Editor hates completed book.
Editor loves completed book, except for main character.
Editor loves completed book, except for plot.
Editor takes one look at book and leaves publishing.
Editor moves houses. You are assigned new editor that hangs up on you.
Book too good. Secret publishing cabal plots your demise.

There are many, many more. Go read! Worry is the new fun.

royally bad poemtry

The NYT has a playful story about poet laureate Andrew Motion's task of capturing Camilla and Charles' love in verse for their wedding. The best bits are about some of the howlers poet laureates past have turned out to honor the royales (although Motion's not off the hook there either):

Mr. Motion declined to be interviewed on how his poem was coming along but said that interested parties could read it on Saturday, the day of the wedding. Since his appointment, in 1999, he has come up with royal-themed poems, praising Queen Elizabeth for "fifty years of steadiness through change," saying of Princess Margaret that she died knowing that "love and duty speak two languages," and writing, on the occasion of Prince William's 21st birthday, that:

It's a threshold, a gateway
A landmark birthday;
It's a turning of the page,
A coming of age.

In the past, royal-themed poems have rarely been considered a laureate's best work.

The great poet Ted Hughes, Mr. Motion's predecessor, once wrote a poem celebrating Prince Andrew's wedding to Sarah Ferguson in 1986 that included the lines: "A helicopter snatched you up/ The pilot, it was me." (The marriage ended in divorce.) In a poem observing the 40th anniversary of the Queen's coronation, he praised her corgis without apparent irony.

Ironic corgis would be hard to pull off. But even better:

It was even worse in the old days. Poets laureate have produced some shockingly poor work in their time, as in the case of the Edwardian laureate Alfred Austin, who, when the Prince of Wales fell ill, is said to have produced the following: "Across the wires the electric message came/ 'He is no better, he is much the same.' "

But even Austin was not ridiculed as relentlessly as Colley Cibber, who flattered and social-climbed his way into the laureateship in 1730. Alexander Pope immortalized him in a later version of his epic poem "The Dunciad," making him the King of Dunces, and an anonymous contemporary wrote, meanly:

In merry old England it once was a rule,
The King had his Poet, and also his Fool:
But now we're so frugal, I'd have you to know it,
That Cibber can serve both for Fool and for Poet.

thursday hangovers

Lots of good stuff this morning.

So, blogger really has been screwed up lately. Good to know officially. (Via John Klima.)(It was definitely screwed up this morning when it ate my first post of the day.)

Maud Newton has an excellent entry on being a slacker (yeah, right) and her classmate Chris Adrian's success.

Paul Ingram of Prairie Books reacts to the news of Frank Conroy's passage. A little bit: Oh Oh Oh Frank Conroy, for longer than I can remember paterfamilias of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, has died. We all knew he was failing, but the shock of his sudden absence from our world, is hard to take. After losing Don Justice, one of America's finest poets and a deeply bright and original person, the writing community of Iowa City has lost another of its finest. When I first came to Iowa City in 1967 as a student John Casey required his class to read Stop Time a memoir by of all people a young man named Frank Conroy. At the time young writers did not write memoirs. Everybody writes them now but there has never been anything with the energy, the honesty, the feeling for people that Stop Time has. I daresay there won't be either. I was awed by it as an undergraduate and I am still awed by it.

Holly Black reacts to some of Terry Goodkind's recent blahdey blah about not being a fantasy writer from this interview. She sez (among much else): I feel that since Mr. Goodkind is writing secondary-world books in which there are wizards, sorcerors, and at least one dragon, he is far more at the center of the fantasy genre than he might like. Why he would use these elements and scorn the label of fantasy, I don't know. I once heard Gene Wolfe speak stirringly about the fantasy genre. I quote inexactly, "so-called realistic fiction excludes the supernatural and the divine, so we read it and feel like something is missing--because all the important stuff is missing." We use it as metaphor, as literal truth, as speculation about how we would be different if the world was different. There are many good reasons that we fantasy authors use fantastical elements. All of us. Not just Terry Goodkind.

Newsday reprints a Smithsonian Magazine piece about Eudora Welty's garden and how it affected her writing. (Via Mark.)

And, finally, the Pretty in Pink remake mystery is definitively solved -- the British media got punk'd.

Hopefully, this will post and not disappear into the wild cyber-ether. Good day everybody.

An addition: A NYT piece on the authorless book tour for a new collection of Richard Feynman's letters. "We want to see a national best seller here," said David Steinberger, president and chief executive of Perseus Books Group, the parent of Basic Books. "That is a challenge when you're talking about letters from a dead guy."

worm "Freakin' Out," Graham Coxon

emerging label talk

Chief Cupcake Lauren Cerand and the hardest working man on the interweb Dan Wickett hosted a conversation last week called "Emerging Southern Women Writers and Bloggers Discuss Labels" with Carrie Frye, Tayari Jones, Quinn Dalton and me. (Yeah, I'm the odd one out.) It'll be published on April 19, featuring an introduction by no less than Shannon Ravenel. You'll be able to find it over at the Emerging Writers Network site, but you can also sign up for the EWN and have it delivered straight to your mailbox. (And you should sign up anyway; tons of great interviews, reviews and panel discussions will come your way.) I make no promises for what I had to say, since I was in the throes of the effects of several sleepless nights, but everyone else had fascinating, funny things to say.

A snippet:

Dan Wickett:

Was there anything else specific that any of you wanted to bring up in regards to labels?

Tayari Jones:

Here is something that I think: I think that labels would be more interesting, and even subversive, if we used them on people who are not normally labeled.

Carrie Frye:

You are a genius! Like "so and so is a New York City writer."

Gwenda Bond:

Labels are infuriating, narrow, terrible, but they can also be useful and interesting, sometimes all at once. That is a GREAT idea.

Tayari Jones:

Jonathan Franzen, a well-known male writer.

Dan Wickett:

Hey, didn't that happen with the National Book Award this year?

Gwenda Bond:

Speaking of which, and labels, how hard did the National Book Award ladies get slammed with that one? “Five women from New York City.”

Gwenda Bond:

(Great minds, Dan.)

Gwenda Bond:

A well-known middle-aged white male writer!

Dan Wickett:

Hey, toss in “reviewer” instead of “writer” and “not” for “well” and you've described the EWN…

Tayari Jones:

Remember when Colson Whitehead called Updike "An old white male writer" in response to Updike's description of Whitehead?!!

Dan Wickett:

I thought that was brilliant when Whitehead did that.

Quinn Dalton:

Really – agree, Dan.

Carrie Frye:

Doesn't Everett avoid labels, Dan?

Dan Wickett:

Everett does his absolute best to do so, yes, and he doesn't much like it when you ask him about labels.

Gwenda Bond:

Christopher (my husband) and I have a running joke. I will pick up whatever science fiction magazines we have and say, “Look, old white man, old white man, one woman, old white man.” When there is more than one story by a woman in an SF magazine, I feel like I should write a letter in praise of the editor.

Tayari Jones:

But here's the thing: if you avoid the label is it a sort of "passing"? What I mean is this...if someone doesn't "know" that I am black, then does that mean they assumed I was white?

Quinn Dalton:

Yes, T.

Tayari Jones:

So, if I avoid the label, does that mean that I am encouraging the idea that I'm not black? So is that okay?

Quinn Dalton:

They might assume you're black because your characters are for the most part.

Dan Wickett:

Or does it just mean that you're a writer?


now this is march madness

Undiscovered until April, but still. Check out the Comedy Movie Bracket at MSNBC (which is super-easy to fill out). Some strange pair ups led me to a decidedly not all that satisfying final four match up of Raising Arizona v. Ghostbusters and Princess Bride v. His Girl Friday. But the toughest round had to be the pairing of Rushmore v. Bowfinger. My head nearly exploded. (Not to mention my soft spot for 9 to 5 caused some very strange things to happen.)

His Girl Friday was my winner. Now you.

(Via Radosh.)

wednesday hangovers

A few more pointers.

Carrie on OPL (Other People's Libraries), especially the Biltmore Estate library. In the comments, we find a link to Jonathan Safran Foer's old digs.

Ron has some excellent stuff this a.m., including his account of the aforementioned Richie Rich Foer's reading with William Vollman and his tale of being a NYC literary Cinderella who doesn't have to leave the ball.

I keep meaning to pay a visit to Lone Star Stories. This is to remind myself to do it.

Austin Heart of Film Screenwriting Comp is adding a Sci-Fi category this year. More info here. Maybe I'll dust off Poe is Dead and Voices. (Dusting off will be it though, I'm only making with the prose at present.)

People, are you going to let Christopher Rowe get away with not explaining his complicated feelings about Duckie? At least look in on the novelization chatter.

Happy morning.

it's just not fair...

Some people get all the talent. Take Melissa Moorer, for instance. Not only is she a kick-ass writer, but she's a rock star too. Hardly fair.

I'm lucky enough to get to read Melissa's work on a regular basis in our local writing group. I've no doubt that you'll soon be getting to read lots more of it. Slush readers, take note of the name.

Anyway, today's a good day for you, because Melissa's first published piece is up online at the Vestal Review.

Go read "How People Leave," then check out the rest of the sure-to-be-awesome 5th Anniversary Cream of the Flash issue.

And then you can go here and order a nice printed copy -- in addition to five new stories (including Melissa's and one by Steve Almond) it features pieces previously published at Vestal Review by Alex Irvine, Sonya Taaffe, Patrick Weekes, Bruce Holland Rogers, Lincoln Michel, Beverly Jackson, Katharine Weber, Bruce Taylor, Aimee Bender, Robert Boswell, Joan Wilking, Christopher Barzak, William Eakin, Gayle Brandeis and Candi Chu. Those of you in the Boston area will want to check out the celebration event at the Boston Public Library Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.

What are you waiting for? Go read!


cough (bullshit) cough

From an excellent NYT story on satellite radio:

Though satellite radio is still an unprofitable blip in the radio universe, it is pushing commercial radio to change its sound. Broadcasters are cutting commercials, adding hundreds of songs to once-rigid playlists, introducing new formats and beefing up their Internet offerings. A long-awaited move to digital radio could give existing stations as many as five signals each, with which they could introduce their own subscription services - but with a local flavor that satellite is hard pressed to match.

"At the end of the day, people want to hear what's going on in their local market," said Joel Hollander, chairman and chief executive of Infinity Broadcasting, owned by Viacom and the country's second-largest broadcaster behind Clear Channel. "People are emotionally involved with local radio."

All the local radio that's left in most of the country sucks. It is so worth $10 a month to have access to good radio in your car, no matter where you may be. If I need weather, I look outside. If I need traffic, I switch over to local -- unless I'm in another city that's covered by the Sirius traffic network. Or I look outside.

Local radio began to die years ago.

amazing stories

Patricia Storms explains her comic, The Amazing Adventures of Lethem & Chabon, which you can appreciate the full glory of at that second link (navigate by little arrows on the bottom sides of the panels). "Always remember -- with great reading comes great responsibility."

Tres brilliant.

(Via Maud.)

tuesday hangovers

There's lots of good stuff blowing around the sites to the right, but here's a few I especially liked this morning:

The Happy Booker has a few photos and quotes rubbing in what you and I missed at AWP, including one William Gibson.

Maureen McHugh meditates on age, change and the pain of her mother's dementia and reprints her poem "Les Brown's Band of Renown," originally published in an issue of Say... (Go read it. I love that poem.)

Fernham shares a classic Byron drinking anecdote.

Matt Cheney discovers that you can get to the old Event Horizon site (which was beautifully designed and published some amazing stuff) via the Wayback Machine.

New Mark Rich story "The Diogenes Robot" at Strange Horizons this week. Check it out. (Via the Gavin and his LCRW newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.)

unsure how to feel

Since this didn't come from the Cinetrix, it's probably not true, but who am I to pass by a rumor about an '80s movie remake from The Guardian?

A sequel to Pretty in Pink will reunite original stars Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and John Cryer, according to US internet reports. The cult '80s John Hughes movie told the story of kooky high school student Andie and her crush on a new student. The sequel will be a straight update, revealing how the characters' lives have changed since entering the adult world.

No True Bill, where I snagged this link, notes the timing of the appearance of this tidbit coincides with April Fool's Day. Still, we can dream/dread/hope/fear, right?

Updated: Her Trixieness has weighed in, in inimitable fashion. I really, really, really, really want a copy of this fabled novelization where Duckie wins. (CVR, hush.)

lies, or sometimes you have to go play

I'm not going to claim it's wise to be utterly seduced by the weather on a Monday night and take your bikes out without helmets for an evening of drinking and eating and watching belly dancers (one with long gray hair danced to one of John Hammond's fine Tom Waits covers) and even fitting in a last minute surreptitious visit to the library*, to drunkenly check out books and have our copy of Box Office Poison returned by the guy behind the counter. The library was playing the "leave now" music the whole time. It was such a spur of the moment thing, we tried calling people on cell phones, managing only to reach the North Carolina contingent. We started with drinks only at the greasy spoon at the far end of Main Street, and rode back downtown for actual food, with Mr. Rowe daringly talking to Mr. Butner on the cell phone the whole time. Mr. Rowe was sporting his Stay Off the Sidewalk and Wear Your Helmet or Die T-shirt -- which was great, as we were doing every single thing it says not to. I fell off my bike in the front yard most gracelessly.

A nice evening.

Do I feel like dirt today? Well, yes, but the weather is still lovely.

* Answering Maud's question about what is the modern day equivalent of lingering in the stacks of the library: It's the library. The library is a revolution and a wonder and should be frequented frequently. I was famously afraid of libraries and so the last couple of years living close to a really fine library has truly been a life-changer. I've read many, many fine books and magazines that I probably wouldn't if I had to fork over the cash for them and there is something so wonderful about the unexpected juxtapositions of the books that are lumped in together as "new." Home to wireless and good coffee on the first floor. Libraries are so best.

But if you're not convinced the above is true, which it is, there's another answer. Wandering around your house looking at all the bookshelves and book stacks of books you haven't read yet. It's a similar effect.


Say... addition

I've decided to add some reviews to Say... If you'd like your book/comic/CD/whatever considered, you can send it to:

Gwenda Bond, Reviews Editor
Fortress of Words
PO Box 1304
Lexington, KY 40588-1304

I will, of course, also reserve the right to review anything received here, and will almost certainly put up reviews on the soon to exist Fortress of Words website. Say... have you heard this one? will debut over Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, so I'd need to receive anything for that issue as soon as possible. The next issue Say... what's the combination? will appear in late October.

It's not necessary for the item to fit the issue's theme.

That is all for now.


weekend hangovers

No links edition.

A couple of apologies. With all the sickness and sleeplessness and general business, the content around here has been sucking. This is known. Also, not much writing getting done around the Fortress of Words. No email either. (And rumor has it we have to put together a new issue of the magazine in the next month and a half.)


It's time to dare myself to get things back together, now that the taxes are done (we came out more or less even) and I'm feeling better. And Mr. Rowe and George Rowe the Dog, Poster Boy for Family Values, My Attorney, seem on the mend too. (As much as a 14-year-old Golden Retriever mends, which is quite a bit actually.)

Consider this a promise that your email will be answered by next Saturday and that I'll try to spruce up the content on Shaken & Stirred this week. And whenever the going gets hard in terms of fitting in writing, it's time to make that a requirement as well. Between day job and life job lately, it's been very hard. I think I'm going to alternate days, working on the rewrite of GG until that's done and the first draft of the new book till that's done. On new book days, I'll aim for somewhere between 500 and 1000 words a day. I may make a place to post progress on that, or do it over on the Third Glass of Wine; if you're interested in joining in the word count/self-made deadline fun, drop me a line. It's helpful to have compadres.

Tomorrow, I'll post some thoughts on all the books I read on the sick bed.

Also, the Pope died. In case you hadn't heard.


(hello, my name is gullible.)

The first April Fool's joke that's almost gotten me this morning is here. I plan on practicing extreme skepticism for the rest of the day.

Oh, for the youthful days of elaborate practical jokes -- like the time I wore a fake cast all day in third grade (Mrs. Gay's class) so I wouldn't have to do any work, or the time I convinced the class clown to get up and bolt from the evil sixth grade history teacher's classroom then got the rest of the kids to move all the furniture and her beloved plants into the vacant classroom of her evil sister next door while she was gone, or the great home ec baby theft of junior year. Good times. In fact, it wasn't really safe to get out of bed on April Fool's day in my family, since every damn person would play at least one practical joke on every other person in the family. What were we: tricksters? It was more fun. We're all lazy now.

Finally got some sleep. I'm going to try and get a tiny bit more, even. Have a good weekend and don't believe everything you see.

(Oh, and keep an eye on Locus. It's usually really funny today.)


worm: "Starts Off With a Bang," Mobius Band (because it reminds me of U2 in the best possible way; a happy springtime song)


"Finding Out That True Love is Blind," Louis XIV and "B.O.B. F.O.S.S.E.," Black Lipstick

Update: The Locus pranx are now up. Year's Best Jeff Ford and Year's Best Lucius Shepard is pretty damn hilarious! Also:

In related news, a Year's Best Neal Stephenson, which will include only the necessary scenes from his Baroque Cycle novels, will be released by William Morrow and edited by the long-suffering John Clute.

There's more hilarity. Check it out.