weekend hangovers, now with more allergens
Anyway. The Grimm Brothers is a terror of mediocrity, all the more sad because it could and should have been wonderful. We also finally got around to watching The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which was the perfect anecdote; I loved it even more than I expected to. I disagree with all those who felt this movie wasn't up there with Rushmore or Royal Tenenbaums: it is.
Two of the very best YAs of the year, Holly Black's Valiant and Cecil Castellucci's Boy Proof, have made the Book Sense Fall Kids Picks. (Eagle-eyed literaconteurs will note Dale Peck being recommended to the 9-12 set. It's never too early for "My First Altercation While Lunching.")
Darby over at Thumb Drives & Oven Clocks wants answers: Google comes up blank when you search for the phrase "literary representations of motion". This is a hole that I'd like to see filled, and I'm drawing a total blank. So I turn to you, oh vast, infinite, sexy Internet, and ask: where have you seen motion best depicted in fiction? (Or, really, in any written form; but I really want examples drawn from fiction, for reasons I can't quite explain.)
Jeff Ford's new book The Girl in the Glass (gorgeous cover, huh?), which I can't wait to read, is reviewed in this week's NYTBR, quite favorably--even if he is a bit bemused by some of the reviewer's reading. This reminds me that I've forgotten to point out something so long you probably already know it by now: Jeff has a new livejournal, worth checking out for a number of reasons, not least for the chupacabra update. (Chupacabra story here.)
Tricksy dictionary and encylopedia makers.
Best road signs ever. (Via Holly Black.)
Ben posts an overdue and hilarious little WordCon report, complete with Plaus Fab Hugo Award snippet:
My "A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, With Air-Planes", lost the Victor Hugo Award for Best Plausible-Fable With Philosophical Aspirations, to the marvelous "Djinni Wallet" of Lelly Kink. Lelly and I sat in the auditorium with Soma-With-The-Paintbox-In-Printer's-Alley, a jovial and clever, if somewhat tragic, figure. Soma was some kind of delegate or prisoner of the gargantuan rogue Wisdom Regent of Tennessee, Athena Crowe, whose excellent autobiographical vignette I had expected to win in our category.
It is always a dangerous thing for an office-holding political figure to become a writer, and there seemed to be a not insignificant chance that poor Soma would be eaten ("refactored" was the euphemism employed, I believe) for his audacity in failing to bring home a little silver rocketship; our concerns for him being somewhat allayed, however, by the competence and spirit of his wife Gwenda-With-The-Martini-Glass-And-.25-Beretta-In-Garter, who had a plan.
Pointers to some excellent, recent fiction online over at Short Form -- all worth checking out, and reminded me about the Saunders.
Abigail Nussbaum with more excellent recommendations, this time of short books that pack a wallop. Her recs will make you happy, but not give you hand pain: what more can you ask for?
And a quick reminder: Tomorrow's Kate Atkinson's drop-by at the LBC. The Fall selection will be announced September 15 and hopefully things will pick back up over at the site. Back to the blankety blank reading that goes along with all that....
For The Record: A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia. A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one. A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.
Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)! Congratulations!
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test
(Via the Slush God.)
"Promise Her Anything, But Give Her Gwenda."
Some of my favorites, with friends' names:
Thank Christopher It's Friday.
A Finger of Richard is Just Enough to Give Your Kids a Treat.
My Doctor Says 'Barb'.
Hungry? Why Wait? Grab a Ted.
Kids Will Do Anything For Gavin. (Ed. Note: My favorite.)
Every Kelly Helps.
Naughty, but Karen. (Ed. Note: Or maybe this is my favorite.)
Don't Leave Home Without Alan.
151 Countries, One Kristin.
Sharing the Melissa of your Life.
Happiness is a Cigar Called Justine. (Ed. Note: Nope, THIS is my favorite.)
For a Hard-Earned Thirst, Peeps. (Ed. Note: Now that's just creepy.)
And I better stop.
mind control words
To be candid, Cory Doctorow sometimes gives me the creeps. I admire his writing and all, but ... see, I am reading his book about a guy whose father is a mountain and whose mother is a washing machine. Three of his younger brothers are nesting dolls and they live inside each other, in the way of nesting dolls. In fact, they need to be inside each other so that all of their digestions work properly. When one of them goes missing, bad stuff happens fast.
This is actually the least interesting part. The column evolves into a discussion on how Carroll's view of words has changed over time, and what their true power may be.
*Definitely on the TBR list; I hear good things.
read a book: Peeps
Peeps is one of those extremely rare books wherein vampires lie that puts to bed the question of why there are so many damn vampire books. Of course there are: the subject matter's fascinating and fresh and funny. Oh wait, that's just this book. (And a precious few others.)
Anyway, here's the thing. If you like science (and who doesn't?), you'll love the parasitology interwoven throughout; for yes, there's even a new, logic-following explanation for vampires that's integral to the story. I kid you not!
And there's Cal, who really needs closure with his ex-girlfriends, because he's, you know, turned them into peeps (parasite positives). There's experts who may or may not be bad guys but give great dialogue,scary sekrit wall writing and even scarier big, oozing, sub-basement wrong things. FOR STARTERS. Did I even mention the Bahamalama-Dingdongs in your typical West Village bar? I'm tired or I'd at least attempt to be more articulate. What I'm saying is, it comes out today, in finer bookstores all over this land and you should just go buy it or order it up. Did I mention I read this straight through on a car trip (passenger seat) without once looking up or wanting to?
It's Peeps week, after all. Have you no respect for the sacred?
I rest my case.***
**320 lean and mean pages
***It's in the YA section and it looks like this:
Laura Miller hearts Magic for Beginners. Speaking of which, The Believer review is excellent.
Cecil Castellucci bravely not only rereads her teenage diary, but shares a snippet:
Ian McGowan was not this type at all and I transcribe for you a note I wrote on 2/20/1985 to my best friend (at the time) Cordelia. Ian was Irish and Waspy. He was punk as fuck, had a mohawk, got jaundice once, drank like a fish, and most importantly, gave me a copy of Cyrano de Bergerac, which I slept with under my pillow for 6 months. As you can see, for those in the know, DH was not the only boy who had my heart in 1985. It is safe to say, my heart was a whore.
If I don't see Ian today I'll definitely die. I need to see him. Now I feel dumb if he knows that I like him, but gosh it's like I (don't) want to marry the boy. It's not love, it's strong like. Now I feel like such a burn out and I'm not even burned out. It's fucking pathetic. I've decided that I hate great students in frnch because they just called the two 99% students out of the room and it's like I can speak french circles around them. Put me in France and I won't need a fucking dictionary. And she knows it. Fuck her. Fuck this school. i don't think I'm coming in tomorrow but I have to because I have 3 tests Friday. Monday, I'm not coming in. We'll meet and do something. Rather, we'll go to B.H.S. (SCREAM!) Definitely we can arrive at like 1:00 and hang out. God that sounds so appealing to me. I wish that I was tall and lanky. Instead, I'm short and lanky. But at least I'm in proportion now. You know I hope they (Pete, Sean and Ian) like the B-day cake. I was going to ask what flavor they liked and we went on a tangent. But see! I can't just ASK!!!!!!
All my teenage journals of heart ache and break (with healthy doses of pretension and bitchiness thrown in, I'm sure), were consumed by a fire. Between you and me, I've always been kind of glad about that particular part of the fire, but reading that makes me almost wish I could go find them.
Barry Goldblatt on query letters. Query letters are hell.
Hurree reprints a letter from Vandana Singh.
Whoopsie, someone watched the car commercial. (Chicha's back: yay!)
Remember the LitBlog Co-op? Kate Atkinson will be guest blogging there on Monday, August 29. Submit yer questions but not comments now. And there'll be a whole new title recommended shortly. Which reminds me to stop typing and go back to reading.
In the meantime, go read the new M. Rickert story ("Anyway") that's rocking SciFiction this week.
You'll feel better afterward. Swear.
(Via the home of the secret crush.)
p.s. Yes, I owe you email. Tons of email. I am the rudest human being whoever lived. I'm not even going to pretend I'll be truly catching up soon. September. Soonest.
happy dorothy parker's birthday
Why not read her Paris Review interview to celebrate? Meanwhile:
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
the only review of lunar park you must read this year
Liz Hand is one of my favorite reviewers and she takes a look at the book for the WaPo this week:
Ellis has an obvious familiarity with and a real affection for the standard tropes of supernatural fiction. He's admitted that as a boy he read Stephen King's Salem's Lot at least a dozen times. No shame there, and if Ellis had stuck to a single supernatural trope, he might have written a genuinely scary book. Instead, he tosses together so many hoary genre elements that the novel begins to resemble a middle-aged yuppie rehash of a Hammer Horror film, less The Turn of the Screw than "Heart of Dorkness." There's the ghost of Bret's monstrous, violent father, whom Ellis claimed was the inspiration for the serial-killer protagonist of American Psycho . There are little Sarah's evil toy (the Yerby), a post-Halloween haunting of Bret and Jayne's house at 307 Elsinore Lane, croaking ravens, disemboweled pets, mysterious computer messages, things clawing at the bedroom door, child abductions, a hardboiled detective and even a psychic investigator.The bio tag mentions that her novel Generation Loss is forthcoming. She talked a little about it in an interview with Science Fiction Weekly after the release of Mortal Love:
I'm working on a new novel with various working titles; today it's Generation Loss. It's a contemporary fantasy set on New York's Lower East Side and the Maine archipelago. Thematically it's similar to my most recent work, stuff like "The Least Trumps" and "Wonderwall"—Art changes reality, Desire changes reality. It's about a photographer, a punk provocateur somewhat in the Cindy Sherman/Robert Mapplethorpe mold; and it's about desire and the creation of art, a version of the myth of Eros and Psyche.The words can't wait seem appropriate.
My prose style has altered pretty radically in the last few years, since completing Mortal Love—for whatever reason, I'm writing in a more stripped-down, elliptical fashion. I don't really seem to fit into the mainstream of genre writers, and I certainly don't fit into the mainstream of mainstream writers. But "The Least Trumps" made it onto the shortlist for The Best American Short Stories (as did several other stories from that issue of Conjunctions), and that kind of psyched me up to do more stuff in that vein. And so the last few stories I've written—"Wonderwall," which was in Flights; "Echo," which will be in Fantasy & Science Fiction; "Kronia," which will be in Conjunctions next spring—they're quite different from my earlier work. They're far more self-revelatory, for one thing. And they're also almost impossible for me to describe. "Kronia" is very short, only 1,500 words, which is about as far from my usual work as you can get—that's, like, the length of an average Liz Hand sentence! But it's exciting. I wrote these things and I honestly didn't know if they were any good, or even publishable: They were so different from anything else I'd done. It felt risky, even frightening, to show them to anyone, let alone to an unknown reader, but I decided that maybe that sense of risk is a good thing. I'd like to extend this elliptical prose style to Generation Loss. It expands, thematically, on the same issues I examined in "The Least Trumps," though there's no overlap of characters. And the new novel riffs on two of my favorite movies, Michael Powell's I Know Where I'm Going and Carol Reed's surreal Odd Mann Out (the film Reed made right before The Third Man). Generation Loss takes one of its epigraphs from Roland Barthes: "I then realized that there was a sort of link (or knot) between Photography, madness, and something whose name I did not know. I began by calling it: the pangs of love." That's the knot I'll be unraveling for a while to come.
See also: Tingle Alley's post on Lunar Park, complete with link to Bret Easton Ellis vs. Katie Couric.
ellen datlow is on flickr
Writing is a conversation. (I’ll probably say this again at some point.) I need to be reading in order to be writing. This year I’ve typed out a couple of stories by other writers, partly for work-related reasons, but also so that I could get a closer look at how other writers put sentences together. How they structure a plot. I was typing out stories by writers who write very differently from me, and I loved doing this. I’d never looked at other people’s work so closely, or had so much admiration for how a sentence or a paragraph or a scene is constructed. It was a way to slow down my reading speed, and I also found that after I’d been typing out someone else’s story, it felt as if there was less of a barrier when I sat down to do my own work.
And the questions are really great too; which is only to be expected as Aulenback is a fantastic writer in her own right, as they say, and you should go check out her stuff -- especially don't miss her Grim Stories.
(Via the lovely Found White Kitty.)
Dave highly recommends Hal Duncan's Vellum: Vellum is one of those books. It's so good that after I finished it, at 2 AM after a long day, I couldn't fall asleep. I felt so challenged by this book, as a reader and a writer, that I simply couldn't let it go that easily. And now, four days later, I still haven't digested it fully. Sold! Can't wait to read this...
Speaking of Hal Duncan, I really liked what he had to say on the whole self-indulgence issue, and not just because he used the words "poncy git": The critic may well be right. The book may be deeply flawed, it's aesthetic balance way off, because the writer's just plain failed to pull off what they were trying to do. But the word "self-indulgent" doesn't communicate that any more than calling the writer a poncy git does. And as an accusation of a lack of self-awareness on the author's part, of selfishness and unfounded pride even, it's about as personal as that sort of name-calling.(Though it didn't hurt.)
Great writing post from Elizabeth Bear, a snippet: Here's what I think about talent. It's true: some people have more than others. And I suspect if one is going to make it as a writer, one walks in with a free card. One thing you can do coming out of the gate. One aspect of the tremendous interwoven craft of writing that you're naturally good at. It may be worldbuilding or plot or voice or language or structure or theme. Something you do right, from day one.
Here's a secret. Once you reach a certain level of competence, books and stories sell because of what you do right, not because of what you don't do wrong. You want to talk about what J.K. Rowling does wrong? We can talk all week.
Patrick Samphire bravely attempts the impossible: explaining cricket.
This is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. Using Cameron Diaz and Angelina Jolie as examples of women getting lovelier with age is ridiculous. Why not throw in some Holly Hunter or Annette Bening or Frances McDormand action?
Alan DeNiro is a very smart man: It’s a “profession” that is largely abandonware now. Sure (to continue the imperfect metaphor), it’s fun to download the emulators for systems gone by–the gameplay’s still solid–and yet always there’s a melancholy that goes with the nostalgia. Different models for different times. (I remember buying Zork in K-mart.)
And yet with each passing year living in the old professional-writer model, the more energy that one expends in pretending that the genre pie is larger than it actually is. And expending that energy kind of becomes a hobby in of itself. From my perspective it’s a pretty crappy hobby. I’m not being anti-money per se, but rather pro-reality (no pun intended, seriously).
tilda swinton, call your agent
the librarian tango, pt. 2
I love our library.
Besides The Big Love, I took out The Wisdom of Crowds, Vanishing Point by David Markson, and 98 Reasons for Being by Claire Dudman (I love me some Struwwelpeter). Lots of other reading to do in the meantime, but still, with these, the LBC books and the books I came home from Worldcon with (not to mention Lydia Millet's Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, which is very lose to the top of the stack), I am a very happy girl.
Except for the damn makes-reading-and-writing-torturous hay fever. From my burning eyes to yours.
1) Thou shalt be original
2) Thou shalt be smart
3) Thou shalt be resilient
4) Thou shalt ask questions
5) Thou shalt not pay reading fees
Stephanie Burgis shares some interesting research for a new book: For instance, under the 19th-century reign of Emperor Francis I of Austria,
Books would often be licenced for sale only to those who carried a certificate guaranteeing their impermeability to new ideas.* (go there for source and more fun facts)
The Golden Age of Sassy. (Via Number One Hit Song.) Just the covers make me feel nostalgic.
The Millions recommends The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki.
Holly and Theo Black have been making their way through the entirety of Buffy. There was a little conversation about viewing massive amounts of Buffy at a Saturday evening mini-party at Worldcon, prompted by my embarrassing recollection of an episode (with title even) that turned out to be one I'd dreamed. It's one of the many dangers of falling into the Buffyverse until you're all caught up: you may start to have extremely detailed dreams there. Also, this post makes me laugh.
Odd door. (Via MeFi.)
Newsweek online chats with Jane Yolen. Do you test out your books on your own kids and grandkids? My husband and my writing group are the first ones to see my books. Children may be a great audience, but if they really want your attention, they'll tell you what you want to hear. Besides saying "Yuck" and "I didn't like it" or "I loved it," their critical vocabulary is not up to what I need for rewriting a book.
Cory Doctorow raves about Peeps, Scott W's latest brilliance in form of book. Check it out. As soon as possible. (I plan a little review of this too in the very near future, along with A Princess of Roumania, and any other especially wonderful book I've recently read but am forgetting about. In the midst of much hush-hush litblog co-op reading at the moment.)
I am dying of allergies. Possibly.
Aventurera, finally seen after being netflixed ages ago off Daniel Handler's sterling recommendation in Slate's 2004 culture wrap-up:
This year, the greatest film in the entire world was released on DVD. The film, Alberto Gout's Aventurera, was made in Mexico in 1950. It is the greatest film in the world. If I could, I would force you to see it. Once I saw it with my friend Matt, who was jet-lagged and fell asleep halfway through so I jabbed him in the ribs, hard, to wake him up. Once I saw two showings of the film on the same day—right in a row. I saw the film, bid my friend goodbye, lingered outside the theater, met another friend and pretended I had just arrived, went inside, and saw it again. Once I bought a VHS copy online from a very iffy-looking Web site, but it turned out there were no subtitles. I don't speak Spanish but my brother-in-law and his wife do, so I sent it to them. They have never acknowledged receiving the film, which I can only interpret as awe.Fantastic movie, full of treachery, knives and dancing. See it.
What is the film about? Ninon Sevilla, in a fervent, twitchy performance, plays Elena, a young girl who endures sexual temptation, the breakup of her family, a suicide, and dance lessons in the first 10 minutes of the film. Following that, Gout thoughtfully provides a brief flashback encompassing all the events of the past 10 minutes. Murder and champagne follow. White slavery is involved and unrequited love. Also, table tennis. Ms. Sevilla has apparently been costumed with a vengeance—i.e., by someone with a fervent desire to get revenge on her. Do you know that feeling, way past admiration and quite a bit past campy admiration, when you realize that you literally can't believe what you are seeing? Also, it is a musical.
Murderball, also fantastic and full of excellent music, and with a surprising amount of treachery (though no knives or white slavery). Especially recommended for sports fans.
Movie Extremely Unrecommended (1):
Collateral; quell obvious, you say, noting the presence of Tom Cruise. And yet, unless he wrote and directed this movie, I can't even blame him for the total fucking disintegration of logic that propels the last thirty minutes or so. Give me a break. (Though I will say that I was unimpressed with his supposedly steely-good performance.) Additional note to filmmaker people: Stop reminding me of the oh-so-poetic irony of some final scene that has been directly telegraphed early on in the movie. I and every other fucking person who may watch have seen at least 5o,000 movies. We grew up in movietown. If someone just came out from a cave and this is their very first movie ever, fuck them. Let them be bewildered. Thank you. (Why, Jamie Fox and Michael Mann? Why?)
Also, I have a cold, might be cranky as a result, and spent the day finally watching the box set of Wonderfalls. Loved it lots.
I'm really looking forward to The Brothers Grimm, even if Matt Damon didn't get a prosthetic nose.
it had to happen eventually
HERE'S the risk: Play fast enough and loose enough with what can be understood about a piece of fiction and the reader will feel left out. I felt that way sometimes in ''Magic for Beginners.'' But even when I didn't know what to make of her stories, I couldn't put them out of my mind. That sort of resonance, that lingering, haunting effect, is the product of real magic, and Kelly Link is no doubt a sorceress to be reckoned with.From generally positive review, of which the most baffling part involves zombies and you can see Scott (who is the coolest senior evAR) take it apart. Zombies eat brains. Or yams.
(If you got that yam joke, you are truly cool, Andy Duncan fans.)
(Murderball was most excellent.)
happy happy end of week hangovers
For some reason I am in a very movie-seeing mood. Maybe we'll see more movies in there too (recommendations?).
Anyway. A few links that can't wait:
Margo Lanagan mentions in passing that she's "Faffing around with the extra story that's going into the UK edition of Black Juice." Guess this means I'll be buying the UK edition of Black Juice as well. (Is there anyone reading this who has yet to read this collection? Do yourself a huge favor.)
“These papers should lay to rest once and for all the claims by John Christy and other global warming skeptics that a disagreement between tropospheric and surface temperature trends means that there are problems with surface temperature records or with climate models,” said Alan Robock, a meteorologist at Rutgers University.
Lauren reveals the lunacy behind low-fat fried chicken.
Have a nice weekend.
Also, Christopher lies.
informed consumer does not equal informed opinion
Ron quotes Consumer Mike B. saying:
"I'm tired of being held accountable by poor writers/actors/directors/producers for the failure of their product. If it isn't Stephen King telling me (in the pages of Entertainment Weekly) that it's my fault Kingdom Hospital didn't do well; or if it isn't the team behind the movies The Island and Stealth telling me that it's my fault for not liking their movies, or if it's the industry telling me that I'm to blame for how badly movies in general are doing--it's Kiernan telling me that her book should be doing better than it is. But it should only be doing better than it is if it's actually a good book."Then Mike B.'s take gets a little more problematic:
Which, after checking Murder of Angels out of the local library, he doesn't believe to be the case. "She's better than a lot of the guys out there," Mike says, "But too much of her writing seems for show and not for telling... Also, I read about 50 pages and I have no idea what the plot is."The top of my head nearly blew off. Murder of Angels is a FANTASTIC book and not at all hard to follow. If you don't know what the plot is after 50 pages, Mike B., then you're just not paying attention.
See my short take on MoA here and check out Caitlin's forthcoming To Charles Fort, With Love, an amazing collection of short stories.
UPDATED: Check out the comments for more discussion and a fuller reaction from Mike B. (But, still, I think BOTH Threshold and MoA really are wonderful books, though in vastly different ways -- MoA gets as good as Tolkien (for me, anyway -- and hey, talk about self-indulgent there) once we glimpse its other world. Oh, and see Caitlin's own recent characterization of self-indulgent as a criticism.)
two thingsies of note
Thing Two: Reader of Depressing Books has several posts about genius Joy Williams you should take a look at. Prelude, Post the First, Post the Second, Post the Third, Post the Fourth, and Post the Final (?). RODB describes the posts thus:
the first post is on her fiction, the second her non-fictionIt's like a little Joy Williams party. And I'll throw in a link to an extract from her Granta essay "The Case Against Babies," even though I've linked it before.
the third post is on some other things
the fourth post is an essay she wrote that can't be found anywhere on the internet except for here
(Ed note: The essay is up without permission, so read it quick just in case. Who knows if JW is down with Creative Commons?)
please tell me...
Help Dana answer her question about Ben Herman, legendary adversary, glimpsed on a train platform, but not whiffed. You really must go read the whole thing, but here's a snippet to convince:
And even those two were tolerable in comparison to my greatest adversary, one Ben Herman.
Ben Herman joined our office one late spring morning. It was only 9:15 and he was already sweating profusely, and in places I didn't know one could sweat. He was a tall kid, maybe 6'2, with the dumpy pear-shaped body and carriage of a middle-aged insurance salesman. He wore his pants too high. And he had the craziest cowlick that spanned the back of his head. It was always there.
I soon discovered the reason his cowlick never went away: the guy did not bathe. He smelled like he was smeared head to toe with fromunda cheese.** Had he never attended hygiene class in junior high? Had his parents (whom he lived with, in Orange County) never told him about cleanliness? They certainly doted on him--his mother made his lunch every day, packed in a brown bag with the name BEN written on it.
Anyhow, in addition to being smelly, Ben was a total drip. He enjoyed role-playing games and collecting fantasy figurines. When I told him where I'd gone to college, he asked me if I knew some friend of his who'd also attended. I didn't recognize his name. Ben told me that I'd recognize this friend if I saw him, as he always wore a cloak and carried a staff.
I grimly tolerated Ben until one day, when he got on my last fuckin' nerve (as the two ladies behind me were wont to say) when we were discussing...I don't know...places we'd lived? I had said that I lived in Georgia for a couple years. He replied, "Oh, I hate the South. They're so stupid and intolerant."
"Have you ever been to the South, Ben?"
"No, never been further than Maryland. But I can tell."
I think we've all got a Ben.
you and KJF for a good cause
Karen says: "The name of a secondary character in my next novel. The novel is due to be published in 2007, but, as it is not written yet, that can change. The name must belong to a real person who is happy or at least willing to let me use it."
Karen once told me she'd title a character after me if my name wasn't real; hmmmm...
(There are other writers too, but you've seen that elsewhere and Karen's my favorite and so the most exciting of those offered in my opinion.)
four glasgow pics
Nine years ago, novelist Geoff Ryman wrote a pioneering online novel, 253. It told a tale of the relationships between people who happened to be on a Tube train at the same time. Now, inspired by the varied lives of those who died on 7 July, Ryman offers his thoughts and tribute.
And what an amazing tribute. A snippet:
I don't believe there are evil people or evil countries, but there are undoubtedly evil thoughts and deeds. They come when we are tired, lazy, threatened or angry - rather like the shooting of that innocent Brazilian man. Everybody has a measure of right on their side and a measure of wrong.You can also read 253 online.
The philosopher Hannah Arendt concluded that evil lay in the refusal to think. One of the things evil cannot face contemplating is variety. It prefers monolithic simplicity. Reality outstrips simplicity through a constant flowering of unexpected lives. Evil thoughts and deeds cannot prevail against it.
Anyway, there's a Jennifer Reese profile of Ayelet Waldman and the dust-up over her NYT and Salon essays, but it all feels a little rehash. Gorgeous photo of the author, however, and she casts herself as the anti-Franzen (or lover of O). (You can only see the first bit there unless you're a subscriber.)
Stephen King also apparently approves of son Owen's fiance/girlfriend(?) Kelly Braffet, of the delicious Josie and Jack, including a recommendation by her on his summer reading list:
Battle Royale by Koushun TakamiAnd I might add that LAST week's EW included a good review for Paul Park's excellent A Princess of Roumania: It's a journey almost as gratifying as the magic trick pulled off by author Paul Park, who should be knighted for breathing life into an oft-tired genre. And it wasn't even in the little genre ghetto box. I'm really very sad that I missed his reading of the second volume The Tourmaline at Interaction, as I heard it was fabulous.
Recommended to me by novelist Kelly Braffet (Josie and Jack), Battle Royale is an insanely entertaining pulp riff that combines Survivor with World Wrestling Entertainment. Or maybe Royale is just insane. Forty-two Japanese high school kids who think they're going on a class trip are instead dropped on an island, issued weapons ranging from machine guns to kitchen forks, and forced to fight it out until only one is left alive. Royale bears some resemblance to Richard Bachman's The Long Walk. You probably won't find it at your local bookstore, but you can order it online. ''No prob,'' as Takami's Springsteen-quoting teenagers are fond of saying.
*Which, by the way, you only have to subscribe to once. Seriously, I keep attempting to let my subscription lapse and they send issues with paper flappy bits that say LAST ISSUE EVER YOU WILL NEVER EVER GET ANOTHER ISSUE OF EW UNLESS YOU SEND US A CHECK IMMEDIATELY and then, the next week, there's another issue with no indication whatsoever that I still haven't resubscribed.
home home home remainders
Kevin at Collected Miscellany on Howard Norman's The Haunting of L, a book which I also recommend. How can you go wrong with Spiritualism and creepy photos?
Cheryl Morgan is linking many, many Interaction reports over at Emerald City.
Patrick Neilsen Hayden on the proposed splitting of the Best Professional Editor Hugo. This provoked lots of interesting discussions over the weekend, and I'd bet on more to come.
Nerve interviews Francesca Lia Block. (Via Ron.)
Newsday compares science fiction to Rodney Dangerfield. Why not just compare Battlestar Gallactica to him? (Via Weirdwriter.)
Dan Green on Catherynne Valente's recent review of Breath and Bones at The Mumpsimus. My own view of the book matches closely with Dan's, but I was far too lazy to actually write such a coherent response.
The Herald has a piece on science fiction, focusing on Christopher Priest and Geoff Ryman (and possibly other things; I haven't made it through the whole piece yet). If only all newspapers continuously ran such pieces, or even just pieces about Ryman.
The Rake: Celebra-blogger!
You'll want to look at this post, then keep looking.
The Panopticon Lives(!).
The Happy Booker collects reasons from some Southerners NOT to see the very likely abomination Dukes of Hazzard movie. This seems like the kind of project that could go on indefinitely. (Did anyone see The Daily Show's piece on Cooter's protest? One of the best ever. "That's where we differ." Hilarity.) I'm partial to number 10: "Still upset they didn't hire Cate Blanchett to play Daisy Duke."
Caitlin writes on a number of interesting things (as usual), but her thoughts on whether EW reviews sell books especially caught my eye:
Recently, a couple of months ago, I was talking with my agent, Merrilee, and I was lamenting the lackluster sales of Murder of Angels, even after the glowing review in Entertainment Weekly, which, regardless of its merits or lack thereof, seems about as mainstream a magazine as I could ever hope to be reviewed by. And Merrilee said that, in her experience, reviews in EW do not translate into sales. Yesterday, I looked up the magazine's circulation. It's supposedly 1.7 million (this from EW's website). So, I imagined what seemed to me a worst-case scenario. Let's imagine that only 1% of the 1.7 million people who read EW read the review and then bought MoA. That would still be a whopping 17,000 books sold, which is about twice the first printing of the novel. I know that didn't happen. Then I decided to be more pessimistic. What if only one half of one 1% read the review and bought the book? That would still be 8,500 people, which would have sent the novel into a second printing. That didn't happen either. So, what about a mere one quarter of 1%? That's still 4,250 books, a very sizable dent in the first printing. But that evidently didn't happen, either. So, it would seem that even if one is lucky enough to get a good review in a magazine with a 1.7 million circulation, one cannot expect any significant increase in sales from that review. Tons of free advertising can be worthless. On the one hand, this is the sort of thing that all working authors need to spend a lot of time thinking about. On the other hand, it's the sort of thing that shuts me down and keeps me from writing. It's the sort of thing that makes me wish I could afford to confine my publishing to the specialty press. The books that I've done with Gauntlet Publishing and Subterranean Press have either sold out (some before publication) or will soon be sold out. And these are relatively hard-to-find expensive hardbacks, not $14 trade paperbacks available at Borders and Barnes and Noble. It's a laughable, ludicrous affair, this "business" of writing for a living.Check out the rest of what she has to say.
Jeff Vandermeer interviews Kelly (and a Stephany Aulenback interview at Maud's place is soon to come too).
How on Earth have I never seen this? Cornell University's The Fantastic in Art and Fiction image database. In the immortal words of Keanu Reeves: Whoa. (Via Jeff.)
And now, the jetlag wins.
incompletely listing worldcon
people finally, properly or serendipitously met:
Justina Robson*(and husband Richard Fennell)
Geoff Ryman (I managed to contain the inner fangirl. Barely.)
Susanna Clarke (So nice!)
Veronica Schanoes (Ask her about her snake jewelry.)
people we happily got to spend more time with than usual:
Scott Edelman (who along with John Scalzi was on our replacement flight)
people we got to see, but not nearly enough:
Adam Stemple (Ask his "publicist" about his starred Booklist review.)
Andy and Sydney Duncan
Greg Frost (whose new collection looks GORGEOUS)
John Klima (though sadly no Lush trip)
best flatmates in the world:
Hugo award-winning Kelly D. Link (YAY!)
fresh mussels and the cloutie at Arasaig
mozzarella, olive, red pepper, tomato, garlic baguette at Cafe Gandolfi (good company too)
divine hummus and tzatziki at Konaki Greek Taverna
Hugo Losers Party (although they don't call it that anymore) chocolates
lots of wine and good cider
Fantastic Cities - A celebration of all the many wild, wonderful, vibrant, dangerous and exciting cities of fantasy literature. Jeffrey Ford, Ian R. Macleod, Michael Swanwick, Claire Weaver (I hear this was interesting, but I fell asleep; jetlag, you are cruel.)
Why Should We Mind? SF/Fantasy & Consciousness - From telepathy to life-after-death, the Singularity and uploaded consciousness, and into the psychotropic, the mind fascinates SF writers. Kelly Link, Alastair Reynolds, Justina Robson, Ian Watson, Connie Willis (By far, the best panel I attended. And not just because Scalzi laughed at the word ape.)
Growth of the Slipstream - Our panellists look at the fiction that slips between traditional genre boundaries, and ask why this kind of fiction appeals to SF readers. Hal Duncan, Colin Greenland, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Mark Rich, Delia Sherman (Better than your average slipstream panel.)
The Mason-Dixon Line Redrawn: America Divided? - Recent election maps show the US largely divided into urban Democrat states and rural Republican ones. What kinds of stories do the two Americas want to hear -- and should we be telling them? Harry Harrison, Paul Kincaid, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Kim Stanley Robinson (Stan Robinson is the smartest person in any room, period.)
The Green Children of Woolpit - Who were the two green-skinned children that legend says appeared in the Sussex village of Woolpit nearly nine centuries ago? Duncan Lunan explores a remarkable answer to this ancient mystery. Duncan Lunan (Okay, so we didn't actually get to this, but we did meet the guy in the lobby at the Hilton later that night and get a precis of it: evil British lords and ladies supplying an alien colony. You heard it here second.)
Midnighters 3: Blue Noon ARC, Scott Westerfeld (made the trip home almost painless, more to come)
Magic Lessons ARC, Justine Larbalestier (can't wait to read the finished version as the first draft was FABULOUS)
I Live With You, Carol Emshwiller's new collection (about which also more to come)
Air, Geoff Ryman (hardback UK edition!)
Strange Itineraries, Tim Powers
River of Gods, Ian McDonald
Finding Helen, Colin Greenland
the others are in the lost bag and I can't remember their names
amazing things seen:
Alasdair Gray-designed murals at Òran Mór
Two, with actually lots of irreplaceable stuff in them (the little rocket ship clock given to all Hugo nominees by the Los Angeles WorldCon folks, Christopher's certificate suitable for framing, library books (not irreplaceable, but expensive to replace), basically every piece of jewelry Barb and Kelly have ever made for me along with my Grandmother's emerald ring that she bought with the inheritance from her brother's accidental death at the track, and of course, the dress I got married in) so keep your fingers crossed that they turn up
*Witness new Justina blog.
**I would like to take this opportunity to announce the rebirth of the panel
pray for our bags
The pilot of the next-to-last flight of the incredibly, stupendously, ridiculously long day of travel played the ukelele softly in the gate area while we were being delayed.
More anon. George says hi. We miss you already.
Updated: Air Canada COMPLETELY useless -- along with all their employees in the Toronto airport. Apparently, there is no report of our bags being lost and they say it's USA Airways problem. Only we can't talk to USA Airways and tell them the bags are lost until tomorrow.
Hello to those of you coming here by way of the Analog or Asimov's featured blog page -- I promise far better content to come once we are home from WorldCon and have proper internet access.
If anyone wants to water the plants, hug George and read all the blog posts I've missed on Bloglines, that would be great. The weather here is marvelously cool and breezy. Tomorrow we dress up fancy. Now, to buy things (already got a hardback edition of Air) and see smart people talk.
just before leaving hangovers
Long interview with Joss Whedon on Serenity and manifold other aspects of reality. Via Didi.
Caroline Kettlewell (great name) is rightfully excited about Mary Roach's forthcoming Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. I liked Stiff a ton, but you probably guessed that already.
K. Bird Lincoln (who had an excellent story in the Dead issue of Say...) interviews Chris Barzak and Yoshio Kobayashi over at Strange Horizons. A most interesting discussion.
The newest Bat Segundo Show is live, featuring Kevin Smokler and Amanda Filipacchi.
And that, dear readers, is it for now. To the skies!
10 truths about traveling to Scotland (UPDATE no. 6)
2. There is no good way to pack a fancy dress. (Dry cleaning story sold separately, but, I even got to see a fellow customer's spectacular brown recluse bite -- if you've never seen pictures, it actually resembles cutaneous anthrax. Ouch. I told him to go to the doctor and not to ooze on my freshly cleaned dress.)
3. Don't forget the little envelope the convention people sent. They said to bring it. If you bought tickets from Orbitz, you probably have to have paper tickets -- bring those too.
4. Preparing for a five/six-ish day stint in a foreign country is so much more taxing than a domestic trip. Unsure exactly why, probably a combination of many little things.
5. There's at least a dozen people I won't get to see enough of. Guaranteed.
6. I'm waffling on whether to take a computer. I have this baby computer which is quite light. Since we're going to a Science Fiction Convention, logic would convince that there will be wireless access. But, then again, not where we're staying, so maybe I'll just catch computers as catch can and upload pictures stateside. Plus, doubtful I'll actually care. But then there's always the possiblity I might get some (re)writing done during our five hour Canadian lay-over. (Toronto.) Your vote counts. UPDATE: I may just bring a print-out and work longhand; sounds like wireless will be scarce and expensive (not in the budget), so probably very little blogging until Tuesday, August 9.
7. The exchange rate sucks. Big time. Ask me how.
8. Where are all the teeny books made of hollow paper that weigh less than an ounce I've been meaning to read? They were all here yesterday.
9. At the moment, I actually do wish I had one of those little portable music gizmos.
10. Remember, approaching with an extra drink in hand or to offer a drink means I like you already. (Whisky, cider & black or a nice white wine preferred.)
Safe travel everyone, see you there.