04 October 2007

The Cowboy Angel Rides

The best writing advice I've read in at least a week comes from M. John Harrison's blog. Read the whole post. Here's a paragraph in case you don't trust me:
When I read fantasy, I read for the bizarre, the wrenched, the undertone of difference & weirdness that defamiliarises the world I know. I want the taste of the writer’s mind, I want to feel I’m walking about in the edges of the individual personality. I don’t want to read a story misrepresented from some other culture’s folklore, or a story in which mainstream ideology of the last fifty years is presented as myth. Go read Clive Barker. Go read Kenneth Patchen, who was reportedly an unlikeable man but who could write you a fantasy in a couple of lines. Or put “The Gates of Eden” on repeat.

3 comments:

  1. Such great advice, and so so so hard to achieve. It's amazing how hard it is to trust your own strange ideas. Thanks for plugging the hyperlinks into his quote too. All good stuff to check out.

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  2. Excellent stuff. My favorite part was this:

    "Substitute imagination for exhaustiveness, and inventiveness for research. As a reader I’m not interested in a “fully worked out” world. I’m not interested in “self consistency”. I don’t care what kind of underpants Iberian troops wore in 1812, or if I do I can find out about it for myself. I don’t want the facts about the Silk Road or the collapse of the Greenland Colony, sugared up & presented in three-volumes as an imaginary world."

    When I was a kid, I assumed everything in a novel (although I didn't differentiate those from any other kind of story at the time) was made up. I thought that was the whole point, really. In many ways, I still do.

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  3. "When I read fantasy, I read for the bizarre, the wrenched, the undertone of difference & weirdness that defamiliarises the world I know. I want the taste of the writer’s mind, I want to feel I’m walking about in the edges of the individual personality."

    Forgive me if I take this comment as an impetus for me to recommend David Ohle's MOTORMAN and THE AGE OF SINATRA. MOTORMAN was published in 1970 or so, and THE AGE OF SINATRA, a sort of sequel, was published a couple of years ago. (MOTORMAN is back in print after having been long unavailable.)

    Few books I have read better exemplify the qualities expressed in the quote above. Ohle's world is completely personal, yet accessible, comic, bitter, poetic, outre, wild, and wooly. MOTORMAN is the more dreamlike of the two, THE AGE OF SINATRA more concrete, yet also more richly imagined, more stuffed with grace notes of the bizarre, in the end more amazing.

    I highly recommend both books to anyone with an interest in fiction that takes advantage of the power of imaginative invention to CREATE new mental spaces rather than to merely reiterate the prosaic.

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