31 January 2008

AWP Bookfair

If you happen to live near Manhattan you probably already know this, but it's worth repeating: The bookfair at the AWP Convention will be open to the public on Saturday, February 2 from 8.30am to 5.30pm. It's an extraordinary group of publishers there, and many will be offering substantial discounts on their publications. (I'll be hanging out at the Prime Books table, hawking copies of Best American Fantasy and generally making a nuisance of myself.)

Tom Lehrer Video Archives

As far as I know, there is very little video footage of Tom Lehrer performing his marvelous songs, but on a whim, and desiring some whimsy, I popped his name into YouTube tonight and discovered some wonderful vintage footage from, I would guess, a television broadcast in the '60s (probably in Europe) as well as some footage of a 1997 performance at the 80th birthday celebration for the mathematician Irving Kaplansky (the entire video of which is available here).

A simple search for "Tom Lehrer" brings up a lot; if you're looking for some entry points, here are a few:

30 January 2008

February 10 Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon is a reading series in Chicago, Nairobi, and New York, and I am thrilled that I will be one of the readers on February 10 in Brooklyn. Thrilled not only because it's fun to read, but especially because the other readers are Tayari Jones, Frances Madeson, and Tony D'Souza. You might know Tony's name from his fine first novel, Whiteman, from his journalism, or from his story "The Man Who Married a Tree", which may win the prize for being the story in Best American Fantasy that most frequently won the hearts of even the most negative reviewers.

A good time will, I'm sure, be had by all!

28 January 2008

Quick Thoughts on Diverse Things

Amazingly, the world didn't pause while I paused blogging, and, in fact, lots of things happened. I also managed to see some movies and read some books (or parts of books). I may come back to some of these topics later, but here's a quick run-down...
  • Kenya: I have been trying to keep up with the news from Kenya, where violence has continued since the disputed election. Occasional Mumpsimus contributor Njihia Mbitiru let me know that he and his family in Nairobi are well, but he said there is plenty of chaos. The Kwani? Blog has been publishing a series of opinion pieces, all worth reading.

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy: A friend gave me his copy of this book, forcing me to read it at last. The arguments that were made by some people about whether it's science fiction, or whether McCarthy should have steeped himself in genre writing before setting out to create his own book, or whatever -- all these arguments felt irrelevant to me as I read the book. Perhaps even more than irrelevant: they seem to me to completely miss the point. (But what's the point? Maybe points...) The book's ancestry is closer to Faulkner and Beckett than The Long Tomorrow or A Canticle for Liebowitz. The only thing that disappointed me about the book was its deus ex machina ending, which is what, I expect, made it catch Oprah's eye, but which seemed to me to be an easy way out of the circumstances McCarthy had set up. That, though, is subject I don't have time to really develop here...

  • The Oscars: I was disappointed I'm Not There didn't get more nominations, but on the other hand, I'm glad, because if the Academy had shown similar taste to my own, I'd be terrified that I was becoming much too predictable in my affections. (Except now I'm terrified I'm becoming much too predictable in my affections by liking movies such as I'm Not There...)

  • Lars and the Real Girl: I saw this movie with a couple of friends. We all thought it was amusing, but also agreed it would have had more substance if it had been more willing to delve into the darker areas of its story. It could easily get a G rating, despite the presence of a sex doll. It's a Hallmark Hall of Fame story about generosity, love, community, and tolerance ... and it happens to have a central character who thinks his anatomically-correct toy is a real person.

  • I loved Alan DeNiro's thoughtful review of The New Space Opera, because it expressed eloquently and insightfully exactly my feelings about so many things, particularly the often-missed possibilities of contemporary science fiction.

27 January 2008


It's probably going to take me a couple weeks to get back up to some sort of speed, but I am more or less ready now to get back in the saddle of the blogmonster. The reasons for my absence are many, but the primary one is that my father died suddenly on December 21. What I'm comfortable saying about it publicly, I did in my latest Strange Horizons column -- I wasn't entirely sure it was the right venue to write about something so personal, but I also wasn't able to write about anything else at the time the column was due.

I still feel very out of sorts, and am behind in absolutely everything, especially email. I haven't checked my mumpsimus at gmail account since putting everything on hold here, and I expect there are thousands of messages to sort through. Please bear with me.

I'll be at the last days of the AWP Conference in Manhattan at the end of the week, mostly at the Prime/Wildside/Best American Fantasy table (where there will be an author signing at 2.30pm on Friday, I believe). I'll do my best to collect lots of salacious gossip and, as always, will share the obviously untrue bits with you.