08 October 2010

Checking In

Egads, I knew October was going to be a slow month for blogging, but this is my first post since September 24...

What have I been up to, you ask?  (Well, no you don't.  But I'm going to pretend you do.  Allow me a few of my delusions, please!  I gave up on world peace and my imaginary friends, so can't I at least have this?!?)

What I've been up to is mostly just the ordinary stuff of life, which for me right now primarily means teaching at two different schools, one a university, the other a high school, in a schedule that's leading to a bit of brain discombobulation.  A lot of preparation for next term's classes, too, particularly the Gender & Science Fiction one at Plymouth State -- all the suggestions from folks were helpful, because even in the case of things I was already considering, it's helped me focus.  I still have a week till I have to turn in book orders, so I haven't settled on much yet, but I do know I'll be using The Left Hand of Darkness, and that's a direct result of all of the comments in its favor.

I got an email recommendation of Karen Traviss's novels (not her media tie-ins), and so I picked up a copy of City of Pearl, read it, and really enjoyed it.  I'm told some of the later books in the series are even better, so I look forward to reading them, though for some reason the second book, Crossing the Line, is out of print in the U.S.  Why this is, I don't know -- the others all seem to be in print.  Weird...  For the class, if I use one of Traviss's books, it will be City of Pearl, and not only because I don't have time to read any of the others between now and when book orders are due, but because it looks like the series is the sort that really needs to be read in order.

Among the many other books I'm reading at the moment is the great Gabriel Josipovici's Whatever Happened to Modernism?, which I'm reviewing for Rain Taxi (it will be one of those reviews that's really more about an encounter with a book than any sort of critique of it -- I would be a fool to pretend I am qualified to argue with someone as well-read as Josipovici).  The response to the book in the UK has been strange, sometimes vitriolic, and often inaccurate in how it represents what Josipovici is up to, as Stephen Mitchelmore quite brilliantly shows in a recent blog post that is one of the best pieces of writing about a text that I've seen in a while.  I don't expect my own piece on the book to be either as analytical or as simpatico with Whatever Happened to Modernism?, not because I expect to disagree with the overall argument (many of the writers I most revere are modernists; I seldom write about them because I've rarely found a form in which doing so feels like anything more than pathetic groping; very little current fiction truly and deeply affects me in the way so many works by Kafka, Beckett, Woolf, and others do), but because I think I usually read for different purposes and with different expectations from Josipovici.  After all, half the time I'm reading popular fiction of some sort or another.  So we'll see...

In other topics, I made some of my students read Gary Lutz's amazing essay "The Sentence is a Lonely Place".  I don't think many of the students finished it or even got much beyond the first few paragraphs, but I keep bringing it up in class and reading little sections to them, which will probably lead to lots of course evaluations that say things along the lines of, "The instructor is insane, repetitive, and way too obsessed with sentences," but so it goes.  It's a writing class, and couldn't a writer be defined as somebody who's way too obsessed with sentences?

I expect things to continue to be pretty slow around here until about the middle of November.  Or not; it's hard to predict.

Meanwhile, because of limited time, I've been doing more with Twitter than anything else, though even there I'm not prolific.

And I probably owe you an email.

6 comments:

  1. Hallo Matthew, great to read you again.

    Regarding the Josipovici book, I found this review by an Australian reviewer I'm rather fond of, quite interesting. (Now that's a badly written sentence if I ever saw one!)
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/rummaging-in-the-writers-toolbox/story-e6frg6zo-1225930625157
    something else to throw in the mix, anyhow.
    And I will follow you in the birdy thing. See you there!

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  2. Any new short stories? I always enjoay - and appreciate - yours.

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  3. Thanks Genevieve -- it's an interesting review in that I have some sympathy for the reviewer's position, but am not, at least so far in my reading, finding Josipovici to cause the same sort of frustration, perhaps because I've read a lot of his nonfiction and so am quite used to his way of writing; if I were coming to the book blind, it might be different.

    Thanks for asking about stories, Lee. I haven't actually written any new ones in about a year, since I've had a bunch of other projects going, but there's one that's still out there waiting to be published in an anthology that seems to be on hiatus, and I expect to work on some more this winter. I miss writing stories, but have kept busy working on small films, etc., which have eaten up a lot of my discretionary writing time (as opposed to time for things like various columns, etc.) But it did just strike me that I haven't published a new story in about a year, and that seems weird...

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  4. Hi Matthew - is your review for >Rain Taxi going to appear online, or only in their print edition?

    (Also, fyi: it's "What Ever" not "Whatever"....)

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  5. Don't know yet whether the review will appear online or in the print edition of RT -- they don't tend to decide that until after I've turned it in, and sometimes hold out for a while on making the decision, since putting together the print edition is such a puzzle. I've got a review that's been in with them for a few weeks now, and I think they're still waiting to see whether it will go print or online. Occasionally, I request a specific format -- I wanted my interview with the editors of The Secret History of Science Fiction to be online because there had been a lot of talk about the book online that it addressed. But mostly I just let them decide where it will fit best, so we'll see.

    Ha, I was typing so quickly I turned Josipovici's title into a sort of postmodernist shrug! I thought about editing the post to change it, but I like the weirdness, so I think I'll leave the error, especially since it's now noted here.

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  6. Book Depository did that before you, though - it's on the cover, but not on their entry.
    Thanks for the assessment of that review! I will look for more of his work myself.

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