30 November 2012

Locus 20th & 21st Centuries Poll

Locus this month has been conducting a poll to find out the "best" science fiction and fantasy novels and short fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. Though I first suggested on Twitter that I would be filling it all in with Raymond Carver stories, I gave in today at the last minute and instead filled in the poll with some choices other than Carver stories (though I was tempted to put "Why Don't You Dance?" on there, since it has a certain fantasy feel to it, at least to me).

I'll post my choices after the jump here.

23 November 2012

Learning to Read, Still

Joanna Scott on William Faulkner:
Writing that flirts with incoherence can just as readily flounder as writing characterized by simplicity and composure. There is no reliable formula for originality, and strategies that are distinguished as innovative in their first incarnation can quickly become stale in the hands of lesser artists. It’s all too easy to conflate dense prose or jumbled narrative structures with literary ambition. But in this age of trending and blogging, with paragraphs growing shorter and the spaces between them growing larger, it’s also easy to dismiss the kind of fiction that might not yield readily, docilely, to our first attempt to comprehend it. This is the worry that [C.E.] Morgan and [John Jeremiah] Sullivan express; they know how quickly readers—and writers—will turn away from fiction that dares to cast itself as difficult. Sullivan admits that he has done the same. And when, in The New York Times, a contemporary writer derides Ulysses as “a professor’s book,” he assumes that as readers, we have nothing new to learn.

If, however, we allow ourselves to think of reading as a capacity we keep cultivating, then we have reason to turn to books that have something to teach us about the medium they use to convey meaning. While it can be pleasurable to move speedily through a work of fiction, there’s a different sort of pleasure to be had in lingering, backtracking, rereading the same page. As children know, there’s lots of fun in nonsense. We never stop benefiting from staying flexible, open and responsive, even in the midst of confusion. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to keep learning how to read.
Scott's entire essay is lovely. Faulkner is my favorite American novelist, and his most difficult book, Absalom, Absalom!, is my favorite American novel — partly because when I first read it, I literally threw it across the room three times. But I kept going back. It's not a book I've ever written about or am likely to write about, because each time I read it it opens up new wonders and new perplexities, and I respond to it with awe and terror and humility, not analysis. To write about something that affects you in that way, to reduce it to words other than its own, feels obscene. All I can do is keep reading, and learning to read, the book itself.

03 November 2012

A Year of the Weird Fiction Review


The Weird Fiction Review website has existed for a year now. During that time, it has published work from around the world, including such wondrous things as a new translation of Bruno Schulz's "The Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hour Glass", Olympe Bhêly-Quénum's "The Night Watchman", and Finnish writer Leena Likitalo's first story in English, "Watcher". And tons of other things, including my own "Stories in the Key of Strange: A Collage of Encounters". The website has become a hugely valuable resource, and it just keeps getting better, more varied, more surprising, more impressive. If you haven't spent time with it, you're missing a treasure trove.

02 November 2012

Words to Live By

Usually the comment spam that comes in here is pretty boring. But this was too oddly lovely not to save:

01 November 2012

A Momentary Miscellany

I still don't have time to write a substantive post about much of anything, but there are a bunch of things I'd like to note before I forget them, so here's a rather fragmentary and scattered post about things mostly unrelated to each other...

I've been doing quite a bit of writing, but none of it is stuff that's currently for online venues. (For instance, I wrote an introduction to an upcoming art book from Hideaki Miyamura, about which I'm sure I will say much more later, once it's available.) Also, I sold a story to Steve Berman for an upcoming anthology of queer Poe stories, which is very exciting for me because I've hardly written any fiction in the last 2 years, and whenever I finally get around to writing a story, I always wonder, "Do I still remember how?" Apparently, yes. I'm also thrilled because I've had a chance to read a couple other stories that will be in the book and they're really excellent — honestly, even if you're indifferent to Poe and you think you only like your stories 100% hetero in their inclinations, you should get this book. (And not just because 100% hetero is so dull you should never talk about it in mixed company. But I'm not judging you. Actually, I am. Unless you read this book when it comes out next year...)

Speaking of coming out soon, we're almost ready to release a new issue of The Revelator. For a preview of what's to come, check out our Facebook page. It's even possible that we will manage to get two whole issues out within the next 12 months, doubling our current rate! A lot depends on our Copy Editor, but we've got faith.