Showing posts from August, 2006


In my occasional moments of spare time I've been reading and savoring Laird Hunt's new novel, The Exquisite , which is bizarre and complex and beautiful and an awful lot of fun so far (I'm 60 pages in). I keep noting interesting paragraphs to quote, so thought I would share one before too many more accumulate: O.K., I said. I told them about a scenario I had often entertained as a kid, involving a Jules Verne-type submarine that would take me to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, where I would disembark, in a special suit, and enter a grotto then a tunnel down which I would spelunk for miles, overcoming, as I went, multiple traps and numerous multilimbed ferocious-toothed guards, then pick or force the lock on the small iron door behind which my father was supposed to be kept, only he wasn't there. This would mean I would have to find my father's captor, force him, through awful means, including chopping one of his legs off, to tell me where my father was. He wo


Snakes on a Plane meets critical theory. This is one of the funniest things I've read in a while, which may say more about me than it. I particularly loved that it had to be labelled as a parody. For list lovers: What to read. And an interview with the listmaker : "Strangeness is an antidote to the awful sameness of received ideas. Seeking it becomes, I think, a moral imperative." Emerald City #132 . An interview with Gwenda Bond . J.D. Daniels on Philip K. Dick and A Scanner Darkly : "There’s figurative garbage and there’s literal garbage -- there is grade-F beef from Taco Bell, and then there’s fecal matter or refuse: that to which one says No. When cows are forced to eat nothing but themselves, they contract a lethal prion disease called bovine spongiform encephalitis. What do you call a man who sees his own face everywhere?" (via Jenny Davidson ) An interview with Clare Dudman . Clare Dudman interviews L. Lee Lowe . Elizabeth Hand's makeovers for

"Yes, matter has grown old and weary..."

A paragraph of Nabokov will brighten any day. From Invitation to a Beheading : It was a bound magazine, published once upon a time, in a barely remembered age. The prison library, considered the second in the city for its size and the rarity of its volumes, kept several such curiosities. That was a remote world, where the simplest objects sparkled with youth and an inborn insolence, proceeding from the reverence that surrounded the labor devoted to their manufacture. Those were years of universal fluidity; well-oiled metals performed silent soundless acrobatics; the harmonious lines of men's suits were dictated by the unheard-of limberness of muscular bodies; the flowing glass of enormous windows curved around corners of buildings; a girl in a bathing suit flew like a swallow so high over a pool that it seemed no larger than a saucer; a high-jumper lay supine in the air, having already made such an extreme effort that, if it were not for the flaglike folds of his shorts, he wo


Lacking anything particularly interesting to post, I will fall back on that mainstay of blog content production, the meme -- this time with one that many people have been doing (and hey, if it's good enough for The Valve , it's good enough for me)... One book that changed your life: Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense , 3rd Edition , edited by Laurence Perrine . When I was ten or twelve years old, I asked a college professor I knew for his opinion of science fiction, and he said it wasn't literature. I then set out to find out what literature was, and another college professor gave me a copy of this book. After reading through it, I still didn't know what literature was or why science fiction wasn't it, but I had learned to look more closely at things I read than I ever had before. While now I find Perrine's approach sometimes simplistically traditional (the litcrit equivalent of trying to hammer a nail with a shotgun), nonetheless, it's still not a

Next Quarter at the LBC

Over at the LitBlog Co-op we have let it be known that we are nominating three books for the fall quarter, about which you will hear much, much more starting on October 16. I nominated one of the books this round, Manbug by George Ilsley (published by Arsenal Pulp ), and will say lots of things about it once the time is right. For now, I'll just say it's a novel full of entomology and sex, and the voice and oddity of the book so captured my attention that I read the whole thing in one sitting, then went back and reread the novel more carefully, to spend time with some of the sections I had skimmed. I'm very curious how the book hits other readers, because there are elements about it that will probably be pretty annoying to some people, which just means we might have some good discussion during Manbug week, whichever week that ends up being. The other nominees are fun as well, and so the fall is shaping up to be a quarter that's definitely worth reading along with.

One Story

I'm going to indulge in a moment of self-promotion to promote something much more interesting and worthy than me: the marvelous magazine One Story , which will be publishing a story of mine this fall (probably in October). There are lots of reasons to love One Story , even if you hate me. There is, for instance, the fact that they have published such fine writers as Kelly Link , Judy Budnitz , Alan DeNiro , Stephen Dixon , Binyavanga Wainana , Gregory Maguire , and many others . Their format is great fun -- living up to their title, they publish a single story in each issue, as a sort of chapbook. They're portable, convenient, not overwhelming, and sometimes even kind of cute. They have a blog . They tend to win awards . (Indeed, I first became aware of them when judging the Fountain Award , which this year they ended up winning.) At the AWP Conference in March, they had rubber duckies in an inflatable swimming pool, for no reason I could quite figure out except that rub

A Conversation After Miami Vice

My friend K. and I saw Miami Vice a couple days ago, and had somewhat different reactions. K: My head hurts. M: Oh? K: I was trying to put the pieces of the plot together. M: Oh. I didn't bother. K: And was the movie in English? M: Sometimes it was in Mumble. K: What was up with all that, "We've got the intel from the sec about the four mil kil drop." M: It was the fetishization of jargon to evoke a kind of hyper-verisimilitude. K: Ah. M: And make you trust in the filmmaker's knowledge of the milieu they're presenting. K: Right. M: And make you think that the reason the movie doesn't make any sense is because you just don't get it. K: Well, I just don't get it. M: I really liked it, though. I thought it was kind of like what might happen if Stan Brakhage had made an action movie. K: Meaning? M: It's all about the color, the light, the sound, the shape. The only way to access these particular colors, lights, sounds, and shapes was to utiliz

All the Kinds of Yes

Yesterday I brought Meghan McCarron and her brother Alex over to Dartmouth to meet Njihia Mbitiru and Eric Schaller, and the five of us stopped for a moment at the Dartmouth Bookstore , where some copies of Julie Phillips's amazing book James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon were sitting on the New Books table. I recently finished reading the book in preparation for interviewing Julie about it (more on that another time), and it blew me away, because it was even better than I'd dared hope, and I had hoped for a lot. Meghan and Alex and I had just been talking about the book, because I brought them to see the Orozco frescoes at the Dartmouth Library, which Alice Bradley saw as they were being completed when she was a senior in college, visiting a boyfriend who was a Dartmouth student. I grabbed a copy of the book and all but threw it at Eric, insisting he buy it, not just because it's brilliant, but also because his father is mentioned in passing on pa

Linking About

There may be no here here, but there are theres there: 10 Overlooked Odd Speculative Fiction Classics . An interview with Alice Munro . Ron Silliman on Philip K. Dick and Shakespeare . Charlie Stross [and a gazillion commenters] on Genre Neuroses 101 . Matt Peckham has returned to blogging , which means the blogosphere is now a more intelligent and thoughtful place. Big Blog of Cheese . Geoff Ryman likes Lydia Millet's Oh Pure and Radiant Heart . At Giornale Nuovo, a vacation inspires thoughts on, among other things, Robert Aickman . The Value of Quietude and the Need for Roots . Did Samuel Johnson take a break while working on his Dictionary ? John Joseph Adams talks with Paolo Bacigalupi and offers some outtakes . An interview with Chris Abani : "So I went back in the books to play with an ambiguous sexuality and to question the ways in which masculinity and its violence might be informed by this desperate fear of our sexuality and what happens if you start to tamper with t


Much has happened during my brief break from blogging, and I have lots of links to share, most of which I will save for another post, but for now I'm going to indulge myself in some self-promotion and rambling, because what would a blog be without self-promotion and rambling? Therefore, some links to things I've written elsewhere: the first of what may be a series of dissents at the LitBlog Co-op regarding the current Read This choice, Michael Martone by Michael Martone (a book made up of contributors notes about Michael Martone, a form we at the LBC are playing with for a while, to see just how much a dead horse can be beaten before it vaporizes), a new column at Strange Horizons , and at Locus Online "A Field Guide to Recent Short Story Collections" . The latter is a way I could have some fun noting various new books, some of which I've written about before, some of which I'm not comfortable doing a real review of because I know the writer too well or ha