Showing posts from March, 2009


In my recent Strange Horizons column about Jack Spicer and Philip K. Dick , I inadvertently credited the editing of My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer to Peter Gizzi only, when it was actually co-edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian . I'm not sure why I made the mistake, but it was entirely my goof. I've let the folks at SH know, and the column will be fixed eventually, but until it is, I wanted to note here at least that Mr. Killian deserves equal credit for creating this extraordinary book.

Jack Spicer and PKD

My latest Strange Horizons column has been posted: "Phil and Jack" , about the often-overlooked connections between Philip K. Dick and Jack Spicer. I wrote it a few months ago, but various factors out of just about anyone's control caused its publication to be delayed (it's surprisingly difficult to get long lines of poetry to wrap and indent in some types of HTML!). The column's a little bit scattershot, but that felt appropriate. And let me just say again that if you like poetry and haven't taken a look at My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer , you really owe it to yourself to do so. It's one of my favorite books of recent years.

Weird Music

When I was a kid, I listened to the "Dr. Demento Show" religiously. It played on the local radio station on Sunday nights. A couple of friends of mine would also listen, and the next morning at school we would compare notes about which songs made us laugh the most, which ones we thought were just stupid, etc. I often taped the shows so I could collect the funniest songs, and I spent hours copying the best songs from each week onto a single tape. Thus began a certain passion for weird music. Partly, my father is to blame -- he had been a DJ at a couple Massachusetts radio stations in the 1960s, and took home many of the 45's the station didn't want. Some of my earliest musical experiences were with these 45s, and there's some pretty bizarre stuff in there. Just like marijuana leads to heroin, those 45s led me to my current situation -- all sorts of stuff in my iTunes library that is utterly without redeeming social importance. I was going through some of my

Race and Culture and Writing and Stuff

Those of you who read science fiction blogs already know about the massive discussion of race, "cultural appropriation", etc. that's been going on. I've been watching from the sidelines for the past week or so -- work of various sorts kept me away from blog reading for some time, and I stumbled unwittingly on it all after there had already been thousands of posts and comments made, feelings hurt, bizarre and even reprehensible behavior displayed, and lots of battle lines drawn. For various reasons, I felt shellshocked reading it all, but every now and then would come upon a post that seemed really insightful and helpful, and I want to point to a few of those here. Not by design, but purely by where my interests seem to lead me, I write a lot about race and gender -- not out of any sense of authority, but rather its opposite. I am attracted to questions of identity because identity is such a compelling question for me: how do we create it, value it, judge it, displa

John Leonard, Remembered

In NYC recently, the Imperial City, they remembered John Leonard . Had there been any way to do it, I would have been there, even if I couldn't have gotten inside with all the literati; heck, I would've been happy just to stand in traffic for a bit and get the taxis honking in tribute. But no. I'll rely on reports. Such as this one from Charles Kaiser at CJR : Family members, former colleagues, important writers, and intimate friends gathered yesterday to praise the critic John Leonard for his “love of the life of the mind,” his “incomparably informed generosity,” his reluctance to “pan books or movies or TV shows or children, except when absolutely necessary”—and his unlikely dependence on just ten words: “tantrum, cathedral, linoleum, moxie, thug, dialectic, splendid, brood, libidinal, and qualm.” It's a nice piece, and best of all, peppered with Leonard's own words. Here's what he once said about Fran Lebowitz: To a base of Huck Finn, add some Lenny Bruc

Flying Round

Ed Champion has put together a round-table discussion of Eric Kraft's trilogy of novels collectively called Flying (and released in a nicely-designed omnibus paperback today). I am a participant, though because I've been finding the book a difficult one to embrace with much passion, I'm not participating as much as the people who are enthusiasts. It's a fun group, and lots of ideas are being thrown around, so I expect it's worth reading even if you're unfamiliar with Kraft's work. Participants include Ed, Sarah Weinman, Brian Francis Slattery, Kathleen Maher, Robert Birnbaum, and more to come in future installments. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Part five is here.

"Coetzee in the Promised Land" in The Quarterly Conversation

My essay "Coetzee in the Promised Land" has just been posted in the new issue of The Quarterly Conversation. The whole issue is worth checking out -- it's a particularly rich one, I think. Also notable: In a nice bit of Best American Fantasy syncronicity, Matt Bell writes about Brian Evenson's new novel Last Days . Brian had a story in the first volume of BAF , Matt has a story in the second volume , and the third volume will be published by Underland Press , which published Last Days . This adds evidence to my hypothesis that The Quarterly Conversation is at the center of the universe. Well, my universe at least... My own essay is a hybrid/collage of literary analysis, literary historiography, cultural meditation, occasional speculation, semi-educated guesses, and various random ideas that are thrown around with the hope that a few might stick to something. My original intention was to write an essay with a larger scope -- an investigation of South Afric