Showing posts from March, 2011


Eric Schaller has been writing occasional SpecTech columns for the Clarion blog for a while now, and his most recent is about "mutations that involve homeotic genes and the monstrous results that can arise" . And the results are, indeed, monstrous! Meanwhile, occasional Schaller collaborator Jeff VanderMeer has released a new book called Monstrous Creatures , full of monstrosities you really don't want to live without. It's been getting monstrously great reviews  (including one from Charles Tan that, rather embarrassingly for me when linking to it, starts with my name). I have, through much effort, managed to secure an interview with VanderMeer about his new book. It was cut a little short, so I can't publish it anywhere other than here, but purely for archiving, here it is:

Written Words on Wordless Ward

I remember when I spoke with Lynd Ward’s two daughters that both Nanda and Robin told me that they constantly asked their father what his wordless books meant and Lynd always replied with the same answer: "It means exactly what you think it means." And that is really the attraction of these books -- we bring so much of our own personal experiences to reading pictures because the language of pictures has, what I like to call, a "private declension" that only each of us can understand -- a secret smirk or a haunting remembrance from our private association to an image. --David A. Beronä The release of The Library of America's gorgeous two-volume collection of Lynd Ward's wordless novels has led to some fascinating and thoughtful reviews. I just noticed that Scott Esposito did a quick roundup , and so I thought I'd add to what he'd collected, since I find Ward's work endlessly fascinating. William T. Vollmann, Bookforum: What makes a Ward pict

Of Lexias and Leiber

My latest Strange Horizons column has been posted, this time a celebration of Fritz Leiber's centennary . I mentioned last week that I needed to come up with a title for my Strange Horizons columns. Through much of last week I was fighting off the worst illness I've had in years, so perhaps the title is simply the product of fever, but nonetheless, now in a less fevered state, I like it: Lexias . It keeps to the pattern of the other columnists (Scores, Diffractions, Intertitles, etc.) in being a single, plural word. And it seems mostly accurate to my project, if you think of the word as Roland Barthes used it in S/Z : "a series of brief, contiguous fragments ... units of reading" (Richard Miller's translation). (For more on Barthes, by the way, this is an interesting site .) But for my purposes, "lexias" is fun, too, because it is the term Samuel R. Delany picked up (from Barthes) for  The American Shore , which can be described as a book-length

New Columnists at Strange Horizons

I've been writing columns for S trange Horizons for some time now, chronicling whatever happened to be obsessing me at the moment when the column was due, for better or ill. It's a good challenge. Various other columnists have come and gone during that time, with Karen Healey and John Clute being the most recent regulars, offering diverse and fascinating stuff. Now, two more folks have joined the roster, and they're both people I've at least been acquainted with for a while, people who I have great fondness and respect for: Vandana Singh and Genevieve Valentine. Vandana's first column appeared last week, Genevieve's this week . Great, great stuff. We've also been asked to provide names for our columns in addition to the individual column titles. Clute's got Scores, Vandana is Diffractions, and Genevieve is Intertitles. I envy them all. (Being in such hallowed company, I'm tempted to call mine Excrement, but I'll probably come up with som

Narrative, Politics, and Sexual Violence

A post by Timmi Duchamp first brought to my attention a now-infamous article in the New York Times , "Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town" , which reports on a gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl by 18 men of varying ages -- from early teens to 27. Timmi described the article as being chiefly concerned with the rapists rather than their victim, and I must admit that at first, being in a particularly optimistic and naive mood or something, I thought, "No, there's got to be some mistake -- the Times  wouldn't let something like that through, would they?" They would. They did. It's a nauseating article. Timmi nails it, and so do Mary Elizabeth Williams in a Salon piece, "New York Times's Sloppy, Slanted Child Rape Story" , and Mac McClelland at Mother Jones with "The New York Times' Rape-Friendly Reporting" . Perhaps the most vivid proof that James C. McKinley, Jr's reporting for the Times  for this story is rotten come

Writing Tools

photo by Eric Schaller I'm teaching a course called "Writing and the Creative Process" right now, and one of the things I would like to offer the students is a list of tools I've found actually helpful when writing -- computer programs and reference books, mostly. I thought it might be fun to open up the conversation and get some recommendations from people other than me, since my own practice is peculiar to, well, me. So, a question for you, O Denizens of the Internets: What have been the most helpful tools for you when writing? (And "writing" doesn't just mean you're a professional novelist whose last few books were sold to Hollywood. We all write things in our lives, whether business letters or shopping lists of secret poems we never show anybody. Everybody is qualified to answer this question who wants to!) I'll put my own essential items below the fold...