Showing posts from March, 2023

Negative Waves

I haven't seen the movie Kelly's Heroes in ages, but what I most remember from it is something that became a running joke between my father and myself when I was a kid: Donald Sutherland's hippie-dippie character complaining about "negative waves". If something got too tense or critical, my father would deflect with a pretty good impression of Sutherland, saying something like, "Whoooooa, watch it with the negative waves, man!" Whenever I hear people complaining about reviewers (of books, movies, art, food, whatever) who are too negative, I can't help but hear Donald Sutherland's voice in my head. Negative waves, dude. Negative waves. When I first started writing reviews, the question of negativity was unavoidable. After all, right around the time I started reviewing, the world of litchat was obsessed with the question of "snark". The Believer was founded to combat those negative waves. Dale Peck's eviscerative style got every pu

From AWP

  I spent the last week in Seattle, Washington at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference , a conference I have been going to off and on for more than fifteen years now. AWP has provided some great memories for me. I first attended when the conference was in Austin, Texas. I had been invited onto a panel with Jeff VanderMeer, Kelly Link, Laird Hunt, and Brian Evenson. (Wonder what became of any of them?) We also did a reading and had dinner with Michael Moorcock. Is it any wonder I remember virtually nothing else about that conference? Then there was the New York City conference where I worked in the Book Fair trying to sell or give away copies of Best American Fantasy and Weird Tales , which was a really exciting experience at the time because AWP was even more of a big-L Literature conference back then, and anything with "fantasy" in the title (never mind "Weird Tales"!) was quite a shock for some people. Then there was the Boston conference