Showing posts from June, 2023

A Question of Influence

In recent publicity events for The Last Vanishing Man , I have struggled with the question of influence. It keeps coming up because people seem to perceive the stories in the book as having different structures and styles from what they are used to — not bad, just different. "Where did this come from?" is a natural question following any such response. My answers have all be unsatisfying to me. Not inaccurate, because I always try to speak truthfully, but there is something deeply unsatisfying in saying, for instance, that "After the End of the End of the World" came into focus for me as I was reading the stories of Clarice Lispector and Gerald Murnane . This answer is unsatisfying because it provides hardly any useful information. If you like my story, there's no guarantee you'll like Lispector's or Murnane's stories (or vice versa); nor is it likely that if you read those writers that you will write anything like my story (because you're not

The Eye of the Heron by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Eye of the Heron (1978) often gets lost in discussions of Ursula K. Le Guin's novels, for though it is a planetary science fiction story, it is not part of the Hainish cycle, thus unconnected to her most famous SF. The novel's separation from Le Guin's various series lends a sense that it is a minor work, but it is only so in the best sense: a variation on ideas treated more grandly elsewhere, a delving into a particular niche, a meditation on a single facet of an epic. As such, The Eye of the Heron is a triumph. (Note: The Library of America just announced their Spring 2024 releases, and Eye of the Heron will be included in their seventh Le Guin collection, this one devoted to the "stand-alone novels": The Lathe of Heaven, The Eye of the Heron, The Beginning Place, Searoad, and her final novel, Lavinia .) Le Guin has spoken of Eye of the Heron as a transitional work — the book in which she embraced writing a female protagonist instead of writing male

An Ebook Appears, with Pride

  I'm thrilled that the ebook edition of The Last Vanishing Man is now available from the major ebook vendors: Amazon , Barnes & Noble , Kobo , and probably some others I don't know about. For the announcement image we're using on social media, we added a rainbow in honor of Pride Month, one of the only times we're violating the austere palette of the book's design. But Pride's important right now, during a time of escaling attacks on LGBTQIA+ people and culture. The Last Vanishing Man is a queer book in just about every way — indeed, if any general genre accounts for it all, that genre is the Queer Weird (Queird?). In the latest issue of Locus , Ian Mond offers a generous review of the collection and of my work generally. He notes that the book "depicts the melancholy of older gay men who were never able to fully express their affections" and "the loneliness and isolation of younger gay men in a post-AIDS world". Not easy stuff, of co

B-Sides and Rarities for a Playlist for a Book

David Gutowski's Largehearted Boy website is a longlasting (longplaying) wonder of literature and music. I have been lucky to be able to create a playlist of music to accompany both my first book, Blood: Stories , and my new collection, The Last Vanishing Man . In both cases, I spent an inordinate amount of time creating versions of the playlists, listening to them, fiddling with them, adjusting and revising, shaping, tuning...  (Largehearted Boy uses Spotify for playlists, but I also created an Apple Music playlist, which is what I use myself. If that's your thing, here's a link to it .) I'm a relic of the mixtape generation, and I realized in putting together my first book that one of the attractions of story collections for me is that they function like literary mixtapes. This is based on something of a fantasy of control, however. Collections are actually more like CDs and streaming playlists, because you can easily skip around in a collection in a way you can'