SAMUEL DELANY'S ABOUT WRITING
Samuel R. Delany's About Writing: 7 Essays, 4 Letters, and 5 Interviews, out soon from Wesleyan University Press, is just brilliant. It features a few reprints from books like The Jewel Hinged Jaw, but mostly collects previously uncollected nonfiction about writing. The letters, which I thought would be slight turn out to be one of the best things about the book--insightful, focused, and consistently fascinating. The interviews are sometimes a little long, a little too detail oriented, but still wonderful to read. And the essays are, of course, magnificent. I love that when Delany talks about even the most basic details of writing, it resonates with me in a way that makes me see certain technique and approaches in a totally new light. On top of all that, it's a well-edited and thought-out book, and I'll be blogging about it in depth later in the year.
(Evil Monkey: "What about those other two books you were going to blog about?" Jeff: "Which two?" Evil Monkey: "Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More by Kate Wilhelm, about Clarion and, well, writing. And then there's that Tiptree Award anthology from Tachyon Press." Jeff: "Hmm. Yes. I have both of those." Evil Monkey: "Well. Should I read them? Are they good?" Jeff: "Define good." Evil Monkey: "Not bad." Jeff: "Then they're not bad...hey, what the fuck?!? Let go of me." Evil Monkey: "I'm going to keep you in this headlock until you say something meaningful about those two books." Jeff: "I don't want to say anything about either book. Let me the hell go!" Evil Monkey: "Not until you spill your guts...I've got all day." Jeff: "Stupid bastard." Evil Monkey: "I'm waiting..." Jeff: "All right, all right! Geez. I can't breathe. Let me up and I'll talk." Evil Monkey: "Okay...now talk." Jeff: "You're a bastard, you know? You really are." Evil Monkey: "Stay on topic." Jeff: "Right. Here goes. The Wilhelm is a mess. Some interesting anecdotes, some boring ones. A real hodgepodge. A rare misstep from a publisher I usually love. And nothing like the wisdom Wilhelm imparts in person at Clarion. So, it's not bad, but it's underwhelming." Evil Monkey: "And the Tiptree?" Jeff: "Look, we should all support the Tiptree, dammit. Can't we just end this discussion now?" Evil Monkey: Need another demonstration of how I can kick your ass?" Jeff: "Fine. The Tiptree anthology looks like it was edited by Jackson Pollock flinging paint across a canvas. The introductions to stories are amateurish and inconsistent. The story selection is arbitrary and seems as likely to have been done by throwing darts at a dart board as anything else. There are good stories in the collection, but from the perspective of a well-edited book, it's a mess. Shoddy." Evil Monkey: "So...I shouldn't buy them?" Jeff: "No, actually, you should buy both of them, but you'll have to do your own editing. They're both for worthy causes." Evil Monkey: "See, now just how difficult was that?" Jeff: "Actually, to be honest, I feel a lot better now..." Evil Monkey: "Down to the pub for a beer?" Jeff: "Sure. And I think that headlock cleared up my stiff neck." Evil Monkey: "I'm always there for you, Jeff.")