Thursday, September 07, 2006


Ambergris in Europe

(A "rough draft" of a video I'm working on that will eventually include readings from Shriek, etc. Robert Devereux contributed the music. The edits are a bit rough, but it'll give you an idea of the stuff we saw in Europe and also fits nicely with the Building Blog interview mentioned below. The direct link is here.)

Bookslut and The Building Blog have both done interviews with me. Both are unique in that the questions asked were 90% new, which was refreshing. When you throw in an interview next week in which I'm going to be asked about the economics of fantasy, I think that'll be it for me. Stick a fork in me interview-wise. I'm done. (50 interviews, including the Europe ones, in less than a year--that's enough.)

The Bookslut one focuses on the inner workings of Shriek while the Building Blog one focuses on my relationship to architecture, to ideas about space, etc.


The On an Other Life blog has been posting thoughts on Shriek every few chapters read. It's pretty interesting stuff, but does contain a few spoilers (for those who worry). His final post contains some interesting analysis, although I still think this is primarily a family chronicle with other stuff layered in.


Also, Jay Tomio has posted all but his top 10 all-time fantasy books and, if I didn't mention it before, the first issue of his new magazine Heliotrope features an essay I wrote on the novella that was first presented at the 2004 AWP Conference.


And the Believer has a great interview with the writer Padget Powell, which includes this wonderful exchange:

BLVR: You’ve been employed at the University of Florida for twenty-plus years. In that time, have you developed any sound philosophy on the teaching of writing?

PP: In the beginning one admits he knows not what he is doing and is possibly effective. In the end one gets tired, begins to believe he knows what he is doing, and is not possibly effective. My regular approach these days is usage instruction followed by begging for coherence. If we get past those hurdles, we might look at what I call The Rules, and at Miss O’Connor’s dictum (in a letter to Hawkes): “The higher the fantasy of action, the more precise the writing, and that is the way it ought to be.”

BLVR: The Rules? I’m intrigued…

PP: Rule 1 is The Gosling Rule. The story concerns the first thing the reader sees move. Rule 2 is that the problem, or the apparent and necessarily related problem, must appear soon, in the first paragraph if not the first sentence. Rule 3 is a complex function [wh = f(c1,c2,c3... + e + t)] involving withholding. Rule 4 is the bar test: everything must be said more or less as if you might say it to a stranger in a bar. Rule 5 is the doozie quotient. Rule 7 is the 3 Questions: Did it, could it, should it happen? Before any of these rules apply the writing must place itself unmurkily on the spectrum of credulity.


BLVR: So, are your usual outlets not receptive to your surreal work? Would you say a story like “Manifesto” is exemplary of the direction you’ve swung?

PP: The larger commercial venues do not receive wacky mode. “Manifesto” is about halfway out on the surreal moonshot, I’d say. It’s a dialogue between two men who appear to be one man, for the convenience of smooth flux. That is one of the entertaining things about it, to me—a dialogue that is a monologue. I have thinner and weirder action than that, I’m afraid.

BLVR: What sort of publishing snags have you run into with this kind of work?

PP: Snags? Just, you know, “We pass, we pass, we pass…”

BLVR: I think it’s admirable that you refuse to lasso your creative potential for the simple sake of commercial viability. It seems you just let your writing fly and if that means nobody wants what comes of it, so be it.

PP: Nothing to admire. No sacrifice involved, but rather an enfeeblement that prevents any other kind of writing than that which one does. I used to ask Don why he did not write a blockbuster and cash in, to which he’d say, “Can’t.” I thought he meant can’t violate my pure vision, my self. He meant “can’t,” as hard as that is to believe, given his range (to wit, his satires). By the way, on the subject of his Southernness, folk should have a look at “The Sea of Hesitation.” Only a Southerner at heart knows that much about the Wawer off the top of his head, and can write “Proceed with your evil plan, sumbitch.”


In other news, Niall Harrison has amassed a huge body of evidence about the un-term slipstream. Very cool and worth checking out.


And you've probably seen this link at the Building Blog about Herzog and this Antarctica movie he's doing, but if you haven't, check it out. Ethereal! The cool musician Henry Kaiser was there with him, to do the soundtrack.


Finally, here's an article on Bookslut about the Ellison Hugo thing. It's an interesting article, but it does have the limitation of being fixed in time. Which is to say, it can't possibly sum up the continued evolution or devolution of the discussion on the blogosphere, which is constantly shifting and seems more subtle than the summations of people's positions given by the writer of the article. That's not her fault. It's just not possible to keep up, which I find interesting.

I'm off for the weekend. Have a good one.


PS Tero at Partial Recall has the words to all the Finncon filk songs on the work of the guests of honor.


At 11:47 AM, Blogger Horia Nicola Ursu said...

Nice work, man (and woman)! Loved the music too. Want mooooooore!

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Dammit, I was going to ask you to do an interview as if you were a mad 18th century Hanoverian monarch explaining how your fantasy novels were actually real histories and the world the readers knew was the fantasy. Naturally I would have been disguised as a talking tree while you were dressed as King George. Oh well, maybe next year...

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous spiceee said...

I've seen the movie, it made the circuit of international movie festivals last year. It's pretty good!

At 4:31 PM, Blogger skinnyblackcladdink said...

hey thanks for the link and the comments. guess i was trying too hard LOL.

but really, i did purposefully stay away from the 'more obvious' interpretation (i.e., as you say, that it's a 'family chronicle') to try to bring out as much of the subtler flavors and scents that i could detect wafting on the Ambergrisian air as i could.

i hope you don't feel i've somehow done a disservice to your book by doing so.

re: cleverness, well, i figure unintentional cleverness is still cleverness, and is usually the cleverest kind of 'em all.

thanks again, and can't wait for whatever you come up with next.

-the pretentious Other Life guy

At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh heck no! i really enjoyed it, Other Life.


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