Archive | June 2012

Ur Update

In case anyone’s curious about what’s been going on with the Vaults of Ur, Dennis has been doing a stellar job writing up play reports.

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Images. Millions of Images. That’s What I Need.

Like most people I have folders and folders full of pictures glommed from all over the Internet. Lately I’ve been making crude collages with them on power point. The above is for a short story about a junky ghost hunter and the codependent relationship he has with his assistants. I made it after the story was written, which is a bit different than using it to brainstorm.

That’s one for a story in process. It hasn’t come together yet like the first one, but that’s likely because the story’s not done. Evocation’s my goal, and there’s a tendency to be prejudiced towards the chosen images and using them to illustrate the story, as opposed to finding the pictures that evoke the story best.

A Few Things

I’m putting these here so I remember them.

John Coulthart has a great post on past attempts to produce covers for M. John Harrison’s Viriconium sequence. Am I fan of Harrison? Of course I’m a fan. Coulthart then has a follow-up post on what he’d like to see in new covers. Speaking of Viriconium, over at M. John Harrison’s blog there’s a new piece of fiction set in that city.

Another thing…

This essay by Ursula K. LeGuin over at Book View Cafe. I can’t agree with it enough. How about these quotes:

Literature is the extant body of written art. All novels belong to it.

The value judgment concealed in distinguishing one novel as literature and another as genre vanishes with the distinction.

Every readable novel can give true pleasure. Every novel read by choice is read because it gives true pleasure.

And finally, a poem by Meng Jiao (a Tang Dynasty poet):

Wanderer’s Song

The thread in the hand of a kind mother

Is the coat on the wanderer’s back.

Before he left she stitched it close

In secret fear that he would be slow to return.

Who will say that the inch of grass in his heart

Is gratitude enough for all the sunshine of spring?

Spectacles

“He had read endless books, he had digested them, pondered over them. Day by day, year after year, he had turned over all the problems of human beings. Yet there were all sorts of simple things he didn’t know how to do: he couldn’t even walk into an inn and sit down at a table.”

– Georges Simenon, The Strangers in the House

Finished this book this afternoon. I think Simenon’s terrific but he’s one of those authors I can’t read a lot of in one go. Great stuff and he’s writing on all cylinders here, but if I spend too long with his style it becomes so transparent it’s like seeing how the magician does his tricks.

Character-arc spoilers: The novel’s about a drunken recluse. At the end he’s still a drunk, but no longer a recluse. This is something of a happy ending.

One Book Five Covers: Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

Russell Hoban’s novel Riddley Walker is a bit like Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz mixed with Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Set in a post-apocalyptic England that resembles the Iron Age, Riddley’s written in this odd, “degraded” style of English that is difficult to parse at first but after a bit takes on a poetic power.

A quote:

“Where ben that new life coming in to? Widders Dump. You know what they ben doing there. It ain’t jus only forming they ben doing there with stock and growings they ben digging they croaking iron. They ben digging up that old time Bad Time black time. Now weare at the las weve come to No. 1 and Brooder Walker. Widders Dump and thats where Aunty come for him. Stoan boans and iron tits and teef be twean her legs. Brooder Walker dug her up and she come down on top of him o yes.”

Another conceit of the book is that puppet shows like Punch & Judy mixed with Medieval morality plays are used by the government to communicate official announcements. Riddley digs up an old Punch puppet and this sets him over the fence and wandering the outside world. Hence the appearance of Punch on two of the covers.

Those two covers at least give you some idea what to expect in the book. The second cover, full of quotes calling the book brilliant and what not, looks more like a back cover, and the third and fourth covers look like in-the-know covers, by which I mean that unless you’re in the know already those covers aren’t going to tell you anything about the book.

Regardless of the cover you find, it’s a great book and worth checking out.

(There’s also this whole theory about how the book inspired parts of Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome.)

Likenfreude

Likenfreude: When you recognize exactly which blog post/youtube clip someone’s opinions came from.

This is a working definition and liable to change.

“-Freude” means joy and this feeling isn’t really “joyful”.

Maybe it should be “linkenfreude”.