A cold day with a terrifyingly blue sky. You know the sort I mean.

Yesterday, I wrote about 1,500 words on "The Peddler's Tale, or Isobel's Revenge." If I push, I may actually be able to finish it today. Which would be good. Then I'm supposed to try and expand "Daughter Dear Desmodus," written in September 2011, into a longer story. I'm not sure it's something I can do, but I've promised to try.

Last night, an enormous dinner of roast turkey (baked with apples, walnuts, mushrooms, and celery) and etc., plus pecan pie and far more sorts of sweets than are healthy. We had Dogfish Head's Midas Touch ale, brewed with barley, honey, Muscat grapes, and saffron. I only had about a third of a bottle, I think, having become such a lightweight as regards alcohol. But it was very good. After dinner, we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) and Horton Hears a Who (1970), followed by our annual and traditional and indispensable viewing of Badder Santa (2003). We didn't get to bed until almost four ayem, which was bad even for us.

Now, I have to try and wake up.

3,974,
Aunt Beast
Last night, I meant to make what would have been a somewhat simple entry. We woke yesterday morning to the news that Maurice Sendak had died, which hit both Spooky and me pretty hard. His beautiful, brilliant work was so important to both our childhoods. And, I don't know, I think some part of me fantasized I'd one day be able to tell him that in person. As with Edward Gorey and Doctor Seuss and so many others, this was not to be, and so it goes.



And, in the news of Sendak's death, we learned that he was gay, and that he'd been with his partner for fifty years. Sendak is quoted as having said, "All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew.” There were two videos I wanted to post last night, so I'll post them now, in memoriam:




Karen O and the Kids



The Dresden Dolls


And, there's this marvelous comic strip by Art Spiegelman, recounting a conversation he had with Sendak on the subject of children and books (behind the cut):

I knew terrible things.Collapse )


And then, this morning, the news that North Carolina had passed Amendment 1.

And then...President Obama, finally, finally, gave voice to his conscience, and came out in favor – indisputably – of gay marriage. Sir, this is one reason I voted for you. And no, it's not political suicide*, and it's not too little too late. It's a bold move, and it's a step towards what we've been fighting for – and you get what you've been fighting for in bits and pieces, as it comes. Don't you dare fucking whine.

So, you see...it's been a complicated couple of days.

Bittersweet,
Aunt Beast

Postscript: Well, unless you concede that so is being a black man running for the US presidency.

"In Our Bedroom After The War"

I'm having a spectacularly shitty day, during which nothing much work-wise has been accomplished. Maybe I can at least make a LiveJournal entry. Maybe. We'll see.

1. An ARC for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart has now been added to our current (to pay back Spooky's Mom for the iMac loan) eBay auctions. These reached me day before yesterday. Now, note that there's a misprint on the spine of the ARC that makes this ARC even more special: my name was misspelled, and Subterranean Press decided to have the ARCs destroyed and reprinted, so they're not going out to reviewers. The reprinting will, instead. But I was very kindly given a few of the defective copies and permission to auction one, and I have no plans to auction the others anytime soon. Oh, also, the release date on the book has been moved forward to July 21, 2012. Which sucks, as I'd hoped they'd be out in time for Readercon 23, but it does mean that this ARC is your chance to read this collection a full five months before any one else, and get a collectible in the process. There are photos behind the cut:

Book! Well, Almost.Collapse )


2. If you cannot read Tolkien, the Tin Tin comic strips, or John Carter of Mars (or, by the same token, see the movies) without placing them in the context of the historical period during which the authors wrote them, it's just sort of sad. In fact, it's pretty much the same idiocy that led some folks to use Kickstarter to print "the Robot edition" of Huckleberry Finn*. And I say this as a lesbian trans woman who has endured and continues to endure harassment and abuse. It's even worse when these sorts of readers are unpredictably, inconsistently selective about what they deem politically acceptable and politically unacceptable, despite all the fiction in question being equally "offensive" to contemporary audiences. Literature has a history, and art does not cease to be artful because we, as a society, become more tolerant than authors and readers of the past. Imagine – hard and honestly – how an audience fifty or a hundred years from now will react to our art. I hold my tongue far too often on these issues, for fear of the consequences of speaking out, and I'm ashamed of that. It is the responsibility of current authors and readers to preserve all books, no matter how and to what degree we may now find their authors and/or the content of their work objectionable. It is even our responsibility to foster an appreciation of these works, if ever they were worthy of appreciation.

Imagine how books dear to you might easily offend others today.

For example: What about Stephen King's The Stand (1978), Now, I reread this book recently, and I don't even particularly like it (or King). Yet I will defend it. Within it's pages we find such reprehensible stereotypes as the "Magical African-American" (Mother Abigail), the "Magical Handicapped" (Nick Andros), and the "Magical Mentally Disabled" (Tom Cullen). There are other examples, but I think that proves my point as regards The Stand. No, we shouldn't follow King's example today, but we should understand the time and culture that produced the book, instead of rejecting it. In short, fuck revisionism, and fuck critics who read outside historical context.

3. If you live in the Providence/Boston area, don't forget that the "release party" for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir will occur Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Brown University Bookstore (244 Thayer Street). I will read and sign, and the book will be on sale at the bookstore.

4. Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss, and on this day in 1933, King Kong premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

5. I have the final version of Vince's illustration for "Here Is No Why," which will be appearing in Sirenia Digest #75 (along with a couple of vignettes that have only appeared previously in Frog Toes and Tentacles). Behind the cut is the initial sketch for the illustration. The platypus and dodo call this incentive for those who've not subscribed.

In the Crystal CityCollapse )


6. Not much to report on this end. Nasty weather. Trying to work. Eating as little as possible (with dramatic results in terms of weight loss). Spooky's sending out the postcard rewards for "The Tale of the Ravens" Kickstarter, and learning to use her fancy printer. I'm re-reading Ligotti's Grimscribe: His Lives and Works and (w/Spooky) The Fellowship of the Ring. I'm slowly making my way through the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, and just finished "An articulated pectoral girdle and forelimb of the abelisaurid theropod Majungasaurus crenatissimus from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar." We had a sort of pissy sort of snow on Wednesday. There are photos of said pissy snow, and Mithrien, my latest debt, behind the cut:

Providence and the Lack ThereofCollapse )


7. Recording of the Neil Gaiman Presents audiobook version of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir has begun, at Outland Studios in Midtown Manhattan. It's being read by Suzy Jackson, my choice, and from what I've heard, she's doing a fine job. I coached her a bit, which was interesting. I may make a one-day trip to NYC, maybe, later this month, to sit in on one of the sessions, and to have lunch with my agent.

Until Next Whenever,
Aunt Beast

* Contrary to what some people think, the "Robot Edition" of Huckleberry Finn was a response to an actual case, a decision by NewSouth Books (2011) to publish a revised edition of Twain's novel minus the "n-word." For example, see this article in the New York Times, and, especially, this one in The Washington Post, "Why a new edition of Huckleberry Finn is wrong to remove the N-word". A choice quote from the latter:

"This substitution creates a hollow at the book's center. It's like taking the sex and drug use out of Brave New World, or removing all 'phonies' from Catcher in the Rye because Heidi Montag might take issue. This is like turning Death of a Salesman into Story of a Salesman, or Crime and Punishment into Involuntary Manslaughter and Punishment. This is like removing the cannibalism from Heart of Darkness -- or all the darkness."

Amen, kittens.