February 7th, 2005


this , that, and the other

I'm very relieved that the weather's decided to let up for a while. I can pretend, even if it's only briefly, that spring has come to Atlanta, and the season for the Nebari greeting, Ena sn'ial, has passed for another year. Instead, I can whisper Di'hyidni vri ashmiel and hope for some premature end to this lousy, stinking winter.

The Subterranean Press hardback of Low Red Moon will ship tomorrow. I am both pleased and excited. If you'd like to order a copy, assuming any are left at the publisher, click the banner below.

Even with all the good things that critics have said about Murder of Angels and all the people who've said it's my best book to date, Low Red Moon remains my personal favorite. It's the book that pleases me most of all. There are some who would say that's what's most important (but, mostly, those are people who don't have to live off the income from their art). In Low Red Moon, many of my continuing characters have their finest, strongest, bravest moments (so far, at least) — Deacon, Chance, Sadie, even Alice Sprinkle. And I remain in an odd sort of fascinated love with Narcissa Snow, as I would admire any freak or any force of nature, even one so diverted. I'm gushing. I don't often gush about my own work. It's just the excitement at knowing I'll soon see the hardback completed.

Looking back over the comments to yesterday's entry and related comments in my phorum, I think I should clarify what I have in mind, should I choose to take on this "erotica" project. I'm not talking about full-length stories with in-depth characterization. I'm talking about one to two thousand word erotic vignettes. Scenes more than stories. I'd approach the pieces with the same devotion I show all my work. They would not be sloppily rendered things, but they would be short things, things primarily intended for sexual excitement, pretending to serve no higher literary goal. They would be pretty. They would be terrible. They would be bizarre and unexpected. They would be as close to poetic as such a thing can be rendered, but I don't want to mislead anyone who might think that I'm talking about short stories in the sense that I usually write short stories. Vignettes.

I have a reason for this. I've long held that there are certain day-to-day activities that either don't translate well to fiction or which have a tendancy to bring a story to a stop. Sex is one of those. Eating is another. (And yes, there are exceptional works that show this should not be an ironclad dictum, but rather a guideline.) I tend to deal with these things in my own work briefly, indirectly. I don't linger on them, because I know how they can distract or even remove the reader from the flow of a story. Now, of course, if the object of a work is a sexual act or a meal, this maxim may not apply. But it's why you'll not find an actual sex scene in any of my novels (excepting The Five of Cups, wherein I was still figuring these things out). It's not that I'm a prude and disapprove of reading about sex (though some have come to this conclusion), it's just that, as I've said, I find it too distracting and potentially disasterous to a story. But the book of erotica would not be about story. It would be about, in each instance, a scene in which a sexual act would occur. There would be the implication of story, leading both towards and away, to the past and future of the pieces. The reader would be free to imagine all the story she or he wished. But the purpose of these vignettes would be almost strictly pornographic, in the sense that Webster's means when it says, "3: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction (the — of violence)." Imagine the paintings of H. R. Giger or Dorian Cleavenger as text instead of illustration, and that's sort of what I want to attempt. There is always the implication, unstated, of narrative.

This will, possibly, change how some of you would have answered the poll. And yes, the book would most likely be illustrated.

I was thinking over all these things late yesterday afternoon, as I was trying to stop thinking about work or anything else. I'd reached that point where there was so much caffeine sizzling through in my system and so little sleep in my immediate past that I felt on the threshold of hallucination. I lay in a tub of steaming hot water, the sun through the blinds warming the room, filling it with golden light, seeming to make the olive walls glow softly. I would shut my eyes, hearing only the faucet drip, and briefly imagine myself in a tenanment building in New York, circa 1938, or a flat in Moscow, circa 1959. I kept trying to turn my brain off, but these thoughts were intent on playing themsleves out.

Spooky and I have begun discussing the photoshoot to get the author's photo for To Charles Fort, With Love. It's going to be the messiest thing of this sort we've done since we did the blood-bath photos for The Five of Cups. Details to follow.

Yesterday, Spooky rented Red Dead Revolver for the XBox. Last night, too exhausted from nine hours of work to do much of anything else, I gave it a try. And it's actually a pretty good game. I wasn't expecting it to be. The hokey dialogue and corny voice-acting are annoying as hell, but there's some decent humour and it's a very playable game. I keep wanting spaceships, though. Westerns are always better with spaceships.
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    Kristin Hersh, "Candyland"