September 27th, 2005


a darker shade of white

Not awake. Not even close. But I'm sitting up straight (well, a little slumped over, actually), and I'm typing, and I guess that's good enough. It'll have to do.

No work on Daughter of Hounds yesterday, even though I worked all day. One of the Other Things, instead. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I can say more.

While I'm almost always grateful for positive reviews, in an ideal world — an ideal world of my devising — books would not be reviewed. Indeed, they'd likely not even be read. They'd be written, and they'd exist as reflections of the imagination of each author, untainted by the alien perceptions of other minds. Of course, as a prisoner of this far-from-ideal world, I realize that reviewers have become a critical component in the bizarre tripartite symbiosis between Writer, Publisher, and Reader. But I reserve the right to grouse. Sometimes, it's one of those few things that keeps me from locking up. If reviewers may comment, I may comment on the comments of the reviewers, especially if they seem particularly wrongheaded. The books are mine and mine alone, and I reserve that right. Maybe I should start writing it into my contracts. Warning: May be rude to well-meaning reviewers. Ugh. "Well-meaning" is surely one of the most evil phrases in the English language. Yeah, well, what the frell is she going on about this time?

Yesterday, Bill Schafer e-mailed to say there was a new review of To Charles Fort, With Love at Green Man Review. So, I stopped what I was doing and read the rather lengthy review, and, afterwards, I wanted to bash my head against something hard and spikey. No, it wasn't a negative review. Like all but one so far, it's actually a positive review. It's not like like that post-literate hogwash that showed up on the "Agony Column" a while back. But it's still so wrong, and not just once, but repeatedly know, what's the point in me going on about this? I'm only going to piss people off. I'm only going to alienate. But...I rankle at the following bit: One idiosyncrasy that I am glad to see her outgrow is the use of portmanteau adjectives: "silverblack," "jaggedrough," "yellowbrown," etc. This technique can be used to good effect, but only if done extremely sparingly. Overuse is irritating to the reader and, to me, indicates a dangerous tilt toward laziness of language. It is far easier to make up an adjective in this way than to search out just the right word or phrase.

And I mean, really, snitty remarks like that, remarks that assume knowledge of the author's actions and intent that are entirely beyond the ability of the reviewer to know ("laziness") have no place in a review and make me want to sit down and write a fifteen-thousand word story that's all one long goddamn word. It makes me want to write it just for this one person, who was obviously so scarred by a freshman encounter with Light in August that he still hasn't recovered. You want to talk about laziness? The reviewer could not even be bothered to read the book closely enough to notice that the events described in the preface took place in Massachusetts, not in Maine. And, elsewhere in the review, there's this snarky observation: "Not even Caitlin R. Kiernan can be perfect all the time, I guess." Duh. You think?

Like I said, ugh. I don't have time for this foolishness. I have the reviews from Locus and Publishers Weekly and Bookslut and anytime a book gets me three reviews that don't make my skin crawl, I figure I'm doing okay.

I just want to go back to bed, please.

My thanks to David Kirkpatrick, for sending me the fossils that he and his daughter collected. They were a nice surprise yesterday, a handful of water-worn Paleozoic-aged solitary ("horn") corals. I may set one at the heart of the next Monster Doodle Sculpture, as per David's suggestion.

Okay. I gotta go wallow in the frustration for the next five or six hours. You kids play nice.
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    Joseph Arthur, "A Smile That Explodes"