June 23rd, 2006


Howard Hughes Gets Her Second Wind. (Part Two)

Er...yeah. So. Anyway. There's also a pretty good review of Alabaster out from Publisher's Weekly. I quote:


Caitlí­n R. Kiernan. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $25 (160p) ISBN 1-59606-060-3

Dancy Flammarion, an albino adolescent who speaks to angels and slays monsters in human guise in the backwoods of contemporary Georgia, is the heroine of the five interlocking stories that make up this eerie dark fantasy collection. Kiernan introduced Dancy as an enigmatic waif in her horror opus
Threshold (2001) and has since conceived an elaborate cosmology in which the fey girl is one of many human avatars fighting small skirmishes on Earth that have cataclysmic repercussions across planes of reality. In "Les Fleurs Empoisonnées," Dancy is taken captive by a matriarchy of necrophiles whose decaying mansion is a nexus point for perverse and grotesque phenomena. "Bainbridge" interweaves multiple story lines that cut across time and space to show the far-reaching ramifications of Dancy's efforts to exorcise an ancient evil infesting an abandoned church. Kiernan imbues the tales with disquieting gothic imagery and envelops them in rich, evocative prose that conveys cohesiveness beyond their fragmentary plots. (Sept.)

At least, I think that's a pretty good review.

Also, congratulations to Steve Jones and Kim Newman for receiving the Bram Stoker Award in the category of Best Nonfiction for Horror: Another 100 Best Books, for which I wrote an essay on Kathe Koja's novel Skin (1993).

And I neglected to mention that the ToC of Mondo Zombie has robbed me of my middle intitial. Will these indignities never end? I'd just start publishing everything under the name Nar'eth, except then the accent mark denoting the "glottal click" would inevitably get left out, which is surely just as bad.

And because I'm sure that everyone is wondering why the first half of this entry began with that particular Wordsworth quotation, Spooky and I watched Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass (1961) last night. Kazan is one of my very favourite directors, and Spooky had never seen the film before. I want to find out where the film was shot, the scenes at the water fall/waterworks, as it's a place I'd like to visit someday.

Now, I think that I shall go to bed. I've not been sleeping enough. Spooky says that I get the next two days off, as I've worked straight through most of the preceding seven, and now it's time for Gay Pride and her birthday and, yes, sleep.

an inordinate fondness for beetles

Here's something I wrote on this day in 2003 (from the Blogger, pre-LJ):

It is my job to write a book, not to concern myself with what people will think of that book. What they will think is neither relevant to the act of writing nor to the merit of the book. Public opinion cannot be a guide, ever. All it can tell me is that lots of people like X, which can mean anything and may mean nothing at all. John Grisham and Dean R. Koontz and Michael Crichton and Robert Jordan and James Patterson are not better writers than Thomas Ligotti or Kathe Koja or Ramsey Campbell or China Mieville, and the New York Times bestseller list and public opinion and market stats can all go fuck themselves. The world wants oatmeal. It is not my job to give the world oatmeal. It is my job not to be a hack. It is my job to try to make the world chew, lest its lazy jaw muscles atrophy and its collective mandible withers and all its teeth fall out. It is my job, as a writer, to give the world toffee and peanut brittle and tough steak and celery. I write peanut butter sandwiches, not oatmeal. And every time some dolt whines, "I'm confused" or "I don't understand" or "This doesn't make any sense," I should smile and know that I'm doing my job. Not because it is my job to be opaque, but because it is not my job to be transparent.

And I know when I am making sense, and whenever I allow the dolts to spin me round, blindfolded, until I've accepted the disorientation they spread like lice, I am to kick myself in the ass until I can find true north again.

This is not a pep talk. This is simply the truth that I forget, because publishing (more often than not, writing's moron pimp) seeks forever to confuse quality and quantity, accessibility and art. And now I am only remembering.

I do not spend much time here writing about the "craft" of writing, as I do not believe there is a "craft" of writing, sensu stricto. And that's not what this is. It's just something I came across earlier today and realized it was the sort something I needed to remind myself that I already know. And if anyone else out there needs to be reminded of it as well, then all the better. Three years is a long time in writer years. And it's also no time at all. Particles & waves. Tiddley-pom.

So much of yesterday was consumed by work on Sirenia Digest, and then the work of getting it e-mailed to all the subscribers, and then managing the mess that Yahoo made of the mailing...when it was finally all over, about three-thirty p.m., Spooky and I really weren't good for much else. We had tickets for the Serenity screening at LaFont Plaza and had planned to get dressed in our browncoat finery, because we really wanted to see the film on a big screen again. But after the digest, we were both too beat. At least the money went to a good cause, so I don't feel bad about having bought the tickets and not used them. I think more than anything else, I was not up for the company of so many people. My fanboy/fangirl/fanit tolerance was too low to risk such an excursion.

So we stayed at home. After dinner, we had a very nice twilight walk. There were clouds and a brief respite from the heat (which has returned today). We talked to cats and found this male stag beetle (Lucanus capreolus) on the sidewalk, ferociously brandishing his mandibles. He measured about 3.5-4 cm. Spooky took the photo:

Farther along, near the edge of Freedom Park, we passed a house, a house we like a lot. Three sets of wind chimes hang on the porch. Note: the air was very still. There was no wind. Spooky said she smelled paint, that someone had painted their house. I pointed to the house with the wind chimes and said I thought maybe the trim of that house's porch had been painted. And, while we were both looking at the porch, the largest of the three sets of wind chimes, and only the largest, moved and jangled rather dramatically. The other two sets were perfectly still. No one was on the porch, and, as I said, the air was quite still. A sudden gust surely would have moved the two smaller sets before the larger, but they made no sound at all and did not stir. We stood there a moment, staring at the porch, feeling that familiar strangeness, that feeling one gets from having had so many encounters with things which are, as Mr. Fort said, damned. Damned, and yet also entirely mundane. Wind chimes on a porch.

Back home, we watched Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events for the third or fourth time. It is a wonderful and brilliant film. This time, we watched all the deleted scenes and outtakes, as well. I wish to grow down to be Violet Baudelaire. A Nebari Violet Baudelaire.

I think I got to bed about two. I took an Ambien CR, which kept me asleep until about 9 a.m. Those things really ought to be good for more than seven hours. Though seven hours was plenty enough time for "nightmares" which, Tardis-like, unfolded over many months and months. They've faded away now. Increasingly, my dreams seem more like memories.

Okay. Gotta go. I have a birthday cake to bake. But here's the link to the eBay auctions. Please be so kind as to have a look. The Low Red Moon ARC set and the hardback of the subpress edition of Low Red Moon both end later today. Thanks.