August 4th, 2008

Western Interior Seaway

"Yes, and of the sinners, too."

Erm....yeah, so....I'm not even pretending to be awake. I got to bed sometime after five ayem. Do I have a good excuse, I mean besides the tooth ache. No. Except that I discovered that Vampire: The Masquerade is loads more fun when played in Second Life than with pencil and paper on a tabletop. A new Nareth splinter came into being —— this time a wealthy, young Vietnamese woman dying of an incurable disease. She'd been an assassin, and had learned much of the art of torture, before the illness. She used the last of her fortune to find the Sabbat. Accompanied by her bodyguards (thanks Pontifex and Misi), she entered the city, and contact was made, thanks to a nervous little man, some sort of private investigator. Much time was spent sitting in the painfully over-lit lobby of the Lincoln Hotel, vomiting onto the powder-blue carpet between her feet because the morphine she'd just injected was making her sick. She speaks in French about half the time. She told the bodyguards that their final checks were in their rooms and dismissed them, then sat and waited for the Ravnos woman she been promised would find her. Every moment the dying assassin waited was agony. But the vampire came, finally, the woman named Mara, and the assassin was led to the back room of a seedy little nightclub, where she was questioned, then allowed her first taste, and promised the embrace. She was given a slip of paper with an address, and ordered not to return to her hotel room. Then her typist went the hell to bed.

That's why I'm not awake. What noisy cats are we.

After the minute brouhaha which led to my entry on Saturday, I just keep thinks (as Ceiling Cat would say), "But aren't authors supposed to be critics?" No, not book reviewers. Critics. Isn't that one of the things authors are supposed to do, comment on the work of other authors? Hell, if anything, I think I've been neglectful of that duty. Aren't we supposed to try to keep one another honest by saying what we think about the State of Literature, including the State of Genre Literature? To quote the ever quotable Dorothy Parker, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." (quoted in The Algonquin Wits [1968] edited. by Robert E. Drennan). Is that not a duty that we have, as authors, not merely to make shows of empty, token support but when something's shit, to say so? And so when I see these followers of a hack like the wildly successful and admittedly deceased Robert Jordan, when I talk to people who can quote his The Wheel of Time chapter and verse, but who have never even read Tolkien, is it not my responsibility to get pissed off, and to say so? I think it is. Though, I should add, before hurling one of Jordan's books anywhere with great force, the reader should acquire a trebuchet, lest a shoulder be dislocated in the process.

Spooky did the Day in the Life (didl) thing a couple of days back. You can see the fruits of her labour, and quite a bit of Providence and Casa de Kiernan y Pollnac here.

Yesterday, in preparation for writing my introduction on Arthur Machen today, I read "The White People" (1904) again, my second favourite story by him. And re-read much of Wesley D. Sweetser's 1958 thesis on Machen (published in 1964), along with various other bits of criticism. I suppose that far fewer people these days read Machen than read Robert Jordan, or even Tolkien, but its their loss. "The White People" is sublime. And it has such an exquisite opening line —— "'Sorcery and sanctity,' said Ambrose, 'these are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life.'"

I was saddened this morning to learn of the death of illustrator Pauline Baynes (1922-2008). When I was a teenager, it was her wonderful map of Middle Earth that adorned my bedroom wall. When I first found Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and Smith of Wootton Major, she was the artist whose work accompanied the text.

Spooky has relisted several items on eBay, so please have a look. Also, if I fail to shill both A is for Alien and the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds, the platypus will be showing me those venomous spurs.

More coffee....