May 1st, 2012


"When we couldn't sleep for all the heat, soft talk began to harden."

Happy Beltane.

1) You may now read "Random Thoughts Before a Fatal Crash" in the Spring 2012 Subterranean (at Subterranean Press, natch). There's a bit of interesting history to this piece. It first appeared in Sirenia Digest (#64, March 2011), and was intended, originally, as part of the "Back Pages" of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. But it came out too long, and turned out to be a longish, stand-alone short story (or "novelette") in its own right. Still, it went into "Back Pages," until Peter Straub rather emphatically objected and told me to remove it. Which I did, because he was right. Had I left it there, the weight of it would have unbalanced the novel. And if we do not listen to our mentors, why bother having them. Anyway, here it is. Albert Perrault fans rejoice.

2. As we continue the read-through on Blood Oranges, one thing is at the forefront of my mind. Actually, several things are. But, for now, I shall focus only upon this one. After reading the ms., my editor wrote, "As I was reading it felt like there were a lot of 'cunts'." That is, I used the word a lot, though it's true a lot of the characters are fairly characterized as cunts. Anyway, she also wrote, "I'm not offended – I'm mentioning it because I'm not bothered by the word but it still made me take notice. I will caution that it kind of lost some of its impact as I went along." She and I have both counted only seven uses in the novel. Seven words out of over 70,000. Do the math. It's a truly negligible percentage – .01%, to be precise.

Now, I am often amazed at the power of this word, and how our profanity-saturated culture continues to hold this word so taboo. At least here in the U.S. I am aware Brits, for example, are much less shy with cunt. I have been trying to think of even a single word for male genitalia that is met with such outrage. There isn't one. When I was writing for DC/Vertigo, this was the only word I was forbidden to use. Why? No idea. It's very useful. You cannot substitute, say, twat. That slur suggests a person is silly and incompetent, while cunt suggests a person is cruel, inconsiderate, and so forth. It is a valuable bit of slang, just like all those derisive terms for penis (or relating to penises): dickhead, dick, cock, tool, prick, nob, pecker head, wanker, ding-a-ling, et al. It's not entirely a feminist issue, as all other profane euphemisms for vagina (in American English, to my knowledge) are met with far less shock and indignation. It's as if cunt has become a magical word, almost an incantation. It remains powerful. Anyway, Siobhan Quinn, the novel's protagonist, would use it quite freely, so most usages of the word will remain. Say, five of those seven. I have no wish to divest a powerful word of its power. It's just a casual part of her vocabulary, and we ought not force a character to speak this way or that simply to avoid offending, well, anyone. Art is a hammer.

3. If you haven't already, please preorder a copy of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, my next short-story collection. It will be released either late this Spring or on July 31st. I'm unclear on that point. But it is important this book sells well.

4. Oh my dog, but I have become addicted to Pinterest. It is the perfect expression of the plentiful emptiness of the 21st Century. Countless images on the internet, and we make vast numbers of virtual scrapbooks. Another bit of time displacement. I find it addictive. I can't stop. Anyway, if you want to follow me, I'm simply Caitlín Kiernan, beta de tante. That link may or may not work.

5. Last night, we watched Friday's episode of Fringe, "Worlds Apart." I am not ashamed to admit the ending made me cry just a bit. "Keep looking up. After the rain. Keep looking up."

Okay, having soliloquized far too long on cunt, it's time to go forth and brush my teeth, then read the last two chapters of the book. I may even write that aforementioned "epilogue," a dash of "meta" that may, in fact, make the book.

Aunt Beast