November 8th, 2013

hallways

"But by the time the first bombs fell, we were already bored."

Spooky woke me at 11:30 this morning to tell me her laptop wouldn't start. So. This is how the day begins, after I have another night of insomnia. I fell asleep sometime after five. I couldn't write yesterday. I hope I can write today. Frankly, more than anything, I'm just stuck in terms of "what happens next," which is, in my opinion, the most unimportant part of my writing. I don't tell stories. I write. I have analogy to explain that distinction, but it needs some fine tuning before I unleash it on the world at large.

We went to the mall, and I bought a turtleneck at J.C. Penny's (Liz Clairborne, on sale for $20). As I said on Facebook yesterday, I once thought Southerners were short. Then I moved to Rhode Island (aka Munchkin Land). For me, this makes shopping for clothing almost impossible. As I also said on Facebook yesterday: "Look, people. Those clothes were fucking hideous in the '80s. And guess what. They're still fucking hideous. Ankle boots? Really?"

There was nothing much else to yesterday. My life is rarely an exciting or interesting place to be. This always surprises people. We played more GW2, and my Norn ranger, Saga Millasdóttir, reached Level 75. I finished the second chapter of Gary D. Schmidt's 1990 Robert McCloskey biography, which I borrowed from Spooky's mother. Spooky slept, and I watched Sydney Pollack's brilliant This Property Is Condemned (1966). The film is based on a one-act Tennessee Williams play, and is one of Francis Ford Coppola's earliest screenwriting credits. I hadn't seen the film since the eighties.

Anyway, Spooky has to be at the computer place at 1:45 (which is our 2:45, as we are once again on CaST). No idea how long she'll be without a machine.

Be sure to check out today's Google doodle. All I ever see in Rorschach blots are monsters and vaginas (and monsters with vaginas, and vaginas that are monsters; Giger would love me).

A couple of quick quotes from Gary Wolfe's Locus review of The Ape's Wife and Other Stories. It's a very long review. I love the opening:

A good deal of the appeal of Caitlín R. Kiernan's unique voice is the way she keeps getting picked for teams she didn't necessarily volunteer for. Early in her career, she was often proclaimed (over her own objections) as a horror writer, and then a bit later as an author of dark fantasy, and when that didn't quite work as key voice of "new weird" – which seems to be a sort of pick-up team that can play in anyone's court – or even as an occasional writer of science fiction. The fact is that she doesn't seem to think much in terms of genre at all in constructing her intricate and sometimes enigmatic fictions, though she alludes to genre often enough and doesn't hesitate to borrow its tropes when they serve her purpose.

~ and ~

The best, most complex, and most maddening tale in the collection, though, isn't really in the collection, and deserves a wider audience. The long novella "Black Helicopters," published as a separate chapbook only available with the $60 limited edition, begins with what appears to be the sort of espionage tale the title would imply, as a woman named Ptolema meets in Dublin with a couple of younger agents and presents them with a cryptic message that has begun suddenly appearing in radio transmissions, graffiti, and in fliers in New York and Boston: "Black Queen white. White Queen black." Soon, however, we realize that Ptolema herself has been around a very long time, and that the central mystery involves not only rival shadowy agencies, but quantum physics, bizarre psychological experiments, a sudden plague of monsters (one character calls them "shuggoths") in Deer Isle, ME, and global flooding. Over fifteen numbered sections, the action leads the reader from the unwilling victims of psychotropic drug experiments in 1966 to a flooded Massachusetts and even to Mars in 2152, returning to late 2012 as a kind of chronological anchor. It's a bit of working piecing together this decidedly non-linear storytelling, which at times suggests Pynchon and at times David Mitchell (not to mention T.S. Eliot), and Kiernan doesn't make it easier with chapter titles in Greek or an entire chapter with all-French dialogue. This complicated tale may be a bit too condensed for its own good – it could easily be a short novel – but to the extent that it is science fiction, it's her finest and most sophisticated use of SF to date.

Yeah, it still makes me grin. And I actually said, as soon as I'd finished the novella, that it ought to be a short novel. Maybe one day it will be. Gotta try to write now...

Living in the Shadows,
Aunt Beast
house of leaves

Hold On, Hold On

The most tender place in my heart
Is for strangers.
I know it's unkind,
But my own blood is much too dangerous.
Hanging round the ceiling half the time.
Hanging round the ceiling half the time.

Compared to some I've been around,
But I really tried so hard.
That echo chorus lied to me
With it's hold on, hold on, hold on, hold, on.

In the end I was the mean girl,
Or somebody's in-between girl.
Now it's the devil I love.
And it's as funny as real love.

I leave the party at three AM,
Alone thank God,
With a valium from the bride.
It's the devil I love.
It's the devil I love.
And it's as funny as real love.
And that's as real as true love.

That echo chorus lied to me
With it's hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on.
That echo chorus lied to me
With it's hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on.
~ Neko Case