Because I would like to order a number of books from Amazon, I'm going to offer one of the Gauntlet hardbacks of Silk on eBay. Not today, but soon. But here's the thing. This copy is not in mint condition. The dustjacket has some wrinkles, maybe a small tear. It's the copy Spooky read along in while we were doing this latest edit. It's a PC from the numbered limited, of which only 450 copies were printed, long ago sold out. Art by Clive Barker. Signed by me and Poppy (docbrite). But here's the other thing. I'm going to go through with a red pen and make all the changes to this copy that were made in the Great Revision of March 2007. This is a daunting prospect and will likely require the better part of one day soon. Anyway, this is advance warning. It will be a unique item.
Late last night, I got the initial sketch for "In View of Nothing" from Vince. Subscribers should look for Sirenia Digest #16 sometime in the next week or so. Those who have not subscribed should do so. Subscribe, that is.
Another reminder that Nebari.net is coming down next week. Only the costuming page shall be spared. Look now, or don't.
Oh, and Spooky is obsessed with the godless $1 coins. You know, the recent frell-up that left "In God We Trust" off a whole bunch of US dollars, and then they went into circulation before anyone noticed. She has three she got from the stamp machine at the P.O. She intends to have more. Beware.
A few more comments from readers, regarding Silk, characters, "A Season of Broken Dolls," etc., but I'm putting them behind a cut so as not to dominate people's friends lists.
Long time reader; first time poster. Rather spooky, all of the discussion about "legitimate literature" and readers identifying with characters and so forth, and then I read the short story written from the POV of a journalist ...
I suppose that one must find some way in which to indentify with a story's characters in order to care about them and continue reading. But then, unless the characters are so thoroughly wooden and one-dimensional that the reader can't find "anything" in them with which to sympathize/empathize, then it probably isn't worth reading for anyone, and why would you bother to finish such a story/novel, much less spend precious time and energy writing a review on Amazon? Like that dude bent out of shape about all the swearing. Why did you continue to read if you were so offended and the story had no intrinsic value? *sigh*
I wouldn't put much stock in Amazon literary reviews -- gadget reviews, perhaps, but not literary reviews. To put it simply, as my teenage nephew would say, those people are tools. For what it is worth, I thoroughly enjoyed Silk, as I have all of your work (some more than others, sure, but that's only natural), and have always found your characters multi-dimensional and quite interesting. I've always found much to identify with in them, in spite of the fact, say, that I'm not a lesbian, a smack addict musician, etc.(as in Silk).
And I loved "A Season of Broken Dolls" (a masterpiece of subtlety); as a character Schuler hit close to home for me, in fact. And having spent most of my adult life meeting deadlines, I don't say this lightly: many writers goof up their reporter/journalist characters, it seems, IMHO, unless — of course — they've done their time in the 4th Estate. Schuler strikes me as spot-on, particularly for her age (but then, you don't have to be a middle-aged journalist to see the world like she does).
Three cheers for SubPress for putting the mag online :)
Most of my attempts at litcrit tend to turn rambling and odd, like the mildly schizophrenic homeless man outside the drugstore asking for spare change to feed his invisible pink parrot...
Bearing that in mind, I couldn't pass up a chance to talk about "A Season of Broken Dolls." In short: Liked it, it bothered me.
It is a marvellously clever and nasty trick you pull on the reader, starting Schuler off as irreverant and superior to this culture of stitchfreaks, her loathing for Sabit evident in the last line of her first journal entry, and promptly suck this tough, unlikable, impervious woman down into a vortex of doubt and pull everything down around her until she's forced to look at everything she despises and holds in contempt from a different angle.
(Did I win an award for writing the longest sentence ever there? I hope it's a trophy cup, nothing too ostentatious, just enough to start a conversation at dinner parties.)
I thought it was interesting that you chose body-modding as the deviance that sets Schuler off, since in a near-future setting it could have been nearly anything and still been believeable. I found it a nice juxtaposition, since Schuler seems to live so much in her head and be content to pretty much ignore all external stimulus at the beginning and the snips, well, they play with their flesh and wallow in the excesses and the results of pushing the physical form past all notions of boundaries. Choosing fleshwork over, say, video or drug abuse was wicked, but wonderful.
I think this speaks to the importance of good education in the arts. My ability to appreciate stories of a wide variety of characters and subject matters was probably produced at least in part by teachers who were good at showing kids how to analyse and digest works they couldn't immediately identify with. As a result, I was able to appreciate books that weren't about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (wait a minute, that doesn't make sense . . . er . . . well, I guess I liked pizza).
On the other hand, sometimes there is no accounting for taste. I once watched Vertigo with someone who told me she hated the movie because she considered Madeleine to be weak. It took me some time to wrap my head around the concept of someone hating a movie because a character is flawed. But I guess it's pretty common. My theory is that some people are repulsed by certain characters because they do understand them--that the characters fall prey to weakness the reader is himheritself afraid of seeing in himheritself, and has maybe spent a long time trying to actively atrophy that part of their personality.
Come to think of it--that actually sounds like one of your characters. Hmm. Maybe it's as Oscar Wilde put it; "The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass. The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass."
It seems rare for me to get through a conversation about fiction without quoting the preface to "The Picture of Dorian Gray." I can't help it—that damn preface knows everything.
I'm about three fourths of the way through Daughter of Hounds (still loving it, by the way) and, on the subject of your characters, one thing I've noticed about them is that they're almost constantly arguing. And yet, you seem to hate arguments. What's that about?
Once upon a time, I loved to argue. The love affair waned.
And awdrey_gore writes:
I'm a little late to the dance, but here's my take on the hostility some have towards Spyder and some of your other characters.
For many people, literature has to make literal sense. Complexity is often the enemy of sense and complex characters are hard for some readers to stomach. The vagaries of human behavior are troublesome for a lot of people and they do not turn to the written word to see themselves or others with self-destructive tendencies - because even the most mentally stable amongst us have such tendencies. They look to books to distract them from what is dark within them. Books need to be like television for a lot of people. Characters must be single-faceted, situations need to be cut and dried and everything needs to be resolved by the end of the book. When books do not achieve this end, it causes anxiety in some readers.
It is a mistake to think that all readers read in order to explore a world outside their own. Truth to them does not matter, even their own truth. It is comfort they seek. Your characters are real and very jangling to the nerves at times. They are not as comforting as many readers need characters to be.
I plan to write a review for Daughter of Hounds (that about 10 people will read but never mind that) and I will discuss Pearl/Hester because I have not read a character in recent memory who jangled my own nerves as much as she did near the end of the book. Has there ever been a more real, nervous, shrill, upsetting child as she was towards the end? Her indignation that others were handling her things, her fear that her precious possessions could be harmed, her relentless and bossy demands of don't touch this and don't touch that - the tension this causes in Soldier made me want to shake Pearl and demand she just do as she was asked. But when she broke down and cried, sobbing that she was just a child who had been forced to be a child forever, locked away and in fear, I then wanted to comfort her. Lots of readers cannot bear that sort of emotional rollercoaster involvement. It's hard because everyone has their own scars from being a scared child. Everyone. Reliving that is hard, even for those of us who welcome the catharsis.
So I think that is where the antagonism comes from. Some people just cannot bear to see themselves in any way, and most of us, even those who are yuppies or property flippers, have deep psychic scars. Some do not want to revisit the days when we got those wounds and resent it bitterly when they pick up a book they think may just be a horror tour de force and find themselves confronted with complex characterization that reminds them of themselves or people they once knew, people they were powerless to help as they watched them self-destruct. They want to read about silly women getting into debt and getting out with lots of clothing porn and a romantic sub plot. They do not want to feel the nerve edge of good characterization.
Not all readers by any means, but some. My two cents...
These are all good and thoughtful thoughts, and I cherish them, and I thank each of the authors in question for taking the time to speak. Now, I must go and not work. Somehow.