There's a really marvelous review of The Ammonite Violin & Others in the new Booklist (review by Regina Schroeder):
Kiernan’s stories clearly descend from archetypal tales, though she adds a depth and a clarity of vision all her own. From “The Ammonite Violin,” in which a collector achieves the pinnacle of his obsession, and a musician discovers the true power of her craft, to the story of a girl who loves the rat king and holds in her care the whistle the rats used to create the world, her stories give us a side of timeless scenarios that have usually been left unspoken. There are always costs to being a part of these stories, and they aren’t always gladly paid by those peripheral to the heroes, as the narrators often are. In “For One Who Has Lost Herself,” the price is the awful truth that comes after the end of a story we already pretty much knew; that is, what happens to the selkie after the young man who stole her sealskin has vanished. Brilliantly crafted, tightly woven, and memorable, the worlds of Kiernan’s imagination are odd places, quite fascinating to poke around in.
I feel like, with The Red Tree, Sirenia Digest, A is for Alien, and now The Ammonite Violin & Others, I'm finally getting close to what I've been trying to do since the start. After so much frustration and so many wrong turns, I'm finally telling the stories I need to tell, the way that I need to tell them. The language is finally working for me. I don't know if I'll still feel this way in five or ten years, looking back. But that's how it feels right now.
Yesterday, we left Providence and spent the day on Conanicut Island, at Beavertail. The day was dazzling, brilliant, the blue sky hung with just enough clouds so as not to be disconcerting. We parked on the western side of the point, which we've not explored as well as the eastern side. Largely, this is because the eastern side is sheltered from the wind, and even on warm days, the wind off Narragansett Bay can be uncomfortably cold. Yesterday, we didn't let that dissuade us. We climbed over the craggy outcrops of Cambro-Ordovician age Fort Burnside Formation and Jamestown Formation, crazily tilted beds of phyllite and slate and siltstone and stark white veins of calcite. We started about a quarter mile northwest of the lighthouse, and worked our way southeast. The tide was out, and so we could reach some of the pebbly beaches. We spent a couple of hours searching for sea glass while the cormorants and gulls wheeled overhead and the bell buoy clanged. I've been feeling bad about never using the Canon PowerShot A75, so I'd brought it along. I've decided that this summer I'll use it, while Spooky uses the newer Powershot A1100IS. So I took photos yesterday with the older camera. We sat and watched the sea. The wind had a bite, especially when the sun would slip behind the clouds. Still, we sat and listened to the sea. There were rabbits and red-winged blackbirds and the dog roses have begun to bloom, pink and white. We saw the ospreys nesting just north of Great Creek.
Here are my photos from yesterday. I'll post some of Spooky's tomorrow:
Looking south across the bay, towards Point Judith (Beavertail Lighthouse on the left).
Spooky (view to the west).
The sky was truly amazing. I think I could spend a whole day photographing this sky.
Sailboats on the bay (view to the south).
Earth, sea, and sky, my only sacred trinity.
The sun on the rocks.
North of Beavertail, the salt marsh along Great Creek, Conanicut Island
Looking along Great Creek, westward, towards the bay, low tide.
Looking south down North Road, back towards Great Creek.
View to the southeast, from North Road, towards the Newport Bridge.
All photographs Copright © 2010 by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Last night, we finished reading Patti Smith's Just Kids, which, if you don't know, focuses on her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. I read the entire book aloud to Kathryn. And I've been dreading the ending, and had promised my self I'd get through it without crying. It was a stupid promise. It seemed like it took me an hour to read the last few pages, and we were both crying. But it's a beautiful, beautiful book. And later this week, we'll be seeing Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe at the RISD museum.
I'm going to try to get Sirenia Digest #54 out sometime in the next couple of days, early, so that I can focus all my attention on starting "The Maltese Unicorn."