Day before yesterday, we got the news that Spooky's maternal grandmother, Ann Hanon, suffered a stroke and heart attack. She's ninety-seven and a half, and a recovery is not expected. She's not regained consciousness. She gave instructions she was not to be placed on life support. So, now everyone's waiting. The air is tense with that waiting for news of an inevitability, and with sorrow people cannot help but feel, no matter if a loved one has lived a very, very long and full life. As I said of my own maternal grandmother who, at ninety (almost ninety-one), died in 2005, I can't stop thinking how this amazing person lived through so much time, so much time and so many worlds. So many incarnations of this world. If I live another fifty years...well, I'd prefer not to, but if I did...I cannot even begin to imagine the changes I would see. I think one of the hardest things for Kathryn and her immediate family is that none of them are with her grandmother in Wisconsin, as we have become this nation of latter-day nomads.
Yesterday, I began writing "Sexing the Weird," my introduction to Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. I have grown to strongly dislike writing nonfiction, and especially nonfiction about my own work. After twenty years as an author, I fear I've sunk far too deeply into the bogs of my own work to speak about them...and no, that's not what I meant to say, but my difficulty articulating my thoughts on this subject should serve as an illustration of what I'm trying to say. Nonetheless, I made a good beginning, I hope, and I hope to have the introduction finished by tomorrow evening.
This month, I also still have to get the galley pages for The Drowning Girl back to Penguin (by Monday), write Alabaster: Wolves #2 for Dark Horse, work on promotional material (my publicist just emailed) for The Drowning Girl, and get Sirenia Digest #72 written and out to subscribers. I think the only thing keeping me moving ahead right now, besides the stubborn momentum of life and the pills my psychiatrist prescribes for me, is the determination that I will take two weeks off in December, a sort of Solstice/Cephalopodmas vacation. I've not had a vacation of any sort since December 2008. But other people seem to do it, so why the fuck not me?
A very nice interview at SFF Chronicles with Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), in which she just happens to make a very kindly mention of The Drowning Girl.
And here's a particularly articulate bit of commentary on The Ammonite Violin & Others, which I very much appreciated seeing this morning. Towards the end, there's this paragraph I found especially apt:
A note of caution, though, the stories within this book are mostly excellent and there is no denying Kiernan’s ability and distinctive voice. However, if you read a number of these in quick succession, they do start to cloy and the depth and intricacy of the tales can become treacle thick and hinder the progress of the reader. This is something to enjoy in bite size morsels.
Yes. This is true. Well, I think it's true. I can no longer bear to read a great chunk of my own short fiction any more than I can eat more than a couple of pieces of Turkish Delight at one sitting. Or a few bites of baklava. But it's interesting, because of something someone asked in the comments to yesterday's entry, regarding the caveat lector that opens Harlan Ellison's Deathbird Stories. faffinz asked: "Did your copy of Deathbird Stories come with the warning note from Harlan that it should not be read all at once? If so, did you read it all at once?" It did, as that notice appeared at the beginning of all copies of the book (including the recent superb Subterranean Press edition). The caveat reads:
It is suggested that the reader not attempt to read this book at one sitting . The emotional content of these stories, taken without a break, may be extremely upsetting. This note is intended most sincerely, and not as hyperbole. ~ H. E.
To finish answering the question asked by faffinz, no, I didn't read the stories all at once. On the one hand, being possessed of only one functional eye, I have always been a rather slow reader. Also, I like to make good books last. But, also, I first encountered the book in 1981, and I didn't take the warning as a dare. I actually did find the stories too intense to be read without several breaks in between. In fact, I had to stop halfway through "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" and come back to it later (by the way, it remains one of my favorite of Harlan's stories). But this was in an age before Saw and its seven sequels. Which may or may not be relevant. But I am always a little disappointed to hear that someone has read the entirety of one of my short-story collections or novels at one sitting.
Yesterday, I left the house for the first time in a week. Just a trip to the market, and a stop at Mama Kim's, a local Korean food truck, for dinner.
Questioning Relevance and Relativity,