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JV
Posted on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:20 am:   

I've decided to glut myself on a steady diet of fantasy and pseudo-fantasy for the rest of the year and do a day-by-day report of the results on my blog:

http://vanderworld.blogspot.com

Let me know if I've missed any really good books.

JeffV
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StephenB
Posted on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 05:00 pm:   

Jeff, I don't know if your familiar with the Malazan series by Steven Erikson? Up here in Canada the fifth book came out this year, and I believe the first "Gardens of the Moon" is finally being published in the U.S.A. The writing is strong and peotic, full of dark humor and metaphors. It has relevance to our own time and place. The characters are complex and interesting. It's not an epic fantasy about good vs. evil. Very innovative and unconventional in the genre.
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montmorency
Posted on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 07:18 pm:   

Here's a link to Struwwelpeter with original drawings to accompany your reading of 98 Reasons for Being:

http://www.fln.vcu.edu/struwwel/peter_dual.html

Glad you've got David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, the best book so far this year. I was a bit disappointed with The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day.

I believe you're missing The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The Ghost Writer by John Harwood. Also I enjoyed Johanna Sinisalo's Troll and Mark Mills' Amagansett.

If you don't mind reading a kids' book, Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett is a strange read. It doesn't work well as a mystery, but the handling of epiphany through pentominoes and Charles Fort is admirable. Also it is full of frogs. We shall pick up an existence by its frogs.
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JV
Posted on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 08:23 pm:   

Ah--I need to add Erikson. So you'd recommend starting with Gardens?

Montmorency--I'll add these to my list.

JeffV
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Luis
Posted on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 01:20 am:   

I was very curious about _Troll_ when I read about it a few months ago, but then forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me, I'll try to make it stick this time.

Best,
Luís
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StephenB
Posted on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 04:04 pm:   

Yes, Gardens would be the best starting point I think.
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Luke
Posted on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 04:08 pm:   

Two interesting titles from Small Beer Press are missing from your list - Sean Stewart's PERFECT CIRCLE and Jennifer Stevenson's TRASH SEX MAGIC. I've got the latter on order from Amazon.com, sold by the praise from Gene Wolfe and John Crowley. Salon.com have sample chapters up for Stewart's book.
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JV
Posted on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 04:31 pm:   

Yes, you're right. I want to add them, but I'm kind of indifferent to Stewart. I mean, I read his work and see why people like it, but it doesn't speak to me personally. The other one I'll definitely read.

JeffV
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AntonyS
Posted on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 11:07 pm:   

One (relatively) new book that I would recommend is "The Darkness That Comes Before" by R.Scott Bakker.
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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 05:46 am:   

As always, I recommend Matt Stover's HEROES DIE.
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ben peek
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 05:47 am:   

hey jeff--

you might've already read the reprinting of alan moore's novel, 'voice of the fire', but it's my favourite thing this year, and worth a mention here. the new edition from top shelf is really quite lovely, too. (it was originally published in 96, i think, but i don't think many read it. shame.)
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JV
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:38 am:   

I've been persuaded to add the Sean Stewart to my list.

Just added another post on my blog about The Circus in Winter. I have to say, I really love it thus far.

JeffV
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 07:40 am:   

Just started the Sean Stewart myself. Only about 50 pages into it, not sure what I think yet. This is the first thing that I've read of his that I knew was him (meaning I've read no novels, but possibly short fiction if he's written any). We'll see where it goes.

JK
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:59 am:   

I've added Lucius' new PS Publishing collection and Liz Williams' new Night Shade collection to my reading list and posted more new entries to my blog.

http://vanderworld.blogspot.com

JeffV
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bryan
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 - 06:58 pm:   

jeff, have you ever read any of jordorowsky's interviews? they're fucking hilarius.

one of the newer graphic novels i've read that i really liked is 'blankets' (more for the art than the story). space and trees saying "wee" on a swing. the swirl people inhabit the paper.

------------------------------------

http://www.humanoids-publishing.com/news/news.php?id=26

As a preface to the interview, Jodorowsky attached this note:

Dear friend,

Your questions give me a mental rash. We speak two different languages. A cop and a thief cannot understand each other. A cartesian mind can't make contact with a surrealistic mind, only conflict. The language of the mind isn’t the language of the dreams. You want me to explain rationally the process of creation, which is absolutely irrational. On whose behalf are you asking these questions? Your own? I am, then, perplexed by your lack of artistic vision. On behalf of a stupid mainstream audience? Do you think you are the spokesman of the people's idiocy? Maybe you're wrong. Maybe they're not such idiots. Maybe without the use of the rational lancet, they can open up their hearts and directly comprehend a work of art. Are you a journalist or a judge? I'll answer anyway. Let's see if you understand.

NRAMA: To much of the avant garde audience of fifteen to twenty years ago, you were seen as a filmmaker. Now, there is a growing audience that sees and knows you only as a comic book writer. Why the shift between media? What do comics offer you that films do not?

AJ: An apple is as precious as a pear.

NRAMA: With your films, you are seen by some as nearly mad in your vision and direction, yet your comics are somewhat more restrained. While still dealing with fantastic concepts, they often are reined in somewhat in terms of violence and sex - some is implied, rather than seen. Why the
difference between the two media?

AJ: In some landscapes cypresses grow, in some others, nothing but roses. Roses are not equal to cypresses. They have different fragrances. The nose itself is guilty for not understanding this.

NRAMA: Here you are, 70-plus years old, and still a vibrant force in comics in Europe. Meanwhile, comic book writers over 35 in America are often considered "over the hill." Why do you think there is such a disparity between American and European comic book cultures?

AJ: Because Americans have a very stupid way of looking at the process of ageing. To be young has nothing to do with being intelligent. To be older is not necessarily to be wiser. Young morons make old morons.

NRAMA: Given the cultural disparity, what do you think could be done in the US to change the perception that comics are for the young, and therefore, are best created, by the young?

AJ: There's nothing to do. Just live.

NRAMA: Again speaking of the differences between cultures, in moving both Metabarons and The Incal to the US, certain scenes were altered slightly. Do you worry about this, and are you concerned that your complete vision is being diluted somewhat?

AJ: Higel the Wise said: "Amongst the naked, go naked. Amongst those who are dressed, go dressed."

NRAMA: When you began envisioning Metabarons, given that it was an offspring of The Incal, did the story come to you whole cloth from beginning to end, or was it an organic process, growing, morphing and twisting as you wrote it?

AJ: When you throw two dices, the minor number you get is two. So is the art: you are outside, and suddenly, without any beginning, you're inside.

NRAMA: Can the same be said of your other Jodoverse books? Was it the same for TechnoPriests, again, did it come to you as a full story, or as a germ that grew as you wrote and explored?

AJ: It was the same for me.

NRAMA: Given that you have both respect and clout as a filmmaker with many of today's power players in Hollywood and elsewhere, have you ever been tempted to return to films and pushing one of your comics into film?

AJ: It depends on who will write, direct and produce it.

NRAMA: Moving back to comics, what do you look for in an illustrator? In terms of your creative process, do you form the idea before seeking an illustrator, or do you take the germ of an idea to an illustrator to allow for a more collaborative process?

AJ: Generally illustrators seek me. We talk, study each other and find a mutual agreement. It's a very pleasant creative game.

NRAMA: Moving to your most recent Humanoids is work to see publication, while the two of you worked extremely well together with The White Lama, what made Bess your choice for an artist on Son of the Gun?

AJ: Because he's a great artist. A great artist can do several different things.

NRAMA: You've been quoted as saying that you virtually go into a trance before creating a story. While one can assume that the benefits of a trance-like state could be easily seen in your more fantastic works, such as Metabarons and The Incal, did you employ the same method with Son of the Gun, given its very realistic setting?

AJ: Trance is not a method. It’s a way of being. Your question does not work.

NRAMA: With Son of the Gun, you’ve traded your science fiction backdrop, which American your audiences are most familiar with when it comes to your work, for the dust, dirt, and corruption of South America. Why is this setting necessary for the story you're telling?

AJ: I haven't traded anything. Each story has the background it needs. There is no such thing as an American audience. There is a human audience.

NRAMA: Son of the Gun's man-on-man violence, because it is on a smaller scale than Metabarons, seems much more intense than many of your other works. Was that an intent of yours when approaching this work?

AJ: Your question is more violent than my violence. You cannot get to know a flower by tearing its petals. It’s a sad analytic point of view. You get to know a flower by enjoying it.

NRAMA: At the beginning of Son of the Gun, we’re shown the apparent end of Juan, seeking the ultimate redemption for his sins. Redemption has also played a role in various arcs of Metabarons as well, and is the metaphoric setting of The Incal, with DiFool's cohorts trying to claw their way to "heaven." What is it about the theme of redemption that makes it appear time and again in your work? Is it the "only" story to tell?

AJ: It’s a hope. Our civilization - America plus the rest of the world - has done so much harm to the planet and the humanity; it has behaved like a criminal. I hope that someday, our civilization becomes aware. That will mean redemption for the world.

NRAMA: While in Metabarons and The Incal, your protagonists are changing as they advance towards a higher goal; Juan is headed in the opposite direction in Son of the Gun, sinking towards a lower goal. While ascension’s reward is well known in literature and myth, what is the reward, or endpoint of a descent such as Juan's, or is there a turnabout in his descent?

AJ: You are mistaken. Juan makes his descent an ascension. In the beginning, he's essentially an egoist. In the end, he is able to give his life to save the others. He ends up experiencing love and sanctity

NRAMA: Throughout Son of the Gun, we see Juan sink deeper and deeper into his own hell (whether he knows it or not), virtually becoming inhuman. Could a man, such as Juan sink so low to become literally irredeemable, or is
redemption always possible, with the severity of the sin dictating the severity of the sacrifice needed in order to be redeemed?

AJ: Your angle of vision is definitely wrong. Juan, as he sinks deeper into suffering, becomes more and more human. It's a process of awareness that I‚m describing.

NRAMA: Violence plays a large role in Son of the Gun, as well as in Juan‚s development, but did it have to? Was Juan predestined to the role he came to fill, or did he have a choice?

AJ: I really sigh deeply in front of your question. It's nothing but blah blah-medieval-metaphysics. Violence does not play any role because it is not a character. It's an abstraction. I suspect that you are a very violent person. The idea of destiny used to tickle the Greeks a few centuries ago, in their tragedies. Today we have evolved way past this concept. Still, I understand you. You, as an American, live with a president who dares say there is such a thing as a war between Good and Evil. It looks like he’s studied his philosophy in the Wild West movies.

NRAMA: In simplest terms, how would you best describe Son of the Gun to someone who knew nothing of the story?

AJ: A man's journey from animality to sanctity.

NRAMA: The imagery of Christ on the cross is peppered throughout Son of the Gun, from the opening scene to the bedroom of Laura’s, the wife of Juan's boss, again, bringing to mind redemption at the cost of sacrifice. Is the cost of all redemption sacrifice?

AJ: You don't get anywhere if you don't do the main sacrifice: this of the unquestioned ego-trip.

NRAMA: We've seen in your fiction that many, if not all, men are in need of redemption. Is this the universal story all people must play out in their lives?

AJ: After answering all these questions, I think it is your case.

-----------------------------------

the best graphic novel dealing with magick is probably alan moore's 'promethea'.
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JV
Posted on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 06:00 am:   

Bryan:

The guy reminds me of Dali, in terms of his aesthetic and his approach to interviews. I just read this in the back of one of the Metabarons graphic novels I bought at the con. Thanks for posting it!

JeffV
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bryan
Posted on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:47 am:   

have you seen any of his films? 'holy mountain' may be the most psychedelic thing ever put to tape.

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