|Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 04:10 am: |
How I Spent My Summer Vacation, So Far:
Actually, how I've spent the last year or so. I have a new story, "Calypso in Berlin," that'll be up at SciFiction (SciFi.com) any day now. It's part of a thematically linked four-story sequence called THE LOST DOMAIN that I hope may be published someday, either as a chapbook or as part of a larger story collection. The stories are appearing separately: "Kronia" is in the current issue of Conjunctions, CONJUNCTIONS 44: THE QUEST ISSUE. "Calypso in Berlin" will be on SciFi.com;" "Echo" will appear this fall in FSF Magazine. The final story in the sequence, "The Saffron Gatherers," has just started making the rounds. The four stories can be read separately, but together they form a sort of hologram on desire, obsession, loss. For anyone who does read them in these different publications, here's the epigraph that links them:
"For you beautiful ones my thought
is not changeable"
Sappho, fragment 41, translated by Anne Carson
In other news, I'm in the final stages of completing my novel GENERATION LOSS, the first novel I've written that has no fantastic element. It's a very dark book that one early reader decsribed as "a Patricia Highsmith RIPLEY novel as written by Flannery O'Connor." It's about the implosion of a failed one-time photographer from the NYC 1970s downtown punk scene, who finds herself following the trail of a teenage girl who's disappeared on a remote island off the coast of Maine. A lot of eccentric characters, including the photographer protagonist, Cass Neary, who's a borderline sociopath herself; and with a very scary final showdown.
|Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 09:15 am: |
Can't wait for the novel. Any idea when it'll be out? And what's next on the agenda?
|Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 09:52 am: |
Maybe The Lost Domain sequence and the 4 stories in Bibliomancy will make up your next collection? It'd sure be nice to have those Bibliomancy stories in an affordable version.
The novel sounds good too. Are you sure there's "no fantastic element" in the book? I must admit to being less excited about books with zero, not even a hint, of the fantastic.
|Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 03:23 pm: |
Forgot to add that an excerpt from an earlier version of GENERATION LOSS appears in the new issue (just out) of the literary magazine GARGOYLE (along with a previously unpublished piece by the late Kathy Acker, among many others).
Don't know when the book will be out. Probably not for a while -- gotta finish it first!
I really wrestled with this book -- it started out as a dark fantasy, didn't work like that; then became more of a straightforward supernatural novel. Didn't work like that either. It kept becoming more and more stripped down -- all of the characers, the setting, dialog, even the plot remained identical from one version to the next; for whatever reason, it wanted to be what it is, which was essentially the same story without any overt generic element. At the same time, it inhabits the same world as my recent work -- it's deep-backgrounded in Kamensic Village. It has more the tone of something like SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW, or Kem Nunn's TAPPING THE SOURCE or Robert Stone's CHILDREN OF LIGHT, three books I greatly admire (especially TAPPING THE SOURCE, one of the greats). I don't know if you're familiar with those novels, but all three sort of hover around the edges of the fantastic, while never (except for SMILLA) quite dipping into it. I always thought that was a very cool technique, and I've always wanted to try it. So we'll see if i can pull it off.
I would love to get a bigger, more affordable collection out, incorporating BIBLIOMANCY with more recent stuff. I've actually spoken with an editor at one house that might bring it out in trade paperback, which would be great. CHIP CROCKETT'S CHRISTMAS CAROL, my short Joey Ramone Meets Dickens Xmas book, should be out next spring in a special (but affordable!) edition with illustrations, which will be very cool.
|Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 04:50 pm: |
Did you say Smilla's Sense of Snow and Tapping the Source? Two of my most favorite novels! I'll have to check up Children of Light if it is in the similar atmosphere.
Quest stories a la Heart of Darkness fanscinate me, and I definitely look forward to your Generation Loss (sorry, I'm not a faithful reader and Mortal Love is still on the to read pile, but liked Glimmering and was chilled by Waking the Moon).
|Posted on Friday, June 24, 2005 - 05:15 pm: |
Yep, Smilla and Tapping the Source are faves of mine, too. That plus Ripley? Oh my.
Tapping the Source was a model, for me, of how to do a book that had all the buzz of a great genre novel without any actual supernatural elements; sounds like you're going for exactly that here, and I'm looking forward to it. (Dogs of Winter is also excellent.)
Liz, it was great to meet you in company with Jeff F. and Lucius S. a few weeks back! (I'm still laughing about Jeff's Pearl Harbor anecdote.)
|Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 05:21 am: |
Hey Marc! Great to meet you, too -- that was a lot of fun hanging out. I hope to get back there early next year to do a weekend gig at Hugo House. Jeff Ford needs his own talk show, I think.
What you said about a novel having the "buzz" of a genre novel without being one -- that's exactly what I mean. John Clute, he of the Very Big Words, calls this "equipoise," but for me it always feels like a certain buzz that has a fantastic edge about it. Of all things, Eudora Welty's DELTA WEDDING is like this too. I think it has something to do with the author's presentation of a self-contained world, with its own (unspoken) rules and rituals, and larger-than-life characters who have a kind of mythic stature. CHILDREN OF LIGHT (my favorite Stone novel, though trounced by the critics) gets at this through the set of a Hollywood movie being shot in Mexico, and also by way of having one of the protagonists be a bipolar actress who goes off her medication and slowly goes crazy. It's the most chilling and realistic portrait of madness I've ever encountered in a novel. I'm rereading COL right now, for the fourth or fifth time, and it holds up. Fantastic dialog -- a real tour-de-force of dialog. And very funny, too.
Also reading a new novel called BLACK FLY SEASON by Giles Blunt. His style can be a bit workaday, but it shifts from chapter to chapter -- sometimes it's quite elegant. It's about the investigation of a ritual murder involving native americans and bikers in northern canada.
I think "Heart of Darkness" is the Ur-text for this kind of story.
|Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 05:53 am: |
I've read Blunt. His first novel was great. His second, just so-so. But I'm looking forward to Black Fly Season.
|Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 07:52 am: |
I haven't finished it. It literally seesaws between chapters -- the ones featuring his detective, not so good. The ones with the crazy druggies are pretty great, so far. He's not as fine a stylist as Kem Nunn, but there's a similar feeling to some of KN's later stuff, THE DOGS OF WINTER & TIJUANA STRAITS.
|Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 04:55 pm: |
Congratulations on your International Horror Guild nomination for Mortal Love!
|Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 05:00 pm: |
Oooh. I love Smilla's Sense of Snow and Tapping the Source.
|Posted on Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 10:58 pm: |
CHILDREN OF LIGHT is not my favorite Stone, but it was pretty good. You've probably read his latest, BAY OF SOULS. While I found it in some ways disappointing, it contains at least two unforgettable scenes (the hunting sequence near the beginning, the diving sequence toward the end). In fact, every one of his books contains something or (things) indelible; even the ones that are absurdly overbearing and obvious in their political metaphors, like OUTERBRIDGE REACH. ("America is my theme," Stone proclaims. A ship abandoned by its captain, and sailed into madness. Okay, we get it already.)
SMILLA really did something to me. It evoked a purely Lovecraftian sense of cosmic awe in a place I never would have expected it, after following the course of a kickass thriller.
|Posted on Sunday, June 26, 2005 - 04:46 am: |
Thanks, Ellen. That was a real surprise.
I read BAY OF SOULS and agree, the hunting & diving sequences were the best part. He seemed -- I haven't reread it since it came out so may be wrong here -- to get too bogged down with pronouncements; not enough of the really great dialog & action he uses at his best to get a story across. OUTERBRIDGE REACH I liked a lot, too. Great sailing stuff. Haven't read DAMASCUS GATE yet, though I have it.
I like sailing sequences in books. I have a bit of that -- well, motorsailing -- in GL and had some in GLIMMERING. One of my best and oldest friends here in Maine (Ellen: Bruce) is a boatbuilder and sailor, and I love picking his brain & boat apart. Back in 1989 I spent a good part of the summer learning the ropes on the schooner Appledore; I was going to go down to the islands with it as cook for the fall and winter, when my grandmother got ill and then I got pregnant with my daughter. So that, believe it or not, was always the road not taken for me. Full disclosure here: since then I have spent virtually no time at all on boats.
SMILLA was great. I reread that a few months ago and it held up really well. I still felt like it went off the rails a bit at the very end, but that bothered me less on rereaing than it did the first time around. I was amused to note that the original Danish title was something like MISS SMILLA LIKES SNOW, which sounds like Jane Austen in the Arctic. The sense of awe and horror at the end, with that amazing landscape, and the final image -- great stuff.
Did you ever see a Sami (native Laplander) film called THE PATHFINDER? A really cool, chilling, mythic little movie that takes place in a pre-historic time, about a bloodthirsty tribe that attacks a more peaceful hunter-and-gatherer group. It's like William Golding's THE INHERITORS, but with a more upbeat ending,
|Posted on Sunday, June 26, 2005 - 08:29 am: |
The original title was Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow. That's how it appeared in the UK.
I think I've read at least one Robert Stone but haven't gotten around to read any of his other books (and am embarrassed to say I can't remember which I actually read).
|Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 06:44 am: |
congrats on the Horror Guild nomination!
can hardly wit to read your latest novel...i'm always blown away by your characters more than anything else...
i'll see if i can't find the other bits and pieces around town and online...
|Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 09:26 am: |
Hey, Justin, many thanks!
Yeah, this character is a real nutcase -- as the old song goes, "She's good Bad, but she ain't Evil." I should be done in the next week or two; then revising and all that otherr good stuff. I'll keep you posted ...