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Jonathan Stephens
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 08:47 am:   

My Dear Nick,

You first came to my august attention while recently perusing this quite excellent message board for information regarding such illustrious authors like K.J. Bishop, Zoran Zivkovic, and Jeff Vandermeer. While reading the Night Shade ‘General’ thread ‘New Magazine Launch’, I carelessly put my foot into one of your posts. I really did think that it would eventually wear off, as my first impression was that you were obnoxious, petty, overly opinionated and downright rude regarding what could be construed as comprising editorial duties, but hardly long lasting.

Much to my surprise, you did not immediately spontaneously combust (I have since learned that this is normal behaviour for you), but continued merrily hurling abuse at all and sundry, especially poor ol’ Bryan, whom you will recall swore a mighty oath never to read any of your books. To me, this was a crucial flaw in Bryan’s thinking, as what could be more fun than slagging your written work? Hit an author where it hurts the most, I say. Quickly, I hastened to order ‘Northern Gothic’, ‘3000 Miles In Every Direction’, and ‘Move Under Ground’, all of which arrived yesterday. I knew they were in the Clarkesworld box from the way the cat hissed at the package.

Hurriedly unpacking, I snatched up ‘3000 Miles’ and devoured it in one sitting. Unfortunately I find that I cannot slag you with gay abandon I envisioned, for I found that this book is one of the most enjoyable collections I have read in many a long day. The idea behind the juxtaposition of essay/fiction is nothing less than a brilliant tour de force! The quicker I read, the more the fiction and fact blurred, the sum becoming more of the parts. Sure, there were parts I didn’t truly understand (such as ‘Brother Theodore’ (fiction?) and ‘Joey Ramone’ (fact?)), but I’m sure that numerous brutal and critical re-readings will force these two to yield up their treasures (ha, Ha!).

You see, as someone whose favorite author is the illustrious Harlan Ellison (may HE live a thousand years!), I have no problem with rude and arrogant…as long as you can back it up by producing high quality work. I certainly hope that ‘Northern Gothic’ and ‘Down Below’ are crap so I care unfeelingly grind you underfoot as you so richly deserve, but S*i*g*h, I have to admit that this is a fading yearning, as halfway through ‘Northern Gothic’, I am enjoying it thoroughly.

…Aside…Though I will admit to sniffing disdainfully at the title. I mean ‘northern’? Snort. Typical American-centric Yankee thinking. Edmonton is northern, Montreal is northern, even Toronto is northern. New York? Positively southern! Although at least it was printed in Winnipeg (trivia: the city with the largest temperature variation between summer and winter in the world).

It does seem to be, so far, a good example of the Vanderschism titled ‘New American Weird’…oops, forgot the obligatory obscenity, ‘Fucking Weird Americans’, or whatever label was eventually chosen in Jeff’s thread.

I do look forward to your upcoming titles; ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Flaming’, ‘Flaming for Dummies’ and, sure to be a bestseller, ‘Flaming for Fun and Profit’; manuals to help hone my flaming skills. Yet, I do think I have snookered you nicely as far as retaliation for this post. I suspect most authors wait until the cringing supplicants are before them, begging for an autograph before mercilessly ridiculing them, a la Dostoevsky, but all along, I had a cunning plan: I bought the limited autographed edition of ‘Move Under Ground’, therefore I don’t need another autograph for the collection! I trust this has foxed any evil designs nicely!

Luv and kisses,

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 01:34 pm:   

Have a joyous Kwanzaa, friend.
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Jonathan Stephens
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 - 05:35 am:   

Very Good, Nick, and to you and yours. Just finished 'Northern Gothic', also very good, and have moved underground, hoping to find a TV showing 'Survivor: R'lyeh'.
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Jonathan Stephens
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 06:34 pm:   

My Dear Nick,

Once again I put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) to record my journeys through the cesspool of your mind. And once again I am utterly confounded! I’m foiled again in my merry little desire to do a tap-dance on your written work. Kindly avoid in the future publishing important works-of-stature like ‘Move Under Ground’ (the future Stoker Award Winner), and concentrate on being your usual obnoxious self, thus giving me something to work with. MUG is one of the few books that have spawned multiple purchases (having inspired me to go out and buy ‘On The Road’ and Naked Lunch’). The last such book that springs to mind is Farmer’s immortal ‘To Your Scattered Bodies Go’, which started a 20 year obsession with Sir Richard F. Burton.

…Aside…I was all ready to post a rave review, and then read another review blabbering on about how this book was not just the first novel-length Lovecraft homage that didn’t really suck, but was really about the delusional state of a self-hating mind. Sigh. What the fuck do I know? Obviously a re-read is in order…

Having just finished Ian’s ‘Breathmoss’, I am all set to embark on ‘The Urban Bizarre’, which arrived today; I’m especially interested in this given the comments on your blog regarding payments not delivered on time. And I thought that you and JeffV were buds. Now I find that you regard each other with the same joy and delight I reserve for the scum that grows underneath the toilet seat (especially ironic for me, since I got into all this via: K.J. Bishop – Zoran Zivkovic – JeffV – Ministry of Whimsy/NightShade Books – Nick Mamatas).

I was particularly interested in your insinuation that JeffV had something to do with the recent cancellations at NightShade (where were you when I was raking the-powers-that-be over the coals for this?). I’m still not particularly happy about all that, but hell, NightShade publishes far too many books I want (bought around eight limited editions last year) to throw a real unseemly strident and prolonged hissy fit about it.

And I do hope you’re avoiding the cancer-causing sun in California (while I shiver in the snowstorms of the north-east). I understand your desire to be closer to HE, but pray you realize that your life-expectancy has now dropped way down (smog, earthquakes, pestilence etc), so if you want to leave a mark on literary history, you better snap to it; especially since I’ve now purchased all the Mamatas books currently available (i.e. when may we expect another one)?

Warmest (Ha!) regards,

Jonathan Stephens

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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 06:50 pm:   

Actually, I DID get paid on time. The complaint worked. As far as why that cheesed a couple of people off, well, class will tell.

I have nothing but admiration for Jeff, btw, despite, nay, BECAUSE he is an insufferable crank who arbitrarily explodes at me every three months or so.

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