I’ve been busy working on The Silverberg Business and setting up as a free-lance book designer. The website for that is here. I wasn’t ready to go 100 percent free-lance, but the day job became something I couldn’t do any more.
Read this interesting bit in an interview with Helen Marshall:
One of the odd things I’ve found as a writer of the fantastic is that the longer the story, the more the story is forced into realism, even if it has an absurd or fantastic core. Long fiction is about tracing a series of consequences, and so it must be tied together by a believable reality. Short fiction…not so much. It doesn’t have to be sequential. It doesn’t have to be consequential. You can get away with so much more, and that makes it particularly good for horror stories. Horror, to me, is about confronting the fact that we live in a world that doesn’t actually make much sense.
Perhaps the reading brain can only handle total unreality in smaller doses.
I’m considering her statement in relation to an unpublished long story of mine called “Mountain.” I think that in the case of my story, what I was doing required a certain amount of realism and length, though it’s set in an unreal environment, and it ends in unreality. I have lately tended to write longer, but am drawn to the type of story she describes.
I consume a lot of research material. I like to follow whims. My current novel-in-slow-progress (NISP) is a strange/historical/western/Texan/detective story set in 1888. I’ve needed books about the Texas Gulf Coast, the cities of Victoria (see older post here) and Galveston, TX, Texas Jewish history, the Texas Rangers, ranch/pioneer life, slavery, post-slavery African-American life in Texas, Mexican-American life, period firearms, dance, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Charles Siringo, a Montgomery Ward catalog, the Gilded Age, gambling, poker, western and detective fiction.
Sorry, I’m out of breath. Rest a bit here and think about blue skies, and….
See a reference in a book of hard-boiled fiction about Leigh Brackett’s Chandler-esque 1944 novel No Good from a Corpse? Library gets it. Decide I want to read Allan Pinkerton’s 1874 book The Expressman and the Detective? Yep, library. Most recently, I requested the University of California Press 4-volume book The Codex Mendoza (which as you can see here, the least expensive hardback on Amazon is $2000 and paperback is $164).
Sometimes I get things for fun, too, like the collected-in-book editions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, music CDs or a movie on DVD.
The library gives me access to everything in the county system, a search-Ohio public libraries system, an Ohio college libraries system, and WorldCat inter-library loan. Sometimes the book I want only exists in a few libraries, but it’s rare that there is something I can’t get.
Books, reference items, yes all that, but also, for me, a place to write. Because of my work schedule and home life, about the only time I have for writing during the week is my lunch break. I can spend anywhere from ten minutes to half and hour at the nearest library branch (usually Fairborn, because I work in Fairborn but sometimes I get crazy and go to the Yellow Springs branch), then back to work to eat something. It isn’t nearly enough time, but it’s what I have and I manage to make progress on whatever I’m working on.
The point—was there a point?—the Greene County Library saves my ass. Whatever I think I might need to see, they get for me. Right now, there’s a levy up for renewal. The state, as usual, is planning to cut library funding, again. Because, you know, if people read, they might vote, and if they vote, they might vote for someone else. Or, they might vote for the levy.
If the levy doesn’t pass, the library will have to reduce services. That will hurt me and everyone who uses it. And when it passes, the library will work with the state to prevent further loss of funding. So that maybe someday they don’t have to renew the levy. The whole point is: We need a stable library system here (and everywhere).
Please go here to find out more: http://stronglibraries.com/
Old friend Rich Malley, drummer for a multitude of Austin bands, Kamikaze Refrigerators, Scratch Acid, Happy Family, The Horsies, has recorded a new album, as ManChildATX. It’s called My Mouse Finger Is Insured for $10M and is sure to provide long-lasting entertainment.
He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for pressing, packaging, and promoting. Those are three important Ps.
This is his second album. The first was digital-only, Kickass Tunes for Jamming Out, and is exactly what the title says. And how many things these days can have such honest labeling? He’s funny and he’s serious. He’s funrious. And that’s just one of the reasons to support his music. You can order Kickass Tunes here, and his Kickstarter page for My Mouse Finger is here.
Being a drummer, Rich has spent most of his career sitting at the back of the stage, with nothing to look at but the posteriors of his band-mates. It takes some chutzpah to push that drum kit aside and move to the front. Let’s help him stay there.
Being true to the spirit of this blog, I should just say, I’m back, with, at most, a photographic accompaniment, and let the reader infer that I must have been somewhere. Instead, I’ll amble along for a few more words, perhaps even an entire paragraph. (And, are there partial paragraphs, isn’t any group of words followed by a line break considered to be a paragraph? But I digress.)
I went to New York and read a section of my roughly-completed short novel, The Silverberg Business, at the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series on March 11, and the next night I appeared on WBAI’s Hour of the Wolf radio program, with host and elocutionist Jim Freund. That bit of fun was in the 1–3am time-slot (not my favorite time to be awake). I read a classic Wexlerian story, “Tales of the Golden Legend,” available on my website here.
The NYRSF event was with Chandler Klang Smith, author of Goldenland Past Dark, which I’m looking forward to reading. She read from a cool-sounding novel-in-progress. It was a fun time, attended by a good-sized group that included old friends and a lot of strangers.
My reading was on the third anniversary of Jack Hardy’s death, so on the show the next night Jim played a couple of his songs and “Jack of Hearts,” a tribute song by Tim Robinson. The Hour of the Wolf show is archived and stream-able for two weeks from the date of the show (March 13).
I walked a lot. I bought bagels to take home. I saw friends. I didn’t see one friend because I went to the wrong place and didn’t have his phone number, didn’t even know if he had a phone (I blame that on being exhausted by staying up late for the radio show.).
I also found out after it happened, that my friend Mike Laureanno came in from Providence to perform at the same time as my reading. There’s a video of it here.
And came home.
(note: I selected writing as one of the tags for this post because whenever I use that tag I get multiple likes by people who appear magically and probably don’t read the post or have any idea who I am.)
Stepan Chapman died. I knew him only briefly and not very well. His novel, The Troika, was an amazing piece of wacky and thoughtful weirdness. I hadn’t seen him in several years. He had a starring role in the The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, a book put together by Jeff VanderMeer & Mark Roberts. Writers were asked to create a story built around a fake disease. I wrote a letter (as Dr. Wexler) to the fictional Dr. Lambshead begging him not to publish the Pocket Guide. Stepan incorporated my letter into the history of the Pocket Guide, treating Dr. Wexler as the villain, always stealing Dr. Lambshead’s research, etc. We did some readings together (I couldn’t see him, but was told that when I read my Dr. Wexler letter, he would make silly faces to the audience to mock me).
I’m at work, listening to “Sensorium” an episode from Flotsam Beach, a series of podcasts that Stepan did. I’ve only just discovered them. In which he reads from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, interwoven with a variety of sounds.
“In this sequel to Leeuwenhoek’s Lenses, Stepan reads more pages from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, in order to explore the sensory apparatus of the animal world.
Background choir of aquatic insect larvae provided by David Dunn. Zoological interlude music provided by Marc Hollander of France, Lars Hollmer of Sweden, Kimpereli of Switzerland, and Fred Frith of Britain.
Protoplasm. Did we discover it? Or did it discover us?
After a year of imaginary broadcasting, Flotsam Beach is still asking The Big Questions.”
The combination of his reading style and material, plus background music works to make listening to the program oddly stimulating and soothing. Plus, it’s nice to hear his voice.
Just came across an interesting essay from June 2012 by Matt Cheney on Robert Aickman’s story “The Stains.” It’s once of my favorite Aickman stories. Cheney gets extra points for using the word ineffable.