Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New horror anthology

Bookgasm (which is a great new blog by the way) posts about the new horror best of anthology. It's edited by John Betancourt, who has a hand in Weird Tales, Wildside Press, the new tales of Amber, and various other things.
The Bookgasm post says he has wondered about best ofs: “Why in the hell don’t they do one of these for horror?” Off the top of my head, I can think of two: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (the horror section of which is edited by Ellen Datlow) and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (edited by Stephen Jones). Maybe the Mammoth collection doesn't count because it's British (though I don't think that's a good reason) but why exclude The Year's Best?
Anyway, I'm excited to see a new horror collection as well. It will be released in February 2006. I can't find a content list yet, though the cover of the book mentions Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe and Michael Swanwick.

A must read LiveJournal post

Jeffrey Ford has posted "Present from the Past" a beautiful, sad story about his mother's death. If there are any anthologies of great blog writing, this story deserves to be part of it. In fact, Jeff probably should have sold it to the New Yorker or something. All I can say is, don't miss this entry. It's the best thing you'll read all day (if not much, much longer.)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shaken & Stirred on Jeff Ford

Gwenda Bond loves The Girl in the Glass. She also quotes a conversation between Antony and Diego from near the end of the book, which reminds me how much I enjoyed those two characters talks throughout the book. Characters and dialogue are two things Ford does so well. You can feel how close these guys are just from their words to each other. Wonderful stuff.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dark was the night, cold was the ground

Metafilter has a fascinating post on "Dark Was The Night--Cold Was The Ground" by Blind Willie Johnson and its connections to ancient hymns, the gospels and an Italian movie.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Great ideas that never were: Dungeons & Dragons on TV

BoingBoing explores the concept of a celebrity D&D TV show. This seems like such a natural (as long as the players can avoid becoming embroiled in rule arguments). Apparently, Will Wheaton and members of the Upright Citizen's Brigade (one of the funniest sketch shows ever!) came up with this concept a while back and even presented a pilot to Comedy Central. Wheaton says it was terrific, but the channel didn't pick it up. I want to see this!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Liberal comedian sues blogger

I just want to help MNSpeak drum up some support after Garrison Keillor sent him a cease & desist letter for a T-shirt that says "Prairie Ho Companion." As the blogger rightfully points out, the T-shirt is parody and Keillor has no legal grounds to sue him. However, Keillor could bring it to court and make the blogger spend mucho dollars trying to defend himself. Eventually, Keillor would lose, but the blogger would be left with huge lawyer bills. Welcome to American justice. Keillor should get over himself. (Link found at Bookslut.) There's also a discussion of the case at Metafilter.

Jeffrey Ford, "The Girl in the Glass"

Jeffrey Ford's new novel, "The Girl in the Glass," is a story of a Mexican boy, Diego, growing up as an apprentice con artist on Long Island in the 1930s. Diego later becomes a writer. It's a great story filled with wonderful characters, many of them "freaks" from Coney Island: a dog boy, a strong man, a rubber woman and a knife thrower. It also has wonderful period details, including one about racism on the Island that will later propel the plot.
I love Ford's stories and novels and this one is no exception. Yet, I find this one harder to fall in love with than earlier novels like "The Physiognomy" and "The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque." Part of this, I think, is because the second half of the book seems to click into a mystery plot and follows it through to the climax. It even includes a sneering villain who spells out his plans to Diego.
But the pleasures of this novel far exceed any of my reservations about the plot. Besides the characters, the early chapters about the seances and the first explorations of the mystery behind the girl in the glass are beautiful, funny and exciting.
Here are some reviews of "The Girl in the Glass": John Clute, Cheryl Morgan and The New York Times.
In other Jeffrey Ford news, he's posted a review of Anna Tambour's "Spotted Lilly" at his livejournal. Ford is really good at recommending great fiction. Check out his column "The Virtual Anthology" at Fantastic Metropolis. I'm thankful that he talked about Akutagawa's "Hell Screen," which is a great story. Pick it up if you can find it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The process of writing a novel

Justine Larbalestier answers a reader's question about how long it take to write a novel. The answer is interesting for those of us curious about how writers perform their craft. It also helps that she's funny. Worth checking out.
In a similar vein, Elizabeth Bear posts about How to become a mid-list writer.

Checking out the LibraryThings

I'm trying out this new Internet device called LibraryThing. It allows you to catalog your library and show what other people have as well. One of the "widgets" they offer is what you see to the right, a list of my most recently added books. I wish they gave you a way to show which book you're currently reading. (Right now it's "The Girl in the Glass.") But, right now it just shows what you've most recently added. So you may see that sidebar change quite a bit as I play with the service and add the many books sitting around my house.
At any time, feel free to comment on what I've got up there. I'd be interest to hear what you have to say.
While I'm thinking of books, be sure to check out Jeffrey Ford's latest post about Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners."

Book on Japan

I don't know all that much about this, but being a Japan-o-phile (Nippon-phile?), the book Kuhaku & other accounts from Japan from Chin Music Press looks fascinating. And the book itself looks beautiful. I'm going to have to buy this soon. Apparently, they are working on a similar book about New Orleans. (Link found via Bookslut.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nowhere Man coming out on DVD

Finally Nowhere Man is coming out on DVD. Most of you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. "Nowhere Man" was one of UPN's first shows. It lasted only one season, scheduled right before the abysmal "Star Trek: Voyager."
The show was a combination of "The Prisoner" and "The Fugitive" combined with the fear of identity theft. As the show begins, photographer Thomas Veil is happy with his wife and job. Then he's kidnapped. He escapes only to find that no one remembers him and on paper he officially doesn't exist. All he has to go on is a set of photos that the people who kidnapped him want. So from week to week, Veil travels the country trying to find out who did this to him, without being caught by those same people.
Watching the show on DVD will be frustrating for two reasons:
1. There won't be anymore episodes.
2. It ended on a wild cliff hanger.
Still, I can't wait to get it and see it again. There were some really great surreal episodes in there. There will also be commentaries and deleted scenes on the DVDs, so hopefully some answers will be revealed.

George Saunders on writing and compassion

Over at Maud Newton's blog there's an interview with George Saunders. It's a fascinating talk that focuses on how Saunders goes about his writing as well as the need for compassion in writing.

I think we can make this desire to be compassionate and tender more practical. It seems to me that if a writer 1) pays attention and 2) tries to keep the mind free of preconceptions about what he wants the story to be about (or wants a character to do, etc.) — then he will automatically move towards a story which is richer, more full-hearted, etc. In this model, compassion just means keeping yourself open to the possibilities of the story, which, in turn, means keeping oneself open to the possibilities of the world — what’s actually there, rather than what you want to be there.

Between this and Saunders's story CommComm in a recent New Yorker, I'm getting really interested in his fiction. He apparently has a novel coming out called The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. But I'll probably start with one of his short story collections.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Jeffrey Ford posts a story

Jeffrey Ford is posting his story "Giant Land" at 14theditch, but he's only leaving it up until Wednesday. So go read it now, and then buy JPPN #2 at Project Pulp. It's got the Ford story and quite a few others that are worth your time.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans

I haven't been posting much this week and that's directly related to the tragedy going on in New Orleans. I really don't have much to add about the sinking of a great American city and figure it's best to keep my mouth shut while blogs like BoingBoing, Kathryn Cramer, Whatever and many others do great work about the disaster. I only would like to add my plea to the many voices asking you to donate to the Red Cross or whatever organization you think will be able to help the people affected by this tragedy.

Stephen Bissette blogs

Wow, this is great news, comics great Stephen Bissette has a blog, called Myrant. So far he has written about teaching comics, 24-hour comics, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, dinosaurs and a new book he has coming out called "S.R. Bissette's Blur," which is a collection of columns about movies.

Welcome to Myrant, the Bissette blog. It'll be anything goes, day to day, but out of this will emerge a chronology of my current adventures -- as a writer, as a cartoonist, as a teacher. As of September, I will starting a new adventure, teaching at James Sturm and Michelle Ollie's amazing new Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT.

Check it out.