Finished Writing Horror, ed. by Mort Castle while in Omaha. The articles were sometimes interesting, sometimes actually helpful and occasionally very out-of-date. Better can be found on the internet, so I’m glad I picked it up used.
Up early to go running with Chris. I couldn’t sleep after Eric’s alarm went off a few times. Since Chris is leaving Wednesday, our evenings will be more gaming related instead of work-related.
Speaking of work, not surprisingly, I didn’t get much done last week. Pushed through a bunch of changes on Model Species Friday night before we left and sent a mostly finished draft to Andy & Samms for reading. Also gave my mom a copy, though I doubt much good critique will come from there. Even though she’s probably read more science fiction than most of the people I know. Looking at my notes, it seems there’s only one ‘to do” left on Model Species. I thought Eric had something else. Well, I guess there might be some terms he wants to pump up. I did do some prewriting for the new first chapter of Pas de Chat, so one good afternoon of work should put her to rest. Responses back (both negative) from LBF on Lucinda and from A Guide to Surreal Botany on the piece I sent them.
Feeling hermity, which is no surprise, and I’ve been pretty pissy toward Eric since before we left, which is not good.
Time to run.
I missed posting yesterday. Wednesday was busy and I hadn’t slept well the night before. Did the wellness screening thing, played some disc, spent much time in zombie mode until after dinner and the massive amounts of caffeine caught up with me. Eric is still picking apart Model Species and it won’t be out to markets this week.
Was happy with my throwing yesterday and Tuesday at open play. Had some nicely controlled throws to Amy, though I kept putting the disc a little further in front of Dave than I wanted. Not that he couldn’t catch up, but we were playing four on three. Nobody wants to work harder than they have to.
Finished Children of Dune. Wow, is about all I can say. I’m pretty amazed at what Herbert does with his characters, his world. And I can see just how much of an influence he’s been on Eric. Supposedly, God Emperor of Dune will test my mettle as far as the series goes. But, I’m going to hold off jumping into it for a bit. So book #13 for the year: done.
Woke up this morning utterly convinced that it was Saturday. This week is dragging on…
Walked to CVS this morning. They had a poor selection of Father’s Day card for grandfathers, so I still need to buy one.
Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte
I read The Club Dumas back in May of 2004. It’s a dense novel of dubious plot complexity. I enjoyed the writing. The ending is less than happy which always wins points from me. Made me want to read more Perez-Reverte. Made me realize that Perez-Reverte would love to read more Dumas. If only Dumas weren’t, well, long dead. So I suspect in the interest of write-what-you-want-to-read, Perez-Reverte started writing the adventures of Captain Alatriste.
It’s more than a Dumas wanna-be. The writing (and the translation) is crisp and clean with lovely characters. The plot is…simple. And that isn’t a bad thing. This is the first in an episodic series, and in an adventure like this, the complexities of politics are the venue of capes and steel. The setting is where Perez-Reverte really shines as our narrator tells us about the glories of Spain. The legacy of painting and poetry is given as much time as the campaigns in Flanders.
I’ll be picking up Purity of Blood, eventually considering my New Year resolution. At the rate I’m going, maybe by 2008.
Book #11…sort of.
In the land of Nebula nominated fiction, I read seven short stories, five novelettes, and two novellas. After a cut-paste-word-count, that comes to over 125,000 words. Which is longer than the average book I read so far this year. So I’m counting it. Impressions: There’s definitely more ‘horror’ in the speculative fiction markets than I realized. Lots of musings on religion too, which surprised me. I’m also fairly impressed at home much can be done in less than 5000 words. I can’t do it. My shortest fiction in the past five years was more in the novelette region.
Of the novellas I only read “Magic for Beginners” by Kelly Link and “Left of the Dial” by Paul Witcover. I gave “Clay’s Pride” and “The Tribes of Bela” a shot, but they really didn’t catch my interest. “Magic for Beginners” is my favorite of this category, what I read of it. Sometimes it kind of felt like Link was making things up as she went along, adding details on the fly. I got that feeling reading “Faery Handbag” (in the novelette category) too, but “Magic for Beginners” had some really pleasant turns of phrases and some lovely humor.
In the novelette category, I like “Flat Diane” by Daniel Abraham. Great tension. The end didn’t fall that way I thought it would, always kudos for that, and still made sense within the story. I liked “Men are Trouble” by Jim Kelly too, but I think Abraham’s story was tighter.
Short story-wise, I can see why “Singing My Sister Down” by Margo Lanagan is the favored. Very nicely done with no over-sentimentality. But I like “My Mother, Dancing” by Nancy Kress to win. It’s what I think of as science fiction, and it reaches with its concepts and leaves the reader thinking about them.
Ghosting: A Double Life by Jennie Erdal
In Ghosting, Jennie Erdal writes about her twenty year stint as a ghost writer for the owner of a British publishing company. She includes a very long set up of the events, including much of her background and how she developed her love of words. When she began work for the man she calls “Tiger” in this memoir, it was a translator of Russian and an editor. By the end, she had penned two novels in his name as well as many magazine columns and edited many books of interviews.
I started out not liking this book very much. It took a while for me to get through the first 75 pages or so. Erdal’s writing was too heavy with long metaphors. Her boss struck me very much like a spoiled brat, getting his way in every case. I found it difficult to summon much sympathy for her plight. But then, around the time Erdal describes her divorce, it seemed like the writing lost some of its self-consciousness. Jennie Erdal has some passages about her family that are really lovely, as are her observations on translating and ghosting. But these area are given little time, nearly pushed into the background by the huge, obnoxious personality of Tiger. And maybe in that, her art imitates that time in her life.
Well, I finished House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. It had a few unsettling bits. The whole concept of a house with hallways and rooms that suddenly appear and exceed the area of the actual house, intrigued me. It’s kind of a disturbing, jarring thought, that your house may not be what you think it is. Kind of like when I shut the back bedroom door for the first time, after living here a while, and found that on the opposite side of the doorknob was a doorhandle. I wanted to know what kind of story someone could make out of that sort of unsettling thing. And I still want to know, because House of Leaves is barely about that. Mostly all the good bits were shuffled into a pseudoacademic work and the free form thoughts of a druggie. Don’t even get me started on the type-face hijinks. And while I think a more hierarchical (or hypertextual) storytelling form could be interesting, this just came off as annoying. Like American Psycho, it kept me reading just to see the whole thing through.
On the plus side, Samms saw me reading it and brought me Poe’s Haunted to listen to. (Danielewski and Poe are siblings and there was some cross-marketing between the two works.) Pretty good. Much better than Hello.
So, how many books a year do I read that are authored by women? I ask since such questions have been going around.
This is from roughly 1999 on because that’s when I started keeping track. It includes rereads.
October 1999 through December 2000: 5 out of 21 novels were written by women. (24%)
2001: 6 of 24. (25%)
2002: 7 of 20. (35%)
2003: 3 of 15. (20%)
2004: 6 of 21. (29%)
2005: 5 of 18. (28%)
First three months of 2006: 5 of 7. (71%)
That last number doesn’t mean I’m currently going out of my way to read female writers. I don’t. I never do. I read what I read.
Number of male writers on my list: 48
Number of women: 22 (31%)
Do these numbers mean anything? No, they most likely don’t.