Friday, February 27, 2009

Well, hello. How are you?

I'm fine. Thank you. Except for some things, but then, there are always things and hidden amidst the things are sometimes gnomes or rhinoceroses which liven things up a bit.

And in other news...

March 1-7 is Will Eisner week. He's the creator of The Spirit, among other things. He's a big name in the comics world. So big they named an award after him. So far as I know, he's not related to Michael Eisner, but I've never actually checked.

Yiddish Literature is online and free. If I knew more Yiddish there would be a pun or other funny kvetchy line here.

There's a new Ted Chiang short story, and it too is online and free, in podcast form. Ted's stories are like comets, coming by once every long while or so, sometimes flying backwards, but always wondrous and worth taking a moment to look at. He's also won awards.

Here's an excerpt from The Yalobusha Review's interview with Kevin Brockmeier.

CK: There are some stories like “The Lady with the Pet Tribble” that’s sort of set in a fictional universe, and then something like The Brief History of the Dead, which is the real world, but added on there’s this fantastic element. Are they distinct modes you go into when you’re writing, realistic or fantastic?

KB: I don’t know that they are. Sometimes I’m aware I’m writing a story that won’t permit an element of fantasy, and sometimes I’m aware I’m writing a story that seems to be set in a wholly fictional universe, but oftentimes I’m writing in some weird sort of netherworld between the two, and even with the most realistic stories I write, you know I feel as if in the act of trying to observe the world clearly, it somehow turns into fantasy, anyway. It’s almost unavoidable for me.

CK: Why do you think observing the world clearly leads you toward fantasy?

KB: I’m not quite sure, but I can tell you that the books that I’ve enjoyed reading the most, which is to say the realistic writers I’ve enjoyed reading the most, are often people---oh just, some names like Marilynne Robinson, Louis de Bernieres, William Maxwell, Bohumil Hrabal---who seem to see the world through such a sharp lens that it suddenly becomes strange again in your eyes as you’re reading.

CK: Is that something you strive for when you write, to make the world new again or strange?

KB: New again, definitely; strange, perhaps by accident. It’s often a great effort to make each sentence approach the world with that sort of clarity. So it’s not as if the world is necessarily blossoming open before me in this new way as I’m writing. I'm slowly working to transfigure it in my own eyes.

More excerpts to come (every day next week in fact), including the bits that wouldn't fit within the finite limits of our paper universe. These will be free and online, like so many things these days.*


*For the full print interview, though, it will mean shelling over ten bucks. Mail check or money to the address at right and you'll get spiffyness in your mailbox.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Jane Austen and Zombies

Hello, readers. Recently my world seemed drab and without hope. And by this I mean that Elizabeth Bennett seemed destined to never cleave a zombie's head from its shoulders.

But thankfully that's all been taken care of now, courtesy of Seth Grahame-Smith.

Yes, in the midst of the current crazy for all things zombie (Zombies vs Unicorns, Nazi Snow Zombies, and the growing canon of Zombie Survival Literature ) someone has decided that Pride and Prejudice, for all it's wit and romance, was lacking something, and that something was rampaging hordes of the undead. According to the publishers, they're keeping the original text and adding "all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action." I'm not sure how this will work, but then again, I'm not completely sure how velcro works either. Maybe this will be as snappy and magical as velcro. Maybe it will be as noisy and annoying. We'll see.

Charles J. Brown suggests titles for other classics to be Zombie-fied, including Portnoy's Complaint about Zombies, which adds evidence to my theory that Philip Roth is, in secret, waging a never-ending struggle against the undead. Some other possible titles:

The Great Gatsby Zombie
Lolita and Other Zombies

A Little Zombie Princess
As I Lay Dying, which doesn't really need a name change and is sort of about a zombie anyway. Addie Bundren lives!

See also: The Times and The Guardian.

Thanks to a shiny girl for the tip.

Happy Thursday, readers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What News, Wednesday?

Once there was a man who was Thursday. He battled shady shades and hot-air balloons. That sort of thing is for tomorrow, though, so for now, let's see what's happening in more sensical today-like matters.

David Galef, former Ole Miss faculty member and occasional lender of James Tiptree, Jr. stories, has won the Dzanc Contest for Short Story Collections.

Mary Gaitskill talks with The Believer about Buffy, wives, and blue bird romances. [via LHB]

Stephen King on Twilight, and the safety of it's sex.

A blogger attempts the impossible task of aggregating links concerning Neil Gaiman's recent flurry of interviews (brought about by his winning the Newberry Medal for The Graveyard Book).

And finally, for teenagers of a pictorial proclivity, the ALA has released a list of their favorite graphic novels for Teens.

Happy Wednesday, readers. I will try, in the future, to not be absent for so long as I have been. Also, if you see a hot air balloon following you, don't try to understand it. Just run faster.