Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pullman, Pinkwater, and Beer (Not necessarily in that order)

Hello, readers. This used to be Wednesday, but that's all gone now. In our last post, we excerpted a bit of our Kevin Brockmeier interview (see it in print by buying our latest swanky issue), in which he discussed those things he loved reading as a kid. One of those things were the books of a man named Daniel Pinkwater. It just so happens there's an interview/paen of Mr. Pinkwater at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Go there to learn of Daniel's days "living on the slopes of Kilimanjaro", the name of his dog (rhymes with Zuzu), and his childhood dream of growing up to be a liar and criminal.

Speaking of honor, Philip Pullman gave the keynote address at the Modern Liberty Convention. He manages to avoid too much talk of daemons, or the godlessness of the universe, and yet still manages to be erudite and inspirational when it comes to the morality of a nation or individual. "Joy does not flourish in the garden of anxiety."

Oh, and one more thing. Small Beer Press has uploaded their backlist of books to something called Scribd. This means that such wonders as short stories by Kelly Link or John Kessel or Benjamin Rosenbaum, plus novels by Geoff Ryman, Elizabeth Hand, and so forth, are all free and digital. Occasionally the future is a neat place, no?

Oh, and one more one more thing. We made a promise to excerpt a bit of our Brockmeier interview in which he discussed further favorite authors, mysterious gardens, and/or the apocalypse. And we are bloggers of our word. Except for the mysterious garden bit. That will come later.

CK: How did you feel in that book [The Brief History of the Dead] about eradicating pretty much the entire human population?

KB: I was happy to do it [laughing]. You know, honestly, my hand kind of seemed forced. I wanted to tell a story about how the end of our own world brought this other world to an end, and also about the way that people continue to exist in our memories even after they had fallen out of our lives. It seemed to me that the best approach to the story was to narrow the personalities in our world down to one, so that’s what I ended up doing. But I can also say that I’ve read and appreciated a fair amount of post-apocalyptic fiction. Above and beyond anything else, I’m talking about the short stories of J.G. Ballard. All of his early stories and novels were these beautiful, crystalline attempts at world ending. And also people like Thomas Disch, and John Wyndham and, George R. Stewart. A lot of the classic science fiction novels about the end of the world engaged my imagination.

CK: Have you ever thought about why the end of the world appeals to you so much? Have you ever worried about it?

KB: You know, I’m not realy sure. I think it might be that those themes came to appeal to me simply because the books I had discovered that dealt with them were so very well done, and I sought out other books of the same type. Ballard is just a genius at making sentences. After I read his Complete Stories, I felt like the rhythms of his sentences and the way he approached the world remained in my head for a long, long time.

Happy Wednesday that was, readers.


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