greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caveat: No one is going to read this, and no one is going to comment. (This is an expectation, not a command).

Bright outside, and warm. I'd be on my way to Moonstone for a day of swimming, if the passing of Katia (the hurricane that's taking a Norwegian vacation) hadn't left the whole Eastern Seaboard with dangerous rip currents. So, instead, I will sit and work. Weekends are for...people who aren't writers. Just like vacations (I'm looking at you, Katia), retirement, and health insurance.

And I had dreams that are nagging at me, even though I can't remember them. And I have a headache I've had since last night. But other than that, hey man, as far as I know, the motherfucker's tiptop.

I don't get a lot of headaches, and they make me extra not right. Sorry.

Yesterday, I worked. Let's be safe and leave it at that. Oh, I will add that I needed Spooky to help me, and she displayed magnificent restraint and didn't kill me.

No matter how much time I spend on the internet (and it's a shameful LOT of time), I have a fairly low opinion of it. But every now and then someone has a good idea, and that good idea actually works. This is the case with Kickstarter, which has made crowdsourcing a practical option for many of us who often cannot find a traditional, conventional source for funding this or that project. The success of mine and Spooky's Tales of the Ravens/Goat Girl Press Kickstarter astounded me. I never thought it would work. But we not only met our goal, we received 212% of what we'd hoped for. And now, with mine and [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's The Drowning Girl: Stills From a Movie That Never Existed, as I write this we are in the Kickstarter's final hour, and its funded at 298%. So, not only will Spooky and I be producing this wonderful little book based on her raven paintings, but Kyle and I will be creating a set of photographs and a short film based on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. A couple of years ago, none of these things would have happened. So, thank you, Kickstarter, and thank you donors. We will not let you down (though we may be slow as fuck).

---

Last night, rather impulsively, we decided to drive over to the Providence Place Mall (we avoid this place like all bad things that are to be avoided), because there's a Borders there. I sort of felt an obligation to see the end of Borders firsthand. And...it was sort of horrifying and sad and, yet, peculiarly gratifying. Looking at what seemed like, in some parallax trick, to be miles upon miles of empty shelving, it became clearer than it has yet been that we stand at the end of an old age of publishing. I don't want to admit it, and I have no idea what the next age will look like, but there's no denying this is a transitional event. The horror and sadness, that came from seeing books that had, essentially, been reduced to worthless chunks of paper, devalued, stripped of their supposed, inherent merit, 70%-90% off. The peculiar gratification (and I know this is petty), that came from seeing the fall of one of the monoliths that took out so many small and extremely valuable bookstores over the last two decades. What goes around...

But there was, of course, this other thing. This other thing, that was fear. I am a writer, and here is my livelihood, in part, here in the store, and it's dying. No, it's dead, and we were just hanging with the last round of vultures (the lions, hyenas, and jackals left days ago), as the maggot-riddled carcass was picked clean. Oh, I know my career will survive, however the presentation of the art I create might eventually be altered, whatever form it might take. But I'm 47, and bookstores, that sell actual fucking books, that's what I've known all my life. I didn't grow up wanting to write data, ones and zeros, for Kindles or what-the-fuck-ever ugly hunks of plastic. I wanted to make books. And, no matter how much of my income eventually is derived from ebooks, I will, always hate that format, and always cling to the past, which is my present. The book: which is an object with covers and binding and pages, something tactile, something with a wonderful odor, born of ink. This will all likely be swept away in a few more decades or less, excepting small specialty publishers catering to the antiquarian tastes of people like me. But I'll keep writing, and people will keep reading.

And Borders had it coming, just as Barnes and Nobles has it coming. Just as Amazon has it coming. In time, they all fall, because everything does. Because greed is an absolute with a single inevitable outcome.

Anyway, eulogies and nostalgia aside, there really wasn't much left to buy, which made it easy to be good kids. Oh, there were veritable fucking mountains of celebrity bios, especially books about Sarah and Bristol Palin. It was satisfying seeing how many of those were left. There were sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks that had no business having been published in the first place, and tons of YA vampire dreck. "Literature" was gutted, as was "Science," except for theoretical mathematics. We must have been there about an hour (it was very hot, and the fluorescent lights were making me woozy), and we spent about $45, picking those bones, and came away with:

The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars (2009), Christopher Cokinos
The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must (1996, 2011) by Robert Zubrin
Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks (2011) by Juliet Eilperin
The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created Alice in Wonderland* (2010) by Jenny Woolf*
Katharine Hepburn: A Life in Pictures (2009) Edited by Pierre-Henri Verlhac**

...and one DVD, the only one left worth a cent, the two-disc special edition of Tony Scott's True Romance (1993).

---

I'm oddly homesick.

---

Later, I had some decent RP in Insilico. I read Joe R. Lansdale's "The Crawling Sky" from The Book of Cthulhu. Now, understand – Joe is brilliant, 99 times out of every 100. I once had dinner with him on the Thames, a Chinese restaurant on a huge boat, restaurant with some fucking absurd name like the Floating Lotus. Anyway, that's a story for another time. But "The Crawling Sky" is one of those rare cases where a funny Lovecraftian story works. First off, understand that this is like Cormac McCarthy writing a Lovecraft story, filmed by the Cohen Bros., starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn. Now, understand that, no matter how fucking funny the story may be, the "mythos" elements weren't being spoofed, but were taken pretty seriously. Anyway, yes. One of the anthology's gems. This line, I must quote: "He had the kind of features that could make you wince; one thing God could do was he could sure make ugly." Lansdale is, among other things, to be lauded for keeping the "weird western" alive.

Gods, what a fucking long blog entry! Gotta work!

* Winner of the Most Absurd Subtitle Award.
** A beautiful "coffee-table" book. How will Kindle fill that gap? How will we have beautiful coffee-table books on iPads? Maybe we'll stop having coffee tables. They seem a holdover from some more civilized age, anyway.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
My morning was going rather shitty (resuming a course begun last night), but then I saw someone refer to Orson Scott Card as a "howling bigoted douchemonkey," and I almost laughed, and now I feel a little better. Also, I've been sleeping like crazy, which is a tad bizarre. Vaults of sleep. Too much wandering in the watery Dreamlands. These days, always do I dream of water. Also, I might be getting a headache.

Yesterday, I did a metric shit-ton of work on those acoustic particle destab...wait. What was I saying? I knew a moment ago, then there was this bright flash before my eyes, and now I have no idea whatsoever. That is so fucking weird. It just keeps happening. But...um...yeah, I did a lot of work yesterday. And I sent "John Four" to S. T. Joshi, who wanted to read it. If he decides to reprint it for a forthcoming anthology, I might decide to expand it a bit (because, you know, spare time spills forth from my asshole). And I emailed Michel Zulli. And I received news from Penguin that the delayed (by a hurricane) CEM for The Drowning Girl should arrive here today. I'm praying it got fucking lost somewhere in Connecticut, and will remain so for at least a week*.

And you know, a leech (Hirudinea) is such an honest organism, even among other oligocheates. No frills, no fussing about with frippery.

This society needs less enthusiasm, less opportunity to express its opinion, and more time spent in quiet reflection.

Oh, last night? Thank you for asking. Perfectly wretched, but, truly, I've no one to blame but myself. I would say there was lousy RP in Insilico last night, but that would imply there was RP in Insilico last night, and there wasn't. Yet, for some psychotic reason, I waited around for more than two hours. Oh, yes. Because there was supposed to be RP. But...whining ooc drama trumps all else in SL, and almost all the good RPers have flung themselves into the abyss of the virtual bureaucracy of sim administration...which means they rarely have time to RP...and really, that was only the tip of how everything kept going crappy last night.

But! All was not lost. I had Valium and Vincent D'Onofrio! And Vincent D'Onofrio makes even the most sour night a little less so. An "actor's actor," I have heard him called, even as I have been called a "writer's writer." These, kittens, are what are known as backhanded compliments, or consolation prizes, or what the fuck ever. But! Just give me ponygirls, a glass dildo, and the brain of Vincent D'Onofrio, and you'll hear not one complaint from me. Oh, and a little Oxycodone. That would sweeten the pot, yes.

Oh, I also read another story from The Book of Cthulhu, W. H. Pugmire's "Some Buried Memory," which was delicious, because Pugmire is brilliant. Alas, there are not many more good stories in this (largely) reprint anthology that I've either not read previously or which I won't deign to read. Here's my thing (as Lara Means would say): Except in extraordinarily rare instances, you either approach the work of Lovecraft with a straight face, or you leave it the hell alone. Bring humor and parody to the table, and usually you'll make a fool of yourself and embarrass others. Bring irony, that's worse still. Do it right, or don't do it, but for fuck's sake, stop with the attempts at too-cool-for-school hipster and/or pseudo-intellectual comedy. There have been exceptions, a tiny handful, such as Neil's "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar." As the Mythbusters say, these exceptions are not something you should try at home. Keep your cuddly Cthulhu slippers and plushie Azathoths to yourselves and far away from me. Anyway, too much of The Book of Cthulhu is given over to the funny which is not funny. There are probably half a dozen good stories I've yet to read, at best. Which is a shame.

Did I mention Vincent D'Onofrio?

Dry and Humorless,
Aunt Beast

* It's here. Let this fresh hell begin.
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Thanks for yesterday's comments. Let's see if we can do that again. I like to see Frank the Goat all smiling and happy.

Sunny, and warm (high of 84˚F forecast) here in Providence, and I should go to the sea. Instead, I'll write.

So, after I propose a book as the month's selection, and after I discover it's a steaming pile of pink giraffe dung, then people step forward to tell me that it was a baffling choice. Better yet, that my choice of Ryan's book led them to doubt my sanity and the very fabric of time and space. Helpful lot, you are. Anyway, so I officially decry The Forest of Hands and Teeth as the waste of a wonderful title and a lot of paper, and move along. Yes, you heard me. I am breaking with my neurosis and not even finishing it. And there will be no other choice for the "book club" this month. Me, I'm reading The Stand (the original 1978 text) for the first time since the 1980s. And this be a lesson to you all. Even aliens fuck up sometimes.

Seriously, how does someone get to be an adult-type person and have such a dopey, sugary view of the world as Carrie Ryan? How is it that their ideas of human relationships remain so firmly rooted in the ninth grade?

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,349 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. Yes, I finished Chapter Six on Monday without having realized that I'd done so. I am approaching the book's climax. It's a very, very peculiar book. It's me taking a vacation. But, regardless, I can assure you that – whatever it might be – it's at least 1,000% better written than The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

---

I was very pleased to see this bit in John Clute's review (at Strange Horizons) of Ellen Datlow's Naked City:

And Caitlin R Kiernan's "The Colliers' Venus (1893)" (in a steampunk Denver here called Cherry Creek) is an engrossingly indirect narrative at the climax of which the eponymous figure—who is Gaia in bondage—turns to holy ash, which is coal dust that fills the lungs, which is to say she imprints us with our fate.

But the entire review should be read, as it speaks to the sad mess that has been made of the once respectable and promising label "urban fantasy." Seriously, if you value my fiction, or my opinion of fiction in general (the Carrie Ryan gaffe notwithstanding), you should read this whole review. But I will quote two passages:

"If it's the same story wherever it happens to be set," I wrote, "it isn't Urban Fantasy."

– and –

The best stories in both anthologies, being about our world, do not pretend to tell us that all will be well, that all things will be well if we listen, down to the last sweet-tooth detail, to the child inside. Paranormal romances told by sweeties no longer feed us joy or terror, not any more. They are yesterday's newspaper. If it is our fate to breathe dust, then let it be the dust of the world we live in.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. Where have all our John Clute's gone?

---

So, as I was saying, casting about for something reliable to read last night, we settled on the original text of The Stand (1978). The 1990 revision/extension/updating, in my opinion, was mostly nonsensical and all but ruined the novel.* I'd actually wanted to read Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (1958), but couldn't find my copy anywhere (and fear it was lost on a move [dash] book purge). So, yes. The Stand. I was afraid we'd start, and this book I'd loved so much during my teens and early twenties that I read it pretty much once a year would have lost everything that made it dear to me. Kathryn and I re-read King's 'Salem's Lot back in 2004, and, frankly, I found it embarrassing. That is, I was embarrassed I'd ever admired that novel. Anyway...

Last night I was very pleasantly surprised to find that The Stand is still, to me, an enthralling, well-written book. Which means King's writing improved considerably between 'Salem's Lot and The Stand, between about 1973 and 1977 (approximate composition dates, not publication dates). I entirely stopped reading him after '89 and '90's supremely disappointing The Dark Half and the reworked edition of The Stand. For me, the high point had been Pet Sematary (1983), and I knew the party was ending when I read the atrociously bloated and silly It (1986). I've drifted off the point. So far, after the first five chapters and the first fifty pages, The Stand is what I remember it being. I'm just glad that I have a copy of the original text, and not the later, longer, and lesser edition.

And I should go. There's an impatient platypus.

An Old-School Urban Fantasy,
Aunt Beast

* Much like what Clute says about urban fantasy stories being about the places they're set in, and ceasing to be those stories if moved to a new place...a good novel is about its time, no matter how "timeless" the basic elements may be, and cannot simply be bumped ahead in time to make more money for publishers and authors. Just look at the mess that has been made of Lovecraft on film, because no one understands these are now period stories. Now, from here, The Stand is a story about the world thirty-one years ago (it's set in 1980).
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
Rainy and overcast again today.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,749 words on Chapter Six of Blood Oranges, and either finished the chapter, or very nearly did.

After five years, almost the entire premise (not plot, just premise) of Dinosaurs of Mars has finally come together in my head, and I've told subpress I hope to be able to write it next autumn (2012). Yes, sometimes it happens this way. I will also likely be writing an SF novelette for subpress, to be released as a hardback – as with The Dry Salvages – later this year, time permitting, details TBA.

A lot of email yesterday and this morning, much of it pertaining to the Drowning Girl Kickstarter project. The last few months, the amount of email I have to make it through has sort of skyrocketed. Which is good, and bad. Good, because it means lots of work. Bad, because it means...lots of work.

By the way, if you're reading this, and you're the sort who likes to interview writers, please note that I do not do telephone interviews, and make no exceptions. Your noting this now saves me having to turn you down later. It is my job to be witty and articulate. I can be neither of these things on the phone.

---

Okay, so. Romance in fiction. "Romance" as genre publishing and low-brow culture defines it. I'm opposed. In my own books, there are relationships, in a very rough and tainted form. In that there are people who do have relationships (or who have had relationships). Sometimes, there are exceptions (Soldier comes to mind). Regardless, the relationships rarely end well.* Much of this stems from my fundamental disdain/lack of interest in romantic entanglements as a fictional theme. Hell, my favorite literary romance is probably Wuthering Heights. Or Lolita. Or maybe Hannibal. You see where I'm going with this. Just look at Sirenia Digest. Love songs for monsters** (Do not steal that fucking title or I will disembowel you).

So, we're reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I even made it this month's selection of the book club thingy. And it started out well enough, at first (even though we really, at this point, need more imaginative end of the world scenarios than The Zombie Apocalypse). But it has, after a few chapters, nose-dived into some fairly excruciating romance. And the language used to describe...well...here's an example:

He nods. He understands. And then he takes my hand and presses his lips against my palm. It feels like fire entering my bloodstream and laying siege to my body. He kisses my wrist, and I am an inferno. He starts to move up my arm, his breath tantalizing, and I almost give in as he pulls me to him.

Okay. Enough. I don't care who blurbs this, or likes it, or buys it, or publishes it. This is overwrought dreck. Or smarm. Or both. It's pedestrian porn for bromidic teenagers. If this is the best Ryan has to offer, it's a pretty sad state of affairs. If it gets you wet, fine. I'd mourn for your libido, but I'm not that altruistic. I expect we'll finish the novel, but only because it's hard for me to leave books unfinished, even lousy ones.

There's some good stuff at the start of The Forest of Hands and Teeth! People who don't remember that the Earth has an ocean. That's good. Go with that. Besides, Ryan is trained as a lawyer. She has this other fucking way of making lots of money. She could keep her bad prose to herself, and no one would starve.

And in the future, I will try to do a better job of picking books. Spooky says we have to read at least fifty pages first. Good advice. What have I learned, kittens? Sometimes, I fuck up. But I knew that already.

Oh! Also good RP in Insilico last night. Thank you Joah, Sayer, and Fifth. Also, slowly wading back into Rift. I had to take a break, to avoid burn out.

Enough for now. The words, which I promise will not be dreck, await.

Dreckless,
Aunt Beast

* Note: I am in a very satisfactory, long-term relationship.
** Copyright © 2011 by Caitlín R. Kiernan

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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