greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
[personal profile] greygirlbeast
Merce Cunningham, the choreographer, has died at age 90.

Somewhat balmy day here in Providence. I should have already put my hair up, but I haven't. After this entry, if I can last that long. The sky is a dappled mix of clouds and blue.

Yesterday, I began a piece I'm calling "January 28, 1926," and wrote a very respectable 1,346 words. So, quite a good writing day. Sirenia Digest #44 is quickly coming together. Late last night, Vince sent me a sketch, his plan for the illustration for "Vicaria Draconis," and it's looking great. So, yes, two new vignettes this month, plus a new guest poet who shares my love of cephalopods.

A new page has appeared on the website, under evidence. It showed up on Saturday night, actually, but I decided to wait and see if anyone else noticed it before I said anything. This seemed more prudent. But, to my knowledge, no one has noticed it. Under evidence, read back over Plate XV, then note the links at the bottom of the page. Not the one on the left, nor the one on the right, but the one in the center. And no, that's not the book trailer. And if all these answers are beginning to vex you, be patient. The questions are coming.

Last night I made the mistake of perusing what's called "paranormal romance" on If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you've already heard my reaction. I seem to live in some sort of self-imposed state of literary asylum. I had no idea there was so much of this crap, or that it sold so well, or that it was so awful. I go to some of the bestsellers, which are, by the way, bestsellers, and cannot read a single sentence aloud without laughing, a reaction I'm fairly certain the authors were not trying to elicit. I'm not talking badly written; I'm not sure this stuff is written, at all. And no, I won't name names. That's poor form. But looking at all this junk, I felt so utterly, oddly defeated. Just seeing how people are lapping up this pablum, I never wanted to write another word (and yet, here I am, babbling away). Several things occurred to me, scanning the pages of Book 15 in a series by some woman who brags about writing three novels a year (on average). One of the thoughts is something that I've been saying for many years, that vampires are no longer monsters, no longer an incarnation of the Other. They have, instead, become primarily a socially acceptable expression of humanity's collective, if latent, necrophilia. Much the same way that zombies are in danger of becoming clowns, vampires are the daemon lover no one really wants to admit is a demon.

And a second thought, I'd be willing to bet you green folding money that a high percentage of the women (and men) who get off on "paranormal romance," who find all this werewolf/vamp/angel/mermaid/fairie/dragon/fluffy-bunny "otherkin" soft core so very titillating are also staunchly anti-GLBT. For example, we could start with a certain Mormon...oh, wait. I said I wouldn't name names. But, you know where I'm headed with this. I'll fuck a dead man (or woman) who drinks blood, this undead serial killer, and I really get off on stories about crime-fighting werewolves doing the nasty with dragons who are actually fairies pretending to be twentysomething human women with anorexia. But, ewwwwwww, men with men? Women with women? Transsexuals? The Bible says that's wrong.

Anyway, damned depressing stuff. [ profile] grandmofhelsing observed that "paranormal romance" is "erotic horror" that is neither erotic nor horrific, which seems about right. And I suppose this is one reason that Sirenia Digest doesn't have a million subscribers. I know I'm shooting myself in the foot, sure, but I feel it's my sworn duty to write books and stories and vignettes that would never in a million years appeal to the consumers of "paranormal romance" (I shall not again call them "readers"). There is awe and wonder, terrible beauty and mystery, in the dark places, but you'll never see any of it if you're afraid to turn off the lights.

Only nine days (counting today), until the release of The Red Tree. Have you had another look at Plate 15 yet?

Oh, and the Very Special Auction continues.

And now I must go remember unpleasantries that may have occurred early in 1926, and late in 1919, and write it all down.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

On the other hand, some paranormal romances are better than others, and I recently read a few by one author and enjoyed the heck out of them. By most external standards, they're not good at all. I went into them, however, with absolutely no expectations at all of consistency, non-stereotypical characterization, linguistic sensitivity, grasp of subtext, etc., etc. Given that, and that I wasn't holding them to the standards of high stylists of horror or fantasy, they make for entertaining reading.

In other words, as long as we only judge them as crap, then they're good crap.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I used to take book recommendations from seriously. But recently, I ordered a book recommended to me (and considering my favorites include you, some Stephen King, some Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Guy Gavriel Kay, some Mercedes Lackey and Neil Gaiman, I thought the recommendation would be on target). Anyway, that had to have been the absolute worse thing I have ever read. I can name names, if you're interested, but it was HORRIBLE. I've seen teenage girls write better stuff about supernatural creatures having sex.

Needless to say, I'm done with Amazon's recommendations. My love of dark fantasy, supernatural, horror and science fiction does not mean I'd like something that masks itself as "writing" under one of those genres.

I ended up writing a rather scathing review on Amazon, as well.

And then I looked at my other recommendations and realized that much of it was what I like to refer to as "poorly written supernatural smut." I like a story that has some intellect to it, and well, these certainly do not. Very frightening that many of these books are best sellers.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Amazing what Amazon recommends sometimes. The thing that makes me stop and pause is when they actually do recommend something I'd like. This isn't actually a criticism, given how quickly and semi-haphazardly they grew into being the behemoth they are, but I generally assume their recommendations are scattershot, encompassing sales figures, your buying history, buying history of people who bought stuff you buy, etc. None of which seems especially likely to get at whatever thing one most likes about a given book.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I cannot yet bring myself to accept book recommendations from computers.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Strangely enough, in the past (but it was several years ago), Amazon was fairly good at recommending books and authors to me that I actually ended up liking. I guess it's so big now that it's impossible. But my tastes got a little broader, as well (although they never included vampire smut LOL), so maybe that confused it.

I've been desperate to find a new good author that I'm not yet aware of - I've read everything friends have recommended at this point, so I guess I thought I'd give it a shot.

I definitely learned my lesson, though. I also think such books should have a "smut" label or something on them. They're no more than Harlequin romance novels with a vampire or werewolf or fae thrown in for good measure.

It's sad, but it seems like I'm just sticking more and more with authors I know will deliver something I know I will enjoy. And unfortunately, that list seems to be getting smaller.

And yes, I cannot wait for "The Red Tree."

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm thinking more along the line of B movies: not held to the same standards or viewed with the same expectations as high cinema, but viable on their own terms. To pick an example from another genre, most individual issues of long-running superhero comic books are not very good. It's almost oxymoronic, given the horrors of continuity, changing writers and artists, crossovers, being whored out for advertising, etc. And yet! Every once in a while a really good arc or writer comes along. Said arc is generally not Ghost World, or American Splendor, or The Sound and the Fury, but operating within the confines of the subgenre "long-running superhero comics," it's stellar.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

It may be you have a point. But I don't read a lot of fiction, and I'm extremely selective. I am an extremely slow reader, because of my eyes, and I will not waste reading time. I can watch a B movie in less than two hours, usually, whereas I'd need at least a day or two, maybe a week, would be required for of a novel of comparable quality. And the two-hour movie would entail far less eyestrain.

And, I will admit, struggling to make a living as a writer, I cannot help but be angered when authors succeed by churning out garbage. In that respect, it affects me on a very personal level.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would feel the same on both counts if I were in your shoes. Every once in a while I try to remind myself that I shouldn't waste time because we all die, eyesight deteriorates, nothing lasts forever, etc., but inevitably I wind up reading shit again... and liking it. Different grades of filler for my mental compost heap, I guess.

As always, it's a pleasure to be able to read your work, and that you keep on keeping on. I'm enjoying the metafictional bits leading up to The Red Tree.

Re: But Is It Art?

Date: 2009-07-27 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I'm enjoying the metafictional bits leading up to The Red Tree.

And I'm enjoying doing them.


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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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