Archive for August, 2007

Mad Men

Jeff VanderMeer • August 29th, 2007 • Culture

Mad Men, on AMC, is the best new series Ann and I have watched in a very long time. From its ingenious opening credits, with faintly mysterious music, to the ending songs with their evocative, often ironic or just plain brutal counterpoints to the drama on the screen, Mad Men is innovative, rich, and complex.

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“Classic” Post: Aug 2003–Escapist Fantasy and POMO Technique

Jeff VanderMeer • August 29th, 2007 • Uncategorized

Looking back on this post, there’s a certain element of chasing one’s tail here, but I think it’s still valuable in terms of challenging lazy assertions about postmodernism and also “escapism”.

There has been a certain amount of debate about escapist versus non-escapist fantasy that I think would be better discussed in the context of escapist versus non-escapist fiction.

First, though, I think it’s important to reaffirm a very basic concept: All fiction is fantasy, on one level. No matter how “realistic” the fiction, it contains some element either in a different context than it occurs in the real world or an element of the imagination brought in by the writer that has only a loose association with reality. To me, this seems like a rather safe and in some ways banal assumption.

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Bumbershoot Blog Entry–MySpace Feature

Jeff VanderMeer • August 28th, 2007 • Uncategorized

My blog entry on the Shriek movie and Clarion charity antho was a featured Bumbershoot and MySpace blog last week. Check it out.

I’ll be in Seattle this weekend for the Bumbershoot Festival. I’ll be speaking during the program “Superheroes, Heroines, and a Strange City” on Saturday September 1 at 5:15 PM at the Leo K. Theatre, along with Nicola Griffith and Austin Grossman, with Therese Littleton moderating.

Jeff

Matt Ruff: Good Monkey?

Jeff VanderMeer • August 28th, 2007 • Nonfiction

Amazon has run my interview with Matt Ruff.

Amazon.com: Is Jane Charlotte, your narrator, crazy?

Ruff: That’s the question, all right.

Amazon.com: Are you a good monkey, bad monkey, or an indifferent monkey?

Ruff:A good monkey. But of course, that’s what all the monkeys say.

More Goat Variations (draft)

Jeff VanderMeer • August 28th, 2007 • Fiction

At this point, his aide would hand him the book. They’d have gone through a dozen books before choosing that one. It is the only one with nothing in it anyone could object to. Nothing in it of substance, nothing, his people thought, that the still-free press could cut him with. There is a goat in the book. A goat having adventures. It is written by a Constitutionalist, an outspoken supporter of coronation and expansion.

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Lovely Fungal Gardens

Jeff VanderMeer • August 27th, 2007 • Uncategorized

Found here, via Nathan Ballingrud.

I, for one, already have fungal gardens. I live in Foetid Florida, as the new travel guides all describe it:

Foetid Florida: Come for the Beaches, Stay For the Humid Alligators Colonized By Lichen and the Proliferating Rotting Smelly Mushrooms. (But you’ll really fall in love with the Scheming Lizard-Skinks and Their Old South Gnarly Squirrel Hench-Rodents.)
Jeff

Some True Words

Jeff VanderMeer • August 27th, 2007 • Uncategorized

Can be found here. The guy has great clarity.

Jeff

Choosing an Agent

Jeff VanderMeer • August 27th, 2007 • Nonfiction, Writing Tips

The topic of choosing an agent came up recently in a couple of different contexts, so I thought I might share a few thoughts on the subject.

First off, it is absolutely correct that the wrong agent or a bad agent is worse than having no agent at all. Your agent is a reflection on you, and an incompetent agent makes you look like an idiot to editors and publishers. The wrong agent, by contrast, probably just won’t get you a deal. Case in point: An early agent for Veniss Underground, I found out later, specialized in selling children’s books!

Secondly, it’s fine to look at the guides to what agents are out there, but some of the best agents don’t really advertise. And even with information on the internet, nothing beats personal testimonials.

The best advice I got with regard to agents was to look around at authors whose books and careers I admired–ones who I thought I could emulate career-wise–and then ask those authors who their agents were, and if they’d recommend them.

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The End Times Are Upon Us

Jeff VanderMeer • August 27th, 2007 • Uncategorized

Keanu Reeves will star in a remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. (Via SF Signal.)

In this remake, Will Smith will play the robot. Jerry Lewis will play one of the Earth generals. Beck will collaborate on the music with Barry Manilow. And we will all slide on down the fire pole to Hell singing “Hey Nonny Nonny.”

Variety reports that this will return Reeves to his “strong suit” (wearing shittily made sweaters) since The Matrix movies were also SF. This assumes Matrix 2 and 3 were what one might call, for lack of a better phrase, “worth watching.”

Jeff

Music Review: Robbers on High Street

Jeff VanderMeer • August 27th, 2007 • Music Reviews

I’ve been a huge fan of Robbers on High Street ever since their first CD, Fine Lines (which oddly enough is the perfect soundtrack whilst reading The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman). Fine Lines is a seriously cool CD of magically dark tracks with amazing riffs; it has the feel of something created spontaneously and perfectly on the first try.

Tree City by the Robbers, the follow-up, grew on me over time until I now listen to it almost as much as Fine Lines. In both cases, it’s like listening to a version of Spoon that isn’t about coiled tension but more about release. The lead singer even sounds a little like Spoon, although I’ve never found the band derivative.

However, now it’s 2007 and the release of the full-length Grand Animals finds me a bit nonplussed. Now I feel a bit like the band is working backwards. Grand Animals would’ve been an acceptable first effort, with Tree City a great sophomore leap forward. Fine Lines, as their third CD, would’ve seemed like a genius step up.

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