Appoggiatura: Story from Logorrhea Now Online

Jeff VanderMeer • December 10th, 2007 @ 1:30 pm • Fiction, News

John Klima has now posted the links to a neat little promotion for his Logorrhea anthology. It consists of Jason Lundberg‘s podcast of my story “Appoggiatura” and links to the 20 pieces of the story in text form, released under creative commons. Basically, for my story I took each word the other contributors used and created a short story out of vignettes based on each. A couple of reviewers have suggested the story is a series of unrelated short-shorts. In fact, it’s a coherent single narrative somewhat like, for example, Robert Altman’s movie Short Cuts. I also think it’s one of my best stories, for what that’s worth.

Anyway, some of the pieces have been posted by other contributors, including Tim Pratt, Daniel Abraham, Hal Duncan, Clare Dudman, Matthew Cheney, Jay Caselberg, Neil Williamson, Liz Williams, Anna Tambour, Leslie What, Alan DeNiro, Jay Lake, and Elizabeth Hand. So the feature is doubly cool in that each of those writers also goes into why they chose their word for their story.

The tale behind why I chose to write my story, “Appoggiatura,” in this manner has a lot to do with the word itself, and with chance. I chose the word out of the lists of winners of the national spelling bee. I liked the sound of it, and I liked the meaning, as a kind of grace note in music, more or less. I suddenly had an idea for an Ambergris story called “The Appoggiatura of John Finch.” Well, I started writing that and it suddenly became the beginning of a novel, now entitled “Finch,” which I’ve posted excerpts from on this blog. I still wanted to write a story for John’s anthology, but was having trouble coming up with another idea. So I asked John to send me a list of the words the other writers had chosen, just to see what they were. “Smaragdine” jumped out at me and suddenly I had the bare bones of a story revolving around a mythic city. What I found kind of neat about the resulting process is that the constraint of having to use a different word as the “theme” of subsection really helped me to focus and to flesh out the central story. By not attacking the story head-on, but at angles created by the separate words I think I also created a more interesting and nuanced narrative, as well. It resulted in a very organic collaboration between structure and imagination. And it also supported the definition of “Appoggiatura.”

Anyway, I’m proud of this story, thankful to Jason Lundberg for so skillfully podcasting it, and to John Klima for including me in Logorrhea. It’s a great anthology with wonderful contributors, and if you still have presents to choose for the holidays, please consider picking it up. And, again, the main link to the feature is here.

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