Archive for July, 2008

The Best Appreciation of Thomas Disch? Buy His Books and Pass Them On

Jeff VanderMeer • July 7th, 2008 • Culture


(The books I picked up this morning from Paperback Rack, here in Tallahassee, Florida)

One last post before going away…

Remember when you used to buy out-of-print paperbacks and regift them because you loved a writer so much you wanted to share? It might not take much time to remember, because for some of us did that as recently as yesterday.

So here’s an idea–this week, celebrate Disch’s fiction and his life by buying his books. Make a pilgrimmage to a bookstore, buy whatever editions you find there, and either read them if you haven’t encountered Disch’s work before, or pass them on to someone you think might enjoy them. If you have the time, post a photo of the books you bought, and then post a link to your blog post on the last entry on Disch’s blog. It’s a little like laying flowers on a gravestone. A sign of respect and appreciation.

The best of a writer is often in their books, and it seems to me this is a good way to remember Disch. Something is not right about his death seemingly being absent from major wire service reports and other national media.

The Ecstatic Days Guest Blogging Schedule, July 8 – Oct. 10

Jeff VanderMeer • July 7th, 2008 • News, Uncategorized

As mentioned, I’ll be disappearing from the internets through the first-second week of October. (Except through the magic of a few pre-scheduled posts on weekends.) During that time I’ll be finishing up my new novel (longhand/typewriter), teaching at Shared Worlds at Wofford College, and, with Ann, going to the Czech Republic as guests of Parcon and for the release of the Czech edition of New Weird, followed up by a book tour of Romania in support of the Romanian editions of New Weird and the Predator novel. Ann is very excited as this will be our first foreign book tour together as co-editors–should be a lot of fun.

So, in light of that I have put together what I think will be a diverse and fascinating guest blogging schedule over the summer for your entertainment and edu-macation:

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Taking a Break–Contact Info, Amazon, etc.

Jeff VanderMeer • July 7th, 2008 • News, Uncategorized

As I may have mentioned previously, I will largely be offline during the rest of July, August, and September as I finish up my new novel, Finch. (Although guest bloggers will be here all during that time.)

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Turning 40–and I’ve Got the Bookshelves to Prove It…

Jeff VanderMeer • July 7th, 2008 • Photos

I turn 40 today. No tears for me–forty seems like a good age to be: still young enough to learn new tricks, old enough to have experienced almost everything a writing career can throw at a person. I’m happy to be alive, alert, relatively sane, and generally upbeat about life. A writing life is both a privilege and at times a burden, but so far so good…

Below I’ve posted photos of the bookshelves in my office, which hold everything I’ve published or been published in or been on the publisher side of printing over the last 25 years. (This doesn’t include another few shelves of saddle-stapled mags and chapbooks and whatnot that’s currently being turned into bibliography by a certain Mark Wingenfeld. It also doesn’t include over one thousand web-only essays, book reviews, editorials, and interviews, as well as another two thousand plus blog entries.)

So, yeah, I’m going to celebrate today. I’m lucky, I think–much more good than bad. I’m 40, and I’ve got a wonderful wife (love ya, Ann–my co-conspirator on every creative project), creative, wonderful friends, a great family (Riley’s first time at the beach), and a slew of books that came out much closer to the vision in my head (and collaborators’ heads) than I ever had the right to expect. Not too much to complain about, to be honest, except three lazy cats who refuse to help out around the house.

And, finally: thanks to all of you for reading this blog. I’ve enjoyed the sense of community, making new friends, the controversy, the laughs, and even the sad times.

(Note: I had started this post before hearing about Thomas Disch’s death, and after that I contemplated just deleting it because it felt strange, and then decided to go ahead with it anyway because that felt strange, too. So, it’s an odd day–happy, celebrating, in the one context, and yet sad in another context.)

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Thomas Disch, RIP

Jeff VanderMeer • July 6th, 2008 • Uncategorized

Ellen Datlow reports that Thomas Disch has committed suicide. This is really sad, sad news about a very talented individual–an icon of the New Wave.

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Transparency, Balance, Accuracy, and Community

Jeff VanderMeer • July 6th, 2008 • Culture, Uncategorized, Writing Tips

I’ve been thinking over the past couple of days about the evolving nature of the internet and how that relates to writers and writing. Here are a few guidelines I think make a lot of sense for writers. I am sure someone somewhere has already codified all of this, but it’s important to me to state it for myself, and to remember how I want to strive to conduct my own communications.

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Damn You, John Twelve Hawks! Damn You, Sir!

Jeff VanderMeer • July 5th, 2008 • Book Reviews, Culture


(John Twelve Hawks [?] letter makes my Bulletin Board of the Miscellaneous)

Well, actually, I write now not to damn John Twelve Hawks, but to praise him. Some amongst you may remember that this past week I down-graded John Twelve Hawks to Eleven Turkeys and then, eventually One Sparrow–because of his reluctance to shed his pen name and come forth into the light.

Now, I have received the following missive, supposedly from John Twelve Hawks, and I find that, assuming the letter is indeed from him, I must praise him unreservedly for having a great and devious sense of humor.

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Books Received–Gene Wolfe, Realms, Orcs, and More

Jeff VanderMeer • July 5th, 2008 • Book Reviews

Many books to talk about in what will be my last books received piece for at least a week or two. First off, the Meg Gardiner novels pictured above. I really love this series, and so I bought the mass markets in the bookstore even though I have advance reader copies. Very nice packaging, too.

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Light = Illuminating?

Jeff VanderMeer • July 5th, 2008 • Writing Tips

One of the more audacious novels of the past few years, Light by M. John Harrison contains its own comment on labeling of fiction, I think. Whether Harrison intended it or not, the following passage speaks to the craft and art of creating fiction as well as anything in a book of writing advice:

“Every race [humankind] met on their way through the Core had a star drive based on a different theory. All those theories worked, even when they ruled out one another’s basic assumptions. You could travel between the stars, it began to seem, by assuming anything. If your theory gave you a foamy space to work with–if you had to catch a wave–that didn’t preclude some other engine, running on a perfectly smooth Einsteinian surface, from surfing from the same tranche of empty space. It was even possible to build drives on the basis of super-string-style theories, which, despite their promise four hundred years ago had never really worked at all…It was affronting to discover that…”

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The Fall–Go See This Movie

Jeff VanderMeer • July 5th, 2008 • Movie Reviews

The Fall is one of the most visually striking movies you’re likely to see, but the fantasy element is firmly tied to the emotional resonance of the realistic scenes set in a hospital. Some reviewers have complained that the fantasy element is inconsistent, but it is in fact, for the most part, brilliantly inconsistent.

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