Interesting or Crap? (and: Yer Questions Taken Now)

So, a few people asked me what was up with the hat, and where the heck the photo was taken. Ann took it in St. Augustine, and it’s made from some poor dead animal. This shop was full of somewhat interesting stuff. For your Friday bemusement, some of the shiny below the cut.

Also, I’m working here just about all day with constant rain and Black Motor Cycle Club’s Howl playing in the background. You gots a question for me, the hat, or Evil Monkey, lay it on me. I need the breaks. And if you’ve got no questions, just look at the purty pictures.

This place had a penchant for arranging objects by subject without regard for design similarities. Thus, this is their chaotic “sea” shelf, I would imagine:

I’m not quite sure of the theme here except “misc. crap”, but it might be something along the lines “pale women surrounded by stuff”…

No idea what this was from, but it was the coolest thing in the place.

Now there’s an example of the Florida tourist crapola I know and tolerate.

At least half the people who originally owned these match boxes are probably dead and buried.

Vintage Lego?

A postcard tree! Whoopee!

I draw your attention to the weird half-moose thingee…

This utterly lousy representation of some kind of catfish, done like it was a kid’s project in elementary school, was selling for a ridiculous price.

At this point, these cameras are really just artifacts, as functional as a pet rock.

Yes, Virginia, there are indeed vast landfills of Pez dispensers because we are a wasteful people and needed our candy to be properly handed to us through the mouths of representations of animated characters.

Back in those innocent days, there was truth in advertising…

Hey! Not cool! You should accrue fewer points the closer to a head shot you get! What the hell you trying to teach little Johnny about the value of life?! Grrr.

Yes, you are correct, that is a hand-blown clown in the background. The one in the front…not so much.

Of course, what did I buy? The gun that functions as a dual music box and alcohol dispenser…


  1. says

    The catfish looks a bit like it could be one of Clark Ashton Smith’s sculptures!

    The masochistic tiger’s pretty bizarre: “shoot me in the mouth and I growl” – yeah OK mate…

  2. says

    Nice pix. I love a good junk shop, where you’ve got vintage mixed with crap mixed with current-but-disguised-as-antique. There’s a certain hustle going on in those stores that’s just below the surface, and completely contradictory to the kind of organization that we expect from Organized! Clean! Well-lit! stores. By the same token…

    Finch, The Little Sleep, The City & The City… what’s up with the genre-mixing/jumping going on of late, especially the importation of crime and mystery elements? Do you think writers (or readers!) are getting tired of more easily definable SF fare? Is it the broadening of exposure to different media caused by the Web? Or are we all just living in the Matrix? Hmmm?

  3. says

    I think it’s a coincidence of timing. I’ve always used detectives in my short fiction, as far back as I can remember. Finch was always going to be a detective story–I planned it, in general terms, as far back as 1998. And it was always going to be an opening up into a more traditional narrative than the prior two books. It just took longer to write the rest of City of Saints and then Shriek than I thought. As far as I know China was working on something else and then switched to this one a couple of years ago. But who knows how inspiration works? Maybe, in general, there is something in the water. But I’m sticking to the same game plan I had when I mapped this stuff out over ten years ago. Only the details and elements of the plot/mystery changed.

    But I know I’m going to get asked this question a lot when Finch comes out.

  4. says

    It’s probably also important to recognize that “mystery” is not just one monolithic thing. There’s the police procedural, noir, neo-noir, tea cosies, crime novels that have elements of a mystery, etc. The tone and intent of all of these is very different. So, for example, China’s novel definitely veers more toward police procedural than noir, in my opinion. It’s not really gritty/visceral in the way a noir is. Finch is definitely down-and-dirty noir. Also, there’s a huge difference in how the mystery element works in a secondary world fantasy like Finch than in a real-world-with-fantastical-elements book like China’s. Also, mine’s basically set in a repressive police state with an occupying force. So the easy comparison is, hey, there’re these two novels coming out and a couple of others, but in terms of *real* comparisons, I’m not sure how useful that is.

  5. says

    Oh–and there’s also a spy/espionage element to Finch that changes it yet again, and a monster-invader-from-within element, and a visionary fantasy element. All of this stuff affects the central mystery tone/style/mood/plot.

  6. says

    On the mystery/sf front… have you had a chance to check out The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry yet? Different again, but with some of the same genre flavors.

    Also, while I haven’t finished The City and The City yet, it barely feels like fantasy at all. It’s certainly less fantastical that Manual of Detection, which I found in the mystery section. Yet it’s filed as fantasy. Interesting to see perceptions of Mieville overshadow the content of the book. I wonder if it’ll lead to the book being missed by part of its audience?

  7. says

    Yes–I agree with you about the Mieville. I’m not even really sure I thought it worked the way it was trying to, but I’ll have further thoughts on it later. I have read The Manual of Detection, which is as different from Finch and City and City as F and C/C are from each other. I have to say, I admire Berry and it pains me to say this but I found it too clever by half. The conceit could not disguise characterization that I found too two-dimensional. Which is to say as a novella or long story I think it would’ve worked wonderfully well. At the novel length, I found it hard to keep my interest. But I think Berry’s a terrific writer.

  8. Hellbound Heart says

    re: your comment in your last blog…….i would have you know, sir that i know what a testicle looks like as i have seen one or two in my lifetime……i just didn’t specify WHAT kind of testicle it looked like…..ok, left myself open for all kinds of comments there, i know…… ;-)

    the duck on a bike…can’t believe that you let that one go…

    so where does your evil monkey usually reside….on your shoulder, whispering subversive things in your ear?

    peace and love…

  9. says

    After reading the literary detective bit, I wonder what would happen if I were to write a fake commentary tying Finch and C&C in with Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives and then…nah, that’d be stranger than a hand-blown clown. Next you’ll be telling me that you saw clown erotica in some shop. If you have…don’t share. For the love of God, Montresor, for the love of God!

    Yes, the clown, the hat, and the weekend have combined to overwhelm my mind.

  10. says

    “it pains me to say this but I found it too clever by half. The conceit could not disguise characterization that I found too two-dimensional.” – This is pretty much along the lines of criticism I would level at ‘The City & The City’. There is almost the sense that it could have been condensed down into something akin to a Borges piece, perhaps even doing away with plot & characters almost entirely as they mainly served to illustrate the (albeit marvellous) central conceit. An impressive foray into new ground for Mieville however, and it’s a testament to the loyalty he’s built up within his readership that we’ll follow him pretty much wherever he takes us, even if it’s a long way from previously trodden track.

    From what little snippets I’ve read of ‘Finch’ so far it looks marvellous, combining the kind of prose you don’t see everyday in SFF – stylistically lush in other words – with smack-in-the-face action. A rare paring indeed.

    I’m guessing whoever entitled ‘Duck On Bike’ had come to the end of a very long day and wasn’t even really trying anymore.

    The gun’s the very epitome of rock & roll, bringing together music, booze, and firearms in one understated package.