Blame From a Poet (from a fiction in progress)

He blamed me for good reason, to start. But then he began to blame me strangely. He blamed me when his pipes froze over in the winter. He blamed me when a pigeon shat on his shoulder. He blamed me when his poems were rejected by prestigious journals. He blamed me when his published poems contained typographical errors. He blamed me when the summer nights grew too hot, the grass turned yellow, the wells went dry. He blamed me when the seasons changed too abruptly and his investment in crops froze or burned away. He blamed me for his myriad paper cuts. He blamed me when he pressed down too hard on his pad of paper and broke his pencil lead on the last downward flourish of the word “maddening” or “reviled.” He blamed me for his bouts of constipation. He blamed me when his readings were ill-attended. He blamed me when a car splashed mud on his fine black trousers, the fringe of his sparkling white shirt. He blamed me when he fell sick from staying up late gambling with other “artistes.” He blamed me when, although sick, he returned to the gambling dens and lost his last few cents and even his sparkling white shirt. He blamed me for the arthritis in his left hand and the mosquito bite on his right ankle. He blamed me for cold mutton. He blamed me when his prick would not rise to a challenge. He blamed me when clouds obscured the stars. He blamed me when the river was so thick with mud he could not swim across it. He blamed me when, turning over on his side, he pinched a nerve in his neck. He blamed me for the reported cessation of tides on the far side of the continent. He blamed me for the moon’s petulant whiteness. He blamed me for his unhappiness. He blamed me for being alive. He blamed me so intensely, with so little pity, so little focus, that he took my daughter from me one night. I’d have blamed him for nothing–hated him for nothing–if he’d not, just not, taken my daughter.

In Tallahassee? Help Ann Celebrate Winning the Hugo (Mellow Mushroom, Saturday, Aug. 22)

Ann brought a Hugo Award back from Montreal’s WorldCon, and this Saturday, August 22, she’s going to bring that award to the Mellow Mushroom for an informal little party from 7pm to 9pm. Drop by and help her celebrate. We’ll be hanging out in the room next to the bar for the most part, although there’s extra space on the deck. Should be fun!

Directions to Mellow Mushroom.

P.S. My piece on Ann in Omnivoracious got run through a translator and back again on this site.

Stephen H. sculpturer and Ann VanderMeer, retentive their Hugos after the ceremony. Ann is a lowercase crooked over because the honor is rattling heavy. king Howell fashioned this year’s edition of the award; the humble is prefabricated in conc…eption from metropolis granite. The long-running novelist Awards for excellence in power falsity and vision are declared during an enlarge start at digit of genre’s big con.”

Sneak Peak: Baggage for WorldCon 2010

Ever since 2005, when Ann and I visited Australia, and even before, I’ve been interested in Australian speculative fiction. Even more so now because I think outside of the U.S. we have more friends in Australia than any other country.

Anyway, Tessa Kum on Silence Without just posted about Baggage, an anthology of original fiction edited by Gillian Polack and coming out at WorldCon in Melbourne in 2010. As I understand it, the theme is basically Australian issues, and that means a lot of the stories enter complex social, ethnic, and political territory.

Here’s the line-up:

Deborah Biancotti
KJ Bishop
Simon Brown
Monica Carroll
Jack Dann
Jennifer Fallon
Laura Goodin
Y Green
Tessa Kum
Maxine McArthur
Lucy Sussex
Kaaron Warren
Janeen Webb

This is a great group of writers, and having seen the kick-ass, take-no-prisoners long story Tessa’s had accepted for it–truly a highlight of my reading this year in the short form–I’m looking forward to getting a copy eventually. (The editor has a short post about the antho here and here.) Definitely something to look forward to!

Catching Up: Omnivoracious Features Kage Baker, Archaia

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks, but just to catch up with some recent features I did for Amazon…

Kage Baker is one of my favorite writers, and she’s got a new kid’s book out from Tachyon, The Hotel Under the Sand. I did an interview with Baker for Amazon, about the book. Don’t miss this one.

Amazon.com: What sparked The Hotel Under the Sand? Had you wanted to write a book for kids for awhile?
Baker: No…What happened was that we had a really bad year in my family and my eight-year-old niece had to endure some personal tragedies. I wrote her the story in chapters, mailed out weekly, in fancy fonts and with stickers and all… just hoping to help her through that time, because she was being so brave. God knows it helped me. She had more or less lived with us from the time she was born until she was four, and used to play on the beach and in the Dunes, which are quite real. So it was set in the Dunes. And she liked pirates, so there had to be a pirate in the story, and she used to have a little dog, which also went in the story. And once on the beach all these little cobalt blue jellyfish washed up inexplicably, and we found out they were called By-The-Wind-Sailors, which she thought was funny, so that became the name of the pirate ship.

Archaia publishes some wonderful comics and graphic novels. I’ve done mini-reviews of three of them for Graphic Novel Friday. I have to say that the second volume of Mouse Guard took me by surprise. I liked the first one, but the art in this second volume seems even better. It’s amazing stuff.

Some detractors say the Mouse Guard series is just standard medieval adventure with talking mice. I’m not sure I agree with them after experiencing this second volume. First of all, Petersen’s artwork is just stunning. I really didn’t much care about the words, although they were pretty good, too. The visual of a mouse in a cape sleeping atop a field of bones that prefaces chapter four is one of the most incredible full-page bleeds I’ve seen all year. The subsequent renderings of mice with icicles forming on their fur is palpably tactile and leaves a lasting impression.

Ann’s Hugo Award Is In The House….

Ann’s Hugo Award, won with Stephen H. Segal for Weird Tales, came in the mail today. It’s got to be at least 25 pounds, if not 30. I can totally see how Ann had trouble carrying it around. It’s like carrying a 30 lb dumbbell around with you.

It also came in pieces, for those of you curious about how it’s put together. At the end, we placed it on the mantel next to the World Fantasy Award (the other’s in the SF Museum) and our Shirley Jackson Award stones. Honestly, if we ever have a break-in, we’ll just defend ourselves with this stuff. Throw the stones, then beat the crap out of them with our awards.

[Read more...]

Far North Review in NYTBR

The New York Times Book Review just ran my review of Marcel Theroux’s Far North. It’s a really interesting novel that has some flaws, but it’s one of the few novels I’ve read this year that stuck with me, and the main character is a miraculous creation.

Doing work for the NYTBR was a very pleasant experience–in fact, the review passed through the editing process with no real changes and I should have another assignment soonish.

Here’s a short excerpt:

The harrowing account of Makepeace’s journey to the work camp has the full weight and context of 20th-century history behind it. But when she reaches the camp, personal revelations again dominate. Transferred from hard labor to garden work, Makepeace is unable to bear “the ghost of what might have been” and is “mired in the shame of what I’d become.” If shackles can break you when you’ve suffered, then small pleasures, like gardening, can also break you — by making you foolishly believe you have a chance at normal life.

There’s Gotta Be Ice Cream Out There Somewhere

What a writer looks like after producing 34,000 words (erm, with drafting equalling maybe another 50,000 words–kinda lost track), even with a collaborator, in basically a total of three weeks. This is me in the evening after finishing an all-day writing session, not waking up in the morning. My wrists hurt. My back isn’t having much fun. My eyes really kinda feel bruised. After awhile, though, the whole thing took on a life of its own and the whole rest of the world went away. Deadline met. It was actually kind of fun. But…not sure I ever want to do that again. Hope it was worth it–more info when I have it. My (poor, long-suffering, patient) collaborator appears to be in similar shape, except she actually has had ice cream today. (Ann and I had tapas and red wine, so that was relaxing.)

Anyway, worst photo ever. Enjoy! (If you’re here on a Friday night, you deserve whatever you get anyway. ;) )

[Read more...]