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Showing posts from December, 2011

In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood

I'm a pretty casual reader of science fiction, and I'm sure that to those who are bigger fans of the genre, there's no new insight on it here. But from the get-go, Atwood doesn't pretend it's a comprehensive, or even scholarly, treatise on the scope of science fiction; I sense she's had a chip on her shoulder for a while about three of her novels (The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood) being (arguably) incorrectly categorized as science fiction, instead of speculative fiction, and this book strikes me as her sort of answer to that ongoing debate. Could she have simply tweeted her frustration over peoples' misunderstanding of her works? Sure. But she wrote a book on it, instead, and as someone who could never quite see the appeal of Twitter, I appreciate it.

You get three sections in the book: the first compiles Atwood's discussions on science fiction, from superhero culture to the more speculative side of the genre. The seco…

2012 Writing Projects

1. Finish at least one (ideally, two) poetry chapbook(s).

2. NaPoWriMo

3. Novella/chapbook, tentatively titled (insert title here), that has overstayed its welcome in my head.

4. Knock out a couple more short plays.

I assume I'll continue to avoid writing another novel. Just haven't had the urge/ideas/motivation, as of late, and I'd rather focus on shorter forms that seem to allow me to look more closely at language, rhythm, word choice, etc. Novel writing doesn't suit my short attention span, anyway. Not sure how I've managed to write four of them.

The Rare Species

It's not too common to come across a writer who is in love with every last word they've written; most of them, published or not, detest the bulk of their work. I think it's important, not necessarily to shower your creative efforts with put-downs and mockery, but to develop an objective, realistic outlook on a draft of "that idea that sounded really awesome in my head." And while reading published work is a means of achieving that, so is reading the unpublished work of peers.

I looked over a short story for a friend a while back, which I frequently do for just about anyone who asks; I find editing and critiquing a lot more enjoyable than writing much of the time, and in any case, I think it's an important thing to do periodically if you want to gain a better perception of your own writing.

Others' opinions aside, she happened to think it was a fantastic story, and when I interrupted her from addressing an envelope to The New Yorker to explain the massive…

2011 Reading Roundup

I didn't read nearly as much non-fiction or as many graphic novels as I wanted to, but the bright side is that I discovered some great writers (Amelia Gray, Shane Jones, Valzhyna Mort) that are perhaps not new to the world, but new to me. And it's been a long time since I've been able to add new writers to my favorites list.

I've also enjoyed shifting over to more small/indie press work (Dancing Girl Press, Mudluscious Books, New Michigan Press), much of which has greatly helped with my own projects. All with the added benefit of supporting small presses, of course.

Stars by my favorites (that all of you must read, it goes without saying). Also, tell me what you read and liked, this year.

Fiction *AM/PM - Amelia Gray *Light Boxes – Shane Jones Museum of the Weird – Amelia Gray Scorch Atlas – Blake Butler Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary – David Sedaris House of Leaves – Mark Danielewski Bed – Tao Lin Point Omega – Don DeLillo Skippy Dies – Paul Murray The Tortil…

Other Other Worlds and Other Other Other Worlds

"In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, writers offered the real thing; that was their task. In War and Peace Tolstoy describes the battleground so closely that the readers believe it's the real thing. But I don't. I'm not pretending it's the real thing. We are living in a fake world; we are watching fake evening news. We are fighting a fake war. Our government is fake. But we find reality in this fake world. So our stories are the same; we are walking through fake scenes, but ourselves, as we walk through these scenes, are real. The situation is real, in the sense that it's a commitment, it's a true relationship. That's what I want to write about." 
- Haruki Murakami
I've been in the throes of Murakami's 1Q84 since it came out, weeks ago (family building slows your ability to plow through a thousand-page book considerably). I'm enjoying what little time I have with it, though as with all of Murakami's literary wo…