Monthly Archives: April 2012

Light Blogging, Heavy Reading

So, I haven’t been blogging quite regular-like, except for the occasional announcement, and it is probably time for one of those “Why haven’t I been blogging” posts that seem to prop up from time to time.

Well, I’m busy. Very busy.

Between my imminent wedding, trying to locate better housing, and my attempts to write, read, etc. I have been preoccupied with things-not-blogging.

But, I would like to take a moment to mention a few books I’ve read recently that I thought were the Bees’ Knees.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=httpjmmcdtrip-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=0679776613

Ralph Ellison is a hard writer to ignore, and his subject matter is the sort of stuff that takes on new resonance considering recent news from standing-ground in Florida. I particularly enjoyed the Bingo story. Standing on the cusp, like that, is something that I get, and I thought it was a well-done story of hope in an otherwise bleak, hard world.
“The Last Worders” is one of my favorite short stories, and I loved this collection. Much of it is not easy reading, in that it will involve a lot of pain and misery and human suffering (‘The Pelican Bar’ left me queasy, right from the get-go) but the material here is strong and powerful and Small Beer Press knows how to pick ’em.
This is an explode-y book, for people that like their serious environmental content wrapped in action and adventure. I found it hard to take the book too seriously, honestly, even when it wanted me to do it, but that’s not a bad thing. It was a light, fast, fun thing that could be a fine diversion on a rainy afternoon.
My second Philip Roth novel, and an enjoyable one, though I have yet to see what the big deal about Philip Roth is, when his work, to me, with the two things I’ve read, is very good, but not mindblowing. In this case, the alternate history of America if Charles Lindbergh, an anti-Semite, became President just before World War II, and prevented the USA from going to war. Instead, we ally with Nazi Germany. It feels hard to believe considering the weight of literature that obsesses and mythologizes and extols upon that difficult time in the world, but it wasn’t so hard to believe, really, once it got going. It wasn’t such a stretch to think folks who would place Japanese-Americans in interment camps might also place Jewish-Americans into them, or strive to do so. It is an interesting thought experiment, and solid, well-researched work of alternate history. Regardless, I enjoyed it enough to recommend it, here.
Anyway, that’s recent things I’ve been reading in between all the hectic things in my life, at the moment. (I’ve read a few other things, but I didn’t like them enough to plug them, here.)
Anyone read anything good, lately?
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Last Dragon Now in Audio!

Iambik has released, at last, the Audio version of LAST DRAGON for your listening pleasure, narrated by Cori Samuels.

Here is a link to the spot in the catalog where one could, if one were so inclined, pick up the audio edition of LAST DRAGON!

http://iambik.com/books/last-dragon-by-jm-mcdermott/

This is my first audio book, and I am much very pleased about this. Please, feel free to spread the word!

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Where do the artists and authors come from? Does anyone keep track of these things?

So, when I was an adult, I learned that I went to the same high school as amazing dark fantasy author Carol Berg, which would have really blown my mind when I was actually in high school. You see, it felt like Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth, TX, was – for all the many good things about the school – a place where soldiers, lawyers, and medical professionals came from, not artists or authors or creative thinkers. The curriculum was religion combined with college preparation. The creativity that happened there, at the time, felt like something for a college application, not something that people did or taught because they were truly passionate about their field.

Naturally, I was completely wrongheaded. In fact, one of my classmates is listed on IMDB as a Shakespearian actor who studied in London. One of my Odyssey of the Mind team members, last I heard, builds sets for plays and operas in St. Louis. There was at least two other authors present when I walked those halls beside me while I was there, and a few folks who dropped their life and fled to New York and LA to work in Television and Film, who are still working in those fields. One of my classmates (who I do not even recognize or remember though he did graduate in my year) just opened a movie theatre/fine dining establishment in New York. Like many high school kids who thought he was living in a suburban wasteland, I was completely and totally wrong.

College, as well, I thought I was the lone speculative fiction writer in a sea of passionate New Yorker-wannabes. Naturally, I was also wrong. Every day that passes, I learn more and more about the people I went to school with. At World Fantasy Con, in Saratoga Springs, I met someone whom I actually went to class with who was trying to start her career in Fantasy Fiction, and we exchanged memories of Dr. Pipkin, with his sonorous voice and passionate love affair with the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Basically, I was wrong every time I ever started to believe this.

Where do the artists and poets and creative types come from? Look around you. See if you can figure it out. I bet you’d be surprised who it is.

Let me tell you something very important: We creative types are everywhere.

I was at Ace Hardware yesterday buying twine, and the gentlemen who showed me where the twine was located, when he finished helping me, went back to his conversation while stocking shelves. He was talking about Renaissance Fairs, and the costumes he likes to wear when he attends – the roles he likes to play. I smiled to myself, because it made me think that he was probably an awesome guy, who went home at night and did interesting things with interesting people if anyone bothered to ask him about it. He makes his own costumes. He researches the past and recreates it. When he’s done stocking the shelves at Ace Hardware, he studies history and incorporates what he learns into his own life and costumes.

Awesome people are everywhere.

Feel surrounded? Feel like you’re in a wasteland? I know some of you do. Some of you live in the suburbs of Southern Cities where politicians must talk about Jesus and the Creation of Earth some 4000 years ago just to get elected to public office. Places where people beat you up for being different. Places where ironic cool folks look down their nose at you for not listening to the right bands, or attending the right church, or voting the right way.

Take heart. When I was in the middle of nowhere, driving half an hour to go to a private, parochial school that built itself around the myth that college was meant for everyone present, I was surrounded by creative types who probably felt the same way I did. Too bad we rarely seemed to find each other. Now I know that I need to look a little harder whenever I feel that. Because cool people really are everywhere.

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Regarding the future of publishing…

I don’t know what the future will hold for the business of books.

I do know that people are reading more than ever before, and that the people who do very well in this present of books seem to be busier writing than blogging.

As am I, at the moment.

While I’m away, please feel free to visit your preferred bookstore website, or book club, and offer up a review of one of my titles.

For instance, there is yet to be a real review of DISINTEGRATION VISIONS, my latest short story collection from Apex Books, and I would appreciate one.

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Did you pre-order DISINTEGRATION VISIONS?

Don’t worry! They arrived last night, and they’ll be signed, personalized, and in the post today!

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered!

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