Monday, August 10, 2015

127. Supernatural Tales 30 reads } New Genre no. 7

David Longhorn, editor of Supernatural Tales and author of the story collection The Glyphs, reviewed New Genre no. 7. He considers what the issue adds up to—
If there's a common idea here it's the way that ideas long rooted not merely in genre fiction but in popular culture can be reworked, evolved, or otherwise mutated into something new and interesting.
—then looks at its parts, story-by-story.

At just about the same time Longhorn’s review appeared, I received issue 30 of Supernatural Tales. Back in February I was asked, along with a number of other authors who appeared in ST toward its inception, if I would contribute. I sent “Wild Dogs.”

In its earliest incarnation, “Wild Dogs” was “After,” a novella about a young man reeling from a break up, and with nary a supernatural element (though the protagonist—thoroughly self-absorbed and annoying—is plagued by weird dreams). “After” became “Rottweiler In a Nightclub,” a three-page parody of “After.” “Rottweiler…” introduced a dog into the narrative, who has the following exchange with the protagonist:
The dog jumps up onto the stool beside me. We face the bar, look at each other in the mirror.
            The dog says, “Give me your drink.”
            I do so. It puts its front paws up on the counter. A drop of blood falls from its snout into the glass.
            “It’s vodka,” I say. “I usually have gin.”
            The dog grunts.
            The dog says, “We are brothers, you and I.”
            I don’t feel so confused, anymore. I reach into my coat for my cigarettes. I offer one to the dog. It accepts, withdrawing it from the pack with its lips, and bares its teeth as it does so.
Before, at last, the story became “Wild Dogs” it was called “Humbaba,” with the idea that the protagonist is transformed into a monstrous spirit of the forest / city. If you read the story knowing this and knowing something about The Epic of Gilgamesh, you’ll see numerous connections between my “sourly-witty social realism” and that ancient myth.

Fellow Supernatural Tales old-timers include Helen Grant, Lynda E. Rucker, Michael Kelly, Mark Valentine (whose story is dedicated to the memory of Joel Lane) and Steve Duffy. Longhorn's review of New Genre no. 7 resides here; and there's a review of the  30th issue of Supernatural Tales here.

Addendum: James Everington, author and critic (who wrote about my "What Water Reveals" as pt. of his "Strange Stories" series), posted a recommendation to read Supernatural Tales 30.

Monday, July 27, 2015

126. VERA SHEVZOVA } frond 1 - 37.


Monoton‘s Monotonprodukt 07 was properly reissued in 2012 (Desire Records) and Craig Leon’s Nommos and Visiting were reissued in 2014 (Rvng Intl.), but still no one has brushed off Vera Shevzova’s frond 1 – 37. This negligence causes me to ask: does the album even exist?

Occasionally, during our print pre-history, Shevzova would get written up in ‘zines dedicated to early 1980s arcana, but no one seemed to know anything—there was a cassette, it was written, produced in Poland (then, without fail, a lament about the production value of such objects)—but no one actually heard the music. In '89 I saw a tour poster stapled to a telephone pole in Boston, but I was too young to get into the club.

Recently, I uncovered on the shelf of a used bookstore, the sleeve of Shevzova’s frond 1 – 37. Thrill and disappointment. No record! Inside, typed on a yellowed sheet, a bit of a press release.

Either Shevzova is real, and a crate-digger needs to find her and upload frond (or whatever)—or there’s no Shevzova, just cardboard and paper.


I posted the album sleeve at Jeff Crouch’s Famous Album Covers.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

125. New Genre no. 7 attends } Readercon 26.


A full Readercon schedule is posted. A few panels and readings are of interest.

On Sat., July 11th, attend

1. “Joanna Russ Reminiscences” at 10am, particularly to hear stories from critic Michel Dirda and editor David G. Hartwell; 2. “When Should We Argue with Reviews” at 11am—as a panelist, I could bring up the back-and-forth in the Feb. 19th ed. of the New York Review of Books re. Charles Baxter’s review of The Annotated Lovecraft (S.T. Joshi accused Baxter of a “personal animus against Lovecraft” and argues that Lovecraft was “in touch with an extraordinarily diverse band of friends and colleagues, ranging from… Robert E. Howard to the highbrow poet Hart Crane”; Baxter begins his reply: “One would think, reading S.T. Joshi’s response to my book review, that I had attacked the object of a cult” and calls out Joshi on the fact of Lovecraft’s racism, “his defense of Lovecraft’s views in his letter is astonishing in this day and age; he quotes, with apparent approval, Lovecraft’s suggestion of apartheid as a benevolent remedy.”); 3. at noon, Nicole Kornherstace will read from Archivist Wasp; at 1:30 I will read from a novel-in-progress—anyone who attends my reading gets a FREE copy of New Genre no. 7 (while supplies last); and “The Influence of James Blish and Damon Knight at 3pm with Karen Burnham, John Clute, Gordon Van Gelder, and Gary K. Wolf.

# # #

The Readercon program includes photographs of Readercon participants; I was not asked to provide a photo of myself for the Readercon program—so, I scrolled through the program PDF with some apprehension. I hoped to find no photo. I worried I’d find an embarrassing photo. Instead, next to my bio, is a photo of a man I’ve never seen before.

What a simple trick! By pairing my name and a few details about my work with a face, that face becomes my own.

Monday, June 29, 2015

124. New Genre no. 7 } envelope addendum.

Daniel Mendelsohn wrote in the introduction to How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken, “For (strange as it may sound to many people who tend to think of critics as being motivated by the lower emotions: envy, disdain, contempt even) critics are, above all, people who are in love with beautiful things, and who worry that those things will get broken.”

My criticism has never been criticized; it is always me—I am “jealous,” my criticism is “nothing but a ploy to bring attention to yourself,” etc. Instead of making such assumptions, why not engage with the criticism? (A. to do so requires the ability to do so.)

That’s how, I realize: on July 11th at 11am, I will participate on the panel “When should we argue with reviews.” The etiquette of when interests me less than how, but I’ll give when some thought and why, too——

Later that day, at 1:30pm, I’ll read from a novel in progress. My Readercon readings are not usually well attended. Let me engage in a bit of bribery: anyone who comes and listens to me read will receive a complimentary copy of New Genre no. 7 (while supplies last).

# # #

John Cotter, who contributed the ghost story “After the Storm,” received his copy and wrote this about the issue.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

123. New Genre no. 7 is } New Genre no. 7.


Very early this morning I wrote, “Maybe after the first issue was printed I was in a celebratory mood—New Genre was actual—but that didn’t last. For all the care we took, the issue wasn’t perfect, and ever since, when a new issue arrives, I only feel anxious.” I added, “I am, however, entirely confident about the stories. That’s true of every story I’ve ever published—they’re all fantastic.”

New Genre no. 7 is in hand. The stories are Jennifer Claus’ “The Room Is Fire,” Geordie Williams Flantz’s “Parents of the Apocalypse,” Matthew Pendleton’s “Work Planet Welt Space,” John Cotter’s “After the Storm,” and G. Carl Purcell’s “The Middle-Managers of P├íchnout.”

My designer, Eliza Smith, wrote toward the end of production: “I read all the stories in my final pass and think this is my favorite issue of NG. Maybe I'm biased, but I think all five of these stories have a unifying thread of exceptional quality, and I feel so lucky to have worked on this issue.” Of course we’re biased, but I agree.

The authors waited a very long time for this issue to happen. Mr. Flantz was particularly faithful, for which I am grateful.

All the anxiety, what kept me awake last night and on into the morning, is the worry that I’ve not or will not—that the issue doesn’t—serve the stories as well as they ought to be served.

# # #

Apparently I attended Readercon 20 in 2009. I dimly recall moderating a panel “The Career of Elizabeth Hand,” but I don’t remember anything else about the convention. According to the program, I spoke about “[Edgar Allen Poe’s] importance to the development of the [horror] genre,” led a discussion called “Short Horror Fiction: The State of the Art (and Market) Today,” and interviewed Victoria Blake, founder of Underland Press. Let’s be clear, I don’t know much about Elizabeth Hand’s career (though I am acquainted with her and she is great), I don’t know how Poe helped develop the horror genre, I am a poor navigator of the short fiction horror market, and—well, ok, I did know something about Underland. There was talk, at one point, of Victoria buying the digital rights to New Genre. I haven’t been to Readercon since.

I will attend Readercon 26, on Sat., July 11th. Also in attendance will be G. Carl Purcell. If you will be at Readercon, seek me out for a copy of New Genre no. 7. And I bet Mr. Purcell will autograph your copy.

And by the way, Mr. Purcell, as Greg Purcell, is in the latest issue of Fence. There’s a party in NYC on Thurs., June 25th at Babycastles to celebrate Fence no. 30.

# # #

Watch this space for news re. New Genre no. 7 as it enters the world, and contact me here with any questions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

122. “Over you } (just for a change).”


On the E train to Science Park listen to Abbey Road with fervent interest, especially the b-side, especially the transitional stuff—chimes and chatter (“Oh listen to that now… [laughter]… Oh look out”), crickets, a roll on a big cymbal. To be in that big room inside the record.

“Time Transfixed”—the MBTA runs a line to and in-to that room—the other direction is late afternoon, “was a way /to get back homeward.” Lo-fidelity tape hiss and train racket, passenger chit-chat, the lap of the Charles against Gridley Dam, and the crackle of the Van de Graaff generator all sound in that room.

Monday, March 9, 2015

121. House show } Holy Komodo.


Cryptic invitation:

mauwf
bring furniture
& paper to
allagash trail
03.07.15 9pm

An empty house at the end of icy Allagash Trail Road. Split-level, big windows covered with invisible paper, teal wall-to-wall carpet, teal carpeted steps and upstairs hall. Band names on the wall. Bathroom. A soft couch. We waited for the Holy Komodo while we discussed age. A woman asked if I knew Tom Leotard. Possibly she thought I might be Tom Leotard or, as likely, she wanted to sell me some Tom Leotard.    

Downstairs for the Holy Komodo. We stood against the wall to watch. “How do you make a cult following?” My companion asked; the cult followed. My companion asks—she’s interested in how people make an idea actual in the world and subsequently cause the world to take notice. Bare cement walls, stamped by plywood forms. White wiring wrapped around the support beams. Bright, single-cell organisms projected on a sheet behind the band. Nina on keys, sang, dark hair flash and keyboards.

Flock of Seagulls hairdo camera-phone filmed the band, the audience, and us interlopers. A woman with her boyfriend behind her grinned. A crowd-surfer barely cleared the ceiling beams. “If you must mosh,” Nina said, “do it away from the equipment we’ve spent all our money on.” She was obeyed. My companion noted Flock of Seagulls hairdo; “If I had hair like that, I’d—” the rest of her comment lost, but something like, “—voodoo fan.”

From where I stood, Joel, the drummer, was the most visible member of the band. Pink and salmon, all joy—before the show he’d told an anecdote, said, of his brother—“he’s a lot skinnier than I am”—a claim hard to believe. Komodo’s recorded output in no way prepared me for the vigor of his drum work (in retrospect, hinted maybe by “Make Time”). He sat and he stood.

My thoughts were not especially interesting. Teenagers in the midst of an experience that—if remembered—will become a shorthand for who they think they are. People who go to house shows. Who shout: I was in that place. Pressed by the reptile nation, we braced ourselves against the wall.

An angry woman clutched a glass pitcher of ice water to her chest. My companion asked, “What do you think she’s on?” The angry woman shouted, in response to someone else’s interest, “You’re not my friend!” The pitcher sweated. The angry woman sat hard in a wooden rocking chair. Maybe she ate some bad Tom Leotard.


[ Photo of Holy Komodo at Space Afrika house show courtesy Sierra Clark. ]