Saturday, June 05, 2004

"Here I am, Just a man, Is this light flattering?"

Hey everybody! Apologies for the lack of updates. I've been as occupied as a plane lavatory on an 18-hour flight.

First things first: I'm enjoying the bright blue skies and beaches and bikinis of Florida. It's taken me a little while to lose the jeans and get use to the heat but I'm definitely in vacation mode. Got my computer fixed (thanks UPS for ignoring the Fragile signs), got "fun stuff," and just settling into living with my mom. In a month, if all goes according to plan, I'll be going to Israel with a one-way ticket and..well, I don't know what will happen after that. I may settle, get a job, find myself an Israeli beauty, and live in a country stricken with unholy violence but amazing beauty and history. In the past, everytime I've set foot in Israel, I've felt as if not just my surroundings but my life was totally upturned. It's the country of my parents and my people and is a great source of inspiration and clarity. I'm looking forward to it.

Next: WISCON. Man, that was fun! I'm not a big fan of conventions, too much socializing or quasi-serious discussions, for me, it's always been about the people I could meet. The writers and editors and fans that remind me why I even do this whole "writing" thing. Thankfully, I met a lot of great people for the first time, reacquainted with old aquatinences, friends. Despite feeling a little like a teenager in an R-rated movie, everyone was really nice. Shout-outs: Chris Barzak! Have we ever met in the same place? Seems like everytime we chill it's in a different city and that just adds to the coolness. Next stop? Japan. OKAY. Kristin and Alan! As always, wonderful to see you both. You two are like the coolest set of parents a 24-year-old could ask for me. Kind, considerate, and hard-working. THANK YOU for the awesome party (sorry I didn't sing.) Barth! Nice to briefly see you again. Cute kid! (not barth, the little one.) Worthy of your attention. Thank the four of you for the awesome chapbook, once again, and for NOT being bastards or rats just friends. To the "tall and friendly pro crew," Gavin, Kelly, Richard, Barb, Christopher R., Gwenda; big high-fives for being cool and especially Gavin and Kelly who do a wonderful job at Small Beer Press. Lots of great free stuff behind that link!

More (boring) shoutouts: David Schwartz and Ben Rosenbaum! Two great writers I was honored to share a small room with. I will wait with bated breath to read any next piece by either of you guys. (People who aren't them: be SURE to check out Ben's brilliant "Other Cities" chapbook which I screamed through on one of the delayed plane flights on the memorable day of May 31st AND Shwartz has got a whole bunch of stories in every single small press mag out there (apparently) and also started a really cool, really interesting new mag called The Dogtown Review.) Tracy and Jennifer! Great to see you two again. Despite popular belief, friendly people do not grow on trees so I appreciate reallly friendly people. Dela and Gremlin! My smoking buddies. Thank you for keeping me company on my many sojourns outside to smoke and catch a well-needed break from the swarms of people. Kevin Kage! Always great to see you at these thingees. Keep up the singing, man, and be sure to inform me when you've got a CD out, cause I want it! Haddayr Copely-Woods! Great to meet you and read a little of your work in the previous Ratbastards book. See you again? Yeah? COOL. Lomax! Been tooo long. Sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye (ooops), it was great seeing you again. And a whole bunch of other people I'm sure I'm forgetting but will remember next time I see you.

Highlight of the con was definitely Saturday night. The wild Ratbastards party, signing a couple chapbooks, attending a great, great reading and just enjoying the hell of a night. If only it didn't have to end so early.

Also, bought all kinds of books! Going through them slowly. Already mentioned Ben Rosenbaum's "Other Cities." I am LOVING Kalpa Imperial by Angelica Gorodischer. Breaks all the rules I ever heard about writing but glorious and warm and totally, totally engrossing. I love how the author just talks to the reader instead of the cold shield that sometimes separates the two. I've wanted to incorporate a more "conversational tone" into my own stories for awhile; this is like my new bible. Translated by Ursula K. LeGuin and wonderfully, but! once again, my mind goes: "you need to learn Spanish!" New goal in life; and then I can read this and One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original prose. Got a Carol Emswhiller collection I've been looking for awhile as well as a bunch of other chapbooks and the latest issues of some cool small mags that are chock-full of brilliant stories.

Finally. The chapbook I am honored to be in, the new Ratbastards: Petting Zoo. (which you should buy!) I was thrilled when I read the TOC, now i'm positively ecstatic. These stories are great. You read them and then wonder why more stuff like this isn't published in the genre? Mary Rickert's horror-ish sculpture tale, "Art is Not a Violent Subject" starts off the rollercoaster ride. My friends from the Academy of Art who love this piece. Not only is well-written, it's fucked up in the most amazing way. John(zo) Aegard's "The Golden Age of Fire Escapes" is hilarious (!!) comedic SF. I don't understand this guy! Back in '98, I was amazed (while rolling on the floor laughing) at his ideas and imagination. With this new story, his prose, his characters, and his over-active imagination just really gels. Love the imagery, the titles, the characters. Four stars, yo! "Five Irrational Heroes" by David Moles (who I only just met so have no reason to be nice too) is a little gold-gem of a story. The title would have you believe I'm talking about some sort of long, revionist, epic, but in fact, this is a tight, sometimes subtle, fascinating, well-researched, look at humanity. No, really! Love the PKD reference at the end.

David Lomax's "How to Write an Epic Fantasy" contained more than a few laugh out loud moments. I'm not a reader of epic fantasies but I still enjoyed the hell out of it (and, of course, now if I decide to write one, I don't have to read one.) David, also, has a hilarious style that mimics his personality (yep. they're Canadians) and it really works here. Not over the top, not too short or thrifty, but extremely well-balanced. I kept wondering how many rewrites it went through. I'll skip over "Ophelia and the Beast." It's alright. Finally, Amber van Dyk's "Storyville," in my opinion, the highlight. One word. Okay, two. Fucking wow! I fell in love more times reading this story then when I spent the whole day wandering around the London Underground one time. These sentences (these epic sentences) are pieces of art. They should be sold for thousands of dollars each! I've read some of Amber's work before online but this drops a bomb on her previous stuff and incinerates it. Extremely, extremely, impressive use of language and alliteration. Amber, you were sincerely missed at Wiscon. Oh. And editors and publishers of the world, can you make this woman a celebrity? Please?

And that's my gush-filled, totally biased, review! :)


Kristin said...

Israel?! What happened to a lazy tour of the country that includes St. Paul? Pout.

Mom Livdahl

Anonymous said...


good gravy were there an award for the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my writing, I would gladly mail it to you, but alas all you get is my shy canadian self saying thank you.

I just got in from Toronto last night, and the chapbook came in the mail and I shall find some time very soon to finally read it!

so excited!

Elad said...

amber? is that you? no need to thank me, thank YOU for being awesome. :) hope all is well with you.

looks like i'm not going to israel, kristin. my cowardly american facade is finally showing and i'm going to stay back where it's somewhat safe (ya right).