On Gabriel Garcia Marquez

April 21, 2014

Gabriel Garcia MarquezMax Fisher says:

Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who has died at age 87, will be remembered for many things. But one of his most perfect accomplishments may be the legendary opening sentence to his 1967 novel, 100 Years of Solitude. Here it is:

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.



eBook Perils?

March 12, 2013

It is not exactly the sort of thing that makes a lot of friends, but it’s worth taking a moment to remind that not all contracts are great and wonderful harbingers of a writer’s salvation. Or, as John Scalzi puts it: “Dear writers: This is a horrendously bad deal and if you are ever offered something like it, you should run away as fast as your legs or other conveyances will carry you.”


And, of course, there is always something of an update.

Rule #1: Don’t panic.

Rule #2: It’s Scalzi, so, you know … whatever.

Rule #3: There is no rule three.

And, in truth, I’m wondering how electronic books are going to work with Google glasses. Makes the morning commute that much more scary, eh? I guess the big thing is to make sure the publisher isn’t dumping liability onto the writers, there. You know, because we just can’t wait for the first headline about twenty-two teenagers on a church youth outing perishing in horrendous flames after the minivan they were all packed into was forced off the road by someone who didn’t see all the plot twists of War and Peace coming as he read his way to work.

Okay, now I’m just reaching. But, you know … whatever.



Trailer for Dave Workman’s debut novel

November 8, 2012

Trailer AuthorEdge.com did for Dave Workman’s hard-hitting new L.A. noir novel, On the Rocks.



The one and only, lovely beyond compare, inimitable Andrea Portes, at The Rumpus

July 1, 2012

Chloe Grace Moretz in HickDon’t miss Jennifer Sky’s interview with the one and only Andrea Portes regarding the film adaptation of Hick, which opened last year at the Toronto International Film Festival.



Genre v. Literature: The eternal struggle?

December 10, 2011

Daniel Abraham’s letter, From Genre to Literature:

…. This artificial separation between us is painful, it is undignified, and it fools no one. In company, we sneer at each other and make those cold, cutting remarks. And why? You laugh at me for telling the same stories again and again. I call you boring and joyless. Is it wrong, my dear, that I hope the cruel things I say of you cut as deeply as the ones you say of me?

But allow me this, dear: what you do is crueler. You take the best of me, my most glorious moments – Ursula LeGuin and Dashiell Hammet, Mary Shelly and Philip Dick – and you claim them for your own. You say that they “transcend genre”. There are no more heartless words than those. You disarm me. You know, I think, that if we were to compare our projects honestly — my best to yours, my mediocrities to yours, our failures lumped together — this division between us would vanish, and so you skim away my cream and mock me for being only milk.

I forgive you. I weep and I resent and I say how little I care what your opinions are. And, let me be honest, dear, I take comfort in the fact that I make more money than you. That my audience is larger. Outside the narrow halls of the academy, my star is brighter. I go to the movies, and I am on every marquee. A television is practically my mirror. My house is larger and warmer, and the people there laugh and weep more loudly. Not all of them are sophisticates. Many of them find comfort and solace in things you consider beneath you. But they are my people, and I love them as they love me.

The relationship ‘twixt “genre fiction” and “literature” is a strange one. If genre fiction is good enough, it must be literature and not genre fiction. Because, well, as we all know, genre cannot be literature.

And in a way it’s true. There is no guarantee that the craftsman who makes the finest knives can actually cook. Nor the farmer who grows the bell peppers, nor rancher with his cattle.

But at the same time, the food metaphor doesn’t hold true. What genre most resents is being treated like cheese doodles while some truly abhorrent literary gastronomica is considered haute cuisine for the simple fact that it is literature, and not genre fiction.

Dining at the Literary TroughOn the other hand, I’ve been in a five-star restaurant that once served me, as a pre-appetizer course, two slices of albino beet with a smear of goat cheese between, a single forkful of something that looked like some potato shreds mixed with overcooked cheese, and a homemade marshmallow with powdered carrot on top. You know, quite literally because the chef felt like dawdling around in the kitchen that day, and that’s what he came up with.

Sometimes people need soul food. Or a bit of greasy spoon. And if you can’t tell the two apart, that’s fine. Because if you ever find yourself in that scene from L.A. Story, at a restaurant called “L’Idiot”, reciting Steve Martin’s refrain—”I’m already finished and I don’t remember eating”—then yes, you will think kindly upon the never-ending hash browns, or a bacon cheeseburger with curly fries and a chocolate shake, or any number of genre foods that have done more than their share to sustain, and even please.



Trailer for Darlene Quinn’s latest novel

December 2, 2011

Trailer we did for award-winning author Darlene Quinn‘s prequel to Webs of Power and Twisted Webs.



Sure, his name is Squiddly Diddly, but that’s an octopus

December 1, 2011

Sy Montgomery on octopi:

His name is Squiddly Diddly ... but he looks like an octopus.

His name is Squiddly Diddly ... but he looks like an octopus.

Measuring the minds of other creatures is a perplexing problem. One yardstick scientists use is brain size, since humans have big brains. But size doesn’t always match smarts. As is well known in electronics, anything can be miniaturized. Small brain size was the evidence once used to argue that birds were stupid—before some birds were proven intelligent enough to compose music, invent dance steps, ask questions, and do math.

Octopuses have the largest brains of any invertebrate. Athena’s is the size of a walnut—as big as the brain of the famous African gray parrot, Alex, who learned to use more than one hundred spoken words meaningfully. That’s proportionally bigger than the brains of most of the largest dinosaurs.

Another measure of intelligence: you can count neurons. The common octopus has about 130 million of them in its brain. A human has 100 billion. But this is where things get weird. Three-fifths of an octopus’s neurons are not in the brain; they’re in its arms.

“It is as if each arm has a mind of its own,” says Peter Godfrey-Smith, a diver, professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and an admirer of octopuses. For example, researchers who cut off an octopus’s arm (which the octopus can regrow) discovered that not only does the arm crawl away on its own, but if the arm meets a food item, it seizes it—and tries to pass it to where the mouth would be if the arm were still connected to its body.

Fascinating stuff. Perhaps we should have an “arms race” to achieve best-selling fiction featuring a talking octopus. You know, something more mystical and philosophical than a Hanna Barbera cartoon.

Okay, okay, I’m sure I could come up with something better than that. Probably. With some thought. But, in truth, I’ve had this link from Orion magazine sitting on my desktop for nearly a month. Sometimes, you know, we can’t let go of an idea without doing something with it.

Which notion, of course, makes for a story in itself.



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