February 5th, 2008

  • lizhand

Anne of Red Hair

The Guardian reports today on the centenary of L.M. Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables.  I loved the Anne books growing up, though I had no idea there were so many of them —   Emily of New MoonPat of Silver Bush?  — I read only the first few in the series, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of Ingleside, Anne of the Island, etc.  Also some of her ghost stories, which were unsurprising but atmopsheric.  My favorite remains Anne of Windy Poplars — Anne's first teaching job after college, in a small insular town where she has trouble ingratiating herself with the locals.  It always seemed like a good model of the novice working experience, also the perils of attempting to fit into a rural community.  Good training for life in Maine.  I recall many years ago, reading in bemusement about Anne's phenomenal popularity with the Japanese, who called her Anne of Red Hair and made pilgrimages to Prince Edward Island to see Green Gables, which I recall from childhood visits only as the Green Gables Golf Club.  That popularity of course was instrumental in the construction of the causeway that now links PEI with the mainland.  Has there ever been a fictional character who had such a direct impact on a place's physical and cultural environment?

Still, I love her, despite the sappy moments and sugary religious gloss that occasionally appears; so do my daughter and my nieces.  I haven't been to PEI since I was a kid, but friends of mine go every year and say it's remarkably unspoiled, causeway or no.  And we have in our attic a straw hat with two long red pigtails attached, for those moments when overwhelmed by the urge to become Anne of Red Hair.


Boombox nights

I've been working on some movie stuff for money, writing treatments, sleeping irregular hours, doing nothing but work, and to demonstrate how desperately I hate this kind of work, the lengths to which I'll go to avoid it, I relate the following...

I woke up yesterday afternoon from a dream in which Steven Hawking or someone imitating his robot voice was gangsta rapping over some lazy drum and bass, and I thought, What a great idea! I mean, I could just hear him aping the Geto Boys..."Damn, it feels good to be a genius!" For ten, fifteen minutes, still groggy, I was certain that the idea was pure gold. That this was to be my Pet Rock idea. Then my head cleared and I thought the idea was shit. Then I recalled that Gardner Dozois and I had a conversation once about all the ideas we'd tossed out as being ridiculous that someone else later made millions with. One of my contributions was an idea I had for a Vietnam War musical about five years before Miss Saigon. So I wondered if the Steven Hawking idea might not be shit. Maybe all great ideas are shit, stupid, and it's conviction makes them great. Not that I thought that I could make a serious art statement with the Hawking idea. I mean, I suppose it's possible. A Unified Field Rap or some crap like that. But basically it was a novelty idea, a cash idea. Then I had the thought that maybe all great ideas come when you're half-asleep and that being groggy is conducive to creative thought. Anyway, that's basically the set of circumstances that led me to waste the next several hours attempting to write Steven Hawking robot voice rap songs, serious ones in which Steven confronted weighty issues relating to physics and his personal life, and also some lighter Al Yankovic-type material. Titles like Gravity Ho', Superstring (Baby, Got To Do Ya Thing), and so on. Needless to say they all sucked. Of course, maybe that's just me making another error in judgement.

So that's how much I hate writing treatments. I like to write. Fuck, I love it. But treatments leave out all the stuff I like to write. Even now, I'm avoiding working on them. :)
  • pgdf

New York Office Space at a Premium?

[Click to enlarge]

We know from the SPIDER-MAN films that the DAILY BUGLE newspaper has its offices in the iconic Flatiron Building. Now, with the new DAMAGE CONTROL comic just out a week or two ago, we learn that that organization is headquartered there as well.


How can this possibly leave any room for the offices of St. Martin's/Tor?

Doesn't David Hartwell keep bumping into J. Jonah Jameson?

Posted by Paul DiFi.
  • pgdf

Delany Reading

[Click to Dhalgrenize]

Chip Delany was in town the past couple of days to do a reading at Brown University and confer with students. Deborah and I had a wonderful supper with him on Sunday night, along with his faculty sponsor Brian Evenson, and Brian's wonderful mate Johanna. Brian of course is a writer of no mean accomplishments himself.


That's curly-topped Brian, seen from the rear, sitting in the front row in the foto above.

And we learned that Jo has her own first book of stories appearing in 2009.

Anyhow, on Monday night Chip gave one of his typical stirring readings, drawing from his newest novel DARK REFLECTIONS--whch has just won a Stonewall Book Award--and from his autobiography, THE MOTION OF LIGHT IN WATER.


Bob Coover was in attendance as well. And he's working on a sequel to his very first novel, THE ORIGIN OF THE BRUINISTS.


One of the benefits of living in a university town: they pay for your friends to visit you!

Posted by Paul DiFi.

Texaco, Peek, Vulgar Usage...

I just finished re-reading Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau, one of those great, great books that often get overlooked on lists of great books, narrated by Marie-Sophie Laborieux who ultimately founds Texaco, a shanty town on the site of an old refinery in Martinique, but first show us 200 years of the history of that nation through Marie-Sophie's eye and the eyes of her father. If you haven't read it, correct this flaw, please. It's not the easiest read, but it's among the best.

Over on his blog, Ben Peek, the author of the reknowed 26 Lies One Truth and Black Sheep, has a kind of comic book going called Nowhere Near Savannah. You might want to check out this week's episode direct from the flyblown underbelly of Toongabbie. Here it is:


Reading this started me thinking about the use of the words "cock" and "cunt" in contemporary writing. I was raised by people who considered themselves members of the Virginia Gentry, an imaginary social class long since extinct except for those deluded enough to believe otherwise. As a member of that make-believe class for some years before I smartened up, I have a reflex that makes me embarrassed to use those words in my writing, though I've been acclimated to using them in my speech somewhat, mainly by hanging out with Brits and the odd Aussie, for whom the words have lost a measure of volatility. When Americans use those words, no matter how frequently they use them, they almost always are a trifle forced, over- or understated, as if there is an awareness of doing something daring. It strikes me as oddly juvenile. Does this make the Brits and Aussies more grown up than us? Not necessarily. I think they've just been juvenile longer than us and grown accustomed to saying those words. It would be interesting to sort this through and make all kinds of unfounded assumptions about national character, but I'm sticking with the statement made by my previous sentence. In any case, I'm hoping to get over to Australia this year, where I can practise saying cock and cunt with impunity and perhaps develop a more natural delivery, if not a more sophisticated world view.