remember pain

April 7, 2018

But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale

How do you like your eggs in the morning?
I like mine with a kiss
Boiled or fried?
I’m satisfied as long as I get my kiss –

HOW D’YA LIKE YOUR EGGS IN THE MORNING ?
From the film “Rich, Young And Pretty” (1951)
(Nicholas Brodszky / Sammy Cahn)

piss on the corpse

March 17, 2018

To paraphrase Truman Capote, finishing a novel is like taking a child out behind the house and shooting it. To which I would hasten to add, that makes critics a bit like a stranger who come along later to piss on the corpse.

Caitlín R. Kiernan
Trilobite: the writing of Threshold

The 20th-century novel

March 6, 2018

a lens in your eye

As more than one critic has noted, today’s novelists tend not to write exposition as fully as novelists of the 19th century. Where the first chapter of Stendahl’s “Red and the Black” (1830) is given over to the leisurely description of a provincial French town, its topographic features, the basis of its economy, the person of its mayor, the mayor’s mansion, the mansion’s terraced gardens and so on, Faulkner’s “Sanctuary” (1931) begins this way: “From beyond the screen of bushes which surrounded the spring, Popeye watched the man drinking.”

The 20th-century novel minimizes discourse that dwells on settings, characters’ CVs and the like. The writer finds it preferable to incorporate all necessary information in the action, to carry it along in the current of the narrative, as is done in movies.

Of course there are 19th-century works, Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer,” for example (” ‘Tom?’ No answer.”), that jump right into things, and perhaps American writers always have been disposed to move along at a snappier pace than their European counterparts. But the minimal use of exposition does suppose a kind of filmic compact between writer and reader, that everything will become clear eventually.

Beyond that, the rise of film art is coincident with the tendency of novelists to conceive of compositions less symphonic and more solo voiced, intimate personalist work expressive of the operating consciousness. A case could be made that the novel’s steady retreat from realism is as much a result of film’s expansive record of the way the world looks as it is of the increasing sophistications of literature itself.

E L Doctorow
Quick cuts: the novel follows film into a world of fewer words

escapist…?

February 20, 2018

Folk legend, fairytale, myth are thought of as escapist, but in reality they’re not – they’re distilled metaphor and truth.

Alan Garner
Interview in BBC TV programme “Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers

try my hand at a novel

January 30, 2018

EMILIA DZIUBAK

I was always into horror when I was a kid – the old American International pictures, the big-bug movies, then the Hammer stuff. And of course the books, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll, Frankenstein, Shirley Jackson’s novels, and the great pulp writers like Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Richard Matheson. I even briefly liked Lovecraft, though I find him utterly unreadable now. When I decided that I wanted to get out of writing for magazines try my hand at a novel, King and Straub and a number of other really fine writers were already well into their stride and I was reading them a lot, and the movies had become a lot edgier and in-your-face, with stuff like The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the like, and I thought it was a very exciting period to be writing horror. So it was natural that I gravitate there with my first one, Off Season.

Jack Ketchum
Interview with Rob Hart for Litreactor, 27th April 2012

Spacemen in my cupboard

January 11, 2018

spacemen mag 1spaceman 1Spaceman_03spaceman 4spaceman5Spaceman mag 6spacemanspaceman double-page spread issue one

As a child I came by an almost full run of ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland’, purchased from a used book store, courtesy of a substantial amount of saved pocket money. These periodicals were edited by Forrest James Ackerman, who was also known as: 4SJ, or The Ackermonster, or Dr. Acula, or even Mr. Science Fiction. Besides being a writer, editor and agent, Forry was an actor and appeared in such classics of the silver screen as: ‘Nudist Colony of the Dead’.

Some years after my initial acquisition of this wonderful collection of magazines, I came across ‘Spacemen’, another (less successful) publication edited by Forry which was (more or less) totally Science Fiction based – and in its pages first discovered Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and that fabulous silent film Metropolis (not to mention ‘Girl on the Moon’, ‘Things to Come’ and ‘War of the Worlds’).

Forry said he’d fallen in love with Science Fiction at nine years of age after purchasing a copy of ‘Amazing Stories’. He kept that magazine for the rest of his life. Ultimately it formed a part of his 300,000 plus piece collection of SF/horror books and film memorabilia. Forry if nothing else was a true fan of the genre (see below).

My own fascination with Science Fiction began about age ten when I was given a number of used books which included Stanley G Weinbaum’s wonderful ‘A Martian Odyssey, and Others’. Reading those stories I became hooked –

Philip K Dick writes…

December 21, 2017

the devilrides out

He could never spell properly, had a poor literary style and committed howlers. His editors weeded out most of these, but one story still made Copenhagen the capital of Sweden. What he provided were superb plots, designed to build and release tension expertly, in wave-like patterns. His characters, though stock, were vivid, the settings luxurious and the historical and cultural backgrounds usually carefully researched. He published on an industrial scale, completing two new books per year in the first half of his long career and one thereafter. His experience of business enabled him to excel at marketing them, and though they never earned him honours from the literary world or the nation, they did make him rich. Baker argues plausibly that, in his range of subjects and the associations that his name evoked, (Dennis)Wheatley was the greatest non-literary writer in twentieth-century Britain.

Ronald Hutton
TLS review of The Devil Is a Gentleman, Phil Baker’s biography of Dennis Wheatley

men were the answer

November 24, 2017

Women were brought up to believe that men were the answer. They weren’t. They weren’t even one of the questions.

Julian Barnes
A History of the World in 10½ Chapters