Tag: novels

On writing toward an ending

“As I closed in on the first draft of a novel, I wrote toward an ending I’d held in my mind for months. It was a quiet climax in keeping with the, ahem, literary nature of my novel. I knew that when I finished the draft, I’d have to smooth out the road between, say, pages 75 and 300, maybe even rewrite them completely. But that final scene was divine. Tears would probably fall to my keyboard as I wrote it, and readers, in turn, would weep.

“Instead, when I reached my perfect ending it was dead.”

—Kate Leary recounting a familiar experience here


On Edith Wharton

“One of the brave things that Wharton does is to recognize the coexistence of the world of passion and the world of strictures. I don’t know another writer of her era who felt so seriously bound by the rules of society, and who took so seriously the great forces of emotion that were aligned against those rules.”

—Roxana Robinson in The Millions

I am not to be trusted

I knew something Mallory Ortberg didn’t know/Honestly that blew my mind the first time I realized it

“I’m just like I am just now learning again on the Wikipedia page that the book In Search of Lost Time is not the same, or it is the same thing as Remembrance of Things Past. I thought the dude wrote two books. It’s the same book, two different translations.”

—Mallory Ortberg (x)

Short story: “The Magician’s Apprentice”

“The Magician’s Apprentice,” by Tamsyn Muir

First appeared in Weird Tales, Issue #358 or #359 (Volume 66, No. 3, Winter 2012), edited by Ann VanderMeer; reprinted here in Weird Fiction Review, July 3rd, 2012; reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2013, edited by Rich Horton; reprinted in The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Five, edited by Ellen Datlow; featured in PseudoPod 515, November 4th, 2016; reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine issue 88 (September 2017), online here

4,860 words, says Lightspeed

(Spoilers.) I love the reference to Lolita, and Mr. Hollis’s analysis of it, and this line: “You see, I’ve got nowhere else to go.” He evidently gave her the book as a hint about what he’s really up to. I’m not totally convinced that John/Mr. Hollis has eaten Cherry’s childhood, though, despite her food name, despite the ending. His relationship with her doesn’t strike me as all that sick up until the secret he reveals—the secret of what it really means to be a magician. It’s more as though he’s eaten her adulthood. She’ll never be the same after this.

Did he train her, selfishly, in order to soothe his loneliness? It must be lonely to be a magician, devouring without end.

Mr. Hollis’s comment about “dead joggers” is great. The last line is also great.

Novel excerpt: “Baby Goes to Erik’s Hometown”

“Baby Goes to Erik’s Hometown,” by Jarett Kobek

Appeared in n+1 Online Only, excerpted from The Future Won’t Be Long, out August 15th, 2017 from Viking

3,260 words

A funny-sad story. Parker Brickley’s obscene prattling fascinates me:

“—I don’t fucking know why it fucking happened, said Parker, but something about the way you scribble gets my dick throbbing. You’re a fucking faggot, so you probably think you’ve mapped out the whole territory of cock. You’d be surprised about the secret knowledge of the straight pervert. Reading your stuff is like rubbing an eight ball under my foreskin and paying six prostitutes to seek the powder. Johnny fucking Cyberseed, like shitting myself in pleasure. I loved it. I’ve got literary clients, but only science fiction floods my erectile vessels. I’d trade five Jane Smileys for one of you. So please don’t tease me. Please don’t say that you’re the kind of girl who lets a man buy dinner and then won’t hike up her skirt. I want to see that big ass and those tender thighs. Tell me about the sweet treasures of your pussy. Tell me that you have a fucking manuscript. Give me something, buddy, give me a juicy piece to take back to William Morris and ram up their shit-stained asses.”

Novel excerpt: “Bastard Alias the Romantic”

“Bastard Alias the Romantic,” by Yuri Herrera, translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman

Excerpted from The Transmigration of Bodies (from the publisher And Other Stories); appeared in Granta, June 27th, 2016, online here

4,207 words

I thought at first that this was a short story, and perhaps it doesn’t stand on its own that well, since I didn’t really get it as a story. I guess it’s about the creeping fear of death, and the way people avoid or repress it?

I think he rapes her, briefly, at the end, but it’s hard to tell. In any case he deliberately exposes them both to the possibility of catching the plague.

Short story: “The Night of the Curlews”

“The Night of the Curlews,” by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa

This translation appeared in the New Yorker, April 17th, 1978 (online here), and in Collected Stories (1984)

Perhaps 1000 words?

I’m not sure I really get Gabriel García Márquez. This story is well written but enigmatic to the point where I give up on figuring it out. Maybe it’s an absurd joke.

I like the opening, where the narrator implies that something terrible has happened without saying what it is.

Apparently this story gets echoed or reused in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Just so I have this straight

According to Wikipedia, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America says:

On how to be Asian enough

“The characters, especially the main character, just do not seem Asian enough. They act like everyone else. They don’t eat Korean food, they don’t speak Korean, and you have to think about ways to make these characters more ’ethnic,’ more different. We get too much of the minutiae of [the characters’] lives and none of the details that separate Koreans and Korean-Americans from the rest of us. For example, in the scene when she looks into the mirror, you don’t show how she sees her slanted eyes, or how she thinks of her Asianness.”

—a note to Leonard Chang on his novel The Lockpickers, from a “legendary” editor (x)

You’d think an editor would trust an Asian author to capture the Asian experience (or rather, his particular experience) accurately.