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April 23rd, 2014


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Gordon Lish

OR Books, 2014

Первый сборник оригинальных рассказов Лиша за последние 16 лет. Мастер авангардной прозы, считающийся гениальным редактор, Лиш остается верен себе и в новой книге. Сборник (тоненький, чуть более 130 страниц) не зря носит название «Goings: In Thirteen Sittings». За один присест его будет тяжело одолеть, несмотря на малый объем. Проза Лиша требует внимания, усердия, настойчивости. С каждым открытием книги делаешь попытку, один присест ограничиваешь одним (а то и вообще частью) рассказом.

Рассказы в сборнике нарочито автобиографичны. На каждое «я» здесь приходится пояснение в скобках (Gordon) или (Gordo). Так автор сокращает дистанцию между протагонистом и собственно собой, автором.

Даже автобиографичность многих рассказов условная. Деталь из прошлого или настоящего становится катализатором почти отсутствующего сюжета, а сюжет сводится к словесной эквилибристике. Доведенный до абсурда стиль кружит голову, зачастую вызываю кратковременную амнезию: тяжело вспомнить, с чего вообще рассказал начался.

Авангардность прозы всегда ставит под сомнение ее читабельность, и здесь Лиша спасает чувство юмора. В своих стилистических выкрутасах Лиш-писатель регулярно подшучивает над собой, Лишем-пожилым человеком.

«”Put it on,” she said.

I put it on.

“Come closer,” she said.

I did as she said, and before I could defend myself, she knocked my elbow out of the way and hooked her finger – from outside the shirt, from outside – through into the armpit.

And wiggled шею

The finger.

“What’s this?” she said.

“What’s what?” I said.

“This”, she said.

“What?” I said, wondering but not all that assiduously, how she had managed to get her finger into my armpit from the outside.

From ouside the sirt, I mean.

“This slit,” she said. She said, “What’s this doing here? Not that I want for us to overlook this one on the other side over here. Are these gills?” she said. She said, “Are you actially wearing a shirt with gills?”

Well, it turned out I was.


Так сквозь стилистические джунгли прорывается что-то совершенно, по-человечески простое.

Будем надеяться, со следующим сборником Гордон Лиш не будет тянуть еще 16 лет.

Recent Word Counts

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My usual daily quota right now is around 2,000 words. I budgeted zero words on the two driving days up and near-zero words on the three driving days back on this trip. Nor did I expect normal word counts while I’m up here.

Here’s how many words I wrote on each day of the trip, by day:

  1. 0 (as budgeted)
  2. 0 (as budgeted)
  3. 185 (disappointing)
  4. 298 (disappointing)
  5. 1,160 (a fucking miracle, given we found out the house was a writeoff this day)
  6. 343 (a fucking miracle, having gotten access to the house this day)

Overall, still less than I hoped for, but I’m glad I didn’t let life completely kick me in the ass.

Tomorrow is our first day driving back.

I’m really hoping that one of the childhood heirlooms of mine that still hasn’t been produced can be found and obtained before we leave. It’s an absolutely stupid thing of no commercial value, but it’s such a unique memorabilia piece from my life and so appropriate to this trip, I can’t imagine not having it.

It’s from the trip we took to San Clemente Island one year, when the military mixed up the schedule and accidentally authorized us anchorage at Pyramid Cove at the same time they were shelling the island from a destroyer five miles out. They weren’t missing by much, not even when they went ten or fifteen miles out, so we felt pretty safe exploring the island well away from the target range. So we did. I also remember snorkeling through the kelp beds to get bait for fishing.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

(no subject)

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you really startin to sound like a female holmes

нига spider loc в своем куплете упоминает холмса. female holmes, наверное, означает мисс марпл.

April 22nd, 2014

Facebook interrupts your feed to stick in ads these days. There was a howler from Microsoft. It didn't actually say Windows 8, no doubt because they're embarrassed by it, but they did show an XP desktop and claimed you could keep it all, followed by the hashtag #GoodbyeXP.

As I went to comment, I didn't see a single atta-boy, way to go, Microsoft. No, it was all give me my XP.

Epic. Fail.

With a new Windows PC, keep the Desktop you love and run the Office you know. ‪#‎GoodbyeXP‬

  • Philip Edward Kaldon So, just like Windows XP I can install Office 95 and use Norton Utilities and Special Edition 4.5 in a cmd.exe MS-DOS box and run WordStar 3.30 in the DOS box? I Don't Think So. Microsoft -- you keep forgetting that it's MY machine and I use it to do WORK. You keep putting out crap like Me, Vista and 8 which keep breaking things. You don't get it. Dr. Phil

I keep telling my students I need fifteen minutes in a dead end alley with Bill Gates or his designated Prince, and with an aluminum baseball bat I'll 'splain a few things to them.

Dr. Phil

In the mid-80s, my mom and my late stepfather moved up to Vancouver Island. They lived in Port Alberni for a time, then built a house on almost 13 acres of land in Courtenay.

Her former partner’s been living in it as the caretaker. He hasn’t mentioned any maintenance issues. He hasn’t mentioned no running water in the kitchen.

That may be, in part, because this is the kitchen….
Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

A year ago tomorrow I gave my second Final Exam for Spring 2013. Or mostly did. I had gotten what I thought was the late flu from my students, the one that the Fall 2012 flu shot didn't really protect against. I was running a fever and felt totally wasted. "Weak as a kitten," was a phrase I repeated to people.

I called in from the road, explaining that I was running late and had to use the bathroom as soon as I got in -- I had been pushing fluids -- and could someone start the exam for me.

When I finally got there, my department chair and the secretary were proctoring the exam. My boss took one look at me and told me to go home. I told him that I needed to do about an hour's work so that someone could handle the Check-Out form duties -- I always do a Check-Out before they leave to make sure that a missing paper really is a missing paper, while there is time to print up a new copy, etc. No surprises.

So after an hour, I trudged up out of the lecture hall in 1110 Rood, barely, and made it to my office where I puttered a few more hours. Who knew it would be 237 days until I was back in my office on campus?

And now we're starting up the long line of one year anniversaries.

Today the weather was pleasant, heading up to a high of like 54°F, but the sunny drive was in the forties. I made it to campus by 9:30, picked up my exams, came to my office, put my HP Mini 1000 in its little case, loaded up the cookies -- it's Finals so we get name brand cookies *** -- and was over to open up 1110 Rood in plenty of time for the 10:15 start time. 91 students, everyone done by 12:15, one way or the other. ****

Back to my office. All without thinking I would pass out. (grin)

What a difference a year makes.

Now it's all over for the semester. Except for the grading. Except for the screaming.

Okay, so one week to go before grades submitted Tuesday 29 April 2014 -- and then I am free until September.

I am going to make up for that dastardly Year Without A Summer, I assure you. Even with two canes and a walker and a foot brace!

Dr. Phil

*** For the record there were real Oreos, Peanut Butter Oreos, Triple Double Oreos -- three cookies, two fillings, one of white and one of chocolate -- we never did find the Megastuf Oreos with twice the filling of a Doublestuf -- and a rerun of this year's most popular cookies, the almond Windmill cookies.

**** Meanwhile, despite all the work I have to do and the story I've been working on, naturally yesterday I came up with a nearly fully fledged story idea, so I started writing that while the students worked on their final exam.

(no subject)

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фбр до 70-х считало, что мафия не занимается торговлей наркотиков - якобы это против неписанных правил коза ностры.

Some junk

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Thanks for all the condolences. I won't be going down for the funeral, which has to happen right away for both logistical and liturgical reasons, but will be attending the mnemósynon in about forty days.

I've been enjoying the new LJs I'm reading now. Ever since I started my day job, nearly six years ago now, I've had little time/ability to write about daily life. My friend Caren used to blog, years ago, "Put on clothes, went to work" every week day, and now I see why. I suppose I could write about Oliver's green poop! It's green!

nick_kaufmann is trying to get people to visit his website by launching a guest-blog thing called "The Scariest Part." Today I write about the scariest part of my UK-hardcover-only title The Last Weekend. Check it out. (People who want the book, but who don't want to pay for transatlantic mail, should probably order from Borderlands Books, which has copies in stock.)

I liked this interview with Cheryl Strayed over at Scratch Magazine. It's about money, which is everyone's favorite subject:

I needed it to pay my rent. I had accrued $50,000 in credit card debt to write that book. The same thing happened later with Wild, only I was in deeper debt. So I got that check for Torch, and it was gone the next day. I actually paid my credit card bill. Poof!

Then I did revisions, and I had a baby, and the next check didn’t come until 2005. I got my third check in February 2006, when it was published, and my final check when the paperback came out in 2007.

So I sold my book for $100,000, and what I received was a check for about $21,000 a year over the course of four years, and I paid a third of that to the IRS. Don't get me wrong, the book deal helped a lot—it was like getting a grant every year for four years. But it wasn't enough to live off. So, I guess it was a humbling lesson!

Finally, re: the Hugo Awards, I presume my comments from before the ballot came out make more sense now, right?

Last Weekend cover

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Scariest Part, a recurring feature in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tell us what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense. (Remember, if you’d like to be featured on The Scariest Part, check out the guidelines here.)

I’ve known this week’s featured author for more years than I care to say. I was a big proponent of his first novel, the Lovecraft-meets-Kerouac road trip Move Under Ground. His latest novel, The Last Weekend, has just been released by PS Publishing. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Meet Vasilis “Billy” Kostopolos: Bay Area Rust Belt refugee, failed sci-fi writer, successful barfly and, since an exceptionally American zombie apocalypse, accomplished “driller” of reanimated corpses. Now that all the sane, well-adjusted human beings are hunted to extinction, he’s found his vocation trepanning zombies, peddling his one and only published short story and drinking himself to death — that is, until both his girlfriends turn out to be homicidal revolutionaries, he collides with a gang of Berkeley scientists gone berserker, the long-awaited “Big One” finally strikes San Francisco, and what’s left of local government can no longer hide the awful secret lurking deep in the basement of City Hall. Can Bill unearth the truth about America’s demise and San Francisco’s survival — and will he destroy what little’s left of it in the process? Is he legend, the last man, or just another sucker on the vine? Nick Mamatas’ The Last Weekend takes a high-powered drill to the lurching, groaning conventions of zombie dystopias and conspiracy thrillers, sparing no cliché about tortured artists, alcoholic “genius,” noir action heroes, survivalist dogma, or starry-eyed California dreaming. Starting in booze-soaked but very clear-eyed cynicism and ending in gloriously uncozy catastrophe, this tale of a man and his city’s last living days is merciless, uncomfortably perceptive, and bleakly hilarious.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Nick Mamatas (warning: contains, um, adult language):

Asking a writer about the scariest part of their book is like asking a stage magician what the most magical part of his or her act is. The magician already knows the trick to sawing a lady in half—really, the lady’s flexibility is what makes the trick. The magician is just a bit of spectacle and handwaving, really.

There are antecedents to this. Kafka thought he was writing humorous short stories, and was reportedly bemused to hear that his friends thought his work to be grotesque and unsettling. (And Kafka’s work does have a subtle humor about it. “Because I couldn’t find the food that I liked. If I had found it, believe me, I should have made no fuss and stuffed myself like you or anyone else,” the Hunger Artist explained, as he finally starved to death.) Some of the best writers hardly have any idea of what they’re writing.

I’ve rarely called my work horror, except for commercial—ha-ha!, there I go being funny again—reasons. I don’t terrify myself writing this stuff, or worry (or exult!) when I think of something that’s transgressive or taboo and put it in a story. Even when I’m writing a zombie novel.

The Last Weekend was a hard sell. Apparently zombie novels are so popular that nobody buys them anymore. My zombies weren’t even different; they’re slow, shambling Romero types. The real difference between The Last Weekend and the other ninety zombie novels being published every month is that it is not secretly about reveling in killing marginalized minorities focused on the sort of people who don’t normally get themselves involved in apocalypses: bohemians, drunks, and loners.

Every zombie fan knows that the heroes really get into trouble when a loved one becomes a zombie. No loved ones, no problem. In the book, protagonist Vasilis “Billy” Kostopolous calls the effect “anti-social Darwinism.” All that’s left in San Francisco, a town with lots of hills and almost no graveyards, are the awkward and isolated. The gung-ho heroes and the loving families were the first to die. Yay!

To write about marginalized characters requires being a bit marginalized. A couple of years ago, before the book was sold, I read part of it at the Science Fiction in San Francisco reading series. Billy has gotten a job with what’s left of the city government as a “driller.” If you have a relative who is about to die, you call 911 and a driller will be right over to put a hole in Uncle Ted’s head before he zombifies. In this scene, Billy was a little late to the gig and had to actually destroy the zombie-wife of the man who made the call. It didn’t go well:

“Okay,” I said, but the man, on his knees now, didn’t answer. I wiped my hand on some old magazine, but the paper flaked off and stuck to my palm in clumps. “Well, okay,” I said again. He started weeping. “WHAT?” I finally demanded. “What did you expect to actually happen here? I blow some air up her cunt and she comes back to life? Slice open the cuts, find her heart, and put it in a store window mannequin? Jesus Christ, you make me sick.” There was something in my hair; it felt like when I was a child and my father would shout “Eat it or wear it!” and turn a bowl full of pasta with the wrong brand of sauce upside-down on top of me.

During the reading, I didn’t notice any audience reaction. Afterward, I got an earful. Did you know that “cunt” is a bad word? Bad enough that members of a San Francisco crowd gasped when they heard it, and someone muttered into her cellphone about it during intermission. Nick said cunt! I was completely surprised. Bad words, coming out of the mouth of a first-person narrator in dialogue, upsets people? Upsets modern people who do things like go to literary events? Couldn’t Billy have just said “Blow some air into her lungs” like a good boy? No, of course not. I never even thought of something like that, and though I had a couple of years to change the line before the book was finally published, never even thought to do so. Actually, I just recalled the incident when Nick Kaufmann asked me to write about the scariest part of my book for his website. (PS: buy Nick Kaufmann’s novels. I’m writing this to lure you here. Just click on something!) Let’s all march in place and chant, “Cunt, cunt cunt!”

Anyway, the whole cunt thing was momentary, and small as far as these things go, but still interesting. Kill a few hundred million people in prose just to set the scene, have a bit of close-up physical and emotional torture of characters to get the story rolling, and what really upsets some readers is a degenerate anti-hero saying a bad word in the middle of a bad situation. The scariest part? Who knows? The last time I saw a magic act the friend who was with me couldn’t stop talking about the wig the magician’s assistant was wearing.

Nick Mamatas: Blog / Twitter

The Last Weekend: Amazon / PS Publishing

Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including Love is the Law and The Last Weekend. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Best American Mystery Stories, and many other magazines and anthologies. As editor of the Haikasoru imprint of Japanese science fiction in translation, he is at least partially responsible for any number of books, including the essay anthology The Battle Royale Slam Book (co-edited with Masumi Washington) and All You Need Is KILL: The Official Graphic Novel Adaptation, based on the book by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and with art by Lee Ferguson.

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

I woke up early. Neither of us slept well, in fact. Why is it always like that?

I love Hilton Garden Inn breakfasts. This one was particularly nice, for the record. Also: if you have your choice of Hilton Garden Inn or a Hampton Inn, the Hilton Garden Inn has the significantly superior breakfasts. I kept wondering why my breakfast experience at the lower-tier Hiltons was random, but it was simply because I kept alternating property types. These days, I won’t go for a Hampton Inn unless there’s no other good alternative. In short: Hilton Garden Inns have the ability to cook their food, where Hampton Inns just heat what’s brought in. Hilton Garden Inns have a bigger variety for breakfast. Go for the actual cooked food. If, you know, you get free breakfast, aren’t sticking around, aren’t in the mood for hunting, etc.

I took the first stretch of the wheel because it was raining (and we were driving my car, thus my increased familiarity with it was a good thing). We switched off in Vancouver, Washington, where my mom called one of her friends (local to there), but we wanted to press on.

I’d forgotten the exact way to get to Renton, where I’d had excellent gluten-free pizza at Smoking Monkey Pizza in the past. So we missed that. Oops. Found another place with Yelp, Amante Pizza & Pasta. The pizza was good save for being overcooked. (This can be a problem with GF pizza because cook times are different.)

We hit some bad traffic in and north of Seattle, but it pretty much cleared up well before the border. It took about ten minutes to cross. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that many questions crossing a border, not even when I went to Vancouver for dinner last year. Not even in Bermuda or Liverpool. Kind of annoying, but okay.

Finally let us in, then we found the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. Checked in on 4sq and got a funny response from BC Ferries. Our ferry to Nanaimo (home of the famous Nanaimo bar) took two hours.

From there, it’s about 100km (60 miles) north to Courtenay. We arrived there just before midnight.

I’d done some internet surfing and found the Holiday Inn Express in Courtenay, which is a pretty sweet place with decent breakfast, though of the Hampton Inn style. It also has free wifi, which is even more awesome.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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