Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Friday, June 22, 2007

Notes from the Dream Palace


AND NOW FOR SOMETHING REALLY MIND-BLOWING, TRALA

No sooner had I posted than great-glorious-fandangled news came in for B, our eldest child. Since tiny boydom, he has been obsessed with history, particularly military history.

He just received his statewide grade on the New York State Regents exam for U. S. History, which he took after AP History: 99.

Yes! Unadulterated wahoodles!

I forget all about our groans, moans, and bloody sweat with Geometry and Chemistry. I forget all about Sisyphus and his darned rock, and I fly up the hill, tossing armfuls of flowers at the natives below.

Fireworks, confetti, champagne!

Go, B, boy historian!

SKEWED, FANTASTIC, GENERALLY ODD BITS

Four of us (N being snoring upstairs) just watched I, Robot on a defective machine--an odd concept, given the story. Now R is up late, babbling about different categories of manga; I understand very little, but she is burbling fluently and happily, as though a little punch drunk (last Regents exam was today, so maybe she is.) She has an intense desire to learn Japanese...

Latest invite: my next (the last was with Jeff Vandermeer) KGB Bar reading in New York will be January 8, 2008. The other reader is Dan Braum. This one's in support of Electric Velocipede--zine proprietor, John Klima, who also edited that curious spelling-bee anthology, Logorrhea (Bantam.) The first time I was at KGB, I read my Logorrhea story, inspired by that mystical green word, smaragdine. (I knew smaragdine from the poetry of Puritan metaphysical poet, Edward Taylor, so it's a story about a version of him.) So I am Klimaesque at KGB again.

And I've agreed to write another story for an anthology theme I know nothing about--since I had so much fun writing "The Chinese Room" for an A. I. anthology, why not? It is interesting to be stretched in some odd direction: the request as Procrustean bed, though a pleasant one.

WHAT QUITTING THE DAY JOB LOOKS LIKE

Writers know that The Day Job can be a dubious good--that is, bread-and-butter with "no jam today," our little black dress or stranglehold tie, our dear little hovel with electronics, our bunting for the baby--the means by which life as we know it in these united States is rendered possible, as well as impossible.

But here is an astonishing thing: a writer who started in the small, small press world has successfully quit his day job. Here is his lovely, lively website, Ecstatic Days: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/. And there you will find an example of Absolute and Consummate Dervishness that may just rouse you to caper and frolic and go without sleep in proper Vandermeer style.

Credit: Artwork by Scott Eagle, from Vandermeer's City of Saint & Madmen and Secret Life. I picked these because Eagle's artwork is the backdrop to Ecstatic Days.


SOLACE

“If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.” --Kingsley Amis

I'm still thinking about this one. Perhaps it is especially intended for funny and satiric curmudgeons. Or perhaps I am too nice. Lucy wants to know where Mack the footman has been. Perhaps I should go looking.
*

21 comments:

  1. Congrats to the budding Historian!

    I have a Vandermeer, Shriek, which I mean to get back to...some time this year, ideally this summer. It got a little weird for me and I'm ashamed to say that my fantasy tastes are somewhat conservative. Certainly I'd never read a book shelved in the fantasy section quite like his before. But I did listen to his Bat Segundo podcast, I was intrigued, and will try him again.

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  2. Many congratulations to historian B. My early love who went into history (oh, there is a phrase indeed) always said he did so because...it is all about the stories told. Thus appropriate for your eldest.

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  3. imani,

    Thanks! And I'm rereading Crowley's Little, Big right now...

    jarvenpa,

    Yes, he does like to read and tell those tales.

    Oh, I just remembered that I haven't done my five blogs! Maybe next.

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  4. There ARE jobs out there for the budding historian! yeah 99, that is awesome.

    Somebody has to be keeper of the culture.

    congrats on your reading invite and short story. THat is great.

    love that art work. Its very exotic.

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  5. Children have been frolicking on the computer... It is roaring and won't boot up. Wah! I'm snitching a bit of time on somebody else's.

    Susanna,

    You are a keeper of the flame. And also a keeper of hats. I ought to give you my new Jackie O beaver pillbox, but I can't bear to part with it.

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  6. Well done story-loving scion of Marly!
    Mack is probably down in the village cheating at cards and seducing the local wenches, not having much to do lately, while the poor pot-boy toils and dreams in the kitchens like Gareth Beaux-Mains...

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  7. Congratulations to B and to you!! How wonderful that his passion has been validated in this way. Yours, too, come to that.
    Happy Midsummer to all Denizens of the Palace and its Outbuildings!

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  8. Lucy,

    No doubt the Pot Boy will turn out to be in a fairy tale. Mack, yes, would be at the Bold Dragoon on Pioneer St., except that the Bold Dragoon is no more.

    Thanks for the confetti,

    Laura,

    And the same thanks to you. Trala, what a relief after the Toils of Math.

    And a happy Midsummer to your blooming garden and you.

    ***

    I am sitting by a great tall leafy window in the Cooperstown library, because the computer at home is still roaring and emitting a beeping code. I suspect that means something bad for the motherboard... But don't have time to look it up, alas.

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  9. Great POst, Marly!
    Great news re your son....
    And am weighing up Kingsley Amis'sssss quote...( that's me, weihghing up..)

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  10. Happy, Happy news...for the student and you!

    excepting of course those awful troublesome noises emanating from the magic box. That's the trouble with magic boxes; they don't live forever.
    Dang!
    is what i thought (and some less savory words as well) when my first one died, and the second.
    i know that being a grownup and having been around machines for a number of decades now i should have known better, but still, it hurts when another fantasy fizzles out

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  11. Wowowow, a most fabulous achievement for the Newest Historian! Congrats to you as well, hope you're enjoying reflected glories!

    Sorry I've been a puny commentator, your post-riches have been wonderful but I've had few brain cells capable of commenting coherently (witness my poem about losing one's words...)

    If I could get caught up on some sleep, that might help.
    :-)

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  12. jan,

    Maybe it is just a guy thing. Or a curmudgeon thing.

    zephyr,

    Yes, I hope there are not too many things not-backed-up. R may lose poems, and that's sad.

    lori,

    If only we didn't need sleep, one could catch up.

    Thanks to all for the confetti!

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  13. I thought I posted earlier, but didn't see it here, so I guess cyberspace ate it.

    Congrats to B. the historian. What is his favorite historical period? Mine used to be the Civil War era, but then I became hooked on the French revoluitonary war era, and why the roylaty did what they did. I LOVE the new Marie Antoinette. Part of it is probably the frilly clothes that I like ...

    Anyway, congrats again to B. May he study history and live it to the fullest.

    By the way I see a new computer in your future if it is as bad as you say. I would suggest a laptop if that is the case. You can carry them from the pot-boy's post in the kitchen, to the chambermaids room to the queens bedroom.

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  14. A mac notebook was the best investment I ever scammed my parentals into making.

    Its like an appendage.

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  15. 99! Amazing stuff. Tell B congratulations from me - of course he doesn't know who on earth I am - just tell him I'm a very important person from overseas.

    Love this post on JV and I love Shriek too...Haven't read Little Big yet though.

    And I agree with Kingsley - it is our mission as writers to provoke and annoy... someone.

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  16. b. q.,

    I have a little Gateway laptop that I use wholly as a word processor and storehouse; once in a blue moon I hook it up to the internet. But even when I do, I don't let kids on! As for the roaring one, we have somebody coming to see whether we should attempt resurrection or let it expire.

    the galiquan Susanna,

    I love Macs and have had three. But I've given up. Nobody around here has them, except one or two architects. One has to go several hours for any help.

    And I think anything that my children are on can't be too portable, or it will be lost in a day or two.

    clare,

    Oh, you should read Little, Big. It seems to annoy people who demand a plot with lots of propulsion, but you will like it.

    Someone. Someone is annoyed, always. Someone is annoyed by Moby Dick and The Scarlet Letter and Bleak House and A Midsummer's Night's Dream.

    I suppose the only way not to annoy is to stay home and do nothing. And that would be quite annoying to oneself.

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  17. I hate how people always get annoyed too. It is aweful.

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  18. I understand about the kids and portable thing.

    I'm glad you have a private one though, I was concerned about how you were going to go on writing. Although, I guess, people wrote before computers. I like computers better though.

    I run a Mac Powerbook G4. I was running several other PC laptops from school, but they kept going south. My Mac has not had any trouble. It was however, pricey, I'm still paying for it.

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  19. Halloo Susanna & blog queen--

    Yes, I am here doing my annoying at the library. Though we have two accounts, only one is wireless--and that is somebody's work account.

    Yes, I suppose a pencil and an old yellow tablet will do.

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  20. my god daughter loved the pictures on this page. She is 14 months.

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  21. To have one's page loved by a baby is a marvelous thing.

    Just got back from a very long camp-delivery and am going to watch Hitchcock with the remaining two.

    Computer still dead. Laptop problems still unsolved. Sigh.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.