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Monday, March 22, 2010

Book news

Picture credit and Edison's Frankenstein:

The picture at left is nabbed from Cate Gardner , who says that I have "the most gorgeous signature in the known universe." That's an unusual subject for praise, but I thank her. (Go to "A Little Man of Letters" to find out the truth about my once-horrible handwriting.) Catherine J. Gardner has a story in the anthology, Edison's Frankenstein from P. S. Publishing. That is her very own copy, lying on what I presume is her very own bedspread. I just got my big fat signed-and-slipcased copy only a couple of minutes ago so I haven't read hers yet. My story, "The Horse Angel," is on the Locus Recommended list for 2009. There's a longish discussion of it at Tangent. I notice that Tangent picked "The Red King's Sleep," another story of mine from a P. S. Anthology (Enemy of the Good), for their 2009 recommended reading list.

Monday in truth and metaphysically

I'm ransacking the house for documents lost after a trip to the DMV. It's definitely a Monday. Since I wasn't along on trip or return, I'm just looking everywhere... Meanwhile I just got a letter that I was a semi-finalist for the Donald Justice Poetry Award. That's a book award for formal poetry from the West Chester University Poetry Center. I would have preferred to win--hate that bridesmaid feeling. But I haven't submitted to a book contest in years and probably won't again. I don't really care for contests. More of that Monday feeling. No doubt I shall enjoy the books by the two winners, Ned Balbo and Amit Majmudar.

News on upcoming books

I'm starting to look for early fall events for 2011's The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press), so anybody who wants to put an event on my dance card can write me at camellia [at] If I don't write back, you were eaten by the filter and can leave me a note at facebook or here. I'll be doing readings or talks at bookstores and other places--will visit local groups under certain conditions.

In 2011 and 2012, I'll have two more short novels out from P. S. Publishing in the UK. One is Glimmerglass. Despite the fact that I have not lived in Cooperstown for the requisite thirty years, I have once again written a book related to the place, although it is more related to some of the stories I have written about it. Glimmerglass plays with the fictional quality of Cooperstown--this weird place where people regularly talk about Cooper's fictional places, where we have our own lake monster, where we have Kingfisher Tower in the lake and a Norman tower in the woods, where the line between fictional and real is a little frayed. This is a story about an unmarried woman at mid-life who considers herself a failed painter but who has a kind of resurrection in this landscape. I've imagined her living in a charming old gatehouse near the Fenimore Museum. There is an embodied Muse, a flood, a house that leads into a hill, a labyrinth, a love, the possibility of murder, and much more.

The other book is Maze of Blood, a nice pulpy title for a short novel inspired by that unhappy writer, Robert Howard. He has an "E." in the middle, but evidently the name is trademarked! I've long thought his life fascinating in its peculiarly Southern frustrations and limitations, and I understand the place and time--it feels so kindred to my summers in Georgia as a child, moving from a sharecropper's flimsy house to a romantic Queen Anne and back again. I also feel that I understand his nature, having spent much of my life with people who are neurologically interesting, as he appears to have been.

And I ought to say thanks to Pete Crowther and Nick Gevers for pursuing my work. I adore being asked and of late have had the fun of more requests that I can fill.

In which I write Botendaddy

My attention has been drawn to this amusing note on my Wikipedia page under the "Discussion" tab. I didn't know there were discussion tabs, so this is interesting.

"Borderline but sufficient notoriety to be included as an entry. I do object to inclusion on the [[Cooperstown]] entry as it implies that she is a Cooperstown Writer. This is a very elite group and requires Upstate New York essence and authenticity. She may be an accomplished interpeter of the Lousiana experience and an excellent writer, but mere residence in America's greatest village does not qualify one as a Cooperstown Writer without more objective criteria to support this contention. With great respect and kindness...the Botendaddy.[[User:BotendaddyBotendaddy]] ([[User talk:Botendaddytalk]]) 20:33, 9 September 2008 (UTC)"

Dear Botendaddy,

Well, somebody pointed out this curious note to me! The fact is that I published a novel set in this area as far back as 1996 ("Catherwood" from Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and that I have published many, many stories and poems with a Coopertown setting. My tenth book will be set in Cooperstown. Botendaddy, you loyal native son of Cooperstown, I'm afraid you know absolutely nothing about my work. I have published precisely one short story about Louisiana. And having looked up your comments on Cooperstown-born writers, I would just like to say that you do not have to exclude another writer in order to praise the native-born one you would prefer to put forward. There is room in the village, in the round world, and in the great sea of words for many. In fact, it is precisely because we are many that the sea of words becomes rich and bright.

Good cheer, Marly


As I've had a request for a book of poems, I imagine that will be my next announcement, bookwise.


  1. I haven't read any stories yet - I don't want to destroy the book by cracking the spine or spilling my coffee on the pages or all manner of terrible things that could befall it.

  2. What if nobody reads any of the stories because it's all too fancy to touch? I sympathize; it is an impressive presentation. They used to send a hardcover plus paperback, but the hardcover was not as fancy as this...

    "All manner of terrible things": yes, it is dreadful to contemplate!

  3. My fancy copy hasn't arrived yet but I do have the un-fancy. But even that is unread (along with the last several issues).

    My signature is indecipherable.

  4. I am so far behind in reading just books by friends that I think that I will never catch up! So I probably won't damage that stellar copy for a while. Your book is on one of three stacks that are all overdue.

    Perhaps I'll have more time when my daughter goes to college...

    Mine was famously indecipherable at one time. Then for a long time and after much suffering I had a perfect Palmer hand. But then I started to tweak it about, of course, as one does.

  5. I love love love that story about the penmanship teacher. I really needed him myself, being one of those neurologically interesting people you mention with god-awful handwriting related to my gray matter's twists and turns.
    Congratulations for all the well-earned accolades, and having your own wikipedia page with a critic to boot!

  6. Perhaps it is just strange of me, but I find that part about "This is a very elite group and requires Upstate New York essence and authenticity" to be riotously funny. It's just so Cooperstown. It could be Charleston with a few tweaks...

    Yes, I wish that I could remember his name! He always looked identical to how he had looked the week before: dark coat, dark suit, dark tie, white shirt. And what a sweet time--to have a whole class be enraptured by words and flourishes unscrolling on the board!

  7. I looked at your entry, and the Botendaddy's comment, which confused me a lot because I couldn't find anything saying that you're a COOPERSTOWN WRITER. Then it occurred to me that the Botendaddy was referring to the Cooperstown entry. Looked there, and you're name was nowhere to be found. If once there it has been disappeared! Thereby assuring the purity of the COOPERSTOWN WRITER.

    Was Cooperstown settled by people from other places, or did humanity originate there?

  8. Yes, it's rather funny, isn't it? Perhaps this was the Garden of Eden, and the Susquehanna was one of the rivers just beyond? You can't be a member of certain organizations unless you have been here for thirty years... I suppose it's rather like being a despised daughter-in-law!

  9. If you click on the History tab of a Wikipedia page, there's a list of all the revisions, and the datestamp of each is a clickable link to the page as it appeared after that revision. So from the Coooperstown page's history, I see that another modern writer was also removed from the roll call: Kevin Guilfoile, removed by Botendaddy on 24 Autust 2009. That was actually the second time he had remove this individual. And it was Botendaddy who created the separate "Writers from Cooperstown" section back on 9 Sepetember 2008, removing you from the entry in the process. Here's how it looked prior to that edit.

    One option would be to reintroduce you into the "People of note" section -- it would seem to me hard to dispute that you are that, with some qualifying phrase such as, "Though not resident in the village long enough to qualify as a Cooperstown writer according to some estimates, the prolific novelist and poet Marly Youmans has set one novel and many published stories and poems in the area."

  10. Dave,

    All this is fascinating--I had no idea you could track Wikipedia changes this way... Thanks for enlightening me further. I see that Guilfoile had a thriller--I suppose it is--with Knopf a few years ago.

    Well, I shall not add a line like that, though I wouldn't care if somebody else did because I'd be peeping to see what Monsieur Botendaddy would do. I've had people suggest an identity for him that I think interesting and amusing, but who knows?

    2008, you say. Curiously enough, a Cooperstown book Botendaddy approves came out that year.

    I have lived in Cooperstown for a total of 12 years, and it seems one is supposed to be here 30 before being acknowledged! Oddly, it is the longest I have ever lived anywhere. So perhaps I belong nowhere at all...

    8:50 PM, March

  11. Botendaddy will update the Cooperstown site to include you very soon. You have proved your legitimacy as a Cooperstown writer. I need a little more info about your next book. Botendaddy was serving with 1st Cav near Amarrah when he got hold of internet that day and he was reading The Deerslayer at the time. Guilfoyle still is not adequate as he doesn't write about the town. I am the Botendaddy.

  12. Botendaddy has updated the Cooperstown site. You are included. In all good faith, when he was in Iraq, Botendaddy asked Lauren Groff to send him a couple of her books to review and she graciously consented. You should pay homage to the Botendaddy and send him a copy of Glimmerglass (good title) when it comes out and he will gladly review said oeuvre.

  13. Hah, most interesting!

    Well, you take it in good humor that I have merrily tweaked your nose, Botendaddy, and I like that.

    Send me your address to camellia [at], and I shall send you the only war novel that I have written or am likely to write (the fruit of having a son who was obsessed with military history.) Glad to know that you have arrived home safe and sound from your military adventures...


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.