Ready for Solitaire?

Tue 30 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Hey, interrupting our magnificent authors, just thought I’d pop in to say we just sent Kelley Eskridge’s novel Solitaire to the printer—so yay for that!

And, as with all our books, it’s on sale.

Endings by Karen Lord

Tue 30 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 8 Comments| Posted by: Author

Endings by Karen Lord

I was at a teahouse last Tuesday, chatting with a fellow Bajan author and feeling very literary and cultured (which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, especially the tea). We were debating the age-old question of literary versus genre or, more accurately, the perception of what may be defined as literary or genre. This post is not about that debate. It’s about an interesting tangent that came about as we discovered a mutual dislike for a particular staple of science fiction and fantasy—the multivolume opus.

I’m not talking about the trilogy. The five volume epic also gets a pass from me. I’m not at all disapproving of completed novels in a linked arc of however many books the author can produce and the readers may desire. I mean those books, those doorstopper-thick books, those finely detailed, intricately plotted and often even well-written books that take you through 1027 pages and leave you hanging for next year’s sequel … again and again over the course of several years.

I’m sorry. I can’t risk it. I’m no longer a teenager gifted with long, slow summer vacations and delusions of immortality. I will wait till you have finished the story before I pick up even the first volume.

This goes double for television. I’m not hanging around week after week, hoping for some tiny bit of story resolution. We both know how it’s going to end: one thread tied off neatly, two formerly completed threads frayed, and an entire new seam unravelled to make sure I have to tune in next week. But I might be busy next week, and the weeks after that. That means I’ll have to catch up on five more episodes before I can begin to understand what’s happening in the newest episode—at which stage I will drop the show entirely and make vague promises to buy the DVD (or, which is more likely the case, take the instant gratification of a quick summary and some viewer reactions from a wiki or forum).

I know it’s my own peculiar quirk and it certainly needn’t be anyone else’s. I would not judge any writer’s creative choices, and I’m not sneering at the reader or viewer who likes that kind of approach. I too once looked forward to each new instalment in a long, slow, twisty tale with anticipation and delight. Now I’m finding solace in movies without sequels, stand-alone novels, short stories and miniseries, which distil experience to such brevity and intensity that what takes hours or minutes to read or view will take days and months to ponder and discuss. I’ve exchanged the thrill of a possible future for the bittersweet joy of farewell to worlds and characters I will never see again save in memory and retelling.

Meta for You & Me by John Crowley

Mon 29 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Author

Meta for You & Me by John Crowley

My friend and fellow Small Beer-ite Elizabeth Hand sent me the following link to an article in the NY Times about the nature of metaphors and how they are implied by consciousness, and inherent in its operations.

I thought this was very intriguing, and I especially noticed the following:

“We can learn that a certain combination of sounds put together by Tchaikovsky represents Napoleon getting his butt kicked just outside Moscow. And that the name “Napoleon,” in this case, represents thousands and thousands of soldiers dying cold and hungry, far from home.” (NY Times)

Which reminded me immediately of this:

“The Spanish general Spinola, the Spider, left Flanders with his army and moved toward the Rhine and the Palatinate. Soon Mainz had fallen to him (in stories of war, cities fall at the advance of generals, but it’s not so; metonymy and synecdoche don’t do the fighting and dying, the soldiers and the townspeople do, one at a time, and not in a sentence but for hours and days.)” (Endless Things, John Crowley, Small Beer Press, 2007).

Of course we writers and professional deployers of them know that metaphor rules, and also know that what the world thinks is real is metaphor concealed. I think that the greatest illusion we live under is to think (we don’t even think it, we just assume it) that the language-system and the actuality-system are in one-to-one correspondence.  We probably couldn’t live if we didn’t believe it, and it’s close enough most of the time that we can get along.

Liz Hand responded to my response with the following quote from Leon Wieseltier, for whom the language/reality problem must be sharp:

“Metaphor is the juxtaposition of disparate elements of the world in which an unsuspected commonality, an illuminating partial likeness, has been discovered, and the more unlikely the juxtaposition, the greater the consequent sensation of the unifying of the world; and so the range of a writer’s metaphor is a measure of the range of his cognition.”

That’s a sort of assertion of belief—belief that the commonality is not in the words and the corresponding brain areas tickled, but in “the world.” A faith, maybe. I share it—most of the time.

Some Notes on the Belgian School of the Strange by Edward Gauvin

Mon 29 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 7 Comments| Posted by: Author

Some  Notes on the Belgian School of the Strange by Edward Gauvin (translator of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s A Life on Paper: Stories)

Small Beer readers big and little, new and old! I am writing you from rainbound Brussels, which is blustery and trying to decide, despite the waning daylight hours, between a last wet burst of fall and bitter winter. I’d girded myself for a gray year, so days of sudden sunshine both delight and alarm me, for almanacs inform us that annually, Brussels only has a hundred sunny days. In other words, were each sunny day a gold piece, we’d have a finite purse, and every time it’s nice out, I feel a pang, as though some quick-fingered pilferer has slipped a coin out and flung it blithely into the air.

Weather aside, living in this schizoid country is lovely. I came for the weird—specifically, to study the rich tradition of Belgian weird tales—and I’m getting it. Mysteries abound, from the mundane to the confounding. What to ferret out next? I find myself in a garden of forking paths and unearthly pleasures. How odd is it that every major Belgian writer uses at least one if not multiple pen names which are often open secrets in the tiny literary community? Why did mystery writer Georges Simenon, known mainly for creating Inspector Maigret, expressly forbid that his only work of science fiction, a late novelette about creatures of the London mist, ever be reprinted or included in a collection?

The national attachment to the fantastic is formally known as L’École belge de l’étrange, which has been translated over the years as the Belgian School of the Strange, the Bizarre, or the Weird. Although my understanding of it keeps growing and changing, I now think the Belgian fantastic is best thought of less as a school or a movement than a national literary pastime. Although the entire oeuvres of some Belgian writers fall squarely in the field, authors of all genres from all backgrounds—academia, poetry, criticism, crime, mainstream realism, surrealism—seem to recognize it as a tradition and feel compelled to pay it homage with at least one book (often a short story collection) if not several. It’s like a stage you have to go through to really be considered a Belgian writer. Because of the durability, if not the dominance, of the fantastic as a mode of expression, writer and critic Jean-Baptiste Baronian has compared it to the midcentury efflorescence of Argentine fabulists (Borges, Bioy Casares, Ocampo, Cortázar). As he remarks, “Few national literatures in the 20th century have produced in such a short span of time such a pantheon of first rate writers in such a specific and, on the whole, marginal genre.”

Over the next few posts I’d like to share a few authors and finds with you.

Canty (yes he can), Cincos Puntos, more

Sat 27 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Hmm. This was meant to go up a week or two ago!Holiday Cover

Tom Canty made a quiet, almost spooky trailer for M. Rickert’s new collection, Holiday. Which, you know: want! Interesting to see some of the behind the scenes work on the cover. Looks like a great book for  . . . the holidays!

There’s a great article in the El Paso Times on the good Byrds of El Paso, Cincos Puntos who:

“. . . fell in love with the wide-open spaces, the barren desert landscape, living at the base of a mountain, living five minutes from another country, living in a neighborhood with a little bit of everyone, where everyone belongs,” Susie Byrd said. “They fell in love with the confusion of the border, a place American but not quite, a place Mexican but not quite.

Claudia Gonson (of the Magnetic Fields) writes about her reading life on the New York Review blog—they have a good post on a new book about yon lovely design mannie (and his most excellent wife, Frances), Charles Rennie Mackintosh by James Macauley. Ha, added it to my wishlist. Which is more a piece of external memory than anything else. For some odd reason I’m happier adding books there than as To-Read on Goodreads.

No one quite knows why the National Book Awards disses fairy tales. Hope they will stop now that this oddity has been brought to their attention.

From The Atlantic: The 12 Timeless Rules for Making a Good Publication.

Gruit Quest

Fri 26 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 11 Comments| Posted by: Michael

Gruit—beer brewed with herbs instead of hops—is a lost magic art, thrust into obscurity and near-forgotten. But a few noble beer heroes have rediscovered its secret knowledge and now seek to bring its power back to the world. I’m taking up that banner.

Nobody will ever know exactly what real gruit tasted like, because—like the hypothetical wooly mammoth clone—it went extinct and must be resurrected. (Read about gruit’s checkered history in previous Literary Beer entry The Beer of Alchemists and Witches). There are lots of great, well-educated guesses out there, but the real work lies in experimentation: fresh/dry, boiled/not boiled, quantity, volume vs weight vs exposure time, herb flavors/properties/effects—it boggles the mind. The people who succeed at it have the resources and the patience to try again and again until they work out something great. Cambridge Brewing Company’s Weekapaug Gruit, Vermont Brew Pub’s Absinthe Ale and Amherst Brewing Company’s Heather Ale are examples of this. I’m not at their scale—I have to drink the beer in the bottles I have before I can brew more, if you get me.

I have patience. I’ll get there. But it’ll be a quest.

Read more

A world in two bits (second bit) by Vincent McCaffrey

Wed 24 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

A world in two bits (second bit) by Vincent McCaffrey

At nine, I had not yet begun to truly read. Reading, as I am calling it, is a sole pursuit of the contents of books. Of course, I’d learned about Dick and Jane in the first grade along with everyone else.

I had, however, already been initiated into that cult of worshipers who poured over the pages of latest EC comics and Mad magazine during lunch breaks at school. We collected in tight knots outside the Smoke Shoppe to read any new issue just delivered. I might not have appreciated the subtler themes that were current in the EC’s, but there was no missing the broader wit in Mad. And at the price of a quarter, my recent foray into the crab business had given me the wherewithal to be the kid at the center of the knot.

But my popularity was short lived. Read more

The Fragments of Desire by Kathe Koja

Tue 23 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

The Fragments of Desire by Kathe Koja

All my work is done on little scraps of paper—you can see them here on the New Yorker Book Blog if you like, some of the notes that eventually became Under the Poppy.

They were written on blow-in cards, on random sticky notes, on ripped corners of ruled blue-lined notebook paper; they come from wherever such fragments originate, which is to say the ether, which is to say no one knows; or I don’t, anyway. When they come, I write them down—I try never to be without something to write on and with—and I tuck them away, and there they stay, accumulating, breathing in and out, becoming or not-becoming; not every scrap is used, not every idea comes to fruition, not every really juicy gorgeous line that pops into the mind can, alas, ever make it to the page. (Sometimes whole novels are written that never see the light of day, but that’s another story altogether, and besides, the wench is dead.)

This is not a method of creation I ever consciously adopted: like the ideas themselves, the notes, it just came out of that ether and I found that it worked, so I kept on doing it. My writing process is mostly uninvestigated by me; the unexamined life sometimes is worth living, especially if you’re worried that you might really screw something up by peeking once too often under the hood. So much of what I do when I work is done by instinct, by feeling my way through the dark, the way your hand gropes in that kitchen junk drawer for the sideways screwdriver or antique spool of thread or whatever-it-is you’re hunting: your fingers know it when they feel it, you don’t need your eyes to see.

The mighty stream of creational consciousness floats many a fictional boat, and my own little castaway raft is happy riding the tides, crashing into this and that, plucking some things rich and strange and some things intriguing but unusable and some things abandoned over the side again, with regret or without. Every book I’ve ever written has its discard file, and Under the Poppy‘s got a whopper, but many of those discards have offshoots that are usable, and others, though not germane, are still reflections of what in the end became essential. Like the life it hopes to mirror, so much of what matters in fiction is invisible, just sitting there off to the side, tucked sideways into a folder, the curled-up end of an unsticky sticky note on which is written a name, a line of dialogue, a fragment of sober research, something that lives in unbodied desire until a reader and a writer together make it real.


That Corset

Interrupting our regular schedule by Karen Joy Fowler

Mon 22 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

Interrupting our regular schedule . . .
Karen Joy Fowler

I am traveling in a different time zone and unable to sleep. So I logged on just now and got the very unwelcome news that Chalmers Johnson has died. Though Johnson had a long career and thousands of students, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been among that great number. In 1969 or 70, or maybe 72, I took a class on Chinese history and politics from him at Berkeley. (I loved history. Not so good with dates.)

A while back, I emailed him, because it seemed to me, when a professor remains so vivid in your mind for almost forty years, you should tell him. We then had several wonderful email exchanges. I’m trying to remember you, he said, which was kind, but futile. There were more than a hundred students in my class alone. I sat in the back and didn’t say a word. I’d have been astonished if he remembered me the next quarter, much less decades later.

Back in the 60’s, Dr. Johnson had little sympathy for the student activists, of which I was one. This was troubling as he was so much smarter than I. In those later emails, he said that because the activists had so much wrong about Vietnam, he was distracted from how much they had right about the US. Maybe six years ago, I turned on Air America and heard his familiar cadences on the Al Franken show. He was in full and glorious lecture mode and obviously too far to the left to quite suit Franken. I had an odd sense of enormous pride as I listened.

I trust there will be many now to speak to his brilliance, his scholarship, and his cogently pessimistic assessment of US democracy. So I will say something else as my own memorial: man, could he tell a story! He was as entertaining a teacher as he was inspiring. My time with him was brief, but the impact deep. I can’t help thinking that his was not a voice we could afford just now to lose.

Rest in peace.

Previous posts:

What I See
What I See, pt 2

This week

Mon 22 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Apple pie

Happy Thanksgiving week—at least for those here in the US. Canadians gave thanks last month and everyone else thinks two winter holidays a month apart are daft, unless one of them involves flying off somewhere sunny.

But we here at Small Beer are thankful to be alive (better than the alternative!), healthy, incredibly appreciative of all the help we’ve received this past year (or two), and looking forward to mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, roasted brussel sprouts, stuffing, and about 6 other “sides” before pie and pie and pie.

And we’re also thankful to be able to take part in this grand experiment we call . . . literacy(!) with one and all. Thanks indeed for reading: whether it be in the bath, up a tree, in bed, in space, under the covers, on the couch, or on the bus—but, please, not while driving!

Also: Some of our books have reduced prices to celebrate the holidays! Don’t forget, US & Canadian shipping is free!

We have great posts coming up this week (besides all those on the LCRW esubs thing, he flogged) from guest authors including:

» Karen Joy Fowler, who interrupts her regular posts because:

I am traveling in a different time zone and unable to sleep. So I, logged on just now and got the very unwelcome news that Chalmers Johnson has died. . . .

» Michael J. DeLuca gets back on the Literary Beer horse (as it were) and begins a Gruit Quest:

(1) save money on hops, (2) save carbon footprint by not having ingredients shipped to me from Germany and New Zealand, (3) live in the aesthetic spirit and tradition of the Frugal Housewife, the thrifty carpenter, the lowly serf, and yes, even the maligned and misunderstood witch, and (4) discover amazing new/old beer experiences to expand the mind and cast the palate back to a lost golden age. . . .

» Vincent McCaffrey, who was telling us about reading Moby Dick the other day, goes back a few years and says:

I had been initiated into that cult of worshipers who poured over the pages of latest EC comics and Mad magazine during lunch breaks at school. . . .

» Kathe Koja returns with “The Fragments of Desire”

Sometimes whole novels are written that never see the, light of day, but that’s another story altogether, and besides, the wench is, dead. . . .

» Karen Lord discovered with a friend that:

we discovered a mutual dislike for a particular staple of science fiction and fantasy—the multivolume opus. . . .

Elsewhere, it’s Holly Black week! And, the last day to get your tix for the Carl Brandon Society ereaders.

With more TK TK TK. Happy days!

LCRW 26 goes out into the world

Fri 19 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 26 coverWord in Western Mass is that about a million copies of LCRW 26 were shipped out the other day. However, the chocolate bars (and contributor checks!) were held up (as in delayed, not bandit’d away) in Boston and won’t be in Easthampton until next week, darn it. So chocolate will come soonish rather than soon. Maybe it will be all the sweeter?

Out it goes: tell us what you think!

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Fri 19 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Goodreads has added (maybe it was there all along, who knows?) a thing making it easy to post reviews to other sites. So here’s a book I read recently and thought anyone reading this might enjoy:

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder
5/5 stars

This book has come in and out of our house a couple of times in the last few years and for some reason I never got down to reading it. Which is silly as I think Partners in Health (PIH) is one of the most excellent organizations around. So at some point I picked it up and it was as good as promised. It was fascinating to see how long Tracy Kidder followed Paul Farmer et al around. Sometimes the book was like peeking over PIH’s shoulder into the behind-the-scenes work that’s never shown in the glossy emails (that doesn’t sound right but it gives the right feel I get from some nonprofits’ emails) and print materials.

Reading about Farmer in action, on the plane in his rumpled suit, negotiating with the World Health Organization, working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, hiking to patients in Haiti, and much more, was humbling. Looking at PIH’s latest updates they recently opened the first NICU in Haiti—where they’re working on the cholera epidemic, too—and they are working in Rwanda, Russia, Lesotho, Haiti, here in Boston, Mexico, Guatemala, Malawi, and Burundi. Farmer must be flying a lot more these days.

This is an excellent read from the Farmer family’s peripatetic beginnings to the inner workings and difficult choices that any organization must face. Read, pass it on.

View all my reviews

Award Season: World Fantasy Award winners

Thu 18 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Catching up on my ongoing simple male/female count of nominees and winners of awards. First, congratulations to the winners of the of the World Fantasy Awards—especially of course Karen Joy Fowler whose story “The Pelican Bar” received the award.

The awards went 5:4, men to women, but the Life Achievement awards went to 3 guys meaning the final count was:

8 men
4 women

  • 8 USA
  • 1 UK
  • 2 Australia
  • 1 Russia

Of note: there were no women nominees in the art category. Please consider nominating women artists next year either directly to the judges or by voting. Although I’m not suggesting voting in blocks as they are horribly obvious and no fun.

There was one woman (Kelly!) on the jury this year. In the last ten years the jury makeup has been:

15 women, 35 men

2010: 1 woman, 4 men
2009: 3 women, 2 men
2008: 5 men
2007: 5 men
2006: 2 women, 3 men
2005: 2 women, 3 men
2004: 1 woman, 4 men
2003: 2 women, 3 men
2002: 2 women, 3 men
2001: 2 women, 3 men

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 26

Thu 18 Nov 2010 - Filed under: LCRW | 4 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

8.5 x 7 · 64pp · December 2010 · Issue 26 · Available in handy paper format or lo-res/hi-res PDF, epub, mobi, and lit.

Electronic subscriptions to LCRW are now available.

After issue no. 25, NewPages said, “More, more, more please.” SF Revu suggested, “If you want to support some very wonderful fiction, than subscribe to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.” Esubs will be available very soon. And Mr. John Klima declared on “The issue is filled with a bunch of names I don’t know, but that’s always been true. And while I like reading work from my favorite writers, I like uncovering new (either brand-new or new-to-me) writers, too.” Which made us very happy as while we also very much enjoy our favorite writers we also love reading new (or new-to-us) writers.

This zine was almost published in October. And so nearly published in November. And here it is coming up to December and (insert chorus singing something striking but not at all holiday-like) and Lo! here it is. Eight stories: dread pirate ships, dread submersibles, dread sheds! Alice, Three-Hat Juan, and welders in love. Ted Chiang on folk biology. And a cover that should be reproduced on the side of a skyscraper. Yep, we liked it—hope you do, too.

All of this copiously illustrated with letters throughout. Sometimes as many as 2000 per page. Most arranged in forms known colloquially as “English.”

No part of this zine was produced on a Freyfarm.

We have advertisers and will sell you space if you like. We take dollars, pounds, euros, or chocolate bars. Hello and thank yous to Bull Spec, Icarus, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex Publications, Electric Velocipede, &c!

* Also known as “text.”

Reviews: SF Revu · Rise Reviews · “Some of the oddest fiction that you could hope to find.” — Fantasy Literature · “Strange, original fiction that bulges well out of the corset of genre.” — SFF Portal · “A variety of amazing short stories.”—Terry Harjanto, Broken Pencil

“Bound with staples, and a black-and-white paper cover, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristet feels like a literary magazine from long ago. And at only 60 pages, this issue (No. 27) feels slim – a quick read, I thought at first. But this small magazine is dense with speculative works, most of them short stories.” — The Review Review

And now, the actual and real Table of Contents:

Harvey Welles and Philip Raines, The Cruel Ship’s Captain
Patty Houston, Elite Institute for the Study of Arc Welders’ Flash Fever
Carlea Holl-Jensen, Sleep
Rahul Kanakia, The Other Realms Were Built With Trash
Veronica Schanoes, Alice: a Fantasia
Sean Melican, Absence of Water
Jenny Terpsichore Abeles, Three Hats
J. M. McDermott, Death’s Shed

Ted Chiang, Reasoning about the Body
Gwenda Bond, Dear Aunt Gwenda
The Patient Writers

Lindsay Vella, Thirst; The Way to the Sea; Spit Out the Seeds; The Seamstress; Poor summer, she doesn’t know she’s dying
Darrell Schweitzer, Dueling Trilogies

Sarah Goldstein, Broken Stick; Year: 2004; Size: 11” x 10. ”Materials: acrylic medium, gouache on paper.

About These Authors

Jenny Terpsichore Abeles is an amateur cosmologist, ragpicker, fabulist, and wandering scholar. She lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts (she thinks) and is writing a novel about Renaissance feminism and werewolves. “Three Hats” is her first non-self published story and LCRW is her favorite literary magazine, so she’s having an unusually splendid day.

Gwenda Bond has just finished a novel.

Ted Chiang was born in Port Jefferson, New York and holds a degree in computer science from Brown University. In 1989 he attended the Clarion Writers Workshop. His fiction has won three Hugos, four Nebulas, three Locus awards, and a Sturgeon award. He lives near Seattle, Washington.

Sarah Goldstein was born in Toronto and lives in western Massachusetts. Her artwork has been exhibited in the US and Canada, and her first book, Fables, is forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky Press next spring.

Carlea Holl-Jensen was born on a Wednesday. Since then, her short fiction has appeared in Pindeldyboz and Call & Response, and she once received a prize. She is confident that you will enjoy reading her blog at

Patty Houston lives in Cincinnati with her husband and daughters. She teaches English at the University of Cincinnati and is also at work on a short story collection.

Rahul Kanakia is an international development consultant based in Washington, D.C.

J. M. McDermott’s favorite color is dark blue. With five novels forthcoming, he has not been able to keep up with all the activity of his favorite television programs. Forthcoming books include a reprint of his critically-acclaimed Last Dragon, with his new novel Maze from Apex Books, and a fantasy trilogy beginning with Never Knew Another from Nightshade.

Sean Melican would like you to know that true love exists. Oh, and that Popeye’s is da shizz.

Philip Raines lives in Linlithgow in Scotland. Harvey Welles lives in the Milwaukee of his mind.

Veronica Schanoes’s work has appeared in Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Strange Horizons, and Sybil’s Garage. She lives in New York City where she is Assistant Professor of English at Queens College—CUNY. She does not like cats.

Darrell Schweitzer has also rewritten a good deal of the works of H.P. Lovecraft into limerick form. Among his longer works, he has published about 300 stories and three novels. His PS Publications novella Living with the Dead was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. He used to edit Weird Tales and now edits anthologies, the most recent of which are Cthulhu’s Reign and Full Moon City (with Martin Greenberg).

Lindsay Vella has been assigned a flammability rating of 3 (severe fire hazard). Fires involving Lindsay Vella should be fought upwind and from the maximum distance possible. Keep unnecessary people away; isolate hazard and deny entry. Her poems have appeared in Spork, and she lives in Detroit.

Made by: Gavin J. Grant, Kelly Link, Jedediah Berry, and Michael J. DeLuca.
Readers: Su-Yee Lin, Samantha Guilbert, Cristi Jacques.
Extra thanks: Jennifer Terpsichore Abeles, Hannah Goldstein, Matthew Harrison.

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No.26, December 2010. ISSN 1544-7782. Text: Bodoni Book. Titles: Imprint MT Shadow. LCRW is published in June and November by Small Beer Press, 150 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA 01027 · [email protected] ·

Subscriptions: $20/4 issues (see page 17 of the paper edition or here—and, whoop de doo, are there some choices). Please make checks to Small Beer Press. Library & institutional subscriptions are available through EBSCO & Swets.

LCRW is available as an ebook through, Weightless Books, and Fictionwise, and occasionally as a trade paperback and ebook from Electronic subscriptions coming next week!

Contents © the authors. All rights reserved. Submissions, requests for guidelines, & all good things should be sent to the address above. No SASE: no reply.  Paper edition printed by the good people at Paradise Copies, 21 Conz St., Northampton, MA 01060. 413-585-0414.

These days we’re always behind in our reading, sorry. Thanks to the writers for their patience—especially Darrell, whose misplaced poems took five years to reach print(!), Sean, and Phil & Harvey (whose stories took two or three years). On the right side of the first page are covers of a few books we’re working on for 2011. Not all of those covers are final. There are a few books missing and then there is a chapbook—the last, we expect, for a while—by Hal Duncan, An A-Z of the Fantastic City, which we will publish in some lovely ways in spring. As always, thanks for reading.

My two bit universe by Vincent McCaffrey

Thu 18 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

My two bit universe (first bit) by Vincent McCaffrey

It was possible to sell a blue crab or buy a paperback book for a quarter in 1956. And thus my reading career began.

We lived then in a modern (as in antiseptic and geometric) brick apartment complex in Beechhurst, just where the East River meets the Long Island Sound. Across the street, where a wonderful primal wood had lingered long beyond anything else of its kind in that densely populated suburb of New York City, was a place where I had watched bats twirl in the sky over the remains of a great estate while hidden in the enfolding roots of giant oaks, and held the fortress of a fallen gatehouse against the fury of thousands upon millions of snowballs. Read more

December deadlines

Thu 18 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

A Working Writer’s Daily Planner 2010 cover - click to view full sizeHere are a few December deadlines from A Working Writer’s Daily Calendar 2010—which will very soon now be superseded by the 2011 edition. We posted a few deadlines a couple of weeks ago. There’s also a free preview of January 2011 from the next edition on Scribd. We’ll be posting other useful parts of the Planner as the year comes to an end.

Read more

The Importance of Being Ernest by Vincent McCaffrey

Wed 17 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

The Importance of Being Ernest by Vincent McCaffrey

I sell books for a living today, as I have for most all of my adult life. This has often seemed to me to be destined. A sort of cosmic joke. A perfect example of ‘Be careful of what you wish for.’

As a boy, I wanted to be a writer. Selling the books of the writers I loved seemed quite natural.

Having suddenly begun to read at the age of nine, I became a ‘bookworm,’ in my mother’s phrase, and ruined my eyes by the time I was twelve. Reports of other and possibly better means for doing this reached my ears belatedly.

I admit that my opinions of literature were formed alone and without proper guidance. Given the sheer quantities I read, I might even have been some sort of scholar, had I followed the advice so often offered by others who clearly knew better. But by then I wasn’t listening to anyone who couldn’t write. Read more

What I See, part 2 by Karen Joy Fowler

Tue 16 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

What I See, part 2 by Karen Joy Fowler

There is one cove along the cliffs of my morning walk where all the loose seaweed washes up. On one side of the street are million+ dollar homes, homes with an ocean view. On the other and down a flight of stone stairs, a great heap of bugs and rotting seaweed. In the summer you can smell this for blocks. Homes with an ocean smell.

Of course, this is the one beach in town that allows dogs off-leash. My dog (Mojito, commonly known as MJ) and I go there lots. MJ has just turned ten. We used to think that she was a good dog, but when she grew up, settled just a little, she’d be a really great dog. Maybe this is the year that happens. Fingers crossed.

At the top of the stairs, when I unclip the leash we both feel a great leap of spirits. Freedom! She can wander at will. No more being dragged along so fast you can’t stop and smell the piss. Me, too! No more stopping at every tree and fencepost. I can swing my arms.

It’s all spoiled at the bottom of the stairs. I have long ago resigned myself to the fact that we will have to pick our way through mounds of rot to get to the sand. (There is a metaphor there for writing books. The physical world is full of such metaphors. You can’t avoid them. One reason of many why scene is so affective in literature.) Yet I am continually disappointed when MJ decides to drop and roll. Somewhere there is a freedom that does not require an immediate and sullen bath. Someday we’ll find it together, MJ and I.

Another notable feature of the dog beach is a long cement wall. Not a retaining wall, or at least I don’t think so, since it runs perpendicular to the waves. I really can’t guess what it’s there for. But this wall is high enough, maybe four feet, that I sometimes have difficulty scrambling over it.

Here’s the amazing part, though. Sometimes it isn’t there at all. Sometimes the sands have shifted so much you would never know there was wall beneath you. (And see? We’ve hit another metaphor. Pay no attention; just go about your business. It’s more frightened of you than you are of it.)


The Whale in the Room by Vincent McCaffrey

Tue 16 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Author

The Whale in the Room by Vincent McCaffrey

In my junior year of high school, in 1964, I opted to read Moby Dick as part of my discretionary reading. It was a bit of grandstanding, in fact. I thought I had already read it a year or two before and would use it to impress my teacher and squeeze out a higher mark. I promptly went down to Anderson’s Bookshop in Larchmont and looked around for a copy. What I found there was a humongously fat Signet paperback. I asked the forbearing woman who usually worked the counter what was wrong with it. Where was the ‘regular’ edition I had previously read? She was totally mystified by my objection. She sputtered. She looked at me hopelessly. She shook her head and said, “Looks fine to me.”

A small gathering of patrons encircled us, each offering comments of their own as they in turn took the chunky volume and fanned through the pages. I remember one who helpfully offered the added information that this copy lacked a glossary. It was actually too short. I should buy an edition with a glossary so that I could look up the meaning of unusual words. Under their scrutiny, I could not admit that I had believed it was a much shorter work to begin with. Already committed, I took the advice offered and bought an edition with a glossary.

On the way home that day I stopped at the public library and found the version—the exact volume—that I had read before. It was in fact shorter. It was edited. Abridged. All of the parts of the great book which did not further the immediate advancement of plot, as well as all the too difficult words, were removed. No comic irony. No allegory. No religious metaphor. No slicing of the whale flesh “as thin as Bible-leaves.”

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That Corset by Kathe Koja

Mon 15 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Author

That Corset by Kathe Koja

People—readers—always like to know about the research that goes into a novel, and especially, I’m finding, a historical novel. Gaslight, weevils, laudanum—the appetite is brisk for details, which makes perfect sense, as one of the reasons we read of another time is to experience it for ourselves. Throw some puppets into the mix, rude and bawdy and (somewhat-) anatomically correct puppets, and the questions become more saucy, but the main one usually boils down to “ARE there such creatures in what we like to call the real world?” Well, given the human race’s ingenuity and reputation for making everything into a sex toy (cf the Internet), the answer would have to be Yes. For one of the odder examples I found, check this out.

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What I See by Karen Joy Fowler

Mon 15 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Author

What I See by Karen Joy Fowler

Over the vast expanse of my life so far, I’ve made many attempts to keep a diary. None of them have lasted long. Neither will this one.

But I had a big birthday this year, sixty years on this earth and counting, which prompted a number of sober reflections. Prominent among them was a concern that I have stopped paying attention to the physical world around me. I won’t be here forever. So I should be here.

I used to leave the camera at home when I traveled. I felt it got in the way of the actual experience. Now when I travel, I’m on the web as often as not. When I have to stand in line somewhere, I read a book. Most mornings I take a long walk on a cliff-top path with the ocean below. I’m dimly aware that I’m walking through a place of great beauty. Also activity!  There are surfers and pelicans, sea otters and dolphins, joggers and street people. There are dogs. (I myself am on a leash.) But I am walking briskly, for the exercise, and my ipod is setting the pace so I don’t hear the water or the birds or the cars or the bicyclist who’s desperately honking to get past.

Often I don’t even hear the music. I use the time to think. Which, don’t get me wrong, is a very good use of time. I just don’t want thinking to be the only thing I do.

I want to establish the habit of paying attention and I figure if I’ve promised to post what I see, then I’ll have to manage to see something. Just one thing! Starting tomorrow. How hard can it be?

Today: Karen Joy Fowler and Kathe Koja

Mon 15 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

As promised the other day, we’re going to be featuring quite a few of writers here on ye olde website over the next couple of weeks. We’re not starting with a schedule—although maybe we’ll end up with one if we have to. Monday: Writer A! Tuesday: Writer B! Wednesday: where the heck has writer C gone? Eek!

We’ll post as we receive stuff (although if Howard is going to write us letters which we have to retype we might be a little slower with that) which might mean 4 posts on one day and nothing for a couple more days but it should keep things lively.

Things off today with a post each from Kathe Koja (who’ll be reading at KGB Bar in New York City this week) and Karen Joy Fowler on puppets, corsets, and seeing the world!

Alasdair Gray in Edinburgh

Fri 12 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Over in the UK Alasdair Gray‘s star is really shining. There are exhibits, new books, new projects, he has a ton of stuff going on. Pity he doesn’t like air travel or we could get him over here. Here’s a short vid about a fabulous looking exhibition in Edinburgh. I wish I could see it (not likely!) but at least there’s this. It is amazing to see the size and detail in some of those prints:

LCRW the next

Thu 11 Nov 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Stories of Your Life and OthersLCRW 26 is at the printer. At some point soon we will have a mailing party. You bring the envelope-stuffing ability, we’ll bring the tea and biscuits and zines. (Also: added more subscription options.)

Meanwhile we just contacted five writers with variations on this email: Your Story Is Lovely! We would like to publish it (but not until next year). Sorry it took us so long to get back to you (since the stories were sent in January/February/July/September!). Much reading still to be done.

Also just sent another DMCA takedown notice—why is Ted Chiang’s book so popular with pirates? Sure, it’s excellent and was out of print for a while but now it’s available in all kinds of formats.

Then I posted on a free ebook trading site asking people not to add our books. So depressing and a little silly to post but I think it’s worthwhile now and then. I don’t think every illegal download is a lost sale (and I understand that readers abroad might have trouble getting their hands on books they want) but we try and go the extra mile to make our books available everywhere. Oh well.

Later today I’m hoping to take Ursula out for a walk. I was hoping to make it to a war memorial for Veterans/Remembrance Day but since I can’t drive with her in the car alone (there needs to be 2 people with her in a car) maybe we will just go to a local cemetery and have a wander. Right now she is fighting off 2 therapists and a nurse. Strong kid.

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