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Pavilion Digest: December 2004
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 1:37 am
The following posts contain Art Deco Dining Pavilion messages for the month of December 2004.
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 1:37 am
Name: Jon Stover
Pierre Berton has died. I realize he's not a name most Americans are familiar with, but he was a giant of a particular sort in Canada, a writer who ended up spending the most productive writing years of his life trying to explain Canadian history and culture to Canadians in an accessible way that made him a bestseller for decades as well as a fixture on Canadian tv for a long time.
Take care, Jon
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 5:30 am
I second your sentiments about Berton, particularily as a truly insightful witer and pundit. I recall reading "The National Dream" and "The Last Spike", feeling them to be as informative and engaging as entertaining, the perfect statement of his praxis of restoring the passion and drama back to the recording and examination of our history.
In my books, Pierre is one I shall truly miss.
Cordwainer Smith on the Couch?
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 5:53 am
Earl Wells Source:
Alan C. Elms wrote an article on this topic for the May 2002 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction: "Behind the Jet-Propelled Couch: Cordwainer Smith and Kirk Allen". Unfortunately I don't remember the article well enough to risk a description and the magazine is not handy for me to check, but I think back issues are available from the publisher; see URL below.
I believe that Elms is working on a bio of Smith.
For Those Of You Who Love Harlan Ellison's Short Fiction
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:02 am
For those of you who love Harlan Ellison's short fiction, I recommend picking up the recently issued "Morning Child and Other Stories" by Gardner Dozois, iBooks paperback. I have admired Dozois's work as an editor for the past two decades but for some reason had not read any of his stories. This nifty trade paperback contains the title story and "The Peacemaker" both of which won the Nebula. Many of the stories are from the so-called "New Wave" era ("Kingdom By the Sea" "A Dream At Noonday" "A Special Kind of Morning" and "Chains of the Sea") and reminded me a great deal in tone and impact of Ellison's stories from that period. I enjoyed the collection so much I picked up "Slow Dancing Through Time" at Curious Books in E.Lansing. This is Dozois's collaborations with Jack Dann, Michael Swanwick, Susan Casper and Jack Haldeman II. It's the first book of collaborations since "Partners in Wonder" that has jazzed my imagination. Not as intense as the solo stuff, but wonderous and entertaining.
Now that Dozois has retired from editing "Asimov's" I'm hoping that he creates new stories.
Copies of MEDEA
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 12:04 pm
Name: Mike Lane
Howdy to Harlan and Susan and everyone else,
I think I remember reading sometime ago that Harlan and Susan
have copies of MEDEA available for purchase. If my mind is
slipping, please let me know. Otherwise, are copies still available and, if so, could you folks let me know how I can
snag (i.e. buy) one? Thanks in advance for your help. Hope
everyone had a good Thanksgiving.
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 12:09 pm
Name: Frank Church
Joe Queenan's review of King's Needful Things. Talk among yourselves.
"The New York Times Book Review - Joe Queenan
Big, dumb, plodding and obvious, Mr. King's books are the literary equivalent of heavy metal. The author peoples his novels with ultralow rollers -- couch potatoes, barmy widows, small-time hoods -- rarely producing a character that an intelligent, normal reader could identify with, much less like. . . . Plowing through [this] 690-page novel, in which the only vaguely appealing characters are a hero who happens to be a dummy and a heroine who is an absolute pinhead, is like reading a very long book about English royalty. The writing itself is no picnic: hundreds of pages of rambling, turgid 'clots and clumps' churned out in Mr. King's trademark dark-and-stormy-night style."
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 1:04 pm
Although I haven't read Needful Things, I feel I can comment since I have read other Stephen King books, and since Joe Queenan seems to be casting his blanket over all of the King canon.
There seems to be a certain class of critic that hates a good storyteller. I don't know whether Queenan is in this class, or simply doesn't "get" what King is saying. But I know this sort of critique has been levelled at Asimov, Rowling, and others. It seems as though it's a sin to tell a classic story in such a way that it is accessible to the average American reader.
I grew up reading Asimov and King, among others. I don't necessarily "get" J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books (yet... give me time!), but the fact that YOUNG CHILDREN, fed on a mindless diet of television and video games (I own a PS2, so don't go there with me, people), are opening up her books and READING THEM speaks volumes about her literary talent, i.e., her ability to tell a meaningful story (and by the way, these aren't lightweight popup books either, as you know. The latest installment weighs in at around 700 pages).
In my opinion, The Green Mile is one of the greatest American novels ever written. Ever. It may be that Joe Queenan simply doesn't "get" King and his books. Fine. Not every book is for every reader, and verse vice. He may even be forgiven for lumping all of King's books into the lowbrow pile if he was having a bad day that day. But if he is of the particular critical stripe I spoke of earlier, then his is a dull, dull universe.
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 2:12 pm
Name: P.A. Berman
Harlan: Are you going to ICON this year at all, or are you skipping it in favor of the World Horror Con which is the same weekend? Apologies in advance if you've already answered this question.
Frank & Duane: NEEDFUL THINGS is not King's best work. It's not even in his top 50%, IMO. The fact that Joe Queenan panned it may indicate nothing more than that. I am a huge, lifelong Stephen King fan, but I will be the first to admit that he can be long-winded, turgid, and prone to using 3 words where 1 will do. There are books of his that I slogged through, all 1,000 pages, and felt by the end that I had wasted my time. However, there are others that I will reread, treasure, and give to my kids to read for years to come. King's like that.
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 7:01 pm
Name: Adam-Troy Castro
Joe Queenan, who is not without wit, has also disparaged Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Stephen Dobyns, and several other writers who are demonstrably his betters. Worse, he has done so in terms which attacked not only the quality of the prose but, in some cases, their motives in writing fiction.
It is possible to hate the work of all of these writers (and that of our illustrious host) and do so in an honestly critical manner, but Queenan goes for cheap shots and wide generalizations, rarely showing a deep knowledge of the work he chooses to slime.
In his film columns, Queenan made a habit of condemning not only individual movies, but also entire bodies of work, throwing away the life output of entire actors/writers/directors with a few snide witticisms. In one of his articles, he made a point of watching every single Merchant/Ivory film to contrast how unbearable they are. He had nothing good to say about the entire lifetime output of the studio. That included even their best films, like A ROOM WITH A VIEW and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. In another column, he bragged about going to various movie theatres and talking loudly to see how his fellow moviegoers enjoyed having their experiences ruined.
It is worth noting that even the toughest critics -- such as John Simon, Lucius Shepard, and our host -- are merciless when it comes to eviscerating the stuff they hate, but take special pains to praise the stuff they regard with genuine enthusiasm. Joe Queenan never did this. Queenan slimed the work of Gaiman and Moore as an all-out attack on the comic book industry, and he slimed dozens of movies per article without ever seeming to articulate any he actually liked. His columns were less about communicating an aesthetic than in making himself too cool for the room.
It's worth noting that when Queenan tried to pull a Robert Rodriguez and make his own low-budget film, he emerged with an unmitigated piece of shit, totally unreleasable. His book about the project reduced it to big joke, winking at the reader as if the failure had been entirely deliberate. But it was bullshit. I'm not saying a critic must be able to create in order for his reviews to be taken seriously (I think Roger Ebert, demonstrably an awful screenwriter, has produced an impressive body of critical work), but when a critic specializes in tearing down the work of others, without any seeming ability to provide support for anybody, he reveals that he has no agenda beyond his own bloated ego.
My own opinions on King are complicated. I honestly wish that he'd left maybe 1/3 of his work in the drawer. I also think that what remains is great fun, and his absolute best stuff is art. I'll listen to talented folks who think he's a crappy writer, and while I may not agree with them, I will pay attention to their arguments. But not to Queenan, whose lifework amounts to spray-painting the work of his betters with graffiti.
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 7:24 pm
Name: Ryan Leasher
SUSAN: I received my copy of 'Sleepless Nights' today, snug in its packing. Thanks for the quick ship.
HARLAN: Thanks for personalizing it. It's a handsome edition, too.
So, guys...any chance on a reading at Dutton's?
All The Sounds of Fear
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 7:29 pm
Name: Keith Cramer
Does anyone know if this was written as a Twilight Zone treatment, and then changed into a story? Upon reading it again, I even notice the "Rod Serling" editorialesque paragraph (or, at least, the voice my mind gave that paragraph SOUNDED like Serling).
Written in 1962, it references the Actors Studio (which I never noticed before, because I had no reference point, a la James Lipton), which had to be pretty unknown to all but the acting/writing community in the 60's. Which begs the question: Wouldn't everyone rather see Harlan do an hour or two with Lipton than 20 minutes with Homer?
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:00 pm
Floyd Shock Source:
I am amused.
After reading Kristin's post about Mr. Ellison's interview on NPR I went looking for it. Here is the link if anyone else is interested.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... Id=3444025
Then I hooked up some cables and chased down a patchcord and tried listening to the streaming audio (I was delayed by having to configure my browser and adjust some other settings before I actually got everything to work). I heard nothing. In my excitement I forgot one minor detail.
AFTER I'd connected my rarely used sound card and AFTER I'd plugged in the patchcord to my SPrint cochlear implant audio processor I forgot to thumb it's power button. Whoops.
Then I got 7 minutes and 54 seconds of a voice my ears haven't been able to hear for more than six years. Six months after I became a cyborg two years ago I checked out "The Voice from the Edge midnight in the sunken cathedral" from the local library. But at that time my poor brain wasn't up to the task of *hearing* things. Oh my! How things have changed.
The next time I see my audiologist to get my software adjusted I'm going to have to tell her about this one. I can't express the depth of my amusement when I heard Harlan say, "..in the history of the federation. And he's got an implanted television camera.." Those darn cyborgs.
I'm betting I caught about 90% of that spoken audio on the first run through. It's good to hear your voice again Harlan. One question though. You used an expression in that interview and it caught my attention and it has me wondering. How do you spell hoity toity?
Looking to understand the superimposed precontinuum of my life,
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 9:34 pm
Name: Kristin Ruhl
Adam-Troy: Great post. There's a difference between an honest, well-informed critic who does not hesitate to offer negative OR positive opinions and a just plain HOSTILE critic taking cheap shots. I tend to call the latter by the highly technical term "sourpuss." Just ignore them.
Floyd: you crack me up - now I'm headed to the link you posted! I wish I'd been listening to npr then!!!
I hate being reminded I must be one of the youngest people here. Half the people on this board must be cyborgs.
Mike Lane: there were I believe (can Susan confirm this?) only 5 copies of MEDEA available, and they were all spoken for within a day. You could try haunting used bookstores or Amazon, or asking if anyone here will let you have their old dogeared copy (fat chance...?) seriously, if you don't mind less than mint condition and not autorgraphed or anything, you might even stumble on one for five or six bucks if you got real lucky. (Used bookstores around here usually ask 1/2 the (original) cover price for a used paperback.) You'd have to be persistent though - rummaging through stores and websites a lot.
who didn't own it before buying via webderland
and too lazy to haunt used bookstores enough either
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 10:24 pm
Has anybody bought one of these yet? I think I want it more than my son does! Now if we can just convince Dad....
My husband says he's not much as a robot per se, but even if he's only a weak robot, he's still a cool toy. Robosapien caught my eye before I'd ever read or seen anything about it. The more I read, the more I want one.
I know HE likes cool toys. Any interest in this one, Harlan? (or anybody for that matter).
And another great find while cruisin' the mall: Dollar Tree had $1 discs of different varieties: old cartoons (Famous Artists Studios with those fabulous Winston Sharples scores), old Jack Benny Shows, Abbott and Costello shows, I Love Lucy, movies like "A Farewell to Arms" and "The Snows of Kilmanjaro." A measley buck apiece. No fancy packaging or "special features", just raw video. The quality's fairly decent, too. Some of the cartoons were a bit faded, but the television shows are fine. Anyway, if you're into that sort of thing and have a Dollar Tree store near you, it might be worth seeing if they have some.