Not a Blog

Back to the Midwest

July 16, 2021 at 4:09 pm
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I am so far behind in my Not A Blogging.   This post should have been posted back in June,  but…  better late than never, right?

ANYWAY… I was on the road for ten days back in June, to Evanston (where I went to school, 1966-1971), Chicago (where I lived after school, 1971-1976), and Dubuque (where I taught school, 1976-1979).   It was the first time I’d left home and/or cabin in a year and a half, since the start of the pandemic and the quarantine.   I have to say, it was great to get away from my office chair, even if it was only for a few days.

First stop was Northwestern, and the convocation for the graduates of the Medill School of Journalism, where I was given an honorary doctorate.   Professor Emeritus Roger Boye gave me a very kind introduction, and presented me with my new hood as Doctor of Humane Letters.   And then it was my turn.

The Northwestern campus has changed a great deal since my days as a student, half a century ago.  So has the city of Evanston.   Old landmarks gone, new buildings everywhere… but still, enough remained to give me some vivid flashes of memory of years gone by and friends and lovers and teachers who changed my life and… for good or ill… helped make me the person I am today.

Thomas Wolfe said that you can’t go home again.   Maybe so, but you can visit.    Thank you, Northwestern.   It was nice to be back, however briefly.

After Evanston, I spent a few days in Chicago, accompanied by my loyal minion, Sid.   That was great as well.   Of course, we had to visit Greektown for some saganaki at the Greek Islands, where I first learned to love flaming cheese while still a student at Northwestern.  OPAA!  OPAA!   I also got to enjoy dinners with Mary Anne Mohanraj, one of my wonderful Wild Card writers, and Eve Ewing, who presented me with the Carl Sandburg Award on my last visit to Chicago, both of them amazing writers.   That was fun too.

While I was in Chicago, I did an interview with the local PBS station.

Next we took to the road, across Illinois and through the scenic and historic town of Galena (Abner Marsh’s home town) to Dubuque, where I once taught journalism at Clarke College and acted as advisor to the student newspaper, the COURIER.   The reason for my visit was… ah, well, no, can’t tell you that, not yet… but I got to see a few old friends, eat chili at Mulgrew’s in East Dubuque and pizza in Dubuque proper, and… take a ride on the riverboat TWILIGHT.   Okay, it’s not a real steamboat, not even a paddlewheeler, but it’s a cool boat all the same, and I loved sailing down the Mississippi for a few hours.   I even got to visit the pilot house and blow the whistle.

We got back home on June 23rd.   It’s always nice to be back in Santa Fe and the Land of Enchantment, but I have to admit, it was great to get away for a few days.

Of course, during my ten days on the road and away from the internet, the email piled up, and I found some eight hundred letters waiting for me on my return.   Which may help explain why I am weeks late in making this post, but…

That’s all for now.   The woods were lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and books to write before I sleep.

 

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Paying It Forward

June 1, 2021 at 10:07 am
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Heinlein said it best.   You can never pay back the people who helped you when you were first starting out, so all you can do is pay it forward, and try to help those who come after.

Those words, and the sentiment behind them, have always resonated with me, and I have done my best to Pay It Forward.  One of the ways I’ve tried to do that is with the scholarships I sponsor — to Clarion and Clarion West, Odyssey, and the Taos Toolbox, to IAIA here in Santa Fe, and through the Stagecoach Foundation.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from one of those scholarship recipients, who had some exciting news to share:

“My name is Isabel Cañas and I was the first recipient of your Worldbuilder scholarship to attend Clarion West in 2018. I said hello and introduced myself to you briefly after the Hugo Awards ceremony at WorldCon in Dublin in 2019. I’m writing with the wonderful news that my debut Gothic horror novel, The Hacienda, recently sold in a major deal at auction and will be published by Berkley in Spring 2022.

I am also writing to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Attending Clarion West is a life-and career-changing experience for many writers; I can attest the same. It gave me the courage to write in new genres and explore my identity as a Mexican-American writer in a space that was both safe and that pushed me hard to improve my craft. I grew immensely as a writer during those six weeks and the months and years after. Without Clarion West, I do not believe I would have been able to write the novel that will be my debut.

In 2018, I would not have been able to attend Clarion West without financial aid. Because of the doors that the workshop experience has opened for me, I now find myself in a position where I can extend that generosity to the next generation of students: I will be funding one Latinx student to attend Clarion West in 2022. Currently, it is a one-time scholarship, but in the future, I hope to be able to follow your example and fund an annual scholarship.”

I was pleased as hell by Isabel’s big sale, and look forward to reading her novel.

And I am even more delighted to hear that she herself will also be Paying It Forward, by sponsoring an even newer writer at Clarion West in 2022.   I think Heinlein would have been pleased as well.

((Isabel adds, “If it’s not too much trouble to add a link to your post, I am happy to report that The Hacienda is now on Goodreads, if your readers would like to add it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57840571-the-hacienda  “))

 

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Not A Blogging

April 13, 2021 at 4:39 pm
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Way back when on LiveJournal, when I started this column or journal or whatever it is, I called it my “Not A Blog,” because I could see that regular blogging was a lot of work, and I didn’t think I had the time to devote to it.   I was late on a book even then, though I do not recall which one.  I figured I would just make posts from time to time, when I had an important announcement, when the mood struck me, whatever.

Somehow, though, over the decades, the Not A Blog became a blog, and what I had intended as a occasional pleasure and a way to stay in touch with my readers has become a Blog (ironically, at the same time as everyone else was abandoning their blogs for Facebook and Twitter), complete with a sense of obligation.   And when a lot of stuff happens very fast, I fall further and further behind.

I am hugely behind right now, and the prospect of trying to catch up is feeling increasingly oppressive.

My life has become one of extremes these past few months.   Some days I do not know whether to laugh or cry, to shoot off fireworks and dance in the streets or crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.   The good stuff that has been happening to me has been very very very good, the kind of thing that will make a year, or a career.  But the bad stuff that is happening has been very very very bad, and it is hard to cherish the good and feel the joy when the shadows are all around.

If any of you read the stories about me on the internet, you will know my good news.   I have a new five-year deal with HBO, to create new GOT successor shows (and some non-related series, like ROADMARKS) for both HBO and HBO Max.  It’s an incredible deal, an amazing deal, very exciting, and I want to tell you all about it… although it seems the press has already done it.   There are stories in all the trades.   You can read about it there.    (These days I almost never get to break any news about myself, the Hollywood press is always ahead of me.   Some of their stories are even accurate).   I will blog about it, I expect, but not today.

On the other side of the coin… well, I am now fully vaccinated, hurrah hurray, that’s good.   However, I have now lost six friends since November.  (Only a couple to Covid.   Alas, I am old, and so are many of my friends.   Valar morghulis, I guess).   And a seventh friend, a very old and dear friend who has been a huge part of my life for a long time, is in the hospital, very sick, recovering from surgery… at least we hope he is recovering.

Honestly, it is hard to dance in the streets even for the deal of a lifetime when another loved one dies every two/ three weeks, and that has been going on for me since November, when my longtime editor Kay McCauley passed away.

There’s lots more going on as well.   Meow Wolf stuff.   Railroad stuff.   Beastly Books has reopened, but the JCC is still shuttered.   The Jets traded Sam Darnold away.   I am going to be leaving my cabin in a couple of months.    I am close to delivering  PAIRING UP, a brand new Wild Cards book.

I will tell you about some of this, I guess.   But not today.

Current Mood: tired tired

Horror in New Hampshire

March 12, 2021 at 3:47 pm
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For all you fans and aspiring writers of Lovecraftian cosmic horror… the Odyssey Writer’s Workshop in New Hampshire is open for applicants for their 2021 conference, and financial aid is available from a variety of sources, including my own Miskatonic Scholarship.

Here’s the official announcement:

 Publicity Release Writing Workshops Charitable Trust 

 P.O. Box 75, Mont Vernon, NH 03057 ◘ Phone/Fax (603) 673-6234 ◘ www.odysseyworkshop.org 

 Publicity Release 

February 2021 

GEORGE R. R. MARTIN SCHOLARSHIP 

AND FIVE OTHER SCHOLARHIPS FOR WRITERS ATTENDING 

THE ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOP 

The Odyssey Writing Workshop is widely considered one of the top programs in the world for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Fifty-nine percent of graduates are professionally published, and among graduates are award winners, Amazon bestsellers, and New York Times bestsellers. 

The 2021 workshop will be held from JUNE 7 to JULY 16; only twelve to fifteen writers will be admitted. For those attending, Odyssey is pleased to announce that six scholarships and one work/study position are available. 

Financial aid and scholarships are made available by supporters, alumni, various organizations, and Odyssey itself. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need, merit, or the specific criteria listed below. They range in size from several hundred dollars to over $4000. 

Several of the scholarships require that you fill out the Odyssey Financial Need Statement. Contact Director Jeanne Cavelos for the form, which is due APRIL 1. 

A NOTE ON COVID-19: The workshop is normally held on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. If the world has returned to a post-COVID state of near normality, Odyssey will be held there as usual. If travel for many is not possible, the workshop will be held online, as it was in 2020 with great success. The application deadline is APRIL 1. 

ODYSSEY SCHOLARSHIPS 

The Miskatonic Scholarship 

Bestselling author George R. R. Martin created this scholarship for a horror writer attending Odyssey. The Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded to a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. It will cover full tuition and housing. To be considered, you must complete the Odyssey Financial Need Statement by April 1 and indicate on the form that you are interested in the Miskatonic Scholarship. A panel of three judges will select the winner from among the applicants who have demonstrated financial need, using the short story or novel excerpts sent with the workshop applications. George describes the criteria for the scholarship this way: “we are not looking for Lovecraft pastiches, nor even Cthulhu Mythos stories. References to Arkham, 

Azathoth, shoggoths, the Necronomicon, and the fungi from Yuggoth are by no means obligatory…though if some candidates choose to include them, that’s fine as well. What we want is the sort of originality that H. P. Lovecraft displayed in his day, something that goes beyond the tired tropes of werewolves, vampires and zombies, into places strange and terrifying and never seen before. What we want are nightmares new and resonant and profound, comic terrors that will haunt our dreams for years to come.” Scholarship monies will be applied directly to tuition and housing for the 2021 workshop. 

The Walter & Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship 

Funded by Pam Metcalf Harrington, Odyssey class of 2001, the Walter & Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship is offered in honor of Pam’s parents, who encouraged a lifelong passion for reading and writing fantasy. The scholarship is also named for the infamous singing spiders, fictional characters who appeared in a novel excerpt submitted at Odyssey 2001. The scholarship will be awarded to a fantasy writer whose novel excerpt shows great skill and promise. A successful fantasy novelist spins a web of wonder, adventure, and intrigue that captivates readers and holds them spellbound through the lyrical flow of the prose. The novelist is, in essence, a ‘singing spider.’ To be considered for this scholarship, you must complete the Odyssey Financial Need Statement by April 1 and indicate on the form that you are interested in the Walter & Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship. You must also use a novel excerpt as the writing sample for your Odyssey workshop application. A panel of three judges will select the winner using those novel excerpts. The scholarship covers full tuition. 

The Fresh Voices Scholarship 

Funded anonymously by an Odyssey graduate, this scholarship provides support to an outstanding writer of color each year. Those eligible include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, writers of color from outside the U.S., and others. The Fresh Voices Scholarship seeks to offer opportunities for underrepresented racial and ethnic minority writers to learn at Odyssey and enrich the fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres as a result. To be considered, you must complete the Odyssey Financial Need Statement by April 1, indicate on the form that you are interested in the Fresh Voices Scholarship, and provide your race/ethnicity. A panel of three judges will select the winner using the short story or novel excerpts sent with the workshop applications. The scholarship awards $2,000 toward Odyssey tuition. 

The Enchanted Bond Scholarship 

Funded anonymously by an Odyssey supporter, this scholarship provides financial aid to an outstanding fantasy writer each year. When readers are immersed in a fresh, vivid, believable fantasy world; engaged with compelling characters; involved in a suspenseful situation; and living, moment by moment, through an experience that could never occur in reality, the author has succeeded in creating an enchanted bond between reader and story. To be considered for this scholarship, you must complete the Odyssey Financial Need Statement by April 1 and indicate on the form that you are interested in the Enchanted Bond Scholarship. A panel of three judges will select the winner using the short story or novel excerpts sent with the workshop applications. The scholarship awards $1,000 toward Odyssey tuition. 

The Quantum Entanglement Scholarship 

Funded anonymously by an Odyssey graduate, this scholarship provides support to an outstanding writer of science fiction each year. According to quantum mechanics, when a pair of particles interact, they become entangled. Entangled particles remain connected so that the state of one determines the state of the other, even when the particles are far apart. Albert Einstein famously referred to this as “spooky action at a distance.” Powerful science fiction not only presents a compelling novum (new idea) based on science and builds a world consistent with that novum; it draws readers in past the science to a moving human story with characters that readers can care about and a conflict in which every twist and turn has an impact on readers’ emotions. When that happens, the author has succeeded in entangling readers and story, an effect that may last long after the story is finished and put away. To be considered for this scholarship, you must complete the Odyssey Financial Need Statement by April 1 and indicate on the form that you are interested in the Quantum Entanglement Scholarship. A panel of three judges will select the winner using the short story or novel excerpts sent with the workshop applications. The scholarship awards $1,000 toward Odyssey tuition. 

The Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship 

The Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship will be offered to a Canadian writer admitted to Odyssey. Chris, a 2013 Odyssey graduate, was an inspiration to many Odyssey alumni and a strong believer in creating systems and participating in events to increase his productivity, such as setting goals, attending workshops, and participating in NaNoWriMo. This scholarship, funded by alumni and friends of Chris, will cover $900 of tuition. A separate application is required and due April 1. Contact Director 

Jeanne Cavelos for the Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship application. A panel of three judges will select the winner using the information in the scholarship applications and the short story or novel excerpts sent with the workshop applications. 

OTHER AVAILABLE SCHOLARSHIPS 

Wollheim Memorial Scholarship Fund 

Applicants from the New York Metropolitan Area (including New Jersey) who are accepted into Odyssey are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Donald A. and Elsie B. Wollheim Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund was created in 1989 by the New York Science Fiction Society–the Lunarians, one of New York’s oldest and largest science fiction and fantasy clubs, to help developing writers attend major science fiction/fantasy writing programs affiliated with higher institutions of learning. The amount of the scholarship is variable depending on need and the availability of funds. Scholarship monies will be applied directly to tuition for the 2021 workshop. If you are accepted into Odyssey and would like to pursue this possibility, contact Director Jeanne Cavelos for the special Wollheim application form immediately upon your acceptance. 

Horror Writers Association 

If you write horror, you are eligible for one or more of the scholarships offered by the Horror Writers Association, which are worth between $500 and $2,500. The scholarship funds can be applied toward Odyssey tuition and housing. Applications open on May 1. 

Kurt Brown Prizes 

Since Odyssey is a member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, those accepted into Odyssey can apply for AWP’s three Kurt Brown Prizes, scholarships of $500 each for emerging writers. Applications are accepted from December 1 to March 30. 

Work/Study Position 

One work/study position is also available. The work/study student spends about six hours per week performing duties for Odyssey, such as photocopying, sending stories to guests, distributing mail to students, and preparing for guest visits. Odyssey reimburses $800 of the work/study student’s tuition, half at the end of Week 3 of the workshop and half at the end of the workshop. 

The work/study student will be expected to fulfill the regular requirements of Odyssey in addition to these duties. This will make for a very demanding six weeks, but for a student who needs the financial assistance, the work/study position offers a good opportunity. Contact Director Jeanne Cavelos for more details and a work/study application. Work/study applications are due April 30. 

# 

 

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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Gray Alys on the Silver Screen

March 4, 2021 at 2:12 pm
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I cannot seem to keep out of the news these days.

The latest story to break:

https://ew.com/movies/milla-jovovich-paul-w-s-anderson-in-the-lost-lands-dave-bautista/   

“In the Lost Lands” was one of my earliest fantasy stories (most of my work in the 70s was science fiction), the first tale of the mysterious Gray Alys, an enigmatic sorceress who would sell you anything you might desire… though her customers soon learned that you buy from her at your peril.   No doubt my long-time fans all recall the twelve classic tales I wrote about Gray Alys and her customers, which were later collected in the….. WHOA, WHOA, wait a second.   That’s all wrong.   Another of those pesky alternate world memories.   No, truth to tell, I meant to write a whole series of Gray Alys stories, I really did, I even began a second and penned a few of the opening pages… but one day I put it aside and I never got back to it.   In the end I only wrote one Gray Alys story.

“In the Lost Lands.”

And now the story is coming to the big screen.   Paul W.S. Anderson, director of Monster Hunter, Pompeii, and several Resident Evils, will helm the film.   Milla Jovovich will star as Gray Alys, with Dave Bautista of Guardians of the Galaxy as Boyce, who leads her into the Lost Lands.  German film director Constantin Werner, who first optioned the story and tried to get the film made for years,  will be among the producers.

And who knows?   If the movie is a big hit, maybe there will be sequels, and Gray Alys will finally get her series after all.

(So many years have passed, I no longer recall why I never finished that second story.   I loved the character.  Still do.   And there were secrets I meant to reveal in those unwritten stories, and a whole complex backstory, and and and… sigh.  Where do the years go?)

 

 

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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Reflections on a Bad Year

February 2, 2021 at 8:49 am
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January has gone past in the blink of an eye.

In the past, I have often written a year’s end round-up of sorts on my Not A Blog just before or after New Year’s.   This year, though… 2020 was probably the worst year I have ever lived through, for the country and the world if not for me personally, and I say that from the perspective of someone who lived through, and remembers, 1968.   So much happened, and so much of it was dire, but all the rest dwindles in importance in the shadow of hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths.

The worst of the pandemic may be yet to come, alas, but at least we see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.   Like millions of others, I am waiting for my turn to get the vaccine.   I am on the list.   Soon, I hope… meanwhile, I continue to go masked and quarantine myself as much as possible.

At least we dumped Trump.   That was far and away the best thing to come out of 2020.   We went out ugly, of course.   The same way he came in.   The same way he governed.   What a vile vile man.

Personally… well, I lost a number of friends, some very near and dear to me.  I have several other friends who are in failing health, so I fear that there may be more losses to come.   Parris and I are as well as might be expected, but… this growing old is no fun.   Was it Yeats who wrote, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be?”   How old was he when he wrote that, I wonder?   Twenty-two?   He fibbed.   Growing old sucks.   (Yes, right now I hear someone saying “it beats the alternative,” which is what the unimaginative ALWAYS say… but being an SF writer, I can imagine many better alternatives.   Eternal youth.  Robot/ android bodies.   Cold sleep.   Upload to the internet.   C’mon science guys, get cracking.   Death sucks even worse than getting old).

What was good about 2020?   Besides the election?

Well… for me… there was work.

I wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of THE WINDS OF WINTER in 2020.   The best year I’ve had on WOW since I began it.    Why?  I don’t know.   Maybe the isolation.   Or maybe I just got on a roll.   Sometimes I do get on a roll.

I need to keep rolling, though.   I still have hundreds of more pages to write to bring the novel to a satisfactory conclusion.

That’s what 2021 is for, I hope.

I will make no predictions on when I will finish.   Every time I do, assholes on the internet take that as a “promise,” and then wait eagerly to crucify me when I miss the deadline.   All I will say is that I am hopeful.

I have a zillion other things to do as well, though.   My plate is full to overflowing.   Every time I wrap up one thing, three more things land on me.   Monkeys on my back, aye, aye, I’ve sung that song before.   So many monkeys.   And Kong.

I will talk about all that in a different blog post.

Meanwhile, guys and gals, please keep yourselves safe and healthy.   I will try to do the same.

 

Current Mood: tired tired

A Farewell to Phyl

January 18, 2021 at 5:04 pm
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My old friend Phyllis Eisenstein died on December 7, in Chicago.   The cause of death, I am told, was Covid-19, but Phyllis had been hospitalized for most of the year, following a cerebral hemorrhage last January.

I have been trying to write a memorial to her since her passing… trying, and struggling with it.   The holidays interfered, as they will, and of course I have so much on my plate… but mainly it was just hard.    There was so much to say, and it seemed that only days had passed since I wrote about the deaths of Kay McCauley and then Ben Bova.   Each one of those was a blow, and coming so soon one after the other… I confess, it left me in a dark place.   The closer you are to someone, the harder it is to do justice to their memory.  And Phyllis and I were close.

My old friend, I said… and damn, but that is true.   I had known Phyl for  half a century, I’ve realized, looking back.   We first met in Boston in 1971, at Noreascon I, the first worldcon I ever attended.   She was working the SFWA table at the con, greeting members and telling them about SFWA… a volunteer, giving of her time and effort to help out.   Phyllis did a lot of that; she had a generous soul.   I had only sold two stories when I turned up at Noreason and I was not yet qualified to join SFWA.  I had only attended one previous sf con, so I knew almost no one at worldcon… but Phyllis was warm and friendly, and I spent a lot of the con hanging around her at the table, and she introduced me to other writers, editors, artists, all sorts of people.   Phyllis, and her husband Alex, had been a part of fandom for a long time, and she seemed to know everyone.

I mean to write about all that, and more, but I also wanted to say something about her work, for Phyllis Eisenstein was a gifted and accomplished writer, one who never got the attention that I think that she deserved.    There’s a lot to say about that as well.   And I will.

The days have been flying by, though, and the demands on me have been building, and finally I concluded it was better to post this short notice than say nothing at all.   I will return to Phyllis and write her a much longer memorial, I promise… when I can.   Soon, I hope.

There has been too much death.   Phyl is the third friend I lost in the last two months of 2020, that most dismal of years.   And three other friends, people very near and dear to me, are struggling with very grave health issues even now.  It seems there is darkness everywhere.  The COVID death count keeps rising, there are fascists in the streets; the best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity, and Kay and Ben and Phyl are all gone.

Be well, my friends.

 

Current Mood: sad sad

Moveable Feasts

January 11, 2021 at 8:15 am
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A few weeks ago, while up in my mountain fastness, I rewatched MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, the Woody Allen film about a struggling writer visiting modern Paris (played by Owen Wilson) who finds himself travelling back in time to Paris of the 20s, where he finds himself bumping into Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Dali, Picasso, and the other artists and writers who made that such a special time.   It’s a lovely, entertaining movie about nostalgia.  I have enjoyed it before and I expect I will enjoy it again.

Watching it, however, made me realize that I had never read Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST, his memoir about his days in Paris as a hungry young writer in the 20s.   That book, and the times it chronicles, were obviously what inspired Allen to do MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.   I have never been a huge Hemingway fan, as it happens — I have read several of his novels, of course, though by no means all, and when I look back on the writers of that era, I find I much prefer F. Scott Fitzgerald — but I was curious, so I went and ordered the book and devoured it as soon as it arrived.

A few random thoughts–
— Woody Allen really nails Hemingway in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, hoo boy,
— I liked A MOVEABLE FEAST more than I have any of Hemingway’s novels, truth be told.   It was a vivid glimpse back into a vanished time and place, and into the author himself as a young man.   The book was not entirely what I expected.   Parts of it were moving and nostalgic, but other parts were surprisingly funny, like Hemingway’s efforts to assure Fitzgerald that his dick was not too small by showing him statues in the Louvre.   Other parts were sad, like the account of his estrangement from Gertrude Stein.   And his thoughts on life, love, and writing are always fascinating,
— Hemingway could not have been an easy friend; his judgements of others could be scathing and acidic.   Alice Roosevelt Longworth would have wanted him sitting near her, for certain,
— whatever golden glow might light the moveable feast of Paris in the 20s, I can never escape the knowledge that after the 20s came the 30s, when the lights went out all over Europe.   You know.  Nazis.   And that makes me think of the world today, and shiver.

Thing is, while A MOVEABLE FEAST is about Paris in the 20s, it was not written until decades later.   It was, in fact, published posthumously, after Hemingway took his own life.   He was writing and editing it during the last years of his life… an old man, rich and famous and sad, looking back on his youth when he was poor and struggling and unknown, but alive and vital, in love with his first wife and with Paris, drunk on dreams of what the future might hold, of all the possibilities that lay before him.   The whole book very much exemplifies what Woody Allen was talking about in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.   Papa, in those final years, is writing of the time and place when he was happiest… or at least the time and place he remembers being happiest…  but I do wonder whether or not he is only remembering the good stuff.

Reading it, I could not help but reflect on my own life.   We all have our own moveable feasts.   For me, I think, it was science fiction fandom in the 70s.   I was a struggling writer then, just as Hemingway was in the 20s; writing, writing, going to workshops, collecting rejections, trying to get better, never knowing when the next sale might come.   No, I did not get to hang with Scott and Zelda, or Hemingway, or Gertrude Stein, or Dali… but I had Howard Waldrop and Jack Dann and Lisa Tuttle, I drank with the Haldemans, I hunted the hallways of worldcon with Gardner Dozois looking for the Secret Pro Party, went skinny-dipping in hotel pools and met Parris in a sauna.   When I got hungry I went looking for an editor with an expense account who might buy me a meal (elsewise I was scrounging in the con suite).   Giants walked the halls in those days, and I had the good fortune to meet a few of them, if only to tell them what their work had meant to me.  I shook the hands of C.L. Moore and Edmond Hamilton and Murray Leinster, I had actual conversations with Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein and Ray Bradbury and Ted Sturgeon, I got to share meals with Julie Schwartz and Wilson Tucker, with Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg.

Like Hemingway in Paris, I never had much money.   I shared rooms at cons, slept on floors or in a bathtub, got to the cons on a bus or in the back seat of a friend’s car… walked to the hotels from the bus station, lugging my suitcase in my hand (no wheels on luggage in those days) since I did not have the money for a cab.   Were those the bad parts?  Or the good parts?  From 2020, it is not easy to say.   They make me smile now, as I look back.   But if I try, I know that there were really bad parts too.   Like Hemingway, though, I choose not to dwell on them.  The world was a fucked-up place, then as now, but fandom was a refuge; warm, welcoming, strange (but in a good way), a community unlike any I had ever known, united by a shared love of our peculiar little branch of literature and the people who wrote it.

To quote one of Hemingway’s contemporaries, however, you can’t go home again.  By the time Hemingway sat down to write A MOVEABLE FEAST in those last years of his life, he surely knew that the Paris he had known and loved in the 20s was gone forever… and the fandom that I knew and loved in the 70s is gone as well.   This year the worldcon is in Washinton DC, in the very same hotel where the 1974 worldcon was held… the worldcon where I lost my first Hugo, accepted Lisa Tuttle’s Campbell Award, and prowled the halls till dawn with Gargy, looking for parties we never found.   There is a part of me that somehow hopes that going back to the same hotel in the same city, I might somehow recapture something of those nights.   But my head knows better.   My head knows those days are gone forever, along with so many of the people that I shared them with.    I wonder how often Papa Hemingway returned to Paris in the 40s and 50s, and what he thought of the place when he did.

Anyway… I quite like MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, and I loved A MOVEABLE FEAST.   Maybe you will too.

 

 

 

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

So True

December 21, 2020 at 9:14 am
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Current Mood: stressed stressed

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I’ve Been Parodied

December 10, 2020 at 8:22 am
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Way way back in 1969, when the world and I were young, the Harvard Lampoon did a hilarious send-up of Tolkien and LORD OF THE RINGS, called BORED OF THE RINGS.   It is still in print all these years later.   Spam and Dildo, Arrowroot son of Arrowshirt, Pepsi and Moxie… a hoot.

And now, I guess, it is my turn.

The Harvard Lampoon has turned its sights on A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE and come up with LAME OF THRONES.

Yes, they sent me a copy.

No, I have not looked at it yet.   I am working up the courage.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say… but parody is right up there, so…

Thanks.   I guess.

Current Mood: amused amused