I am posting this post, even though it’s virtually identical to my last post, because I’m really hoping people will come to the events. I read in Massachusetts on Tuesday and it was standing-room-only. We talked. We laughed. We played Scrabble. I read from the new book. I gave stuff away. Somebody brought me ice cream. It was incredibly energizing.
I loved it. I want to do it all over again. But I can’t do it without you.
Well, I could, but it wouldn’t anywhere near as fun.
It’s sort of a weird tour, in that it’s kind of distributed over the course of the whole summer. The first leg starts with a reading on Tuesday at Newtonville Books (that’s tomorrow) in my home greater-metropolitan-area, Boston. Newtonville has been incredibly supportive of the Magicians books since the get-go—in fact the first time I ever read aloud from The Magicians (or as I apparently prefer to type it, Teh Magicians) was there.
So come on down! You’ll be supporting them and me at the same time.
I’m looking forward to a ‘looser’ ‘style’ of touring this time around. I’ve done a lot of reading from The Magician King in the past year or so, I’d like to get into more talking-and-conversing-and-drinking kinds of events. Maybe I’ll talk about the new book. Maybe I’ll even read from the new book. Anything could happen. Who knows?!?!
(If the blink tag were still widely supported, I would have used it there.)
Meanwhile I’ve adopted a new writing strategy. After a lifetime of telling myself that I can’t write every day, it’s just not how I work, I’m trying to write 1,000 words every day. I’m just not finding the time I need to sit down and focus for hours at a stretch, so I’m going for short bursts instead.
Part of me is like, who am I and what have I done with Lev Grossman? But you know, whatever works. Like that guy in Bull Durham who wore women’s underwear. I forget where I was going with this.
But I want to say first that this was hard. Like, harder even than I expected. Parry Gripp was the Official Judge, but we conferred a fair amount, and basically the conferring consisted of us saying, isn’t this one awesome? And this one? And what about that one? I spent a lot of last week just letting the playlist autorepeat on YouTube, running through it over and over again. The individual interpretations are so different that I forgot I was listening to the same song.
In the end we chose Fiction. Check out their video if you haven’t, it’s the total package: passion, musicianship, lush harmonies, and a beautiful video with split-screen and what appears to be a guitar-cam. It’s an incredibly gorgeous and unique take on the song. Nobody else could have done it. I love it more than I can even describe.
And then there was so much other good stuff, we had to pick some honorable mentions too. We couldn’t not. They are these:
We’re going to send you guys signed copies of both the Magicians books, plus a vinyl single of Parry’s excellent song “The Girl at the Video Game Store,” which IMHO is one of the best nerd-pop songs ever recorded, and a “Baby Monkey” t-shirt. I apologize for the slight randomness of this package — I didn’t realize that we were going to give out honorable mentions, but then … too much awesomeness. Please accept them as tokens of my love and gratitude and admiration.
[P.s. if you're one of the above, please e-mail me so I can hook you up: lev dot grossman at g mail dot com.]
And please don’t think that if your video isn’t up here that we didn’t watch it, and re-watch it, and put it on repeat and rock out to it. Chances are we did. It’s in the crude nature of these contests that we don’t get to show you that, but it’s true nevertheless. I am so grateful to everyone who entered.
Yes: celebrating a paperback release is sort of like celebrating your half-birthday, but still. There are no bad excuses to drink in a bookstore. None.
Two good reasons to pick up a copy now, if you haven’t. One, it helps me if I sell copies early, because then bookstores re-order, and the publisher prints more, and the engines keep running … it shouldn’t work like that but seriously it does.
Two, there’s some kind of issue with the blue foil on the cover. Future printings won’t have it. So it’s collectible!
Whether or not you buy a copy, if you’re in New York City (and I realize most of you aren’t) stop by WORD Bookstore tonight at 7. We’re having a party. I’m especially looking forward to this event, because while there’ll be some onstage stuff — Ryan Britt and I are going to have a conversation — mostly it’s just hanging out and talking and drinking. It’s a small space. We’re going to get into it.
Last thing: the Magician King Song Contest has pretty much wrapped up. There was a flurry of really A-list entries yesterday — you might bounce over to the YouTube page and have a listen. The skill and diversity on offer is just astounding. There’s twee-pop, there’s a cappella, there’s screampunk, there’s Minecraft — that’s a musical genre now — there’s synth-metal, there’s a musical instrument I can’t identify, there’s a guy with a horse’s head … it’s pretty awesome.
There’s a whole alternate-lyrics version with a line about fucking elves that’s worth the price of admission all by itself.
Usually I prefer to wait to blog till I actually have, you know, something to say, rather than just moving pre-existing facts around. But I’ve had so many deadlines this week I barely had enough thoughts to fill the stuff I got paid to write. All that’s left over is a thin, viscous residue. But I present it to you here.
First, I’m embedding below the playlist of submissions so far to the Magician King Song Contest. There’s some astounding performances in here, truly astounding. I’ll feel so bad when they totally lose to my awesome cellistical stylings.
But there’s still the long weekend to enter! You’re good up through midnight, May 28. Details here.
By saying “first,” I feel as though I’ve locked myself into a numbered list format, so: second, after reading this article in the New Yorker about literary fiction and genre fiction, I felt compelled to write up my thoughts on the same subject. The post went a little viral.
The other day somebody — in fact, an extremely eminent and excellent fantasy writer whose name I’m dying to drop but won’t (but in effect I just did anyway) — asked me for my favorite quote about fantasy. This request plunged me down a rabbit-hole of Googling and rereading and trying to remember something, anything really, that I read about fantasy in college.
In the end these three quotes were my finalists:
1. C.S. Lewis, from his essay on The Lord of the Rings:
‘But why,’ (some ask), ‘why, if you have a serious comment to make on the real life of men, must you do it by talking about a phantasmagoric never-never land of your own?’ Because, I take it, one of the main things the author wants to say is that the real life of men is of that mythical and heroic quality…And man as a whole, Man pitted against the universe, have we seen him at all till we see that he is like a hero in a fairy tale?
2. Iris Murdoch — this is attributed to Murdoch, and sounds like her, but I can’t find the source for this quote, which floats around the Internet a lot, so it may apocryphal. But I love it, so here it is:
We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.
3. Ursula K. Le Guin, from The Wave in the Mind:
People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.
That’s what I came up with. Tell me: what did I miss?
Entries for the Magician King Song Contest have surged since that last post, from zero to I believe two at this point. So that’s a factor of — I don’t even know what that is. They don’t even have math for that. That’s like an irrational number or something.
But you know what’s not an irrational number? 250. Dollars. The fruit is hanging very low here. Do you play something? Anything? Are you in a band? An a cappella group? An orchestra? Do you know someone who is? Do you have a sousaphone? I think you might have one. Seriously. Just check again. I’m pretty sure I saw it.
Do me a favor and spread the info around. Think of it like Kickstarter, only I pay you. Don’t make me produce a humorous video to promote this contest, people. Don’t force my hand. I will do it.
I’m not exactly a mad genius of self-promotion here at Magicians LLC, but I did once do something really clever: I asked Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder to write a theme song for the Magicians books. It’s called “I Wanna Be a Magician,” and it is deeply, deeply excellent.
It goes like this:
(I know I just broke the frame of my own blog. I suck at YouTube. And blogs.)
I love that song so much. I love it as much as the books the theme song of which it is (<–professional writer!) I firmly believe that it should be played as often as possible, in as many ways as possible, by as many people as possible.
So with that in mind, and in honor of The Magician King being published in paperback on May 29, I’m holding a contest for the best cover version of “I Wanna Be a Magician.” Parry picks the winner. The winner gets a cool $250.
There are no holds barred here. Any and all instruments are acceptable. Improvisation is encouraged. You can add variations, facemelting solos, virtuoso cadenzas, new lyrics, new verses, whatever you like. As long as we can recognize the song, it’s in. I don’t care if you have a band, or an orchestra, or an a capella ensemble, or a mellotron, or a hammered dulcimer, or a hammered mellotron. Cover the song and you’re in the running.
To enter: upload your entry to YouTube and give it the tag “magiciankingsongs.” I will then add it to this YouTube channel. This may be an awful and klugey way to run the contest, but as I may have mentioned I suck at YouTube, and I couldn’t think of anything else. We’ll announce the winner here on May 29.
Parry has graciously provided the chords and lyrics, as I am a musical idiot:
I WANNA BE A MAGICIAN
I wanna be a magician
And study at Brakebills
Wander though the hedge maze
And cast magic missile spells
Wanna go where the clock-trees
Are ticking in the breeze
'Neath the shade of Castle Whitespire
In the laaaaaaand of
Hunt the Seeing Hare and
The Questing Beast
Ride the Cozy Horse with
Its coat of velveteen
Charge the Ember and the Chatwins
To the Western Sea
And defeat the Watcherwoman
In the land of Fillory
You can keep New York City, 'Cause
there's nothing here for me.
Wanna be a magician
G Bm D
In the laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand of
[outro - repeat X 10,000,000]
I wanna be a Magician
(in the laaaaaaaaand)
That’s all I got. Go! Questions? I’ll answer’em in comments.
It’s time I outed us: we’re pregnant. Or Sophie’s pregnant. I’m just getting fat. Between us, we’re going to have a baby in September.
I can’t tell you how happy I am about this. But I can tell you this funny story! When it was time for Sophie to go to the doctor and find out the baby’s sex, she was in Australia, but I was still in New York. (There’s a long, very TMI story about why I wasn’t there that only barely redeems me from being a crap husband/father. Anyway.) As soon as she found out, she texted me the result, as follows: “it’s a boy — a boy with a willy!”
It’s not every woman who would make a Blackadder reference at a time like that. It’s not every woman who could.
In a much-much-less-important but still-worth-mentioning development, I won’t be able to make it to WorldCon this year. I wish I could, but the baby is actually due during WorldCon. So I’ll have to deputize someone else to pass on the Campbell tiara.
It’s especially awkward because The Magician King is up for a Hu^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H no wait, scratch that last part. Not a problem.
So to recap: after two daughters (currently 7 and 1 respectively) I will soon have a son, and will probably have to rethink everything I thought I knew about parenting. Which wasn’t much, but still.
Also, naming rights are still available. I take PayPal.