other people’s books

Friday, May 21st, 2010

So Do You Write Fantasy or Literary Fiction or Oh God What Does That Even Mean

This is one of those questions that if I were an old Infocom text adventure game like Zork I would say I DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT.

And the cursor would just sit there blinking, and you (meaning me) would have to think of some other question. But we don’t all have the luxury of being old Infocom text adventure games do we?

Unfortunately to answer this question — which admittedly nobody has actually asked me — I will first have to go through all that David Copperfield kind of crap.

I come from literary stock. My parents are both English professors. My father taught at Brandeis and then Johns Hopkins, my mom taught at Smith and UC Irvine and a bunch of other places.

It’s easy to say that, but it’s hard to explain what that actually meant to a small person being raised by those parents. We were a very literary household. My father in particular is pretty much the most literary person you can imagine. He won a MacArthur Fellowship. He won a Bollingen Prize. He didn’t win them for curing leprosy. He won them for reading, writing and talking about books, mostly poetry, all day every day.

Books were what you talked about in our house (or mostly you listened to your parents talk about them). All the time. Literature was what was important in life. Even more important than crushing your enemies and hearing the lamentations of their women. Although that was right up there.

It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but one day you’ll run into one of my dad’s former students or colleagues and I promise you they’ll back me up on this, to the hilt.

The children of the household, while embracing (to various degrees) the ideology of the ruling class, maintained an underground resistance movement as well. The activities of the resistance consisted of consuming massive amounts of science fiction and fantasy in book, comic book, movie and video game form. We were occasionally exposed, and then we were beaten about the head and neck with heavy sighs and then drowned in our own shame.

But we persevered. Vive la resistance.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The Blog That Needed Fixing, a Novel by Stieg Larsson

I’m going to keep posting, but this blog is going to morph slightly over the course of the coming week.

This is because I e-mailed my incredible Web designer and made caveman noises that meant “make my blog look … bloggier.” Basically I wanted her to junk up the margins — which she has so meticulously kept pristine over the lifetime of this site — with the usual stuff like archives and a bio and a twitter feed, etc., because more people have been coming in directly to this page, so it needs to look more like a landing page. So she’s doing that with her customary alacrity.

I will post later today. In the meantime here’s my Time piece about the fight over Stieg Larsson’s inheritance. It used to be 3,000 words long but ran at about 1,400. So assume it was the clever stuff that got cut out.