Quarantined, Pls. Send Books!

Here at the end of the first week of our quarantine, two books made it over the wall, across the moat, and through the door of Library of Winkelman Abbey.

On the left is the new issue of the Boston Review, and the first of my newly-acquired subscription. They publish some seriously good stuff, and I am looking forward to digging in to this issue. On the right is the latest from Two Lines Press/The Center for the Art of Translation, Lake Like a Mirror, by Ho Sok Fong, which is only the second book from Malaysia in my collection.

I’ve been collecting works in translation for a while now. According to LibraryThing I have 197 books in translation, from 60 countries. The plurality, of course, come from Russia. At some point I may do a post about them, but for now, they serve to help alleviate the slowly growing feeling of isolation and cabin fever.

Poe feels it too. This afternoon my partner and I went for a walk around the neighborhood just to give the cat some alone time. I think she appreciated it.

Books for Social Distancing

As of a few days ago COVID-19 has made landfall here in West Michigan, so we are all hunkering down for a long haul of avoiding significant social interaction. Fortunately I have several hundred books in the house that I have not read. They should last me a couple of weeks. I also have a job where I can work from home so, until the toilet paper runs out, I have no real reason to interact with other human beings beyond my wonderful girlfriend. She is a school teacher, so she will be hanging around the neighborhood for the next three weeks until the schools reopen.

On the left in the above photo is the latest issue of the superb Rain Taxi, because of which I will undoubtedly order several new books in the upcoming months. On the right is the latest delivery from Deep Vellum, Girls Lost by Jessica Schiefauer. 2020 is starting out with a much slower acquisition rate than the previous several years, and for that I am kind of happy, as I was beginning to feel the pressure of insufficient shelving. I mean, I still feel that pressure, but it is not an immediate concern.

In reading news, I am hopping randomly through volumes III and IV of The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny, published by NESFA Press. These stories are just wonderful! I have been a Zelazny fan since I first read Nine Princes in Amber back in the early 1980s.

I am also reading Tentacle by Rita Indiana, one of the books from my subscription to And Other Stories. One chapter in and I am fully hooked.

My writing game has been significantly off these past few weeks so I am switching over fully to editing several short stories. I have four so far which I think will be worthy of publishing.

Assuming there is such a thing as publishing as we work our way further through this very stupid timeline.

Since you’ve made it to the end of this post, here is a picture of Poe.

 

Poe Dreams of Paris

This week Poe dreams of more cultured climes as she browses and also nibbles on the new issue of The Paris Review, which was the only addition to the Library of Winkelman Abbey this week.

I finally made it to the end of Sayak Valencia’s superb Gore Capitalism. It was a difficult read, not because of the writing, but because of the subject, and also because I have not had to put my head into the space of deep theory in a long time.

Between Gore Capitalism, Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism and Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, I believe I now have the proper perspective to begin writing a series of Lovecraftian horror stories where the eldritch abomination is actually the free market.

In other words, they will mostly be non-fiction.

What I Read in February 2020

February was a fairly good reading month though I was sidetracked by a long weekend away, some family stuff, and the act and aftermath of getting the kitten fixed. Turns out that the drugs they use to anesthetize cats for surgery sometimes turns them into psychotic Tasmanian Devil beasts for about a day.

Most of the short fiction for February came from three sources – The Long List Anthology volumes 3 and 4, and Kolyma Stories by Varlam Shalamov. The rest were random picks from journals, both print and online.

I am also pushing through to the end of Sayak Valencia’s Gore Capitalism, which I started reading back in January. I hit a point where I had to put it down, and fully expected that to be the end of it, but there was something about the book that just would not let go of me, so I picked it up again and am going to try to get to the end in the next few days.

Here is the list of short prose I read in the month of February 2020.

  1. “Waiting Out the End of the World at Patty’s Place Cafe” – Kritzer, Naomi (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  2. “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” – Anders, Charlie Jane (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  3. “Confessions of a Con Girl” – Wolven, Nick (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  4. “Utopia, LOL?” – Wahls, Jamie (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4 )
  5. “Lullaby for a Lost World” – de Bodard, Aliette (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  6. “Terminal” – Tidhar, Lavie – (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  7. “The Scholast in the Low Water Kingdoms” – Gladstone, Max (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  8. “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” – McGuire, Seanan (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  9. “Things with Beards” – Miller, Sam J. (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  10. “On the Slate” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
  11. “At Night” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
  12. “Carpenters” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
  13. “Paradox” – Kritzer, Naomi (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  14. “A Personal Quota” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
  15. “The Parcel” – Shalamov, Varlam (Kolyma Stories)
  16. “Sour Meat” – Tse, Dorothy (That We May Live)
  17. Gonzales, California” – Berardino, Christopher Seiji (Blind Corner Literary Magazine)
  18. Aquacultural Appropriation” – Glanzman, Kimberly (Blind Corner Literary Magazine)
  19. “Angel of the Blockade” – Acks, Alex (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  20. “The Fisher of Bones” – Gailey, Sarah (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  21. “Crispin’s Model” – Gladstone, Max (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  22. “The Atheist and the Angel” – Buckell, Tobias (Patreon)

If you made it this far down the page, you deserve a picture of a kitten.

Poe in the Window

Apex Delivery

February ended on a cold note but here in the first day of March I walked along the river with my honey in late afternoon sunshine and an air temperature in the upper fifties, Fahrenheit. We still have three more weeks of winter, technically, but fifty degrees in winter is much better than fifty degrees in summer.

The library of Winkelman Abbey only saw one delivery this week, from Apex Publications, with the two books pictured above – Winterglass and Mirrorstrike, both by Benjanun Sriduangkew.

In reading news I rounded out the month of February with a little over twenty short stories completed, which put my brain in an excellent space to start revising a couple of first drafts. I will post the list later this week.

Writing for the past week was about on par with writing the week before, to wit: Not a lot started or finished. I was just completely brain-fried and needed to take a little time off. But now that we are in a new month I intend to get back into my daily routine tomorrow at 5:30 am sharp. If I can keep that up for the month that should be enough time to get another story to a point that I can begin shopping it around to some lit journals. And maybe give me time to start working on a new short story for one of the thirty or so calls for themed publications I have bookmarked for the rest of 2020.

That’s all for now; time for bed.

Poe Approves of Poetry and Translation

Poe is recovering nicely from her spaying and wants you to read the latest issue of Poetry, as well as That We May Live, a collection of Chinese speculative fiction in translation from Two Lines Press.

The big news from this past week is that I was notified that two of my poems have been accepted for publication! I will announce the venue when the publication date approaches. I can say that the journal which selected them is of the highest caliber. This will be my first unsolicited acceptance since the 1999 issue of Voices.

Reading and writing have both been mostly on hiatus for the last week, due to family duties, taking care of a recovering cat, and general exhaustion from extreme lack of sleep. I have managed to read a few stories from Varlam Shalamov‘s collection Kolyma Stories. This has done nothing for my peace of mind, as they are set in the gulag where he spent more than a decade of his life.

I have begun the process of turning my NaNoWriMo 2019 project — lightly-fictionalized writing about my terrible neighbor — into a series of short stories, and should hopefully have at least one of them whipped into shape before my birthday at the beginning of June. Would be nice to have at least one more publication under my belt by the end of the year.

Books to Entertain and Intimidate

It’s been a busy week here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. Yesterday we had our kitten spayed. She recovered nicely from the surgery and spent most of yesterday evening and night, well into today, being a psychotic beast. Only in the last couple of hours (a full 24 since the surgery) has she calmed down enough to sit still for more than about a minute. Thus, no kitten in today’s photo.

A small stack of books arrived in the past week. On the left is the newest issue of Jacobin. In the middle is the latest from Deep Vellum, The Love Story of the Century. And on the right is an impulse buy from Semiotext(e), The Coming Insurrection, the first title in their Interventions series.

The Coming Insurrection was briefly famous back in 2009 when noted fascist bootlick Glenn Beck spent several weeks pissing himself in terror on Fox News over what he called “the most evil book he has ever read.” Coming from someone who at the time worked at white nationalist propaganda outlet Fox News, that description is hilarious. I doubt Beck or any of his catamites (the ones who can read, anyway) made it past more than the first few pages of this small text.

So I have some good reading for the week ahead, while I nurse our kitten back to health.

February and All That

Amazing how time flies when you have a kitten. Suddenly February is here and I can already feel the impending changing of seasons and birthdays and of course the end of the year is one month closer.

This week’s bundle of books for the Library of Winkelman Abbey is small but distinguished. On the left is Berari’s The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance, from Semiotext(e). In the middle is the latest arrival from And Other Stories, Gerald Murnane’s collection of essays Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs. On the right is Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts, the cover of which is even more beautiful in person than in the photo.

In reading, I am slowly ramping up again and working my way through volumes III and IV of the Long List Anthologies. There stories therein are absolutely amazing, no two anything alike, and while reading I feel simultaneously inspired and intimidated.

In writing, I took some time off from creating and editing, and used that time to update my list of published works. This effort included posting my novelette “Hvalur,” which was part of the original Brewed Awakenings anthology published by Caffeinated Press back in 2015.

I have made some progress on a cyberpunk-ish short story, and the research thereof has given me material for some new poems which may or may not see the light of day at some point in the future.

If I publish none of it, at least the cat will still love me.

New Old Story

Back in 2013 I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. My project was a science fiction murder mystery set in and around a twenty kilometer tall tower located in the Gabon Estuary near Libreville. It was a fun exercise and I learned a lot about writing, but there were many (in hindsight) problematic aspects to the story and I have not done much with it since.

In 2014, as Caffeinated Press was starting up, the editor in chief approached the members of the writing group which had spawned the press and announced an open call for stories for an inaugural anthology. I wrote “Hvalur,” a 9,900 word prequel story to the 2013 NaNoWriMo project, and it was accepted and published in Brewed Awakenings I.

Since then, Caffeinated Press has gone out of business and the rights to the story have reverted to me. Rather than consign “Hvalur” to the long-tail limbo of Amazon.com’s back shelves I decided to put it up here on my website where it can be read for free. Aside from some minor line edits, this is the version which appeared in the anthology.

“Hvalur” is the first of what will eventually be a large collection of my writing which I will release publicly. If I get positive feedback I might even set up a Patreon account.

Click here to read “Hvalur.”

 

What I Read in January 2020

As part the process of focusing my 2020 reading on short fiction, I am keeping a list of every short story I read this year. Author names are linked to their primary online presence, as are the venues for those short stories.

January was quite busy, what with work deadlines, ConFusion 2020 and the new kitten, so I only read 20 stories. The majority came from periodicals though the last few came from the superb Long List Anthologies of short fiction nominated for the Hugo Awards.

  1. “Lost Book” – Williams, Ryan M. (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
  2. “That Faraway Kingdom” – Buckell, Tobias (Patreon)
  3. “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” – Fall, Isabel (Clarkesworld #160, January 2020)
  4. “Acceptable Losses” – Dermatis, Dayle (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
  5. “A Choose Your Own Fangle Adventure” – Jeschonek, Robert (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
  6. “Say Hello to my Little Friend” – Rusch, Kristine Kathryn (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
  7. “The Ghost of a Smile” – Miller, John Jos (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
  8. “Cessation of Civilization” – Croke, Marie (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
  9. “Autoimmune” – Pankau, Kurt (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
  10. “Hot Times in Shady Pines” – Kloster, Gary (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
  11. “The Last Petal” – Madden, Anna (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
  12. “Extremophile” – Harpold, Robert E. (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
  13. “Dreamforger” – Crankshaw, Donald S. (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
  14. “Dirtnap” – Koekkoek, Taylor (Paris Review #231, Winter 2019)
  15. “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” – Buckell, Tobias (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
  16. “Red in Tooth and Cog” – Rambo, Cat (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  17. “A Salvaging of Ghosts” – de Bodard, Aliette (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  18. “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the International Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0” – Yaochim, Caroline M. (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  19. “Razorback” – Vernon, Ursula (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
  20. “We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You?” – Jordan, Rebecca Ann (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)