So I said “um” a lot in my first ever radio interview. Oh well. Paul Di Filippo had great things to say about One for Sorrow in his review over at

Surely the current era is a renaissance of ghostly tales. The work of Peter Beagle and Tim Powers and James Blaylock and Charles de Lint launched the new golden age of ghost stories. And more recently we’ve had excellent offerings from Graham Joyce, Joe Hill and Sean Stewart. Now up to the plate steps newcomer Christopher Barzak with his debut novel, a strong contender to join the ranks of these classics.

Barzak has made an impact with many stories in various venues, and he’s part of a new generation of writers coming at the genre with an “interstitial” or “slipstream” perspective that blends the fantastical with the mimetic. So it’s no surprise to find his debut novel well crafted, sensitive and literary, as well as suitably pulpy in places.

In a sense, this is the very path taken by the grandfather of such writing, Ray Bradbury, who long ago elevated what might have been “mere” Weird Tales material into high art.

Certainly Barzak’s Midwest setting and juvenile protagonist will summon up echoes of Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine (1957) conflated with some of Bradbury’s more gothic and gruesome excursions. But at the same time, Barzak explicitly models his book on Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Generally, this fusion of influences works quite well, with the spooky bits and the mimetic bits holding equal sway.

He also says he thinks the book is highly filmable, and invites hypothetical casting to occur. A review like this makes up quite nicely for my night of umming. 🙂

Read the rest of it by clicking here.

5 responses

  1. I know this sounds ridiculous, but just practice. Write out a set of questions for yourself (or have a friend compose them), sit down and record yourself speaking the answers. Part of the um problem is being asked a question you never pondered before. I used to do public speaking at high-tech trade conferences (yawn) and would run through a similar practice, making sure I knew my product without an Ed Koch number of ums.

  2. I know, I’ve already realized that pretend interviewing myself in the future will help me prepare for this stuff. It’s all so unexpected! I hadn’t really thought about stuff like radio interviews happening because I published a novel. Way to look ahead, Chris! 😉

  3. Newspaper and magazine interviews are no better! I remember my first one, and unbeknownst to me, everything is on the record unless you expressly ask it not to be. What you’re wearing, how you sit, and every word you utter, whether it be a passing comment or a direct response to a question. I was interviewed for a piece on Internet marketing in 1993, before most people knew what the Internet was. I showed the reporter how to open up email, and when I was alarmed to find nearly 100 messages, I said something stupid that became the first quote of the article. Argh. Nice first impression.

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