Hey-ho. I’m back from ICFA, the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, which is held every year around this time down in Orlando, Florida. It’s one of my new regular conferences to attend now. It’s a hybrid conference for both academics and creative writers, so you get both academic panels about the literature of the fantastic side by side with readings from some of the best authors in contemporary speculative fiction. Last year I attended to accept the Crawford Award, which is presented there each year. This year I returned because I had such a great time last year. And since I am both a writer and a creative writing instructor in academia, it’s a good fit.
Also, Florida in March is an awesome break from wintery Ohio. Which, truth be told, was not all that wintery this March, but still gray and brown from winter. I’ve been excited to return home and see thick buds on the trees, starting to fill the air with a bit more color.
I’m also excited to return home and discover this awesome review of The Love We Share Without Knowing at Becky’s Book Reviews today. Here’s a sample of what Becky, one of the winners from my book give-away a couple of weeks back, had to say:
This isn’t your traditional novel. If you know that going in, I think you will appreciate it more. Think of it more as a collection of loosely woven short stories. Some stories are more ‘connected’ than others. The stories share a common thread or two–mainly that of theme. To sum it up in one word: Humanity. What it means to be human, to experience the ups and downs, highs and lows of being human. Love. Loss. Pain. Anger. Bitterness. Frustration. Disappointment. Heartache. Homesickness. Loneliness. Some stories are darker than others. Some seem to be without hope or redemption. Others are more uplifting. What they all have in common, however, is the Barzak touch. He, quite simply, has a way with words. Even if you don’t like where the story is going, he keeps you so in love with the words on the page, that you just have to keep reading.
The Barzak touch. It is nice to know I have a touch. That is very happy-making for me, mainly because I think that it’s difficult for some authors, maybe most or even all authors, to see their touch (what I’m somewhat thinking of as style, I think), the same way it’s difficult for a person to see themselves objectively, the way other people see them. I was just thinking about that movie Perfume (also a novel of the same title) and how the main character in it is a perfumer who is trying to capture the essence of other people by recreating their scents. Okay, so he’s also a total whack job who ends up serially killing people trying to capture their scents and transform it into perfume, but it’s an allegory, in its own way, for the creative artist’s endeavor to capture the essences of people. One of the things about this character in Perfume is that he cannot sense his own scent. That, to me, is one of the truths that narrative states about artists in regards to the things they are making.
So thank you, Becky, for showing some of the passages from my book that you feel are representative of my “touch”.
We’re in the second half of the semester here. Six weeks left to go. I’ve got a lot of work to do both for the classes I teach and the classes I’m taking in Chatham University’s MFA program, so I’ll be off and on here, as usual these days, but will hopefully be around a bit more in May and June, when I have a bit more time to myself.