Reading at Thurber House

Last week was a big week for me.  Three nice things happened.

1. It was my birthday.  Fun times, growing old.

2. I got to reconnect with an old friend from college.  Fun times, rehashing when I was a youngster.

3. I read at Thurber House, In Columbus, Ohio, where the writer Jamese Thurber is from.  They run a summer series of literary picnics, and the most recent one was aimed at featuring three emerging voices in Ohio, in three forms: creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction.  Memoirist David Giffels was invited as the creative nonfiction writer, James. J. Siegal was there for poetry, and I was the emerging voice in Ohio fiction writing.

What was really cool about this reading is not just the reading itself, which is well-attended by a wonderful audience of people who clearly like to not only read books but to listen to authors read from their work, but what happens before and around the reading itself.  A great interview session at Ohio State University that will be podcasted later this summer (I’ll let you know), and a tour of Thurber’s house, where a portrait of each author who has read there will be hung (that’s me next to Anna Quindlen! well, I don’t know where they’ll hang mine, but it’ll be up there!), as well as a ritual signing of Thurber’s closet, among all the names of all the other writers who have read at Thurber House as well.  In addition, my books will be added to the library in Thurber House.  It’s all very traditional and very quaint and the people who hosted the event were lovely and kind and accomodating.  If you’re ever in Columbus, check out their website to see if they have an event coming up.  It would be well worth it to attend one.

And if you’ve never read any James Thurber, you should start here.

Discussion in America means dissent.”

–James Thurber

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The Beastly Bride

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Taken from Jeff Ford’s blog, some information on a young adult anthology in which a story of mine will appear early in spring 2010.  It looks like a great anthology for young readers.  I’m happy to be included in it.

“This came in the mail today from Sharyn November, an Advanced Uncorrected Proof of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s upcoming YA anthology, The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People It’s the fourth in a series of anthologies of mythic tales — The Green Man, The Faery ReelCoyote Road.  Art work, as in the other three, is by Charles Vess. It is being published by Viking and will be in book stores 1st of April, 2010.

Here’s the table of contents:

The Beastly Bride and Other Tales of the Animal People

Preface by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Introduction by Terri Windling
Island Lake by E. Catherine Tobler
The Puma’s Daughter by Tanith Lee
Map of Seventeen by Christopher Barzak
The Selkie Speaks by Delia Sherman
Bear’s Bride by Johanna Sinisalo
The Abominable Child’s Tale by Carol Emshwiller
The Hikikomori by Hiromi Goto
The Comeuppance of Creegus Maxin by Gregory Frost
Ganesha by Jeffrey Ford
The Elephant’s Bride by Jane Yolen
The Children of Cadmus by Ellen Kushner
The White Doe Mourns Her Childhood by Jeanine Hall Gailey
The White Doe’s Love Song by Jeanine Hall Gailey
The White Doe Decides by Jeanine Hall Gailey
Coyote and Valorosa by Terra L. Gearheart
One Thin Dime by Stewart Moore
The Monkey Bride by Midori Snyder
Pishaach by Shweta Narayan
The Salamander Fire by Marly Youmans
The Margay’s Children by Richard Bowes
Thumbleriggery and Fledglings by Steve Berman
The Flock by Lucius Shepard
The Children of the Shark God by Peter Beagle
Rosina by Nan Fry ”

The Dreamer

Okay, okay, I babble on about my home city–small, cranky and rusty as it is, I love it, as a person should love and care for anything they feel is theirs in some way, as a home is–but sometimes I fall silent about it on my blog for long periods because even I get sick of my own obsession and passion for it.  Today, though, I’m slapping a picture on the blog that made me very happy when I saw it:

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I’m not a business person, but I’m more than happy to see that this old town that hasn’t know what to do with itself since the mills left it three decades ago is finally finding its feet again.  Sure, it’s the beginning of something, and there’s a lot to wince at and flinch about on the ground in Youngstown, but beginnings are better than endings, which we’ve had enough of here for the past thirty years.  I love how the subtitle of this month’s Entrepreneur is questioning, curious, and knowing that it will be a surprise to people who pay attention to cities like this and their histories.  And when you open the magazine and see how the magazine has classified or typified Youngstown, it’s called “The Dreamer”.  Which is appropriate.  And makes me feel that being here is appropriate.

I Will Shout Youngstown has actual things to say about it, though, so you can follow up there if you’re interested.

Dirda on classics and genre literature

Michael Dirda of the Washington Post delivers a great lecture at The Center for the Book in D.C., in which he discusses his new book which looks at 100 classic books of literature that aren’t your grandpa’s “classics”, which means books that a while back would have been ignored by elitists and classicists who categorically dismiss books of popular literature and genre literature of various sorts rather than actually reading them to discover that good writing is good writing, regardless of genre.

Mr. Dirda has some great stuff to say about this.  I’d suggest moving the video bar to minute 14 o4 15 to skip the pleasantries and get to the meat of his lecture if you don’t have time to sit through the whole thing.  But you should take a look.  It’s good stuff from a smart guy.

Video ganked from Paul Di Filippo.

Edmond Hamilton Day

People who think small towns are uncool are crazy.  Kinsman, OH (shout out!) is proof of the opposite.  They have Clarence Darrow Day, and now Edmond Hamilton Day.   In the future, there should also be a Leigh Brackett Day, with The Empire Strikes Back on a big screen in the town square all day and night long. 🙂

Edmond Hamilton Day Honoring “The Dean Of Science Fiction” and Kinsman resident Saturday July 18th.

Kinsman Historical Society

Preserving 200yrs of Kinsman, OH area’s heritage

  • Haffner Press will be selling 1st. day edition of “Collected Edmond Hamilton vol. 1& 2” and “Collected Captain Future vol. 1.”   will be sold only on this day in Kinsman at all functions.
  • 2-4pm  Meet Edmond Hamilton at Market Square Book Den
  • 7pm  Program at Kinsman Presbyterian Church(Free)
  • Edmond Hamilton-a portrayal by Don Sutton; friend, fan, neighbor, and official biographer.
  • Presentation by Stephen Haffner of Haffner Press.
  • World premier showing of slide collection of Ed and his wife Leigh Brackett.
  • A letter from Ray Bradbury
  • At dusk we will walk to his gravesite and have a toast(adjacent  to church).

Contact Don Sutton ph. 330-876-8962 day Ph/fax330-876-3178

suttondonald@embarqmail.com   RSVP not necessary, but welcome so we have an idea of how many to plan for.  If interested in joining us for dinner about 5pm; please RSVP. (nominal cost)  Featuring steak-his favorite!

Edmond Hamilton started writing SciFi in the 1920’s.  He Wrote the Captain Future series and worked for DC Comics as an editor and writer from the 1940’s to the 1960’s.  He worked on Superman, Batman, Justice League, etc.  He had over 300 works published.  He won the first SciFi fan award.  He is internationally popular.

Kinsman Ohio is located on Rts. 5, 7 and 87 on the PA state line-east of Cleveland-north of Youngstown.  Market Square is located on the square on Rts. 5 & 7.  one mile south of 87.  Kinsman Presbyterian is a white church located on Church St.  It runs between the square and Rt. 87.  Look for rocket markers.

http://www.thekinsmanfocus.com

Artscape Article

I did a phone interview with Columbus Alive this past Monday about me, my writing, and my upcoming reading at Thurber House next Wednesday (which you should come to if you can!).  Here’s a link to the article.  The writer/interviewer was very cool.  She’d actually read a bunch of my stories and books (which isn’t always the case in these matters) so we had a really great conversation more than an interview, really.  Looking forward to coming down to Cbus for the reading.

Click here.

26 to 50

While I was in Pittsburgh, I received news from Japanese translator Yoshio Kobayashi, alerting me to a new website (in both English and Japanese), called 26 to 50. The site will host fiction, reviews, interviews, discussion, news, etc. about the field of fantastic literature.  Right now the site has short interviews with Lucius Shepard, Tim Pratt,Gordon Van Gelder, Alan Deniro, Ben Rosenbaum, myself, and others about a prospective “generation gap or lack there of” in the genre. It looks like the site may be a good place for English language spec fic and Japanese spec fic to change hands, always a nice bridge to cross.  It’s worth checking out, so get to it.

Next Week

If anyone out there will be nearby to Columbus next Wednesday on July 22nd, you should totally come out and see me read along with David Giffels and James J. Siegel at Thurber House’s literary picnic evening for emerging voices in Ohio writing.  It’ll be fun, and the menu looks great.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to read, though.  I hate choosing materials to read.  It’s always like choosing what clothes to put on each day.  T-shirt and jeans?  Or something a little more put-together.  You know? 😉

Away and all…

Yes, I’ve not been blogging for a while.  I’ve been in Pittsburgh for the past week, taking a very cool Pittsburgh Field Seminar.  The classes are every day, and long, but I’ve quickly gotten to know my way around the place because of all the traveling and touring we’re doing, and not just getting to know its layout, but its history and an understanding of the various neighborhoods, of which there are many.  It’s a cool city, but even cooler knowing it better than on the surface.  I’m developing a bit of a crush on it, actually, and already predict that I’ll be making a somewhat long-distance relationship with it because of all this.  Monthly or perhaps bi-monthly visits in the future.  It’s got far too many good things to offer.

Not much more to report for now.  Except that this past Friday, I went down to Kentuck Knob, a Frank Lloyd Wright house south of Pittsburgh.  Here’s the Wikipedia entry, which has some good info on it.  And here’s a little something I wrote after coming home from seeing it:

 

     A house that fits into the side of a mountain like a key fits into a lock, or maybe more a house that grows out of the side of a mountain the way a leaf grows out of a tree.  Stone and wood that will never rot, hauled up from the swamps of Tidewater.  Octagons of light slowly drifting along the floors, keeping time.  The kitchen is the woman, the woman is the kitchen, so says a far too practiced and perhaps overused tour guide, Dolores.  We are at Kentuck Knob, where Frank Lloyd Wright meant to never visit, but did, just once, and was showed up by a seventy-one year old building contractor who had initially refused to build a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and then did it anyway.

     It’s not a space in which a person keeps house, it is a space one exists in, the way the blade of grass exists in the wind, bending with it.  Windows are walls looking out on an old forest, groomed to some extent, enough to make it look as if it is not groomed at all, simply naturally tidy.  A triptych of boulders here, for instance, a pond round back of the master bedroom’s window so that one falls asleep to and wakes to the sound of a stream gurgling nearby.  If it weren’t for the vintage stovetops that pull down from the walls of the kitchen to be cooked upon, and the matching oven, remnant of my parents’ childhoods, though certainly a product their families never would have afforded, and if it weren’t for the art—Native American bridles and bits, a desk with a stone Buddha, placed down next to the owner’s picture alongside Princess Diana—you would think it, the house itself, a natural product of its environment.  Which is the point, of course.

    Who were the people who had such a place built, and on such a piece of land as that, high up on a mountain, so that when you walk through the lane round back and pass under a thin stretch of trees onto a hill that looks out and down upon a vista of rolling hills and mountainsides folding into one another for miles and miles?  Dairy famers, apparently.  Though it must have been quite a dairy to have placed them in such circumstances. 

     Lord Peter Palumbo is the current owner, International Somebody.  Collector of eclectic sculpture.  So much sculpture that he’s made the meadow just down the side of the mountain into an open-air museum.  A red army of cut-outs, tribal in posture and lined up like good soldiers, own one corner of the meadow, which is groomed lovingly to look, like the house and the land above, as if it has not been groomed so thoroughly.  A piece of the Berlin Wall, tattooed with graffiti.  A church steeple.  An Andy Goldsworthy cairn.  Edwardian mailboxes and telephone booths lined up here and there.  A touch of England on a mostly untouched Pennsylvania mountainside, a hidden shrine in the woods.  Lord Palumbo will soon be coming to enjoy all of this for the next two months, according to Dolores.

     What is it about such places that they are able to inspire and to awe, but to also feel, to many, too remote, too artificial in their desire to be organic and natural, too different from what is considered normal to finally seal the deal?  None of this my feelings but that of fellow travelers, who crave the civilized world and society enough to mention missing it during a tour.

     If only the strange sculpture of the eaten apple weren’t so absurd, its core remaindered on the back lawn among the antique plows, the sort you would need to hitch to a horse, like the one my grandfather kept in his front yard for a long period of my childhood, propped next to a gigantic maple tree, unused, unable to get rid of it even though he has a practical, utilitarian nature, and it had not been used for decades.  Is that art?  Not really.  Maybe it is actually an extreme form of practicality.  One never knows when one may have need of it.  Depression-era syndrome:  refusal to cast anything aside, to waste.

     On the drive back to Pittsburgh, I watch the mountains and their thick canopies of trees rising and falling across the horizon.  There is so much green here, which is something with which I am familiar, but not in these shapes and sizes, the land holding you within its folds of green the further down the mountain you drive, making you feel smaller and ant-like. 

     Back up on the ridge, on Kentuck Knob, in the Frank Lloyd Wright house, the feeling of being ant-like, a creature, is in the details of the inside-out house, but you are given perspective, a way of seeing everything at once, not feeling enclosed.  Are his houses art?  They must be, not because they provide perspective, as almost any house will do almost by default of the form of making something to live within, but because the perspective is so consciously planned to lift you outside of the ordinary.