Gettin’ Interstitial with the BBC

As mentioned in a previous post, I did an interview with the lovely Jamillah Knowles of the BBC this past Sunday about the second volume of Interfictions, which I co-edited with Delia Sherman, and now it’s available as a podcast.   Here’s a link to it, but, just so you know, it’s a conglomeration of subjects she’s covered. My interview comes in around just over the halfway mark, if you want to skip ahead.

Happy listening.

Love it or hate it?

The other night, pre-viral infection, I was in a bookstore and was stopped in my tracks by a book I’ve looked at too many times in too many similar covers:  Wuthering Heights.  It was face out and had a beautiful cover design, full of color, with a Tim Burton-esque rendering of Cathy on the front cover.  I took it down off the shelf to see the wraparound from back to front, a whole landscape of the book done in the same style really, and was really toying with the idea of buying the book just for that cover.  I put it back, though, and then suddenly, five minutes later, found myself stopped once again, this time by another stunning cover on another classic standard, The Scarlet Letter.  Quickly I began to search the shelves to see how many others had been designed this way, and the only other one that I discovered was Pride and Prejudice.  All of them had been designed by fashion designer Ruben Toledo through Penguin Classics.  You can take a look at them by clicking this sentence and visiting a website that has more info on the designs, but really, come back and tell me what you think of them. Am I crazy for loving these new spins on familiar novels?  Or are they refreshing, as my own instincts and sensibilities decree?  I have a feeling they’ll be that sort of thing where people either love ’em or hate ’em.

Sort of like how people are reacting to the movie Paranormal Activity. 🙂

Oh heck, why don’t I make use of that nice polling function wordpress offered a year ago?

And while we’re at it, why not another?  (I’m starting to feel like my friend Chance, who holds regular polls on her livejournal). This one about Paranormal Activity, which I did manage to see.  Uh, I guess if you haven’t seen it, there is a spoiler in the poll, so just a warning.

Now back to recovery.

Running in the shadows

An article from the NYT on the rise of teenaged runaways over the past few years, as the economy has worsened. It’s sad and, for me, recognizable.  One of the things I encountered every now and then when I was going around reading from my first novel, One for Sorrow, after its release a couple of years ago, was the occasional reader who would come up to me afterward to say how much they liked the book but found something about the running away that the narrator, a fifteen year old from rustbelt Ohio, slightly fantastical.  I would laugh because it has ghosts in the book, but it was the very real event of running away that felt at a remove for these rare but present readers.  For me, it was something I’d seen over the years in and around this region of Ohio, as the loss of industry grew to a devastating level, and families no longer able to support themselves sometimes began to implode under economic pressure.  Kids ran away from trouble that brewed at home in those conditions.  Here it is, a bit more evident, apparently trending as more places feel the pinch.  It’s sad stuff, but it’s good to see it being recognized for what it is here.

Being Ill

I hate being ill.  When I am, my body feels like a foreign country.  A foreign country that’s been taken over by a hostile imperial army.  My head feels like my feet, as if I use it to move myself around from place to place.  I sigh a lot, and linger on bad memories.  I am reduced to feeling like a child, powerless and confused.  And all this just from a low fever and aching muscles and bones.

Obviously, I am ill today.  And complaining from my bed.

I was at a book launch party last night.  My friend Rochelle’s father recently published his own father’s journals that he kept as a young lawyer in Youngstown during the Great Depression.  It is in fact called The Great Depression: A Diary, by Benjamin Roth.  The book has received a lot of attention in places like the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc.  It’s a timely book, and I’m looking forward to reading through the eyes of someone who was alive during that period of our history.  The party was fun:  good food, good wine, good conversations.  I came home and went to bed well-fed and slightly giddy.

Then woke this morning and felt only slightly hesitant to get out of bed.  I tried to sleep a bit more and finally did, and then woke later in the morning so that I could do an interview over the phone with a lovely English journalist who will be podcasting said interview on the BBC on Tuesday, I believe.  It was about the new volume of Interfictions.  I was a bit scattered.  By then,  I was starting to realize that the fogginess was not outside my window but in my head, and that the minor aches that had kept me in bed for an extended sleep were getting worse.  I don’t think it’s the swine flu, as it feels minor compared to the symptoms people have described with that.  I’m drinking lots of fluids and vitamins and eating a bit, though I don’t feel like it.  Mostly, though, I felt like Bridget Jones after that interview.  Silently self-deprecatory.  Let’s hope after editing, an illusion of being coherent will be achieved.  Otherwise, I imagine legions of people in the UK will wonder how I manage to get from point A to point B in my daily life.

Haven’t managed to be able to concentrate on other work now either.  Instead, surfing the internet for entertaining bits and pieces to see me through the day.  If you’ve got anything good to watch/read/listen to while ailing, please send links!  I have a feeling that, unless this is a quiet sort of 24 hour thing, I will be needing them for the next day or two.

Otherwise, a busy week ahead of me.  Illness is also untimely.  There should be federal regulations on this sort of thing.


Author Nicola Griffith has blogged a call to action, which you can find here, in regards to a woman dying in the hospital whose same sex partner and children were not allowed by law to see her or receive any updates on her condition.  The hospital was later sued and the state awarded the hospital the win.  Complete insanity, complete and utter discrimination, all made somehow legal.  A woman died alone without the ability to see her loved ones, her children, because she was a lesbian.  That’s it, that’s all.

As another writer, Jeffrey Ford, states in his blog, “I’m sure many of those enforcing this law think themselves “good Christians,” but that’s the problem with too many Christians these days — they know all the dogma but forget about Christ’s most important message — Compassion.  There were also those involved, no doubt, who let the stupid Law grind itself out because they couldn’t think through to the point of how heinous it is.  I didn’t see anything about this case on the news — just endless stories about the publicity stunt with the kid in the UFO.  Sometimes I just get disgusted with America.  The open and government sanctioned persecution of gays in our culture shows us at our absolute worst.  Here we are in the 21st century and this situation, instead of getting better, is a Civil Rights crisis.”

Go read Nicola’s blog first, then blog about this crime yourself.  Yes, that’s what it is:  a criminal act justified as legal by an unfair, discriminatory legal system.

The Broken Teaglass

This past spring, I was passed a debut novel from an editor at Delacorte Press, asking if I’d read it.  It’s called The Broken Teaglass, by Emily Arsenault.  It’s an interesting novel, set in a dictionary company, with a mystery hidden in the files of word citations, buried there for others to find by a Mysterious Someone.   It was totally my kind of mystery, words and putting together a story like pieces of a puzzle, and so I enthusiastically blurbed the book, like this:

“Charming and witty are not the usual adjectives used to describe a mystery novel, but in the case of Emily Arsenault’s debut, all expectations and definitions must be relinquished. Not since A. S. Byatt’s Possession have I come across such a fascinating secret history as the one hidden within the pages of The Broken Teaglass and the ones we all carry inside us.”

This past Sunday, a reviewer at the New York Times seems to have felt the same way:

THE BROKEN TEAGLASS (Delacorte, $25) is wordy. But what would you expect from a mystery set in the offices of a dictionary publisher? In her author bio, we learn that Emily Arsenault wrote this first novel to pass the long, quiet nights in the South African village where she worked as a Peace Corps volunteer. The comfort she took from words — funny words, strange words, words that should have been strangled at birth — is palpable in her oddly endearing coming-of-age story about a recent college graduate who lands a job as an apprentice lexicographer and discovers clues to an unsolved murder embedded in the citation files. Billy Webb and a young colleague, Mona Minot, become chummy when comparing multiple “cits” from a bogus book. As their relationship develops, so does the story of the killing, which they suspect was committed by someone in their office. “All those silent types,” Mona observes. “There’s gotta be a sociopath or two among us.” Or at least a very clever wordsmith.

So between the both of us, I think it’s safe to suggest you go out and buy it right now, and take a gander for yourselves.