Friday, May 20, 2016

Ann Quin, Tripticks (1972)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ann Quin, Passages (1969)

It's Quin's third novel. Limping along to the finish line...okay, so this one is about a woman and her lover, who are traveling around the Mediterranean looking for her brother, who may or may not be dead. Well, that's what they're allegedly doing. What they're mainly doing is getting harassed by secret police and having unhealthy (and, in many cases, almost certainly illegal) sex with random strangers. The novel consists of two sections of narration from each of them, the first (mostly--it's sometimes kind of hard to tell) from the woman, freely switching between first- and third-person, and the second from the man in the form of a journal of-sorts, with abstruse annotations running down the left-hand side of the pages. And that's about it. At barely over a hundred pages, this is Quin's shortest novel.
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ann Quin, Three (1966) we have Quin's second novel. It's about a middle-aged couple, Ruth and Leonard. A young woman identified only as S was boarding with them, but she committed suicide by drowning (which, I must sadly note, is what Quin herself did seven years later. Out of all possible suicide methods, why do people choose drowning? It seems like it'd be one of the most unpleasant). The narrative shifts around through Ruth and Leonard's quotidian life, and S's fragmentary recordings and journal entries (the other two also have brief journal-entry sections). They're very abstruse and impressionistic, revealing bits and pieces about her parents and a possible love affair &c.
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Angela Carter, Several Perceptions (1968)

When I see that title, I always think of the Leonard Cohen album Various Positions. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing!
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Monday, May 09, 2016

Angela Carter, The Magic Toyshop (1967)

You know how sometimes you read a subpar book by an author you like and it makes you question whether you actually liked them in the first place? I had that experience reading Shadow Dance. But then I read The Magic Toyshop, and HOLY SHIT what a difference a year makes, 'cause Carter's second novel is such a quantum leap above her first it's barely credible. Crikey!
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Friday, May 06, 2016

Ann Quin, Berg (1964)

Ann Quin was a British author who published four avant-garde-ish novels in the sixties and seventies and then committed suicide at the age of thirty-seven. Boy, THAT'S not a very uplifting story, is it? Well, I suppose if we can find anything to be cheerful about here, it's that those goddamn heroes at Dalkey Archive have reprinted all four of her books, so that, obscure as she is, she's not going to just fade away any time soon. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Dalkey Archive? 'Cause I do. For a long time I just took their existence for granted, but there's no reason to do that--they're a non-profit publisher, and without them there would be a VAST swath of vital but non-commercially-viable literature that would just be wholly unavailable. I mean no disrespect to similar presses like New Directions, but somehow, I'm just constantly finding myself thinking "huh, what's that book, that looks interesting, I should read it, oh look, Dalkey Archive again!" The only inconvenient thing about them is that--whether for practical or philosophical reasons, I don't know--they don't release their stuff as ebooks. Whatever! They're still my favorite publisher! Is it weird to have a favorite publisher? Well, I do.
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Thursday, May 05, 2016

The First Americans: A Dialogue

"Hey, remember the First Americans series of novels by William Sarabande, aka Joan Lesley Hamilton Cline?"

"Um...yes. As you know, we read those books in high school, for better or worse, so yes, I do. It's, what, eleven novels, and there was talk and publicity material of a twelfth one, but then for some reason that never appeared and she stopped writing and it's not quite clear why or if she's even still alive or what? And yes, it IS weird that she pretended to be a man for so long. What is this, the nineteenth century? Anyway, we were interested in prehistoric humans ('early dudes,' as I termed them), and these had cool covers and titles, so we ate them up."
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About Time

You might think from that title that this is a primary-related post.  But it's not!  Instead, it's the second story I rescued from a floppy disk!  This one is actually significantly worse than the other (seriously, the lack of specific detail just kills it), but it's more interesting to me because I have zero memory of having written it.  Seriously, reading it after all these years sparked no recollection.  I'm not trying to wriggle out of responsibility for having written it; it's clearly my, uh, style.  But I do not remember it, even a little!  Go figure.

"Was the time-travel plot inspired in the Terminator franchise?"

No; I definitely hadn't seen any of them when I wrote it.

"How about Twelve Monkeys?"


"Well, how about the Orson Scott Card novel Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, which I know you read in high school, because I'm you?"

HEY!  Stop revealing embarrassing moments from my reading history, dammit!  Also, NO, this is dated 1995, and that wasn't published until '96.  So there.

Actually, if you think I was actually inspired by a "go back in time to stop bad things from happening" narrative, the most likely candidate would have to be Final Fantasy Legend III, which I definitely played in eighth grade, less than a year prior to writing this, though it doesn't have much in common other than the bare premise.  I dunno, though.  I have the sneaking suspicion that I just wanted to come up with something that could justify the title "About Time" as terribly clever wordplay.  Not proud, but there you have it.  Enjoy the story, though you won't.
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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Angela Carter, Shadow Dance (1966)

Well, it's Carter's first novel, of which she was apparently embarrassed in retrospect. But having determined that I'm going to read her entire corpus, I think it's best to start at the beginning. There's no sense reading Nights at the Circus and Wise Children--her last two novels, and widely regarded as her best--and then having to circle around to less impressive stuff.
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The Contract

Ha!  I rescued a couple of stories that I wrote as a high school freshman from an old floppy disk.  That's pretty fun, as I'd assumed that these were non-extant.  They were all in that weird unicode you get with old word documents, where paragraph breaks are stripped out, quotation marks and apostrophes are replaced with black diamonds with question marks in them, and the whole thing is surrounded by sundry random gibberish, but it was easy enough to reformat them.

This first one is something that I wrote for my English class.  Hard to say what the exact assignment was, but KNOW THIS: it was entered in the whatever contest for student writing, where it won the coveted SILVER KEY.  Not as coveted as the gold key, but what to the evs, man!  My mother took me to the award ceremony, where the presenter mispronounced both my first and last names.

As you'll see if you actually bother to look at it, it's not what you'd call a great story, but my teacher raved about it, based--clearly--on the fact that it's pretty stylistically sophisticated for something written by a fourteen-year-old.  Not much else to say, except that the ending strikes me as theologically untenable.  No one can MAKE you sell your soul to the Devil; it has to be of your own free will.  COME ON, teenage me!
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