Archive for June 2009

Second Life: Round Two

June 19, 2009

This is not the first time I’ve set up Net Identities different from my real self, of course. Back when we geeks were the only ones on the net and all the internet social life was on discussion boards, I had a variety of identities, each of which suited the venue in which I was working or playing at the time. But the Interwebs have grown up since then, and it’s become an extension of real life and real business. Transparency is important. Man, if you work in social media or have even read about it more than twice, how often have you heard that axiom? So it is somewhat of a mental shift for me to return to the idea of creating an online identity that is not Me.

I log back in to Second Life. This time the decision-making is easier: I just make the same avatar and first-name choices I did last time. Then comes the Big Moment: the last-name pull down. Most of the names are unexciting, but there’s one winner:

@barbarfriendish Success! I have scored the last name “Scorpio” on #secondlife! #fb

I lock it in and begin working my way through the rest of the registration. Nothing unusual here: real name, email address, etc. During this process Daniel, who, incipient college student that he is,  rolled in around 9 this morning and has just awakened from a restorative nap, wanders downstairs to see what I’m doing.

He is profoundly disgusted by the whole affair. Really, how can I be this stupid? This is not a replay of his earlier resistance to my joining Facebook, where he feared I’d be “all up in his grill”; he just thinks the whole thing is pointless. I explain that it develops there is more going on in Second Life than interactive porn, stuff that may turn out to be useful in the publishing side of my life; he snorts, unpersuaded, and withdraws.

Leaving me to try to select a Community and Start Location.

If Wynette gave me advice on how to choose these, I don’t remember. I poke around and look at the choices.

Choices that stand out, although none of them feels Inherently Right:

  • Dublin in SL (SL meaning Second Life)
  • The Faery Crossing
  • Steampunk Victorian Caledon
  • Second Life London

I would probably find the highest percentage of kindred spirits in Steampunk Victorian Caledon, but I am not a Steampunk Kid. And I do not have a high enough twee tolerance to be happy with most of what I am certain goes on in The Faery Crossing. The series I’m working on in my writing life does have ties to London–but if I get to retire on that side of the Atlantic, it’ll be much closer to Dublin than London. I’m choosing Dublin.

INSERT SWEARING HERE! Imagine it’s very loud! It develops that while I was doing other things (like taking my time to evaluate a starting location), Second Life logged me off. Once I choose Dublin, I’m bumped back to the initial screen. AAAARRRRGH!

I am not excited about any of the last names it offers me this time…

Second Life: My First Foray

June 19, 2009

I’ve taken care of the emails and assorted other things that must be handled first-ish, and sit down with Second Life. First, the obligatory tweet:

@barbarfriendish Cue the dramatic music…I’m GOIN IN…to #secondlife

Oh crap, there’s a download involved! We’re upgrading my computer this weekend; I’ll probably just have to redo stuff. But I promised to be there tonight…

First, the system informs me, I must choose a starting look–I remember Wynette said this is just how you start, and there’s tons of customization to be done, new avatars to buy, etc. But this may be how I show up tonight. I find one with a funky hat and blue hair that does not offend my sensibilities. If I can’t have blue hair IRL I will definitely have it in SecondLife.

Now I must choose a first name. Usually I go around the net as myself. But I think it may be fun to have an amusing name for my avatar, and on Second Life you don’t get to choose your last name: you must choose from a list the system generates. So I really can’t go around as Myself in this venue.

Actually, this is kinda cool, if you think about it. This is my alternate persona I’m building here. My alternate persona is, of course, much cooler than I. What shall I name her?

And here we stumble over another of the ways in which Second Life allows you to re-think things: the gender issue is worth some thought here, because in Second Life you can use whatever avatar you can download, buy, or create. I frequently feel as if I am a guy in a chick body. I happen to be female, of course, and I have given birth to my own children, but being female is not part of how I define myself, merely one of those facts into which I was born, like having perfect pitch or being nearsighted. As a guy I’d be mostly gay, of course. But I can definitely see, if I get invested enough in SecondLife, having secondary avatars who are male. So an androgynous name might be a good thing…

Have I mentioned that I suck at naming? This is probably the hardest decision I’ll make all week.

Let’s try Paris. It’s androgynous, and I don’t have to commit, from what I understand, so I plug that in and move on to the less flexible part: the system-generated last names. There’s a drop-down, which I open, hoping for something as fabulous as the last name (Frequency) Wynette scored. My selection now includes a number of OK names, none of them fabulous. Though “Xubersnak” cracks me up.

I have a moment of real flirtation with keeping this name. But then I’ll have to choose a first name that goes with it, and that’s going to change the whole tenor of my persona. I will do as I have been advised in the event that I don’t like any of the options I’m offered: quit and come back later today, when the system will generate me a new list. I still have a few hours.

Welcome to My (Second) Life

June 19, 2009

I’ve never visited Second Life. Until recently it seemed something I could safely ignore. But my friend and former business partner, Wynette Hoffman, author (as W.A. Hoffman) of the Raised by Wolves historical fiction (with gay men and buccaneers, not pirates thank-you-very-much) series, is hosting an event on Second Life today. And damn it, I think what she’s doing may turn out to be important. So now I have two reasons to show up.

As those of you more versed in Second Life than I already know, I’ve got my work cut out for me if I’m going to show up looking decent. And it occurs to me that the Second Life virgins may find my adventures today useful. Naturally it is time for a liveblog.

I will be tweeting as I go along, as @barbarfriendish. I have other deliverables today, and an errand or two, so this will not be all in one block the way my #russbooks liveblogs have been. But there will be a blog post in the end…

Wish me luck.

The Jagged Edge of Forever

June 16, 2009

Isn’t that a great title? That is the name of the newest of Rev. John Cunyus’s highly-respected translations from the original St. Jerome Biblical texts. I have the first-ever copy here on my desk, and it’s blowing me away. Look at this awesome cover:



Full disclosure: John and I went to college together. As so often happened with our generation, we lost touch until the miracle of Facebook reunited us. We are better friends today. I wish all clergy were like him.

Bragging: John dedicated this volume to me. Little ‘ol me. I am quite overwhelmed.

The coolest thing about this series, IMO, is the scholarliness John brings to the work. For those of you who aren’t Bible geeks (and I’m not, but I can learn) the St. Jerome texts are considered the authoritative translations from the original Aramaic Torah/Old Testament (choose the label you like) into Latin. Evidently St. Jerome studied with the rabbis in order to develop sufficient mastery of Aramaic to do the texts justice.

(Aramaic is a hard language. Rachael speaks Hebrew but is more often than not baffled by Aramaic.)

John, a Latin scholar, is doing what may turn out to be the authoritative translations of St. Jerome’s work.

There is, as you may have deduced already, a whole series of these translations, with more on the way. If you are interested in reading texts in English that have been translated as faithfully and with as little bias as the translators could manage, you should check them out.

Fun with the “Which Fantasy Writer Are You?” Quiz

June 14, 2009

Yeah, everybody’s taking it.

Here’s what it said about me; who knew?

Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?

Mary Gentle (b. 1956)

33 High-Brow, 21 Violent, 23 Experimental and 7 Cynical!

Mary Gentle (b. 1956)

Congratulations! You are High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical! These concepts are defined below.

Mary Gentle is a UK author whose work has received some acclaim. Her great break-through came with 1984 fantasy novel Golden Witchbreed, which depicts the travels of a UK envoy on a planet, Orthe, where the inhabitants have, by choice, abandoned a high-tech society for a seemingly less advanced way of life. Though nominally science fiction, the novel is generally called fantasy, partly because Orthe has the feel of a fantasy world. Nothing is what it first seems to be on Orthe, however, and the envoy’s journey across the planet gradually reveals a vividly imagined alternate society, where nothing is ever over-simplified or, for that matter, easy. Gentle revisited Orthe in 1987, when the sequel Ancient Light was published.

Since then Gentle has written the White Crow sequence, starting with Rats and Gargoyles (1990), which has received some acclaim, not least from other writers; China Miéville, for example, put it on his list of “50 science fiction and fantasy novels socialists should read”. She has also written Grunts! (1992), a novel set in a Tolkien-like fantasy world, but told from the point of view of the orcs, as well as several other books.

Gentle is not one to shun away from difficult issues in her works and is equally unafraid of discussing and depicting violence. Neither has she settled to writing the same kind of story over and over, and, while being at her best a great entertainer, she has the ability of twisting and bending fantasy environments and themes at her will, making unafraid a key-word of her career as a writer.

You are also a lot like Gene Wolfe.

If you want something more gentle (no pun intended), try Philip Pullman.

If you’d like a challenge, try your exact opposite, J K Rowling.

Your score

This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you’re at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn’t mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.

High-Brow vs. Low-Brow

You received 33 points, making you more High-Brow than Low-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, rather than the best-selling kind. At their best, high-brows are cultured, able to appreciate the finer nuances of literature and not content with simplifications. At their worst they are, well, snobs.

Violent vs. Peaceful

You received 21 points, making you more Violent than Peaceful. Please note that violent in this context does not mean that you, personally, are prone to violence. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you are, and you do, then you are violent as defined here. At their best, violent people are the heroes who don’t hesitate to stop the villain threatening innocents by means of a good kick. At their worst, they are the villains themselves.

Experimental vs Traditional

You received 23 points, making you more Experimental than Traditional. Your position on this scale indicates if you’re more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, experimental people are the ones who show humanity the way forward. At their worst, they provoke for the sake of provocation only.

Cynical vs Romantic

You received 7 points, making you more Cynical than Romantic. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you’ll find the sentence “you are also a lot like x” above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, cynical people are able to see through lies and spot crucial flaws in plans and schemes. At their worst, they are overly negative, bringing everybody else down.

Author picture by the talented artist “Molosovsky”. Visit for more!

Compared to other takers

  • 99/100 You scored 33 on High-Brow, higher than 99% of your peers.
  • 94/100 You scored 21 on Violent, higher than 94% of your peers.
  • 92/100 You scored 23 on Experimental, higher than 92% of your peers.
  • 37/100 You scored 7 on Cynical, higher than 37% of your peers.

My go-to writing book

June 13, 2009

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if you’ve never heard of Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen; there are many books on writing that get much more attention. I’ve gotten a lot out of reading Sol Stein’s and Stephen King’s ideas on craft; I spend more time re-reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces than any other ten books. I coach writers all the time, of course, and recommend those and other books on a regular basis, particularly when I’m working with a writer whose story structure has a problem. But when I feel at sea with a plot, I reach for Building Better Plots.

It may be that one of the reasons this book doesn’t get passed from writer to writer is that one really must have mastered plot pretty thoroughly before this book becomes a truly useful tool. It doesn’t set out to teach a writer how plots are constructed or how they function; what it does is provide a sort of virtual coaching, by making the writer who sits with it and gives it her full attention birth thoughts she might not otherwise have.

That’s what I’ve needed lately, as I resume what I believe will be the final retooling of the novel I’ll be bringing to press next spring, The Shadow of the Sun.


A bit of well-deserved credit for comics and graphic novels

June 10, 2009

Rachel Fulton is a professor of history at the University of Chicago, a geek, and a person whose depth of thought goes right down to the center of the earth. Oh, yeah, and we went to college together.

Rachel turns a perspicacious eye on comics on her blog today:

Fencing Bear at Prayer: Guilty Pleasures

For those of you who think novels are important work but graphic novels or–heaven forfend!–comics are somehow lesser works, Rachel does a formidable job of dissecting the reasons why works incorporating both text and image have such impact on us…and why, just maybe, it’s okay to love them.

#russbooks Day 5: Book Overload

June 7, 2009

Frankly, we’ve gotten a little overwhelmed with books around here. Russ has a rich and intense collection, and every day I’m finding more books I want to read. Looking at a collection like this every day is like eating in a 5-star French restaurant every night: there’s noplace I’d rather have dinner, but after a few days, I need to just step back and cleanse my palate, and let my senses catch up. Looking back, the fatigue was already setting in by Day 4.

While we looked at each book and transcribed them all, we’re becoming like that old food critic on Iron Chef. And that does not suit our style. So I’m going to relate what we discovered in Box #5…and then declare a bit of a break, in which I will enjoy these books we’re discovering at a rate that will allow me to do them justice–and return to our adventure, refreshed.

barbarfriendish #russbooks Day 5: “Jesus, Russ,” says @rachaelish. “You pack like Grandma!” These books are SAFE.

It’s true. It’s almost as if, when Russ was packing Box #5, he psychically anticipated what would happen to Box #4 but misdirected his energies…

barbarfriendish Book # 34 A Good and Happy Child/Justin Evans. The cover looks like something that ate Where the Wild Things Are. #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #35 The Female Thing/Laura Kipnis #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #36 The Session ARC signed by Aaron Petrovich. Fascinating back cover. “And all of this is in that tiny little book?” #russbooks

This one went onto the TBR stack. It’s a tiny little thing (published by Akashik) at 5×8 and only 59 pages, and the cover price ($10.95 for all that) is the poster child for why most small presses only ever lose money. But, oh, the back cover copy:

Funny, frantic, and with a subversive intelligence, Aaron Petrovich’s Keatonesque heroes, Detectives Smith and Smith, stumble upon a bizarre new religion while following the trail of a murdered mathematician’s missing organs. Their investigation to discover the truth–about the mathematician, the men and women who may have eaten him, and, ultimately, the nature of truth, sanity, and identity–leads them into a lunatic asylum they may never leave.

Writing in pitch-perfect language reminiscent of Beckett, Chandler, and Duras, Petrovich elevates rapid ire banter to an hysterical musical litany that carries the detectives, and the reader, right along with it.

Who wouldn’t want to read that?

barbarfriendish Book #37 She’s Gone Kwame Dawes #russbooks

barbarfriendish “Oh, God,” says @rachaelish of Book #38: Surveillance/Jonathan Raban. “This is one of those post-9/11 books.” #russbooks

This is exactly what I was talking about, before. The old cranky guy on Iron Chef. He doesn’t like anything anymore; he’s eaten too much exotic food and needs to spend a few weeks on PB&J. Our recovery time should be faster.

barbarfriendish Book #39 Your Body is Changing/Jack Pendarvis ARC signed #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #40 ARC of Stray by Sheri Joseph signed. These last two books=the Wordsmiths grand opening event. (moment of silence) #russbooks

Ms. Joseph’s endorsement to Russ in her book actually mentions the event. I have only wonderful memories of Wordsmiths, but right now reminders like this just make me sad. It won’t always be this way, of course, but it does cast a bit of a pall on the adventure.

barbarfriendish Book #41 Seth Godin/Meatball Sundae ARC #russbooks

Love Seth Godin, and haven’t read this one. Onto the TBR pile it goes.

barbarfriendish Book #42 The Open-Face Sandwich/ 5th Planet collection. Um, photographs of roadkill as art? #russbooks

Really? Photos of roadkill=art?

IMO the greatest beauty of small press is that it can fulfill the publisher’s vision of art. And lest I seem to belabor the point, it’s worth noting that this collection from 5th Planet contains quite a number of short stories as well. But the feature I’m referring to up there definitely occupies the position of centerfold, with expensive heavy-paper-foldouts done centerfold style to allow the viewer to appreciate, if that is the correct word for it, the painstakingly-executed photos of roadkill and the maps of the places where they were taken. I have absolute faith that the artist is making a point, and the publisher is too. But I must confess it’s not my cuppa.

That’s okay. This is the beauty of indie press. Who else would go to such lengths to make a point they believed in?

barbarfriendish Book #43 “This is what everyone needs”: ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life/Kolberg & Nadeau Lots of fold-downs #russbooks

I looked at this book, some hours later. It amused me greatly by presenting the first few chapters in definite ADD style. But lots of food for thought for a person who may, like so many Americans, be at least slightly ADD.

(Personally, I just think I’m over-ambitious.)

barbarfriendish Book #44 What Was She Thinking?/Zoe Heller #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #45 ANOTHER ARC of Greasy Rider/Greg Melville. This one is signed. #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #46 ARC of When We Were Romans/Matthew Kneale #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #47 ARC of Doctor Olaf van Schuler’s Brain. Interesting cover. #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #48 ARC of New Stories from the South, 2007/ed. Jones & Pories #russbooks

barbarfriendish Book #49 The Theory of Light & Matter/Porter #russbooks

Here’s the group shot:

The contents of Box #5

And that’s it for now. I’ll be doing other things for the next few days, most of which I’m looking forward to sharing in the future–and digesting this string of rich literary meals in a saner fashion. More soon…

#russbooks Day 4: Not for the Faint of Heart

June 6, 2009

In hindsight, I should have realized we were in for a rough ride when the box fell apart.

All I did was pick the poor thing up from the stack, and one entire side gave out, spilling books everywhere. We stuffed them back into the remains of the box, trying to preserve the order of the stack (this is for posterity, after all) and carried the whole mess into the study for its photo-op.

Even the box is falling apart

barbarfriendish More #russbooks… in a #fail box. This is Box #4

Poor thing. It doesn’t look substantially better when we open it:

The interior, if you care to call it that

All unsuspecting, we pick up the first book:

barbarfriendish Book #27 The End of Mr. Y/Scarlett Thomas. “If you knew this book was cursed, would you read it?” #russbooks

Uplifting title, non? Actually, the back cover copy sounds interesting, in a rather Kubrickian way. It’s going onto my TBR stack. Meanwhile Rachael, who has someplace to go after we finish today’s liveblog, is already pawing through the rest of the books.

barbarfriendish “This is the box of depress,” says @rachaelish. “Just this cover makes me wanna shoot myself.” #russbooks Ah, we’re in litfic territory now.

But, no, Gentle Reader: I’m wrong as usual. The reality is much worse. This book contains elements of the literary, but also the remains of a Women’s Studies class, and none of it (despite the fact that the Sedaris volume is billed as humor) will do anything to lift the spirits. Unless we’re talking about spirits of the liquid variety. Case in point:

barbarfriendish Book #28 Paradise/Toni Morrison. “They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time.” …make mine a double #russbooks

This just isn't light reading

It soon gets even more delightful:

barbarfriendish Book #29 A Natural History of Rape/Thornhill & Palmer #russbooks

Now, I have to admit I’ve put this book on my TBR stack. The authors make a very interesting case for the proposition that society really can’t take steps to move itself beyond rape until we understand where rape comes from: that it’s not strictly a sociological issue, but that there are issues of biology at work as well. I’ve come away from the more sociological and/or behavioralist works I’ve read on this topic profoundly dissatisfied, and clearly the applications of those theories aren’t really working out. I’d like an opportunity to understand.

I do wonder why Russ saved it, however. I feel confident rape is not one of his vices.

barbarfriendish Book #30 The Pillars of the Earth/Ken Follett. “It lost me at the first sentence,” says @rachaelish–but I’m curious… #russbooks

Now my TBR stack is growing. I’d heard about this book when it first came out and wondered. Now that it is in my house I must make time for it.

barbarfriendish Book #31 Naked/David Sedaris #russbooks

Humor is a very individual thing. I glance through this book: it’s well-written and keenly-observed, but the humor is of a flavor that may get a wry smile out of me now and then, not the sustained laughter the blurbs promise. Your mileage may vary, and Russ’s obviously does: I know he’s a Sedaris fan.

Meanwhile Rachael, overwhelmed by it all, has thrown in the towel:

Rachael can't do this anymore

But the book on top of her head looks promising:

barbarfriendish Book #32 Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, vol 2 The Kingdom on the Waves–ARC/MT Anderson. intrigued; where’s vol 1? #russbooks

I wonder if the Library Gods have smiled on me and the first volume is somewhere in the Big Stack of Boxes. Otherwise I’m going to have to track it down.

There’s only one book left:

barbarfriendish Book #33 What is the What/Dave Eggers –with DOUBLE FOLD-DOWN #russbooks

The Double Fold-down

You’ve heard about this book, of course, even if you don’t recognize the title. (I didn’t.) It’s the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the boys from Sudan who came to America.

By the time we’re through with this box, we’re ready to give up, just like the box. I even forget to sign off. I can only hope there is no one out there waiting for more transmissions from Box #4, the Box of Depress.

We’ll be opening the next box this evening. Because hope springs eternal, maybe.

Back to the beginning of the #russbooks adventure

#russbooks Day 3: Going Solo

June 5, 2009

It must be stated, in plain language, that opening a box of #russbooks is one of those things that is simply not as much fun when done alone. Rachael had Other Engagements yesterday, so I opened yesterday’s box by myself. In many ways it was oddly like going to a library–not least because this particular box contained more old favorites than books gathered in the course of Publicity Work.

There are few pictures; there just wasn’t that much to see. Even if someone had come in and photographed me, all they really would have seen was me perusing books. Again, like the library.

The one constant: the box mug-shots:

Box #3

I am, of course, already very conscious of the fact that I am George Burns without his Gracie today; the last thing I want to do is get bogged down in something Heavy. I can already tell this box isn’t going to make things easy.

The contents of Box #3

barbarfriendish The first two books are a McSweeney’s Humor collection & a Toni Morrison. Guess which I picked up first? #russbooks

barbarfriendish Yes, I’m that self-indulgent. Book #18 Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans/ Dave Eggers et. al #russbooks

Created in Darkeness by Troubled Americans is clearly too funny for its own good. Just reading the Table of Contents made me laugh. I’m looking forward to reading it. If this were the library I’d be carrying it around with me now.

Meanwhile Russ goes to bat for Ms. Morrison, who hardly needs defending:

russmarshalek @barbarfriendish I LOVE TONI. she is my GRANDMA. only not mean and dead. #russbooks

I must admit she can write. I didn’t see Russ’s note of encouragement until after I picked up the book, because I was immediately sucked in. How’s this for a first sentence?

In that place, where they tore the nightshade and blackberry patches from their roots to make room for the Medallion City Golf Course, there was once a neighborhood.

If more of what showed up in my submissions stack was that confident and arresting right from the first phrase, Mercury Retrograde’s publication roster would be much deeper.

In that place

Who starts a novel like that? Don’t you already feel that you are missing something and must dig in to catch up? And the rest of the sentence only escalates the intensity. That’s craft.

But there are still more books in the box.

barbarfriendish Book #20 Microserfs/Douglas Coupland. Book is like a transmission from one of my previous lives. Goes on the expanding TBR stack #russbooks

Yes, it’s true: I am a Geek.  I am married to a Geek. I raise Geeks. During the eighties I worked for a series of cutting-edge, mostly start-up, computer companies. During the nineties I consulted for a few others, even while I was making the transition to what I really wanted to be doing: you know, this Writing thing. I read a few pages of this book and it makes me laugh, because I see all the people I used to work with, the companies I used to work for. Hell, I see me.*

If you are not a Geek and you want to know what it is to be one, go find this book. Read it for the discussion of one-dimensional and two-dimensional foods alone.

barbarfriendish Book #21 The Reading Group Guide edition of Nickel and Dimed/Barbara Ehrenreich #russbooks

This is a very interesting book, a piece of true investigative journalism in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest vein (well, without Jack Nicholson and all that other exciting stuff)  concerning the lives of people who have no alternative but to make things work on minimum wage, or to try to. It’s almost ten years old; how much more relevant is it now, I wonder?

barbarfriendish Book #22 Zora Neale Hurston/Their Eyes Were Watching God #russbooks

Are we developing a theme here?

Next up:

barbarfriendish Book #23 CS Lewis Narnia Omnibus #russbooks

Full disclosure: as a Literary Chick who loves SFF, I am perennially bewildered and–I must confess here–a bit hurt by all the litfic kids who look down on SFF. I think SFF is some of the most important literature of our era: it is the literature of ideas. And what could be more important than that? Finding SFF, to which genre Narnia definitely belongs, in the collection of litfic kids should be rewarding. But invariably it is like getting hit with a spitball, because they never love the really good stuff.

I will spare you the litany of all the things I hate about Narnia. I will just say that I wish people who love literature and Narnia would dig a bit deeper into SFF, because Narnia is the least of it. And if that gets me hit with a dozen flaming spitballs, so be it.

barbarfriendish Book #24 The Fire This Time ed. Labaton & Martin. Finally, some turn-downs… #russbooks

There are some interesting essays in this one. I’ll be coming back to it.

barbarfriendish Book #25 Wow. Really. Verses That Hurt ed. Jordan & Amy Trachtenberg. #russbooks

I am not a poetry aficionado, but this is fantastic. Manifesto alone is worth the price of admission:

Here is my personal message to all of you careerist, slime bucket, fame seeking, sychophantic, weakworded, same voiced, gladhanding, asskissing,backstabbing, envying, self serving assholes who are littering the downtown scene in ever increasing numbers while you choke the creativity out of yourselves asyou turnoff thousands of potential power of the wordlovers by the oxygen you use up on the performing stages of New York City  while you make your dullwitted stab toward your myopic fantasy of love, admiration, approval, sex and immortality which you think your 10 minutes of standing in front of a crowd that has long since stopped listening to you will confer on your sorry asses.

Clearly we have been in some of the same workshops, Penny Arcade and I.

And finally:

barbarfriendish Book #26 The Annotated Lolita/Vladimir Nabokov #russbooks

Not an ARC among these, I believe. These are all true #russbooks.

* It occurs to me, hours later, that my former life in Computer World has prepared me admirably for small-press publishing. I still feel that an eighty-five hour work week is perfectly normal.

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