Sunday, March 11, 2007

more clouds and stories and sentences that drag on and on

Sat and watched the day roll out and the clouds roll in, stinking hot day, but the clouds came on a wind, so it was pleasant enough watching them scroll past, city rouged on one end, night bruised on the other. Brisbane doesn't know Autumn's here, another month at least before it cottons on.

Read Matthew Hughe's The Helper and His Hero today, a fine two part serial in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, particularly recommended if you like Jack Vance – and I do – it's an affable pottering in the Vancean sandpit and Hughes has added some fine sandcastles.

I've been reading quite a bit of MFSF lately, not everything has grabbed me, that's too much to ask, but every issue has contained at least a couple of wonderful stories, this issue's stand out was M. Rickert's Memoir of a Deer Woman a meditation on life and loss and the power of words (which says little of the story because these are story's –well, the written one's at any rate - central concerns*). It's a heartbreaking piece of writing, but quite gorgeous.

I'm sinking deeper into Bellow's prose in Humboldt's Gift:

I went out and walked in the cold. Light poured from the cottage into ruts and gullies, over the tangled road-crown of wild carrot and ragweed. Yapping dogs, foxes maybe, piercing stars. The late-late spooks jittered through the windows, the mad scientist shot it out with the police, his lab exploded, and he died in flames, the synthetic flesh melting from his face.

There's a wonderful rhythm to the prose, a marvellous balance of images. It's just lovely. Good writing settles into your*** bones and becomes a second heart, a second ghostly sparking of thoughts, and Bellow has knack for making you feel brighter and more aware of the world than you are - well, he makes me feel this way, the rest of you all may engage with the universe in a fuller more vital way already, but for us less sanguine types, the book's a marvelous tonic.

Hope you're all reading and loving what you're reading, and letting it break you and remake you, and shutting the pages and staring up at the clouds and knowing that it hasn't really changed you (though it might, there's always the promise of that) but for a while you were somewhere else, perhaps wiser or stupider, but different, and that it's waiting for you to open the covers and return.

*Which often makes me wonder if all** art is concerned with, in part, its own importance in expressing, or failing to express, the central concerns of life, and in championing its own mode (except music, or painting, ok so it's a flawed argument, but such is the nature of quickly written blogs).

**What an amazing generalisation.

***Of course I'm only guessing, we all have our own ideas about what constitutes good and where it settles.

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