Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Owls Are Not What they Seem

Yup, bloody coffee.

We're watching Twin Peaks again, now that season two has finally come out on DVD, and I'm loving it. Twin Peaks was our date series, Diana used to drive down to my place, (which after we moved out became a brothel, though it wasn't called One-eyed Jack's) and we'd snuggle up and watch it on my vcr. This was back in the days before dvds, dark and awful days they were, my friends, and it was an intense way to start a relationship, but it must have worked.

David Lynch is a master of the horror of the ordinary, no one can make traffic lights and trees and suburban backyards look so terrifying. The thing I utterly dig about Lynch is his understanding of magic (for want of a better word*) well, the understanding I glean of it from his work: it's those weird cracks in reality**, the peculiar shadow in the corner of the room, a sudden over saturation of colour, or when a dream leaks out into life for a moment. This sort of magic quite often doesn't make sense, and it can be ridiculous, but it's also potent, and there is always a sort of logic operating there, even if it is too hard to grasp. It's not overt, it rarely says, "I am magic." It permeates.

I don't know if I've articulated this particularly clearly, but it's 1 am, and the Owls are not what they seem, dude.

*you could also substitute magic with the word "weird".
*Or maybe reality is nothing more than weird cracks in the magic

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just came back from a wonderful walk/run – mostly walking, though I did run up a steep hill, and relatively easily, on account of my incredible fitness. I love walking, and I love walking in Brisbane, and though Autumn isn't really here temperature wise, it is here in the light. I was full of Brisbane love today. I think it's easier to love a city when most of your interaction with it involves walking. It unfurls around you; you're constantly making new discoveries.

The first Shimmaron title has arrived; got it in the post a couple of days ago. It's Tansy's wonderful "Seacastle" get it while it's piping hot, the perfect present for any child 10-12 years old. You can pre-order it here.

The sea was angry that day, my friends

Friday, April 20, 2007

Black Dogs and Third Bears

Christ but I am getting old, used to be I could have coffee after dinner and still fall asleep at a reasonable. Not any more. Three strong coffees in the afternoon and I'm still awake.

I have read two books by Ian McEwan of late, "On Chesil Beach" and "Black Dogs" both are, on the surface at least, about failed relationships, and the epiphanies people experience yet fail to communicate, because well, epiphanies are beyond words really, and can only be hinted at – it's these things that literature circles around, like vultures over a corpse, and picks at, because the living thing, the vital thing is beyond words, but you have to have a go.

"Black Dogs" was a brilliant meditation on these transformative moments, and how they can be both a blessing and curse, and how they echo through a lifetime. I cannot recommend it enough. The Black Dogs themselves are fascinating as an image, and as I read it I couldn't help but consider how a "genre" writer might have approached these apparitions, how they would have been perhaps more viscerally(for want of a better word) central to the text. Here they are central, but also oblique, they appear for a few paragraphs, but they are everywhere within the story, a sort of textual mist.

"On Chesil Beach" is at once farce and tragedy, wrapped in such wonderful characterisation. Both books move slowly, but they breathe, they live and both books are charged with a sort of menace and a great grief. And the writing, oh, but it is beautiful.

Which leads me to Jeff Vandermeer's "The Third Bear", one of the finest short stories I've come across in a long time; I highly recommend this fable, a wonderful rumination on monsters and how they are made. Where both "Black Dogs" and, in a way, "On Chesil Beach" deal with the marks that WWII left on the psyche of the world (particularly that middle-class segment of Britain, wrapped up in it's own post imperial guilt*) "The Third Bear" is very much a product of contemporary events, and the fears that confront the Western World, and our complicity in those events. Its last few lines are grim and haunting, and the path towards them inevitable and utterly compelling.

We've a lot of ghosts in this world and how we face them, honour them, or fear them is of increasing importance. "The Third Bear" and "Black Dogs" are both very much about this, among other things, and I'm fully prepared to say I'm wrong in everything I've said concerning these stories except that they're wonderful reads, and, at the very least, a nice way to pass some time.

*Which is hardly the world, I know, but it is interesting, and perhaps still the heartland of a lot of english literature**

**Which does come across as sounding awfully naive.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Copyedits - Hurrah

After what hasn't been the best couple of weeks, finally some coolness

Got my copyedit for my Shimmaron kid's book "The City and the Stony Stars" and for the first time it actually felt like it was real. It's a thorough edit, and one that has pointed out more than a few inconsistencies in the logic of the story – for which I am incredibly grateful. I have decided that, post initial first draft rush, this is my favourite part of the process.

Talking of all things Shimmaron, Tansy's book comes out in a couple of weeks, and I'm utterly thrilled for her. These are fun books, and I hope they do well, because it would be an absolute joy to write another one.