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I confess: my mind is not fully on my work today. This is because what I most want to do is go home and settle down to read more of Jeff Vandemeer's City of Saints and Madmen. If you don't know it, all I can say is that it's the sort of book that inspires reviews like this, or even better this...or if you must have something traditional, this. Also, that you should read it.

The New Weird must be real; it's even made it to the Oxford student press. Although I think someone forgot to check the typesetting when they moved the article from a print to an electronic format.

A handy collection of Troy-related links, and an even handier linked list of online sf.

John Clute is at it again: "For good or for ill, the only people capable of understanding the world - which is to say, operating the codes - are geeks. It may be the central insight of this novel, which starts back in 1999 in order to get a running start on the codes of 2002, that when we say, as we so often do, that the world has become SF, what we are really saying is that a world which is operated as though it were SF is a world operated precisely by the kind of people Sterling portrays here." That from a review of Bruce Sterling's new book, The Zenith Angle, which is surely even less SFnal than Pattern Recognition, but sounds like it might make an interesting compare-and-contrast with Hari Kunzru's forthcoming Transmission.

Things I have recently boggled at: the concept of a book without verbs, and the fact that real life has been imitating the Onion.

The last episode of Angel - the last episode ever - airs in the States tonight, and there are articles about its passing all over the place. TVGal has a list of her favourite episodes which, stupidly high placing of 'I Will Remember You' and inexplicable absence of 'Reprise' aside, is actually not that shabby.

EDIT: Fashion inequality #324: on hot days, girls can wear sandals to the office and still be considered smart. Boys cannot. Bah.
City of Saints and Madmen

I saw this in the bookstore the other day and was going to make an entry asking if anyone knew anything about it. Looked fascinating. Thanks for confirming this. :)
So far, it's utterly brilliant. And, just as an artefact, never mind the writing, beautiful (although the writing is beautiful too), with all the illustrations and different layouts for the different stories. If I can finish it by friday (not likely, but possible), I'll hand it over to the Birmingham Couriers for you.
the Birmingham Couriers

When your scifi absolutely, positively has to delivered to birmingham, look no further!

Looks like i have a job after all :-D
I can pay you in, er, more scifi?
Wasn't a complaint, you understand, but i always take payment in books. I have a backpack worth to give you back, so there will be room for new one :-)
can always take payment, i meant
Anything in mind, or should I just pick something at random?
Um, no idea. I trust you to chuck interesting stuff my way, i think you have a fairly good idea of what i might like. Ta babe :-)
You come to MY house and take HIS books? h0r!
Its true, i am an SF tart. Am i meant to feel bad about it? cos i really don't :p
I'm sure she can handle both our books at once. Fnar.

Niall leaves me speechless with innuendo. I'm sure thats the wrong way round *is confused*

*is scared*
A friend of mine is doing a PhD in French literature, and I remember talking to her about the Perec books (the one without the vowel 'e' and the one with only the vowel 'e').

She's interested in violence and transgression in literature. Apparently this includes not only subject matter (she told me a great story about reading a passage about anal rape to a seminar group of uptight Cambridge lit students, all of whom avoided her from that moment on) but also the literary style. Novels like the the ones without certain vowels, or like this one with no verbs, are considered violent and seriously transgressive because they're bloody difficult to read. From a reader's perspective these books come across as hostile and even offensive (not in subject matter, but in style) because they're impossible to read naturally. They're disjointed and violent in the way they're linguistically constructed.

I don't know a great deal about the kind of literary theories or the French literature that she's studying, but it all sounds fascinating to me.
I think it's more or less the level at which my pretension threshold is exceeded. I mean, I can't see why? Why do it, other than simply to be ornery? It just makes no sense to me...
If there is no plot driven reason then it strikes me as being pretension of the highest order.......
It's the sort of device I could see making sense for a short story. You could have a story about stasis, and not use any verbs - something like that (one of the stories in City of Saints... is encrypted in a cipher that can only be decoded by reference to the earlier stories, which is probably just about acceptable). But stretching it out to a novel is the part that baffles me.
The way I understand it (which is poorly, so don't take my word for things) there sort of is a point. The subject matter of these books is often some sort of 'transgression' - the shock and violence of the twentieth century, or some such - and the literary style matches that. Both subject matter and literary style are designed to be in-your-face, disturbing and as unsettling as possible.
Why do it, other than simply to be ornery?

I think that's largely the point. These books are really written to be read; they're literally unreadable and intentionally so. I think they're more like intellectual exercises in literary theory than anything else.

Which is interesting to literary theorists, but not so much to other readers.

My firend is studying this stuff, but she admits that she hasn't (can't) actually read it. She dips in and out and reads snatches of the books, but it is impossible to sit down and read them from cover to cover.

Maybe it's conceptual art and not literature?
Sorry, should say "These books aren't really written to be read..."
Maybe it's conceptual art and not literature?

Actually, I can almost buy that. It does seem to me that if what the writer is trying to do is so outlandish that it's not 'literature' in the usual sense; but considering it as an aesthetic object, to be appreciated and contemplated in the same manner as, say, a painting, makes some amount of sense.
but considering it as an aesthetic object, to be appreciated and contemplated in the same manner as, say, a painting, makes some amount of sense.

Almost, but I'd say that they're conceptual objects rather than an aesthetic one. They're designed to be jarring, not pretty. Conceptually, these books embody philosophical literary theories. It's this physical realisation of theory that makes them conceptual art, I'd say.
It seems every writer has a fling with this sort of experimental writing at least once. It's a phase you have to go through, I guess, testing the rules...

...and then it passes. Removing one whole class of words from a text is really, really dumb. As if you would poke out one eye and expect to improve your vision. Or cut off a leg and expect to walk faster... but you get the idea.

How much more interesting it would be if a writer invented a NEW class of useful words!

-A.R. Yngve
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Some people on my friends list somehow got to see it last weekend (or at least, were talking as though they'd seen it). Combined with all the reviews coverage in the papers, I assumed it had gone on general release. I was distraught - distraught, I say! - when I discovered it's not out until friday.
I believe it was on at one cinema in London on the Saturday and maybe Sunday.

It was the 9th highest grossing film in the UK last weekend because of this.
I believe it was on at one cinema in London on the Saturday and maybe Sunday.

It was also showing in some of the cinemas at or around Edinburgh on the Saturday and Sunday, so I assume this means there were many others, too. Sorry, but no London cinema is that busy. *g*

I was quite annoyed to find this out on Monday trying to book tickets to find it wasn't on again till Thursday.
The BBC, they lie to me.
Or maybe Scoot Cinema lied to me. That could be it. *sniff* Meanies.
There were general Troy previews last weekend. Nearly went - but was knackered due to visitors.
Out all over Brighton this past weekend.
Well, I'd been quite dissapointed with recent angel eps. Charcters didn't quite fit, too punch pontificating etc. Then, 80% of the way through 5x21, it started to make some sense (but certainly not all of it). Guess we just have to hope that Joss really can pull it all together into a suitable finale....
I'm on sky time, and to be honest I think the run from 5x16 to 5x19 is the most consistently good the show has been all season. I have however heard dire things about 5x20.
What is it with Oxford people and wrongheadedness about Light? :p

Sandals = good.
Every time you use this icon I think for a second that you're green_amber...
Well, if the icons weren't so squished up and tiny you could see it is clearly me. :p
Boys cannot. Bah.

Inequality nothing. Your sandals are NOT smart :P
Irrelevant. It's the principle: no man-sandals would be considered smart.
Any man with smart looking feet is not to be trusted.
On what evidence do you base this assertion?
Man, if I start needing evidence then I'll have to cut down on my assertions.
That would be a terrible shame.
EDIT: Fashion inequality #324: on hot days, girls can wear sandals to the office and still be considered smart. Boys cannot. Bah.

So tomorrow you come in wearing high heels.
Yay for equality!

Or invest in the wonders of vented cycling shoes, run/cycle fast and just feel the breeze over your foot :)
on hot days, girls can wear sandals to the office and still be considered smart. Boys cannot.


-- Tom