Come as you are Friday, Oct 30 2009 

What’s your Halloween costume this year?  I’m going to a steampunk party, so I’m busily constructing a garment worthy of the affair, taking into account my (extremely limited) crafting and sewing skills (though I’m hell on wheels with a glue gun, yo, kind of).

But what if we really did have to come as we are to a Halloween party, any party?  Not as we look, but as we ARE?  What in the world would we wear? Forget wear, would we even go? Naked as little shell-less turtles?

This is a tough one.  Please pass the candy corn.

candy corn

Jo March, meet Sherlock Holmes Monday, Oct 26 2009 

The mash-ups of Jane Austen and zombies, Camus and Scooby-Doo, etc. (how does one say “Zoinks!” in French? Is that French already? Zoinks alors?), put me in dreamy mind of others: how about spunky Jo March and suave Sherlock Holmes?  How about demure Amy March and Mr. Darcy?  How about Heathcliff and … OK, Heathcliff and no one, he was a one-woman man.  Franny Glass and that cute boy from The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Don’t you see them in a little coffee house, smoking and talking dreamily for hours? How about Felix the Cat and the male dog from Go Dog Go?  “Do you like my bag of tricks?”  “I do! I do!  I do like your bag of tricks!” etc.

Man, this is fun.

Because all dogs should be able to do this Saturday, Oct 24 2009 

I’m on a lot of animal rights lists, and I see a lot – a LOT – of human behavior toward animals that stuns me to fury and despair. (One of the reasons I wrote straydog, actually.)

But sometimes I see this, instead. (Thanks to Deborah Silver.)

Fun with polarization, or “I loved it!” “I hated it!” Sunday, Oct 18 2009 

From two anonymous readers/citizen reviewers, each giving a view of my novel Talk:

“This book was TERRIBLE!!! It was confusing and I couldn’t catch up with what was going on. I put it down in the middle because it was so bad. I never want to read or hear of this book ever again…don’t read it.” (One star. Maybe that’s obligatory?)

“This is one of my absolute favorite books. Due to its unique form of storytelling the reader is able to see the same event from the different perspectives of both of its main characters. The story is uniquely engaging and can easily be read more than once by anyone looking for something different to read or for someone looking for something that makes you think.” (Four stars.)

This is exactly what I want to happen when people read my stuff: same book, complete, polarizing clash of opinions.  And neither one said it was “a nice story” or a “good yarn”, an outcome that would grieve me no end. I want my work to be a happy challenge, like the first time someone showed you an artichoke and said, You know, people eat those.

With teeth Friday, Oct 16 2009 

Having finished Planchette, there was still some vampire ephemera ghosting around in the attic of my head, so, happily, a short story called “Baby” will appear in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s upcoming YA anthology, TEETH….I had fun writing this one.

I tend to have a fairly high creep-out threshold, at least for things that go bump in the night, or the day.  But Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House scares me every time I read it, day or night, as does the fiction of M.R. James.   I found the cruelty of the Captain in Pan’s Labyrinth grievous and disturbing to watch, though it didn’t scare me, other than by implication: yes, Virginia, there are people like that in the world, this world, your world, right now.  And some of them hold positions of considerable power. Hope they don’t notice you, going about your daily life, because you’ll certainly notice if they do, Virginia…Interesting that to “put some teeth into” something means to increase its power or efficacy. Pounds per square inch. M.R. James

Teeth do scare me, actually.

Danger!! Wednesday, Oct 14 2009 

For all you terrified book-banners out there, “Married to the Sea” provides proof that you’ve been right all along.

All-Star P.S. Saturday, Oct 10 2009 

And if any of these works, these Dream Team writers, are currently being taught in your high school, please post and tell the world, and me.  I’d love to know who’s delving into these deep, delicious, crazy waters.

A Good Man

Dream team: All-Star Reading List, vol. I Sunday, Oct 4 2009 

Everyone always complains about the books they were forced to read in high school. (Just be glad it wasn’t this.)  But what about the other kind of book: the writing that’s so juicy and funny and wild  and transformative that high school is pretty much its natural habitat to begin with? Here are the first of my first-string choices:

Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Oh Merricat, you scamp! Shirley Jackson is one of my all-time heroes, and this novel is one of her greatest.

Arthur Rimbaud’s “Le Bateau ivre” (“The Drunken Boat”) – Rimbaud to me is the young adult poet, the voice in love with free freedom, with possibility, with what comes next.

Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” the funniest serial killer story ever.

J.D. Salinger’s “Franny” – You can read “Zooey” too if you want (it’s more light-hearted), but Franny is the one to meet. [I included no links because the ones I found were so pedantic they depressed me.]

Thinking about these books reminds me so joyfully of how much FUN it is to read.  And the path to reading for pleasure – as so many bemoan that The Young do not – is pleasure itself. Let’s rock.