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this is just to say

I'm so sick of people bleating at each other to "check their privilege." As if someone's going to say, "Wait, you're right, I DO have privilege! Thanks so much for the reminder."

readercon

This year's haul.



I got two copies of We (which I've never read) because the translations are really different and I thought it might be fun to read them side-by-side. I have a copy of The Separation already, but this one is signed! And I binge-read the Jo Walton book the second we got home on Saturday night. It's so good.

(Bookseller who sold me The Separation said, "I've been trying to convince Readercon to bring Christopher Priest here for years and they don't seem interested." YES, READERCON. DO THAT.)

Also enjoying nick_kaufmann's and pgtremblay's books and picking and choosing stories at random from various anthologies and collections. (Especially V.H. Leslie's "The Quiet Room," in Shadows & Tall Trees 2014, both nominated for  Shirley Jackson awards. Never heard of V.H. Leslie, but I'll be tracking down more of her stuff.)

I met Ellen Datlow (who signed my copy of After) and had nice conversations with various booksellers, one of whom recommended Tom Disch's poetry from Johns Hopkins University Press, so I have to track that down.

And it'll be interesting to see if Nic Pizzolatto reads like...um...anyone else. (Spoiler alert: I've already started it, and it kind of does.)

The panels were panels. Two were great. The "in praise of older women writers" panel was fantastic, except for the part where I had to go into the hall and ask people to pipe down because I couldn't hear. (Only five people, but it sounded like thirty. They  looked mortified and left immediately.) Best line, about Ursula LeGuin: "She looks like a cute little old lady, but she's an intellectual terror." Also liked the "shout out the names of your favorite writers" portion (for the record: LeGuin, L'Engle, Carol Emshwiller, Karen Joy Fowler, Kit Reed, Octavia Butler, Judith Merril, Kate Wilhelm, Tanith Lee, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood). I didn't think to shout out NANCY FARMER till the end, though. Or JEANNE DUPRAU. There, they're shouted.

I'm gonna shout Nancy Farmer again because I wish she would get mentioned more at cons. NANCY FARMER. NANCY FARMER. NANCY FARMER. PLEASE CAN WE HAVE A NANCY FARMER PANEL ONE OF THESE DAYS, READERCON.

I was also kind of gobsmacked by Readercon's Code of Conduct, positioned prominently in two separate places near the entrance.



A closeup:



I'm just...amazed that anyone needs to have this explained this thoroughly. With examples, for crying out loud. (Don't get me wrong. I'm glad it's there; I know it's needed. Just makes me sad, that's all.)

The one picture I did not get (and am still kicking myself for not getting): Larry Correia's bio from a jacket flap, which went into great detail about how he owns guns, shoots guns, teaches guns, guns guns guns. GUNS, Y'ALL.

I think that's it. Side note: I'm glad Readcon's moving next year—I like the Burlington Marriott, but I find it kind of hard to navigate (I kept having the nearly-crashing-into-people-and-stepping-on-toes issue because everything is fairly jam-packed together), and noise is perpetually a problem.

And I hope the new hotel bar has Allagash Black, because that shit is delicious.

okay, more about the Hugos

I read George R.R. Martin’s response to Larry Correia and, man, he’s more sane and measured in his response than I ever would have been. I tried reading Corriea’s original post and lost track of the number of self-references in the first two paragraphs. You see, I always wanted to be a writer, and I always wanted to be recognized, and blah blah. But They Hate Me! Outrage!!

I love how Correia seems to think this is a new argument, somehow. I worked at a literary agency right around the time of Dan Brown, and, you guys, we had SO MANY Da Vinci Code ripoffs pitched to us. Mostly from retired guys living in Florida. Dear Agent, I have this great idea, and it’s about the Catholic Church, and the Illuminati, and Hitler, and a couple of weird military hobbyhorse things only I know about. The Da Vinci Code sold 80 million copies; how would you like to quadruple that? (This was an actual line from an actual letter; I’m sure he got it from some how-to-pitch-agents book. Be sure to use Real Numbers in your cover letters, authors!) Oh, and by the way, I won’t accept less than X amount, and Brad Pitt must play my protagonist in the movie.

(Do you know how many people asked for specific celebrities to play their characters in the movie? A LOT. Make sure you’re on top of that, Dear Agent.)

Everyone thought they were special, everyone thought they were pitching something unique, and everyone (well, lots of them) got TOTALLY OUTRAGED when they were turned down with a polite form letter and a returned manuscript (often paid with our postage, because some people don’t understand the concept of a self-addressed envelope). Oh, so much outrage. Swears, even.

(One guy emailed back, “How DARE you turn down a New York Times bestselling author!” I looked him up, and he was, in fact, a New York Times bestselling author. 25 years ago, way far down on the list, ghostwritten nonfiction. He was pitching a novel. It was terrible. I regret nothing.)

I pity the poor assistants who had to deal with the deluge after Twilight, or Divergent, or Gone Girl. (See, it’s about this woman, and at first you think she’s the protagonist but then you realize you don’t know her at all!) Maybe the wannabe-John Green deluge is better. (See, it’s about this girl with cancer…)

But, clearly, if your writing isn’t an instant shortcut to the people’s ovation and fame forever, something is wrong. The game is rigged! NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I BLAME THE MEAN PEOPLE. It has nothing to do with the quality of your work. Or the market. Or anything else.

Wahhhhhhhhh.

all I'll say about the Hugos

This is why I read mysteries.

escape from tomorrow

I'd like to see that again, from the perspective of the wife whose dumb middle-aged husband won't help with the kids and spends large chunks of time chasing teenage French girls (one WITH BRACES, GOOD LORD).

Give me your movie. I'll fix it.

the thing on the doorstep

Had a really, really lovely time at Readercon. Saw folks, met new folks, almost-met some folks. The SO read one of his stories and everyone laughed at the funny parts. I bought too many books, especially ChiZine when they made an "everything is $5" announcement 15 minutes before the dealers' room closed. (Note to self: Always hit the ChiZine table 15 minutes before the dealers' room closes.)

I liked the panels on plot without conflict and diversity in horror (the latter with nick_kaufmann) very much. I hit the accessibility panel on the way out and made one small request, which they said they'd do, so yay.

And I made a Daniel Pinkwater bag:

bagfull

KEVIN SHAPIRO.

patch

The patch is scanned from Young Adult Novel, and there's a "Horace Gerstenblut n'existe pas" patch on the inside pocket. The SO also made me a Horace Gerstenblut t-shirt, which I wore on Friday. (I secretly wanted to wear a baby buggy wheel or a giant plastic lobster around my neck to complete the look, but I chickened out at the last minute.)

In other news, being laid off is awesome. Vertigo's gone. Headaches (most likely due to eyestrain) are gone. I eat better, exercise more, and sleep through the night. I've spent more time with family and friends in the last two months than in the last two years. (Okay, probably an exaggeration. Probably.) I make dentist and doctor appointments whenever I feel like it. IT'S CRAZY.

Also working on re-learning how to unitask. As in, reading one (one) entire book at a time, instead of multiple blog posts between meetings. Finishing one project at a time, doing stuff slowly and carefully instead of multitasking fifty thousand things at once.

It's been great. I don't know how (or if) I can ever go back.

you're a cult, we're a family

I went to Boskone on Friday night and had a lovely time. Saw unnamed_horror and pgtremblay, saw some good panels, went book-shopping...and picked up a bunch of goodies from the freebie table, including two books from someone's version of The Stand, starring Mormon polygamists. (Which I thought was self-published, but turns out it's from Amazon's mystery imprint. Go figure.) The Mormon polygamists are the good guys, except for the other Mormon polygamists, who are the bad guys. You can tell the good guy Mormon polygamists, though, because they allow their women to form a "women's council" at the end of book 4. Progressive!

Most of the female characters, by the way, are introduced in terms of their weight (I think the word "chubby" was actually used at one point) in relation to how many children they've had. ("She still had a slender figure, despite the nine children she'd birthed.") At one point, a female character notices another female character's "slender bosom," which I can't even.

The bad guys are the other fundamentalist Mormons and also the other other fundamentalist Mormons and the government and the governor and the USDA. Seriously, the USDA is all-powerful and they're coming for your crops, man. Clearly, the only solution is to stockpile weapons, especially weapons that shoot down helicopters, and a million gallons of diesel under a parking lot (seriously) and wait for the end. And if you have to kill people (and boy oh boy do a lot of people die) it's okay, because we have to do whatever we can to protect our way of life.

Plus, you know things are really going downhill when there's 30 percent unemployment and half of those who are employed work for the government and there's "rebellion in the Midwest" and paper currency is worthless. Terror!

Did I mention the one non-white person (a bad guy) is a Hispanic man "with barely a trace of an accent" who looks Mediterranean?

In conclusion, I enjoyed the books, especially the ladies in their prairie dresses with their slender bosoms and the extreme right-wing paranoia and all.
I am cranky, at work, and waiting to hop a plane to Indiana later tonight.

I hate-read Lev Grossman's The Magicians a couple of weekends ago and then gave the thing a good hard chuck across the room. It's like Harry Potter with all Malfoys. Harry Potter meets Less Than Zero. Oh, woe is me, I am a bored rich magician kid with nothing to do. All my material needs are taken care of, and my magical school is fucking PAYING FOR AN APARTMENT IN NEW YORK after graduation, and I cannot think of a single thing to do. Perhaps I shall work, if I'm bored enough.

(I had such high hopes, because it looked like it was going to be a Narnia parody for awhile there. But no. People are afraid to merge, y'all.)

Hilariously, the main character describes himself as "middle-middle class," except his parents fucking OWN A BROWNSTONE in Park Slope, and then they sell it to buy a gigantic McMansion in the Boston suburbs, so they can paint and write. Middle-middle class. Oh, lolz.

I need to grab it and post all the really fun quotable bits. After Indiana, maybe.
I really, really wanted to like Side Effects. It has a pretty original premise -- woman goes on new antidepressant, antidepressant has, whoa, like, SIDE EFFECTS -- and the first 2/3 is smart and crackly and I had no idea where it was going, although it looked like it was going to be about evil Big Pharma, and I'm all for more movies about evil Big Pharma.

BUT! Of course, the REAL answer is...

spoilerooniesCollapse )

In conclusion, watch the first 2/3 and then make up your own ending. That is all.

so!

Lovely wedding anniversary trip to Vermont. Hiking in Queechee Gorge, bird-watching at VINS, gawking at glassblowers for hours and hours, much grocery-shopping.

It'll be ten years next year. We're talking about a bigger trip, like maybe Vegas, where we got married (I still owe Minister Phil a tip -- oops), but I secretly just really want to go back to Vermont.