Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Literary genres I would like to see #1: The Premoir

(The first in a possible occasional series....)

A premoir is a speculative memoir, detailing the imagined future life of the author after the point at which it is written.

It is distinguished from mere near-future SF metafiction by focus. If your future self merely makes a cameo in a book otherwise concerned principally with adventure or futurology, it is no premoir. The concerns of the premoir are those of the memoir -- self and selfhood, family, identity, memory (in this case predictive memory), striving, character, the texture of everyday life as well as any momentous intrusions into it....

Anyone know of any examples in the wild?

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Science Fiction is a way of reading"

(Says Samuel Delany, in About Writing.)

So I've subscribed to One Story, which has a clever conceit, and, so far, pretty good stories. The one that arrived in my mailbox the other day, Muscle Memory by, just in case she's ego-googling, one Katherine Karlin, is the best so far: understated, deft and subtle, unpredictable, resisting easy moves, ambiguous; achieving an effect whereby at the end you realize it has snuck into your gut, snuck its characters' grief and restlessness and sorrow and ambition into your own limbic system, and you never saw it coming.

But anyway, I'm on page 2 of this story, trying to figure out what it's about and whether I like it, as one does on page 2, and also what kind of story it is. So far it's about a young woman whose dead father was a shipyard welder, and who wants to be a shipyard welder too, in some part of America,. This feels like a comfortable set of clues to what kind of story it will be. And then I get to this paragraph:

Destiny was eighteen. She and her mother lived in a house without neighbors. Occasionally a masterless dog would trot down the street, clicking its paws on the pavement, and turn his curious face to the house as he passed. Their view -- once crowded with housed, churches, bars, and a corner store where the little kids once bought Slim Jims after school -- now let them see straight to where the levee used to be, and in the daytime they could watch ice chests and laundry baskets bobbing in the canal like buoys.

And because I'm have a certain kind of reading apparatus, because I'm a genre reader, I get a little thrill as that reading apparatus comes online, and I think "whoa--- is this a post-apocalypse story?"

Of course (as, on re-reading, I realize I must be some kind of dummy to miss) it is indeed a post-apocalypse story -- one set in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in our own 2008.

And interestingly, once that reading apparatus is triggered, it stays online, its seductions available, having me read an account of the real world as a poignant, chilling (and distanced, and thus comforting) warning of future destruction.

Which is kind of alienating.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Noah on the World Economy

Noah: Credit cards are metaphorical cash, and cash is metaphorical credit cards.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Chore List

All right, I liked to a discussion of our chore list system esewhere recently, but the system has changed since then, and I realize I never answered Dan's question about it, and Mary Anne is having housework division troubles, so I think it is time for an update.

And since I am that kind of geek, I will document it as a Design Pattern

...after the cut:

(Update: it has come to my attention that in my attempt to be amusing and geeky and display this as a design pattern I have made it seem insanely complicated. But actually it's really simple:

  1. decide what counts as "a chore"
  2. decide who gets to do fewer chores based on age or work
  3. write down everything you do and keep a running count of who's ahead, forever.
That's it. All the rest, as Hillel said, is commentary: go and learn it.)

Click here to continue reading "The Chore List"
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Interview at Bibliophile Stalker

Charles Tan kindly interviewed me over at Bibliophile Stalker (is that a stalker who happens to be a bibliophile, or a stalker of bibliophiles?)

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Table of Contents for "The Ant King"

I believe the table of contents for my forthcoming collection is pretty set, barring last-minute permissions hassles:

  1. The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale
  2. The Valley of Giants
  3. The Orange
  4. Biographical Notes to 'A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-Planes', by Benjamin Rosenbaum
  5. Start the Clock
  6. The Blow
  7. Embracing-the-New
  8. Falling
  9. Orphans
  10. On the Cliff by the River
  11. Fig
  12. The Book of Jashar
  13. The House Beyond Your Sky
  14. Red Leather Tassels
  15. Other Cities
  16. Sense and Sensibility
  17. A Siege of Cranes

If you are feeling all grassroots, you could preorder one at a local bookstore! (Though I think the link will only help you in North America...)

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