March 17, 2010
"For the past couple of years, my friend L. has asked me to participate in the Aqueduct Best Reads (etc.) of the Year feature. Aqueduct is such a wonderful and essential press, it's always a pleasure to participate. Unfortunately, this year, I can't take as much time as I usually like explaining my choices, so I'm falling back on the lame-ass simplicity of listing. My apologies. The works listed are ones that I either discovered this year or rediscovered and spent some more time with. Very few of them are from 2009. Hope you find something here that interests you."
November 17, 2009
August 31, 2009
"I would say that if anyone really wanted to track the course of the short story through the time period mentioned, they would do well to review The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, SciFiction, edited by Ellen Datlow, The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, and The Year's Best Science Fiction by Gardner Dozois. It's not that there are not other equally great anthologies and magazines (both print and on-line) but these mentioned are pretty much a guarantee of quality. ...If I was going to add novels, there are three I can think of that I would most definitely include -- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman."
June 10, 2009
"A pox on '08. I had a bummer of a year, personally, although it was not devoid of reading, viewing and listening pleasure. Some of the items listed below were islands of solace amid an ocean of relentless bullshit. Oh well, onward to 09, which, sans the Bush administration, is already shaping up to be a winner. Hope you all have a great holiday season and a choice New Year."
December 16, 2008
"The short fiction market? You mean like money? From this writer's point of view, and that's the only point of view I can legitimately speak for on this topic, it seems to me like the pay pretty roundly blows. I suppose, if you really hustled, you could make a living at it, but even then you'd be shitting a slim turd."
April 16, 2008
"Here are some of the books that I enjoyed in 2007. They are in no particular order of preference save the first."
December 25, 2007
"I remember the first time I came across The Melancholy of Anatomy on the shelf in a local bookstore. The cover showed twin severed child heads, cheeks and necks webbed in meandering red veins. One head had fallen, and one was falling through the dark. On the spine were a couple of eyeballs staring out at me. Then I opened it and read some of the titles of the stories -- "Blood," "Phlegm," "Cancer," "Sperm." Right off the bat, it all seemed a little too messy for me. I put the book back on the shelf. Later that day I realized that the title was a switch on Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. I had a copy of that old tome -- a big fat paperback. I'd read quite a bit of it here and there. It wasn't the kind of book I could read straight through, but it was excellent can reading. Burton's book is a wild collage of the medical and social history of Melancholy. There are stories, long passages from the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and historians, and an array of remedies for the affliction. It's a treatise of sorts, a collection of short stories, a medical text, a gallery of quotations out of history, witty and teeming with a kind of tamped down Medieval Bestiary metaphor. Burton spent a thousand pages presenting the evidence and the journey is entertaining in all kinds of ways. After reading extensively from it, I'm convinced that Metaphor, itself, is at the heart of Melancholy."
June 19, 2005
"At the 1998 World Fantasy Convention in Monterey, my first con as a professional, I met Ellen Datlow. She introduced herself and asked if I'd like to try to write a story for her new webzine, Event Horizon. This would turn out to be a very important meeting for me, since in the intervening years I've written a number of stories for her and learned a great deal about writing short fiction in the process. This initial meeting was important for another reason as well, because standing next to Ellen was a seemingly shy young woman, whom she introduced as Kelly Link."
January 1, 2005
December 27, 2004
December 24, 2004
December 21, 2004
"'03 was a ball peen hammer to the forehead for me, a long, slow, sleep walk up the down escalator. I did manage to read some, but not as much as usual. My pleasures in the reading, listening and movie watching area were usually selective and minimal. There were some whole books I read and enjoyed immensely, though. Some of these were new ones and some were old. Before I move on to my blowhard best of list for 03, I want to mention a few story-length pieces that I thought were particularly good."
December 29, 2003
January 26, 2002
Essay: A Year of Jeffrey Ford, Charles Tan, Bibliophile Stalker
(December 30, 2008)
"Between the time I read The Physiognomy and Memoranda, something in me had changed. I reread "Creation" and started cursing myself for not realizing the brilliance of Ford sooner. Here was a well-crafted story filled with minute details that felt very real and made the protagonist's father larger than life. And the ambiguity of the ending was simply genius."
LBC's Jeffrey Ford Week, THE LITBLOG CO-OP
Collaborating with a Ford, Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus
(May 3, 2006)
Kafka's Ford , Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus
(November 22, 2005)
On John Gardner, Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus
(September 14, 2004)
"Above all else, Gardner was a great teacher of writing (not just my estimation but also attested to by scores of his students, including Raymond Carver). I'd take him these thirty page stories written in pencil on torn out sheets of notebook paper and slip them under his office door. Then, who knew when, sometimes late at night, once in the middle of a blizzard, he'd call me and say, "I'm reading your story." I lived in a motel across the highway from the college and I'd just drop what I was doing and go. Then he'd sit there with a pen in his hand and go through the lines of the piece one by one. He was brutal, but not without a sense of humor. By the time he'd be done, there would be about five lines left. "These are good," he'd tell me. "Write another one." ... He'd say weird stuff too, like "I believe that consciousness exists outside the body and it plays the physical being like an instrument." It made me wonder if everything he told me was total lunacy, but, luckily, I was dumber than a sac of shit and knew it, which allowed me to just push forward and trust him."
Essay on "Rabbit Test" by Jeffrey Ford , Matthew Cheney, The Mumpsimus
(May 24, 2004)
"Readers new to Ford would probably not realize the story uses elements of his life, but anyone who has read his earlier work will notice a few details suggesting this is another story in the series. I don't think it particularly matters for this story -- certainly not in the way it does for "Bright Morning", where the entire premise of the story plays with, among other things, the duality Borges pointed out with "Borges & I" -- but it does give an extra and even painful verisimilitude to the events, though for all I know the central problem for the characters could be entirely fictional. The more we wonder "what is real?" while reading the story, the more satisfying it is in the end, even if the question extends beyond the fictional reality of the narrative and into the reality of the author's life, creating an ambiguous membrane between the actual and the possible. It's an unsettling effect."