Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:
♦ The first issue of the new Wonder Woman series by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang came out last week, the third week of DC’s new relaunch. Expectations had been high for this series, and the reviews have been positive, as seen over at Straitened Circumstances, The Beat, and Tor.com. Even though I haven’t read Wonder Woman since George Pérez’s run in the post-Crisis late ’80s, I’m certainly intrigued enough by the new premise to pick up the collected volumes of this relaunch, even if she doesn’t get to wear pants. (I don’t buy many individual comics anymore since I don’t live near enough to a comic book store and shipping on the titles I do buy is pretty brutal—only for you, Hellboy!) Azzarello, in the first link above, describes his approach to writing Wonder Woman: “Wonder Woman is set in the present. She’s been established for a while. My aesthetic is to put her in a dangerous world where stakes are real and people can get hurt. I’ve described it as a horror book, and I’m going to stick with it. I’m playing up the horror elements that exist in mythology.” I’m really looking forward to that first collected volume.
Speaking of Wonder Woman, I thought this article verifying the comics legend that “The number one women’s tennis player in the world retired from amateur competition and then became a writer and editor on Wonder Woman’s comic book” was great fun. Via.
♦ Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood have proposed a major genre award should be named after Hope Mirrlees, author of Lud-in-the-Mist, which I heartily endorse for the reasons cited in the post: “in Lud-in-the-Mist [Mirrlees] produced something utterly unique and strange, fantastic in the oldest senses of the word, and something that’s rarely given the acclaim it deserves.” If you haven’t read that book, hie thee hence to your book-purchasing location of choice and get your hands on it. Lud-in-the-Mist—which I only read for the first time earlier this year, so it’s never too late—is a stunning novel about Faerie and love and magic and everything in between. I’m not a big re-reader (who has time with so many new books clamoring for attention), but I want to read Lud-in-the-Mist again and again, like The Awakening and The Master and Margarita, and I want to teach the novel so I can share it with my students. Via.
Learning to write, for me, has been a process of two things: practice (“write more!”) and learning who to ignore. Ignoring good advice has turned out to be every bit as important as following it, and probably quite a bit more. The danger of the blogosphere, of course, as opposed to the coal-fired pre-Internet days when I was starting out, is there is an avalanche of advice from well-meaning writers, myself very much included, available to aspiring writers today. Back when I was aspiring, I had to go to considerable effort over the course of months to be as confused as 20 minutes with a Web browser will offer today. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
When I was younger and starting out, ignoring advice was pretty easy: you just didn’t buy the book said advice was in. The Interwebs provides a lot of things, and sometimes too much; figuring out what to follow and what to ignore is good advice for everybody.
♦ An illuminating post over at Tor.com by Ryan Britt as part of his Genre in the Mainstream series. He gives an overview of a discussion between Steven Millhauser, Emma Straub, and Steve Stern at The Brooklyn Book Festival. These three “literary mainstream” writers incorporate the fantastic with some frequency into their writing (I’ve read Millhauser and Stern, but not yet Straub). My favorite part of the discussion comes from Stern, who
doesn’t think that fantastic fiction is so much a response to overly realistic novels, but instead that overly realistic novels are the “blip” because most major works from ancient mythology to the Bible are full of fantastic elements. In the grand tradition of storytelling then, Stern feels realistic fiction is actually a relatively new development.
Which is exactly what I’ve been saying for years, so it’s nice to have some support in that line of thinking. I’m suspicious of the claims read elsewhere (and I now can’t recall where) that early literary works such as Beowulf weren’t technically fantasy because the listeners at that time believed in the fantastic as a reality. Pish posh, says I.
♦ Also at Tor.com, Jason Henninger has a great piece about the Finnish poem, The Kalevala, which is truly a great epic. If you like The Kalevala, or just like great music, you should also check out Ruth MacKenzie’s CD, Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden, which is most excellent (you can get a good sense of the album by listening to the song previews at the link).
♦ Greer Gilman, author of such hymns to language as Moonwise (65% off at Amazon right now—buy this book!) and Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales, posted four images of Kunstkamera (cabinets of curiosity), including the one above, on her blog. I love these images, as I love a cabinet of curiosity myself. If I could turn my own house into such a thing—and I’m trying, believe me—I’d be quite content.
♦ Over at SurLaLune Fairy Tales, it’s Fairy Tale Film Month. Last week, guest blogger Morbid March Hare posted about two Little Red Riding Hood films, Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves and Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood. Maybe I should write a post about The Company of Wolves, which I adore; I certainly have a lot to say about it.
♦ I’m including this link about a Twin Peaks video game for Cameron, whom I know will smile when he reads it. In a related shiny bit, the video below is also for Cameron, who may not have seen David Lynch’s short, creepy film for the Viennale 2011 festival (as doubtful as that is). Some good stuff here—if you’re a Lynch fan. Via.