Magpie Monday

Here are some shiny things that caught my eye recently:

♦ I love seeing how other bibliophiles organize their home libraries (indeed, a section of my own library is dedicated to books about libraries, home and otherwise). On his tumblr this past week, Neil Gaiman shared several links about his home library, which is certainly swoon-worthy and worth a look. First, check out a 3D view of his library (photos by Kyle Cassidy), then have a peek at Shelfari’s post (which is where I first saw Gaiman’s library a few years ago), and top it off with some close shots of his shelves here.

Speaking of filling a house with books, Domythic Bliss has several tips for decorating with books, which you should check out (two of my favorite ideas are below). That post also linked to a website I hadn’t heard about, but I’m all over it now: Beautiful Libraries, which has galleries of all kinds of libraries, including Modest, Larger, and Truly Grand Home Libraries; Church Libraries; Royal Libraries; Academic and Research Libraries; Hotel, Cruise Ship, and Restaurant Libraries; Libraries in Art and Film; Libraries of History & Myth; and Destroyed Libraries (many more types besides!).

♦ io9 lists 10 Writing “Rules” they wish more science fiction and fantasy authors would break. It’s a good list to mull over. Writing “rules” should never be considered absolutes; you just want to make sure you know why you’re breaking the “rules” you’re breaking (yes, I realize my refutation is in the form of an absolute).

♦ Speaking of writing, I came across three, quite fine articles about writers this week. The first is a lovely piece in The Guardian about Angela Carter, written by her literary executor Susannah Clapp, who’s just recently published A Card from Angela Carter, a collection of the postcards Carter sent to Clapp over the years. (I thought I could wait for the American edition to come out, but probably by the time you’ve read this I’ll have already ordered it from the UK. What is this thing called “self-restraint”?)

The second, in The New York Times, is about Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, who has a new book of poetry, Left-handed, coming out in March. I wasn’t familiar with Galassi before reading the article, but I’ll buy the book based on these lines alone:

… our real poems are already in us
and all we can do is dig.
We can work for years and never find them
or miss them when they stare us in the face.

The third is Larry Nolen’s analysis of Julio Cortázar at Weird Fiction Review. I taught Cortázar‘s story “Axolotl” for many years, so I particularly enjoyed reading Nolen’s take on it.

♦ Mary Robinette Kowal has issued a challenge I may try to meet: The Month of Letters. The rules are that “(1) In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch. (2) Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.” (Kowal even has a website dedicated to the challenge.) A follow-up post asks the question, Why are letters more daunting than email? You can even write to (and expect replies from) Jane of Shades of Milk and Honey or Kowal herself.

I have a long-abiding love of the post; while I’m happy to receive mail, I really love to send it. In the past, I traded journals with friends through the post (we’d each write a few a pages and send it to the other), and sometimes I’ve just saved up clippings and other tidbits to send to folks. With so much of my time committed to work in the last couple years, I have fallen away from that kind of correspondence, and I miss it (though, truth be told, long stretches of writing by hand have become too uncomfortable). My friend Adam Mills has written a longer and more eloquent post about Missing Letters, so I know I’m in good company. Will I be able to do it? Tune in to find out (or check your mailbox).

If you like receiving letters in the post and don’t mind paying for them, you might consider two subscription options I follow:

Catherynne M. Valente’s The Omikuji Project, which I’ve subscribed to since its inception a couple years ago. Each month I receive in the post a short story (or sometimes a long poem), written by Valente. She’s also released a collection of the first year of the Project, This Is My Letter to the World: The Omikuji Project, Cycle One. You can receive the Omikuji letters via email, as well. Here’s the basic description:

The Omikuji Project is an experiment in cyberfunded art. It is an old-fashioned approach to new-founded literature, the shortest path from author to reader. It is a secret and marvelous communication, a unique way for you to read stories unavailable in any other venue, in any other way. It is a network of tales, a community. It is whispering in the dark; it is a fireside confession.

Recently, The Rumpus, an online literary magazine, started Letters in the Mail (which I’d read about here, via Poets & Writers—and, yes, I signed up as soon as I read about it):

Almost every week you’ll receive a letter, in the mail. Letter writers will include Dave Eggers, Tao Lin, Stephen Elliott, Janet Fitch, Nick Flynn, Margaret Cho, Cheryl Strayed, Marc Maron, Elissa Schappel, Wendy MacNaughton, Emily Gould, and Jonathan Ames. Think of it as the letters you used to get from your creative friends, before this whole internet/email thing. Most of the letters will include return addresses (at the author’s discretion) in case you want to write the author back.

♦ I feel like I should write a poem about Barnard 68, “possibly the loneliest, darkest, coldest place in the entire cosmos.”

Over at The Beat, I learned about the upcoming April Avengers Art Appreciation variant covers. I know the inspiration for some of these covers but not all—hopefully, Laura can help me out! In related news, Irene Gallo posted at about Art History through Sci Fi-Colored Glasses, which features book and comic cover art inspired by famous art (with a side-by-side comparison).

♦ Two webcomics that deserve your attention:

Over at, you can read “The Situation,” based on Jeff VanderMeer’s short story and illustrated by Eric Orchard. It’s phenomenal! If “The Situation” is never made into a book, I shall be very sad.

Juan Santapau’s webcomic The Secret Knots returned this week with “The Spirit Cabinet,” which is all about a most unusual 90s television show. Go check it out!

♦ Cinephiles like Cameron will enjoy this infographic by Anne Rhodes (click to see larger, though it’s easier to read if you go to the link). From the website: “The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claims that SOPA and PIPA are aimed at stopping online piracy. But as this infographic demonstrates, it’s really about fighting innovation.”


I was completely charmed by The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, the short animated film by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (which, if you’re interested, is nominated for an Oscar). I defy my fellow bibliophiles to not also be utterly enchanted:


And for something completely different: Beto Gomez’s animated short, Reading Kills (seriously):


This entry was posted in Magpie Monday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Magpie Monday

  1. eric orchard says:

    Wonderful, wonderful blog. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  2. Pingback: Magpie Monday | Robert E. Stutts

Comments are closed.