a look at some stories and a new market

Nick Mamatas has two stories online currently that I would recommend reading.

First is “Skatouioannis”, (up on the new market, Lenox Avenue–a more in-depth review follows) a humourous story about a family myth coming to life for a second-generation American-Greek kid. The writing is top-notch, fast, and the dialogue is realistic.

“Land Speed Record” is a dark insight into the kind of conspiracy and paranoia that is bred among workers trapped in the corporate mouse-maze. Stylistically it’s brave: striving to mimic a stream-of-consciousness so we hurtle along (at a land-speed record, one presumes) with the character’s madness. And the sentence that jumped out at me, and made me laugh?

They’re the pygmies of evil.

These two shorts make me itch for my copy of Move Under Ground to thud onto the plain straw mat that sits beneath my letterbox. And drat, I got an email yesterday to tell me the order has been delayed. I doubt I’ll see the tome until the end of July. (Drums fingers on her desk, and then remembers the stacks of books she has yet to read.) [Edit: yay, it was shipped this morning!]

I browsed through the rest of Lenox Avenue, and I was less impressed, unfortunately, with Elizabeth Bear‘s story “Old Leatherwings”. I like much of Bear’s work, but hit an odd stumbling block at the beginning of the second sentence with: “This was more than an unusual happenstance:”, which is followed by quite a long line. There was something jarring in the cadence of the wording, and I could not warm up to the story, despite my best intentions. It’s well-written, with a decent twist at the end, but I had to force myself to complete it. I didn’t care for the intermittent story fragments either. I won’t go further into what didn’t work for me because I think it’s a case of personal taste. There is much to like in the story, but in the end, it was not for me.

Nisi Shawl‘s story, “Looking for Lilith” was vibrantly-written, and rich in detail, though I felt some of the dialogue, especially in the final crucial end sequence was somewhat lacklustre. Perhaps it’s because the denouement is so good that anything that grates stands out.

Shawl‘s interview reveals an intelligent, honest, and forthright woman whose work I will most certainly seek out in the future.

Finally, I can’t thank Lenox Avenue enough for introducing me to the work of the incredibly talented artist, Alejandro Terán. His work is weirdly beautiful and darkly passionate. I’m sure there are inevitable comparisons to Dave McKean‘s art work, but I think Terán’s pieces have their own distinct style.

In Terán’s interview he describes his background, and approach to his medium, and then makes some accurate statements about living a creative life:

To be an artist is a form of life in itself. In other professions, you put in your hours and when you get home you forget about work.

In my case this doesn’t occur. If one is a creator of whatever form, that’s what you are 25 hours a day. At any moment you might find a great idea and need to start to shape it. Other times you’re so submerged in your work that you can’t leave it until it’s finished.

How true!