Posts Tagged ‘Edgar Allan Poe’
This was to be the one on poetry, last month’s premiere “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and local tavern and music venue Players Pub, being dominated by prose fiction — including, ahem, my opening reading of “River Red” from THE TEARS OF ISIS (cf. February 10). And so it was, mostly, with even its musical component being poetry-based via Evansville Indiana group SHAKESPEARE’S MONKEY, a “poetry band” reminiscent of 1950s coffeehouse poetry accompanied with jazz (albeit in this case, guitars and hand percussion), who we’ve met before at the Bloomington Arts Festival Spoken Word Stage (see September 4). The featured readers this time out were Writers Guild Chair Tony Brewer whose poems included a Pushcart Prize nominee, local poet Eric Rensberger who began his reading with a guitar accompanied “Medicine Show” spiel introducing bartender “Dr. Joe” and the pub itself before continuing with the more “serious literary part,” and First Sundays Prose Series Chair Joan Hawkins breaking the pattern with two prose “creative memoirs.” Then the open mike session added four readers of whom I was second, reading three pieces from VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE), “La Méduse,” “Émile’s Ghosts,” and “Night Child.”
Then for another quick note, I’ve added two pieces to “Poetry (Essays)” under PAGES in the far right column, my ILLUMEN feature “It Begins With the Sound” (see November 5, et al.) and “What Is a Novel in Stories” (see February 13), the latter admittedly really about my upcoming TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, but springing from Edgar Allan Poe’s essay “The Poetic Principle.”
These things have a way of sneaking up on you! The essay was actually published on Thursday, February 9, as advertised last week (cf. February 4), but in the circuitous way of the internet at times, word finally only caught up with me last night. So it goes.
The essay, anyway, pertains to my upcoming novel, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, but is actually about novel structure. That is, TOMBS isn’t structured like a majority of novels, as pretty much a continuous narrative, but rather is what is sometimes called a mosaic novel or a novel-in-stories. Say what? That is, like Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB or Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. Or what about Bradbury’s THE ILLUSTRATED MAN? Or John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy. Novels pieced together from parts, the parts sometimes short stories in their own right — but not necessarily always. And anyhow why do it that way at all?
Well, now we have an answer, courtesy of blogger Heidi Angell who, as of Thursday, has published my “What Is a Novel in Stories” as a guest blog. And did it really start with Edgar Allan Poe?
To find out, press here.
Yes, a raise of the glass to Edgar Allan Poe, “who started it all,” January 19 1809 – October 7 1849 — and see, as well, my interview by Weldon Burge linked in the post just below, start-ing quite by coincidence with a quotation from Poe. Go ahead, take a quick look — I’ll wait! Okay, and now to the business of . . . well, actually late yesterday, but posted today.
Wednesday afternoon’s email brought, from Bards and Sages Publishing’s Julie Ann Dawson: When we launched THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES last August, we knew it was a bit of an experiment. We really didn’t know how readers would respond to the project. I’m pleased to say that the response has been wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that three of the stories placed very well in this year’s Preditors & Editors Reader Poll.
Chamber Music By Peter A. Balaskas earned 2nd place in the non-genre short story category
Raising Mary: Frankenstein by Ace Antonio Hall earned 5th place in the horror short story category
By Force and Against the King’s Peace by James Dorr earned 11th place in the fantasy and sci-fi short story category
But the email goes on to say [t]he one question I keep getting asked, however, is “When will the print be available?” A great many of our readers still prefer print (I know, shocking!). Of course, individually, each story is too short to justify publishing as a single book. But as an anthology, it would be perfect.
Which is why I would like to invite each of you to participate in THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES, Volume I. This will anthologize all of the stories published in the first year of the project. We would love to bring your stories to print and, potentially, audio formats. . . .
Then follow some details, plus an attached agreement which went in the mail today with my okay. And, let’s not forget the neat Preditors and Editors news, not just for me but a huge shout out for THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES itself! This, we may remember (see, e.g., November 18, 2, October 3 2016, et al.), is a continuing series of electronic chapbooks for stories from 5,000 to 20,000 words long, both new and reprints (“By Force and Against the King’s Peace” is the latter, originally published in the December 1999 ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE), awkwardly long for some electronic markets but too short for novels. A little more money would change hands too for the print anthology, which is always a sweetener for the writers, and since, judging from the Preditors and Editors standings, the stories themselves seem to be top drawer, some at least of them, it should be a good deal for readers as well.
Also, for another quick “The Writing Life” extra, here’s a note from A Murder of Storytellers on my story-poem “Tit for Tat.” James, Wanted to let you know that I looked over this piece and saw no need for editing. So, unless you’ve got a burning desire to fix something, it’s good to go. What it’s going to is their upcoming THE BOOK OF BLASPHEMOUS WORDS (see January 16). And an editor’s pass with no changes at all is always good news for a writer to receive.
Just a quick note, that Weldon Burge has announced a Kickstarter campaign for for the upcoming Smart Rhino Publications anthology ZIPPERED FLESH 3: YET MORE TALES OF BODY ENHANCEMENTS GONE BAD, scheduled for launch next Tuesday, January 17. In conjunction with this will be his interview with me (cf. January 8, below) with remarks on short stories, novels-in-stories, structure of novels, and TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH: “I’ll be sending out the e-letter once the campaign has started, so you should see your interview posted next week as well!” Also mentioned in the interview are THE TEARS OF ISIS and “The Poetic Principle” by Edgar Allan Poe.
As for ZIPPERED FLESH 3, my part in this is a strangely muted (given the promise of some of its stories) science fiction tale called “Golden Age,” reflecting a future history of worn out, or otherwise damaged body replacements (see September 9), a reprint originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994.
Another interview lurks in our future. Completed just now, this one was rather a quickie as well, the contact coming from Smart Rhino Publications Editor Weldon Burge just last week: James, would you be open to a short interview for the January Smart Rhino newsletter? It would only be three or four questions, short and sweet. But I’d need a pretty fast turnaround, if possible. Please let me know. Thanks! My connection here is having stories in two Smart Rhino anthologies thus far, UNCOMMON ASSASSINS and INSIDIOUS ASSASSINS, and in a third to be coming out soon, ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (cf. September 9, et al.). So, “sure,” I sent back, and we set things up to be done this weekend.
More, such as a tentative date, will be noted here when it is known, but I will say now that, while short, it’s one of the heavier ones I’ve done in terms of writing and writing theory, even including a quote from Poe from his essay “The Poetic Principle.” Why that essay? Because I think Poe intended it to apply to fiction in prose as well, perhaps then explaining his own predilection for the short story form, and hence, by extension, mine. This is for a question having to do with my own short story collection, THE TEARS OF ISIS. But then, from there, a question on TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH brings up a discussion of form, in addition to content, and novels-in-stories or “mosiac” novels (see also, October 20), and why that form might be chosen over traditional narrative for telling certain kinds of stories. And also, why the mosiac form might answer Poe’s dictum that effective “poetic” writing be kept short.
Two quick items, the first serendipitously* discovered via Facebook, “New Film Extraordinary Tales Animates Edgar Poe Stories, with Narrations by Guillermo Del Toro, Christopher Lee & More,” by Josh Jones on OPENCULTURE.COM. This discusses an animated version of several Poe tales, with several in some cases famous narrators, that came out last October, complete with trailer and a sample clip (from “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”) and can be found by clicking here. If impressed, more can be found as well on the film’s own Facebook page here.
Then word also came out on Facebook today that Upper Rubber Boot Books’s eclectic anthology THE MUSEUM OF ALL THINGS AWESOME AND THAT GO BOOM (see July 14, et al.) is now officially available in both print and electronic forms, including my tale of Christmas and Santa and . . . zombies, “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians” (originally published in HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT BUBBAS by Yard Dog Press, 2007). If interested, the Museum’s Gift Shop offers links for all editions and can be visited by pressing here.
*Well — full disclosure — with help from Dan Clore and THE WEIRDVERSE: GOTHIC HORROR FANTASY & DECADENT POETS & POEMS
What shall we call it? Another pre-Christmas literary treat, this one especially for pet lovers perhaps? Be that as it may, “Did You Know Charles Dickens’ Pet Raven Inspired Edgar Allan Poe?” by Julia Mason on HISTORYBUFF.COM, brought to us via Joel Eisenberg and Lisa Morton on the HWA’s Facebook page, lays out the skinny: “We recently discovered that Charles Dickens had a pet raven named Grip. The illustrious avian appeared as a minor character in the author’s 1841 serialized mystery novel, BARNABY RUDGE. This is, in and of itself, the best news ever. Then we found out that Dickens’ pet inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write ‘The Raven.’ Which basically makes Grip a literary god.”
It was the final one of a series of Dark Carnival and, later, Diabolique Film Festivals (see also September 19-21 2014) and so the Friday Night opening session consisted of films the festival people just happened to like as well as feel had lasting value: JAWS, THE LOST BOYS, and FRIGHT NIGHT. I skipped the last due to lateness of night plus having seen it (and not for the first time) just a year before, but I saw JAWS for the first time on the “big screen.” While I’m not that much a fan of fish movies (note: MOBY DICK doesn’t count, whales being mammals, and anyhow despite the title it’s about things other than sea life), I do have to say that one is a good one. Of course — and sorry, Roger Corman — I now have to set a higher standard for anything else I now see that has sharks. But even without quality action and acting, JAWS was a first, as was THE LOST BOYS, this time in suggesting in a punk sort of way that being a vampire could actually be fun.
Then Saturday came with my once more missing the final movie, LANDMINE GOES CLICK, directed by Levan Bakhai (“Trapped standing on an armed landmine, an American tourist is forced to watch helplessly while his girlfriend is terrorized,” say the program notes), though word of mouth afterward on Sunday said it was intense. Just not my kind of movie, sorry. Most of Saturday’s sessions were for short films, but there was one other feature, DEEP DARK, directed by Michael Medaglia (“Hermann, a failed sculptor . . . finds a strange, talking hole in the wall. The hole has the power to fulfill his wildest dreams, or it just may become his worst nightmare.”), which was of particular interest to me in part as a film about art and creation. I would recommend it for just being weird in a good way, though its depiction of the artist’s passion for his/her work struck me as being a little bit off, at least in terms of my own experience. But also (speaking of Roger Corman) it just occurred that he handled the basic theme — artist finds “shortcut” as a substitute for talent — as well many years ago in BUCKET OF BLOOD.
Of Saturday’s shorts, some that stood out were “Black Eyes” by Rick Spears (two children play dead, then play zombies), “666 Square Feet” by Ray Zablocki (especially chilling in that it’s based on a true incident), “Crow Hand!” by Brian Lonano (wonderfully zany new monster), “Lifeline,” Jeffrey Wang (festival winner for best effects and best actress), “Trajectoires,” Phillipe Massoni and Sébastien Jovellar (small-time crime gone bad, with a French bourgeois flavor), “Invaders,” Jason Kupfer (small-time crime gone bad — must be seen to be believed), and “Lapsus,” Karim Ouaret (bigger-time crime and a laundromat, questioning what one is to believe).
Sunday’s program moved out of the Indiana University Cinema to a lecture hall in the nearby Radio/TV Building, with three feature films — including one I had been waiting more than a year to see — and one session of shorts plus extra shorts with the first two features (highlights including “Soccer Moms in Peril” by Damian K. Lahey and ”Son” by Judd Myers). The first full-length film was a near-future, paranoic science fiction dystopia, LISTENING, directed by Khalil Sullins, about experiments in mind-reading technology and resulting governmental abuse. It was interesting and raised real questions, although the ending was a bit abrupt from a writer’s point of view (both wonderfully clever in setting up but possibly too easy in execution). I’d call it the weakest of the three, but still much worth seeing if one has a chance.
Feature two was one I not only recommend but will probably buy for myself if I can find a used copy, LIVE-EVIL. Tag line: “This is Biblical-grade shit; I’m an atheist.” (from a deputy sheriff attempting to resign on the spot — fortunately the sheriff talks her into staying). Or, as the festival docent put it, “so much fun, such a crazy flick,” supposedly inspired by both GHOSTBUSTERS and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, with the first half in black-and-white and the second half in color, and with the Devil (or maybe just a devil) in a jail cell in a college town on Halloween night. Funny, scary, and ultra-weird.
Then, finally, the evening closed with one I’d seen a third of before at NASFiC last summer, TALES OF POE directed by Alan Rowe Kelly and Bart Mastronardi (cf. July 23, also September 24 — including a link to a review by Terry M. West in HALLOWEEN FOREVERMORE — 2014). This is an anthology film in three parts, the first (that I’d seen before) and in my opinion the best being “The Tell Tale Heart,” with the principals switched from male to female and the old woman a once-silent era film star, with a frame story set in an insane asylum. The second, perhaps weaker part is “The Cask,” based on “The Cask of Amontillado” but more as a crime story than one about madness, with echoes also from “The Black Cat,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and even hints of “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” (and with a sullen maid named “Morella” to boot, but look also for a fellow asylum inmate’s doll named “Annabel Lee” in part one). And finally a sort of poem in pictures, “Dreams,” based on (and quoting from) a youthful poem by Poe of the same name, though ending with a nod to the more familiar “A Dream Within a Dream,” exploring some general themes of Poe’s, including the idea that the “most poetic subject” would be the death of a beautiful woman. (So, okay, I’ll put in the plug: with the beautiful woman abstracted as art, this is also the overall theme of my THE TEARS OF ISIS, whereby the dedication to Poe at the book’s beginning. Thus, you see, everything is connected.) This is an ambitious segment and probably wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking, though it’s a kind of thing I go for, and which in this case I found fascinating (and, weirdly, a little bit reminiscent of Ken Russell’s THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER, see July 17 this year) although I’d want to look at it at least one more time before I could decide for sure if it ultimately succeeds.
One thing I can say, though: this is a film I’ll be looking out for to buy for myself.
Well it’s actually been out for some time as we know (cf. just below, August 11, 10), I’ve even received a .PDF copy through Editor Steve Lewis’s kindness, but for those who’d enjoy a virtual party, the ONCE BITTEN Book Launch Facebook gala proceeds as we speak. To join in the fun, one need but press here. But best be quick about it, it probably will end at midnight or so, and that’s British time which will make it even earlier here!
One will probably even have to supply one’s own ice cream and cake, but for one small surprise, herewith repeated a “sample” post I dropped off at the party, a micro-excerpt from my story “Bernice” (cf. below, August 11, 10):
The sun suddenly shone, peeping out between clouds. The autumns, and late summers too, had been damp of late, the winters snowy, which Bernice would say was a side effect of global warming. He would nod at her those times. “Perhaps,” he would tell her.
He heard the minister clear his throat again, thought better of the kiss, and started to lift himself when something gleamed. Just for a moment, some motion, some thing in the shadowed space between the white, ruffled satin pillow and Bernice’s shoulder.
A mouse in the coffin?
Interested? For more information (and, perchance, to buy?), one may check here.
Kudos to Steve Lewis (see just below) who, at my request, has just sent Kindle-less me a .pdf for my author’s copy of the electronic version of ONCE BITTEN. Many thanks! But also it occurred to me that I hadn’t mentioned yesterday that my story “Bernice” was a reprint, as noted in the earlier of the prior posts I cited, nor that there was another, yet older post about the story in its initial incarnation. Plus a bit more about Poe as a muse — at least sometimes for me!
So, once again to the wayback machine to December 27 2011. . . .
Once upon a time I wrote two stories inspired by works of Edgar Allan Poe. The first, “Merryl,” which tips its hat to “Ligeia” has just been published in the anthology IN POE’S SHADOW (see Oct. 29, et al.). Today the second, “Bernice,” which mixes the teeth of Poe’s “Berenice” (note European spelling) with swarms of rodents and a cat named Cher (“a black, sleek, slinky cat — next year he thought he might get a tom so she could have kittens”), arrived in my mailbox in the Fall issue of INHUMAN. INHUMAN, a.k.a. ALLEN K’S INHUMAN, is edited and illustrated by Allen Koszowski, an artist of surreal and horror subjects for about as many years as I’ve been writing. In fact we first met when we were paired as author and illustrator in WRITERS OF THE FUTURE, VOL. VIII, way back in 1992 with a story of mine called “Subterranean Pests.” The illustration he did for that was of zombie moles; the one for “Bernice” is of killer mice.
“And the beat goes on.”
And thus a bit more about “Bernice” as well, to perhaps whet appetites?