February 16th, 2009

Lost Girl


I am trying to manage stress. I am not succeeding so well.

comes out a week from tomorrow. I am not ready. I'm worried about what reviews will say. I'm haunted by the traditional Silence before a book comes out, and sad that my book might be lost in the wild because almost everyone involved with it has been laid off. I'm scared I'll never get to write any more books ever. I'm scared no one will come to the shows, that nothing will be done in time, and that all the planning will fall apart, and that I will wake up tomorrow and it will be May and I will be turning 30 and I will have spent the first half of the year dying of stress and anxiety.

I am dealing with the impending failure of a project deadline I thought would be easy. I am still sore and a bit sick. I'm trying so hard not to dole out my energy to everyone who comes asking for it. And I fail at that too.

Book tours are fun. Book tours with s00j are an astonishing thing to have as part of my life. I'll never forget the time we performed at a huge, beautiful--and completely empty--coffee shop in B.F. Pennsylvania. We looked at each other and knew it was going to be rough and kind of embarrassing but we did it anyway, played and read our hearts out for the baristas, and I loved her so much.

But book tours are logistical nightmares. They take every ounce of energy and spoons and I'm so low already. And I'm going home as part of this one, to Seattle, for the first time in 7 years. Home is fraught, of course. Home has a lot of people who don't really like me all that much, and oh how it hurts the heart to stand and smile before folk who wish you never were.

And I feel like, with the move and adjustments, I haven't had enough time at home before hurtling off into the stress of touring. I want to find the zen of it, find a way to think of it as a trip, an adventure, a circus, because it is so good a lot of the time--but I've never been on the road for two months solid and I fear I am the least shiny part of our tour--mousy author lady who reads prose, that dying, hoary thing.

I hate event-planning, and that's part of it. I am always sure my plans will fail. So of course this year I'm also planning a wedding, which I feel totally unequipped to handle. I just want to stay home and read and write and drink tea and burrow, and I can't. One cannot be an anonymous, retiring Victorian poetess anymore. I feel like I'm holding onto the reigns of this week, trying to slow it down so I can just enjoy being home, and it's galloping off.

I am a hedgehog today. I want to crawl under a hedge and gnash my hoggy teeth and flash my red eyes at passersby. I have not done enough. I have not become magically thin, I have not written enough, I have not mastered marketing with panache, I am not even very good at writing books. This is how I feel today. I don't like it. I want the stress to be done with.

We will miss the spring on our island. We'll come back and it will be summer, and I will be 30, and hopefully we will have enough money to pay the rent. The hedgehog hides.

  • Current Mood
    groggy growlsome

Rosebud Is Ketchup

Also, I read The Watchmen earlier last year. (Why do I start entries with "also"? Is it that I think of the chained entries like a long conversation, and one just naturally follows on another with no pauses?)

It was my first time reading it. I have a hard time with a lot of graphic novels, because I either hate the 80s-style superhero art/manga-slavish 90s style art or I feel the writing is lazy, given such pretty pictures to work with. There are exceptions. I am broadening my horizons.

But I have to say, much as I was totally engrossed for 90% of Watchmen, and compelled by the idea--oh so compelled, how I wish I had come up with it!--in the end I have to say I just don't get the overweening love for this book.

Let me get it out of the way: WTF gender roles. I know that somehow we're supposed to give it and most other male-authored graphic novels a pass on this point, though I don't know why we should. Honestly, I just have no patience for this crap, where the women are incidental, interchangeable, whores or saints--though precious few saints abound in this kind of book. Women who inevitably fall in love with their rapists and exist only to give shape and color to the male stories--to be raped by them, to be hopelessly loved by them, to break their hearts and send them on nihilistic rampages, to be passed among them like so much beer. But wait! There was a lesbian! Progress! An off-screen, voiceless lesbian--who of course was murdered. Epic. Fail. Mr. Moore, see me after class.

But beyond that--because if I couldn't overlook that I couldn't read anything--you guys, that ending was shit. I feel like a lolcat: I see whut u did thar...and it still sucked. Maybe this is a case of being Neuromancered, that given the heaps of imitators that followed and with whom I am more familiar merely by dint of my age, I simply cannot be as affected in 2008 as I might have been in 1984...when I was five, and so missed the boat entirely, irrevocably. I recognize that. I apologize for my youth. But I still think it was a terrible ending to what is otherwise a solid story with some real flashes of genius. It came out of nowhere and added nothing. A squid monster? A sort of psychic squid monster? Really? Because we all saw how well NYC being attacked worked for world peace. Throughout the ending I kept saying: "This plan is never, ever going to work. At best it'll work for five seconds before everyone flips the hell out and the world descends into horrific dystopia. And no one is pointing that out." And even that I could accept. Villains are not known for excellent cause and effect projection. But the book is just over at that point. Everyone wanders off shrugging their shoulders, not even that upset about the whole thing, and Manhattan kacks Rorscharch because...well, just because. He didn't kill anyone else when they needed killing, but poor crazy Rorscharch threatens to blow the whistle on this terrible Bond villain plot and he gets it to the face.

I get that it's subversive that Ozzy did what he did before monologuing about it, though that's a pretty cheap joke, that the bad guy wins. Very nice. But there is no story after that, despite the fairly dire world about to be born. Rocks fall, everyone shrugs. So much build up, for so little of anything.

So I can never be quite as excited about Watchmen as y'all. I mean, it stirs something indefinable in me, makes me think about comic book history, makes me want to know the characters even more, and for all these reasons it is good and worthwhile to read. But then I remember the women, and how stupid and pointless the end seemed to me, and I'm just a little less excited for the movie (though I hear they took out the squid) and a little less thrilled with my flist's paeans to the work. I want more critical thinking about it, which, of course, I want for vast swathes of fandom and will likely not get.

I will never think of it as a work of towering intellect--I just don't think it's as complex as all that, or as deep, not saying graphic novels can't be, but this one wasn't the bees' metafictional knees to me. For one thing, my complaint about much of alternate history holds: things are not nearly different enough given the world-changing event. all the pop lyrics just put me off, because I don't think that music flows in the same evolutionary path once Dr. Manhattan arrives. I think culture spends 40 years reacting to it, not doing exactly the same thing that bands did in our world. The exact same art, despite a fundamentally skewed timeline. That makes me crazy--I had the same complaint with Years of Rice and Salt. I don't think the historiographical homework was done.

So I can't think of it as a towering work of undeniable genius. I will think of it as something beautiful and deeply flawed and confusing and sometimes maddening, something to chew on, but not to swallow.

But I really want to know, from those who love it and those who don't, aside from Fanboy Dogma, what does this book do for you? Where does it succeed, where does it fail? Can we even look at this book without the geek cultural baggage attached to it?

  • Current Mood
    bitchy bitchy
Lost Girl


Oddly, the West Coast tour doesn't really stress me at all, beyond seeing family and the places where I grew up. Mostly that feels like downtime and meeting people I've known online forever and am dying to see in person and having fun. It's probably because I've planned the East Coast shows, so I feel responsible if they go badly.

If I can just get on that train, I'll be ok...

And could the Mountain Goats be any more awesome? I don't like all their songs but man when they hit it out of the park...
c is for cat

Review! No Snarky Asides!

Four travelers, each suffering the loss of a person or a dream, find their way to the miraculous city of Palimpsest, a place attainable only by those with the eyes to see it. Their journeys are intensely personal yet tied together. The author of "The Orphan's Tales" (e.g., In the Night Garden) continues her lyrical allegories, which give readers a feast of carefully chosen words and unforgettable images. Fans of literary fantasy should enjoy this foray into the sensual imagination.

--Library Journal


Romantic Times has one I can't see yet, haven't seen Booklist either. If you guys see reviews anywhere let me know...with all the lay-offs I don't always get a heads-up from anyone up top. Also, if you need a copy to review, let me know.