recently got a review published (for Craig Rogers’ forthcoming novel, DRIFT; you can read the review here) and it’s got me thinking a little bit more about the genre. i feel like reviews are, hands down, kind of the hardest thing in the world to write – there’s a real tough balance to be struck, trying to get the subjective experience of reading a book down in words that someone else might find interesting. it’s much harder than writing fiction, that’s for sure – why you like something is really hugely subjective, and trying to convey what it is that you (so subjectively) enjoyed about something in a way that someone else might find useful is tough! plus there’s the pressure of wanting to convince someone that they ought to spend some of their precious reading time on this particular book…it can be stressful!
i’ve written a few reviews now, something that i very deliberately am trying to do more of, both because of the challenge of it and also because they’re something i like to read. i’ve been lucky because a) there’s actually a LOT of places out there that’ll happily swarp up any and all reviews you can write, so you get the satisfaction of having your stuff out there on a website with readers and all, and b) there’re so many books being published that i can be picky about getting just good books to review.
my three reviews (you can find ’em over on the WRITINGS section of this here website) have all been uniformly positive, which is a much pleasanter thing to write than a hatchet job. i’ve only once written a bad review, a piece i’ve mislaid on a website that is now gone about a couple of solarpunk collections from years ago, and the only reason i wrote the review was because the collection, ostensibly about imagining more egalitarian and just futures that included the environment and non-human agency in their visions, was shockingly eco-fascist. LOTS of authoritarian and downright gleeful wallowing in how THOSE PEOPLE were all PUNISHED and FORCED to live BETTER LIVES. extremely off-putting, extremely not what i was expecting at the time, and extremely dangerous, in my view. i feel like that’s the only reason i’d write a bad review, honestly – if there was something vile or fascist or duplicitous like that, hiding in a text. if i just didn’t like a book, or found it boring or something, i’d probably just ignore it.
i’ll probably try and write more reviews – i’ve got a couple of electronic ARCs from some writers i like, and what i’ve read so far suggests that they’re right up my alley. i feel like maybe an answer to the fraught feeling of reviews is to just do a lot of ’em, as a way to illustrate that they’re just, like, my opinions, man.
some pics from Pedernales Falls State Park, a really nice little hikin’ and campin’ and swimmin’ spot in the Texas Hill Country. really rad geology too – the river itself has carved down through the Cretaceous and exposed some Pennsylvanian limestones (the Marble Falls Fm) that even preserves some crinoids! real neat to see some older rocks (and some tectonic tilt in the ol’ strata, a rarity in this part of the world).
neat thing about the Pedernales (and something that most of these ephemeral river systems in the southwest share) is that, while it’s often merely a gentle trickle, SOMETIMES it’s a goddamn raging torrent. the limestone bed of the river exposed here has lots of incredibly deep slot canyon where some absolutely screamin’ flows must’ve just buzzsawed down through the rock, and there’s even a humungous erosive pothole VERTICALLY oriented in the rocky cutbank!
felt like i needed to post something here, what with the ONLY blog entry being an announcement about a (very nice!) review of a story of mine from a million years ago. i think the link is broken anyway, since the site it was posted on doesn’t exist anymore. speaking of which…
the collapse of twitter under the inept hand of apartheid-era emerald mine heir and famous idiot elon musk seems nigh, doesn’t it? i mean, there’s a lot of extremely hilarious leaks coming out from the meetings and whatnot, all of ’em making it clear that he’s coasted through his whole life based solely on the power of being a rich guy with no actual talents or creativity or personality. at first i kinda assumed that the advertiser flight would be reversed after a week or two while the shitshow got sorted, but i’m not so sure now – really seems like the whole worm-riddled structure is imploding.
i think i started on twitter in like 2013 or something, although that original account got banned when i said i hoped elon musk would die in one of his vanity space rockets (fingers still crossed on that one). but it’s been a while at, decade or so, and while twitter always seemed to get stupider and stupider (and really only ever existed as a personal data mine for advertisers), i had fun on there! met some nice, good, funny folks, but mostly i enjoyed finding writing that i never in a million years would’ve found otherwise, and i do think the loss of that is something to mourn.
it is a good chance to reflect on the impermanence of all this, though – the idea that stuff lasts forever on the internet is just another of those comforting delusions we’re all so good at. anyway, i think i’ll stroll on down to my neighborhood bar, have a beer, do some readin’ out on the porch before the rain comes in overnight.
A nice surprise over the weekend: my short story ‘Penanggalan,’ published in Noble/Gas Quarterly’s Electric Resistance Themed Issue, was reviewed by the working literary spelunker at FictionFeed.net. It’s a neat site, sifting through the tangle of online lit mags to find interesting/exciting/good fiction to share with folks.
I’m just glad they enjoyed it, and that I’ve had a chance to spread the word about a neat monster to people who, perhaps, would never have encountered the blood thirsty, flying, disembodied noggin-and-entrails of a woman that is the penanggalan on their own.