Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Richard Price on Masterpieces of Dread

The walls of the waiting room were hung with black-and-white cautionary posters, encircling Strike with admonitions, the subjects ranging from AIDS to pregnancy to crack to alcohol, each one a little masterpiece of dread. Strike hated posters. If you were poor, posters followed you everywhere -- health clinics, probation offices, housing offices, day care centers, welfare offices -- and they were always blasting away at you with warnings to do this, don't do that, be like this, don't be like that, smarten up, control this, stop that.

--From p. 403, Richard Price's Clockers.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Million Writers Award - My Personal Top 10 Online Short Stories for 2007

This year, I was honored to serve as a preliminary judge for the annual Million Writers contest run by storySouth. The initial list of "notable" stories of 2007 has been posted. I highly recommend you check it out.

Each of the judges was asked to pick 10 stories from the 500+ stories nominated by editors and readers, and I thought I'd share my list with you. (I had to leave out the stories I nominated for
The King's English, of course. Here they are, in no particular order:

“Arms Akimbo: A Gest,” by Corey Mesler, Menda City Review

"The Teacher," by Paul Tremblay, ChiZine

“The Beacon,” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke, Clarkesworld Magazine

Steiner Requests His Hole Be Dug in Poland," by D.E. Fredd, Eclectica

“Oma Dortchen and Pillar of Story,” by David J. Schwartz, Farrago’s Wainscot

"Notes on the Necromantic Symphony" by Yoon Ha Lee, Farrago’s Wainscot

"Janet, Meet Bob" by Gavin J. Grant, Lone Star Stories

“Intellectual Property,” by Angela Woodward, Monkeybicycle

Malibu,” by Spencer Dew, Thieves Jargon

“Bones,” by Jon Michaud, Fawlt

“The Home Front,” by Paul Silverman, Eclectica

---Happy reading!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Translations from the British

Got a new post up over on Emdashes. There's been a fair amount of fiction published by Brits in The New Yorker lately, with a certain amount of lingo I'd not come across before. I'm fairly Anglophilic in my reading tastes, so that's saying something. Figured I'd help make the world all tickety-boo by translating for the masses. Enjoy.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How Would Books Look to a Culture Built Entirely on Videogames?

From a review of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You:

It doesn't seem right, of course, that watching "24" or playing a video game could be as important cognitively as reading a book. Isn't the extraordinary success of the "Harry Potter" novels better news for the culture than the equivalent success of "Grand Theft Auto III?" Johnson's response is to imagine what cultural critics might have said had video games been invented hundreds of years ago, and only recently had something called the book been marketed aggressively to children:

"Reading books chronically understimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of gameplaying--which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements--books are simply a barren string of words on the page....

Books are also tragically isolating. While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children....

But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that they follow a fixed linear path. You can't control their narratives in any fashion--you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you....This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they're powerless to change their circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process; it's a submissive one."
--From "Brain Candy," by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, May 16, 2005, p. 89.

Stumble Upon Toolbar