Friday, July 17

[On the comments regarding my previous post -- this is, I think, of sufficient general interest to warrant its own Front Page Treatment]

It's worth remembering my favorite paraphrase of Nietzsche: When you judge a work of art, the art also judges you.

That is to say: what you get out of a book depends more on what you bring to it than on any skill of its author (though I well understand that this is heresy to most of the LitCrit crowd, whose entire worldview -- not to mention income and careers -- is based on the indefensible contention that not only do objective signifiers of literary quality exist, but that these supposed signifiers can be reliably identified by critics. And that identifying and sharing these signifiers in various rhetorical arguments about various works' inherent quality is not only a worthwhile occupation, but one for which they should be paid).

What Really Good Critics do is create and deliver an entertaining and persuasive narrative of their own experience; they understand that the only defensible form of criticism is a report of how the work in question affected (or failed to affect) them. What Really Stupid Critics do is smugly repeat shit like "Show, Don't Tell" and, oh, I don't know, maybe "This is how it feels to read crap," in order to pretend they're smart.

Look: there are some people who are open to the idea that a book like Revenge of the Sith might actually be a Good Novel -- even people who generally despise Star Wars, like (for example) my wife, the Fabulous Robyn. In fact, she still hasn't forgiven me for seducing her into actually giving a damn about Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi (she listened to the Unabridged Version read by the estimable Jonathan Davis, and it made her cry. More than once). But these are people who are already susceptible to the heroic epic; a Henry James fan who considers the mark of Great Literatue to be the delicately filigreed tale of how the Cruel World ultimately Destroys the Beauty of the Sensitive Soul, is just never gonna get it, no matter how hard you push it. There are plenty of James fans who will insist that The Iliad is Real Literature, as is Hamlet or many other narratives based on outside sources -- and in the same breath say that RotS can't be Real Literature because it's based on Star Wars. I could be the Second Coming of Leo Fucking Tolstoy, and still none of these people would be persuaded that a Star Wars book can be anything other than (at best) an entertaining diversion.

Not that I'm claiming to be in the same league as Homer, Shakespeare and Tolstoy, you understand. I'm far from convinced that my SW books will still be read ten years from now, let alone 400. Or 2500. I would, however, just once like to copy out Homer's capsule bios of each of the slain heroes at Troy, then pants one of these Show Don't Tell fucktards and shove that copy up his ass.


Thanks for the great review. Sorry about the gender misapplication -- the -trix suffix is usually applied to female examples of persons engaged in occupations that end in -tor. Hence the mix-up. Sorry.

Thursday, July 16

I have been ruminating lately on how certain genre writers broke out into the mainstream after making the acquaintance/coming to the attention of certain influential critics -- specifically, Bradbury meeting Christopher Isherwood, and Cormac McCarthy becoming the (strictly metaphoric, so far as I know, and generally literary) love interest of Harold Bloom.

So here's the question:

How do I get this person a job at the New York Times Review of Books? And why isn't she already famous?

Now, don't get me wrong: I know I've received a great deal of love from various and sundry Individuals of Stellar Taste who may very well be on their way to Influential Criticosity within (at least) Our Genre . . . but I need somebody who's already big.

Dang it.

Monday, July 13


I have not personally verified the genuine-osity of this organization; as with any online charity site, I suggest you do so before contributing. A less-detective-work alternative would be to simply attend the auction at ComiCon.

I do know that Mr Ostrander has (by his own report) recently had eye surgery, and so I strongly suspect that this is entirely legitimate. I'm just too shy to write to the guy directly and ask.

Those of you who don't know who Jon Ostrander is, well . . . you must not love comic books, several of the best in recent memory being products of his pen (including the current Star Wars: Legacy series, and one of my all-time favorite works of serial graphic fiction, Grimjack).

Those of you who work Real Jobs are hereby officially encouraged to

1.) contribute, if possible, or at least
2.) help get the word out to other interested parties, or
3.) both.

I can speak with some authority to the devastating effect of chronic illness, and being buried in debt only makes it worse.

Full disclosure: Those of you who enjoyed Shatterpoint should be aware that my characterization of Mace Windu owes a considerable debt to Mr Ostrander's depiction of him. I don't know the guy personally, you understand; I'm just a fan.