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05-10-03: Writer Reading Lists: Ira Sher

Ira Sher Recommends.....

In conversing with Ira Sher, the subject of books I might like came up, and he sent me some suggestions which sounded very alluring. I thought I'd share them with my readers, who are, after all, here for the books. And I ask you: can it get any better than 'A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia'? Now over to Ira...

The stories in this book are surreal slippery weirdness.

This book is a tale of the living who seem like ghosts and the dead who appear to be alive.

"There are many writers falling under the rubric of what you're calling "retrovisionary science fiction" appearing in venues that don't traditionally serve up science fiction: Victor Pelevin, Haruki Murakami, Ben Markus, and William Vollmann (I'm thinking of his fantastic first novel) are a few that come to mind. W.G. Sebald is a writer who dwells in a past that contains none of the trappings of sci-fi, but contains an unreal that opens seamlessly out of the historical. The Museum of Jurasic Technology and the panoramic photographs of Nick Kahn and Richard Selesnic also come to mind as none-literary forms of this slippery kind of narrative."

The guest list looks very hot in this new collection recommended by Ira Sher.

And then in a bit of synchronicity, he also mentioned:

"You might already have heard of this one, but just coming out from Four Walls Eight Windows -- One Lamp: Alternate History Stories from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by Gordon Van Gelder."

I'll try to see if I can get a cover image from 4W8W.

Thanks Ira! This list should keep us all busy; especially Mark Ziesing, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Capitola Book Cafe.....

05-07-03: Mea Tulpa, Amazon Advises

Mea Tulpa:

My Multiple Mistakes at Singularity

Funny Stuff from the no-comma Four Walls Eight Windows small press publishers of New York, New York, USA.

"When Alexandra David-Neel journeyed through Tibet, one of the many mystical techniques she studied was that of tulpa creation. A tulpa, according to traditional Tibetan doctrines, is an entity created by an act of imagination, rather like the fictional characters of a novelist, except that tulpas are not written down."


Readers have on occasion remarked as to the not-so uncommon grammatical error and typos that haunt these pages. I wish I could afford a good proofreader, but I can't -- I'm it, and that gets me into trouble. Most recently, I made two rather egregious errors in an article posted over at Singularity. First and worst, I got the name of a publisher wrong, accidentally creating a comma to go where I thought a comma should go. I now know that it's Four Walls Eight Windows that publishes the delightful collection 'Witpunk'. Here's something that should be required reading for all genre fiction fans, because it's going to force them to have some damn fun. I've said it before and I'll say it again, we need fun, especially in the form of an anthology of short fiction by such luminaries as James Morrow, Cory Doctorow, Jeffrey Ford and Pat Cadigan.

I also took time to get a bit tweaked by the title, which I considered yet another egregious use of the suffix -punk to pump up a book and make it seem youthful when in fact, many of the contributors have been writing humor long enough to have grand kids. So it should have come as no surprise when Marty Halpern wrote to cure me of this notion. Halpern & Lalumiere were having their own bit of fun tweaking the endless process of punks before them.

And finally, to top my streak of fact creation, I called Four Walls Eight Windows a Canadian publisher (now I know I was thinking of Tesseract), when in fact they are located in New York. So that's my tulpa of the week. Your job is to buy the book, preferably having it speed shipped from Ziesing as I did.

Amazon Advises

Need I say anything more? The customer input from Amazon provides creative types with opportunity for deviltry.

...Not that I'm buying David Hasselhof CDs -- too much melody thankyouverymuch. This wackiness was pointed out to me by one of the folks on the Fortean list. Thanks Steve!

Now Walter the Farting Dog, on the other hand....


05-06-03: Titillating Tales from Tokyo

"The sewer is wider than we knew."

These news stories read like missives from an extraterrestrial alien culture.

I love forteana, and one of the main reasons is that it encompasses so much of the world's oddity. Witness this wonderful book, which you'll have to mail order but is eminently, eminently worth it. 'Tokyo Confidential' collects the best of the Waiwai page of the Mainichi Daily News in Japan. Five intrepid men, not entirely sober by their own admission, comb the cheesy weeklies of Japan looking for the most scurrilous, the most lurid, the lowest stories they can find. They print them daily in the Waiwai page. I quote: "Let's be crude for a moment...Vulgarity has a place. The common denominator is the lowest. The more shocking, the better...Waiwai pleads guilty to keeping low company."

You've probably heard parts of some of these stories, but here they are, 250 plus pages, nicely organized and carefully selected by the same editors who have been helming the Waiwai pages for a dozen years. From the shop that serves up used panties, "hot off the rump", to women who frame salarymen for train groping, this book digs into the trash with a fervor that's positively inspiring.

Trash digging in this format isn't just looking through the garbage. It's archaeology, a cultural cross-section that you won't find anywhere else. If you want to start trend-spotting, this is the place to begin. Yes, you may want to wash your hands after reading this book; you may want to wash your brain.

Here's the URL to order direct from the publisher.