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Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Yesterday I walked around the garden. I said to my assistant, Lorraine, �We have to get a tree person to come in and cut some of these trees back. Those branches might be dangerous,� and she agreed.

Last night we had the mother of all storms. Several of the larger branches I was concerned about are now sitting on the lawn (one narrowly missed a car as it came down). I suspect all the neighbourhood tree people are going to be busy for quite a while now, as trees must have come down everywhere.

...

Read Gary Wolfe�s review of Coraline in Locus. It made me very happy for a number of reasons � mostly because it looks at Coraline as literary fiction (and specifically literary fantasy fiction) and discusses where it fits in the fantasy tradition, and how it can be read, which means, for example, Wolfe does not talk about Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl, which are the sort of positioning touchstones that reviewers normally seem to nod at when talking about Coraline, and instead mentions gonzo Victorian children's writer Lucy Clifford (who, as an aside, I�d learned about first from Grant Morrison in a Thai restaurant in Soho many years ago).

I think there�s some kind of metaphysical law of genre, which says that you can only be in one literary ghetto at a time. Sometimes this can work to one's advantage. It was the joy of comics � it didn�t matter what I did, genre-wise, it was permissable because it�s still comics. Coraline is fantasy literature, but because it�s a children�s book, it�s in the children�s book ghetto (which is a pretty damn wonderful ghetto to be in) and sits on the shelves next to every other kind of children�s book, and can be taken as seriously as any other children�s book. It�s not inferior because it�s fantasy: it�s just part of the canon of children's literature.

Which is, I suspect, where my joy in watching Gary Wolfe write about Coraline as fantastic fiction came from. Also he's a really interesting critic -- Wolfe at his best, like Clute at his best, makes you want to reread the books they talk about, even some of the ones they find wanting, because you've learned a whole new way of reading the text: good critical writing is like being handed a key you can use to open a story with. (Bad critical writing tends to be a "review" -- "I liked this/didn't like this" that just goes on for too long.)
...

Just saw all the pencils of Craig Russell�s DEATH story for the ENDLESS NIGHTS volume, and realised it was 24 pages long. (I did the lettering draft of the script for Todd Klein to letter.) And I thought, in the old days, this would have been exactly the length of an issue of Sandman. I wondered whether Death in Venice could have been an issue of Sandman. And I�m not sure that it would have been � there�s a specific sort of theme in Sandman, even when it seemed to drift furthest from the point, about the gulf between our aspirations � at least our dreams � and our world, about the relationship between our stories and ourselves, that this doesn�t have. It�s a lovely 24 page Death story, though. (And in some ways it�s sort of a weird companion piece to Ramadan.)

...

Finished reading Chapter Four of Archer's Goon, by Diana Wynne Jones to Maddy tonight. It's one of my favourite books, and has been since it was first published in 1984. Reading it aloud is fascinating -- Awful is a much better character, funnier and sharper, then she ever seemed when I was reading her on the page. I remember, back in around 1990, Diana and I were at a Convention together, and we started chatting, and it turned into a discussion of the sequel to Archer's Goon. I wish that I could remember more of the conversation. I know that the family's parents were in it, and I remember Diana saying "And of course Shine still wouldn't get to India..."
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