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Monday, September 09, 2002

Fascinating article by Paula Guran over at Locus Online.

I don't have enough of a sense of current horror as a field to agree or disagree with her description of things as they are, although I suspect that even if she's right, she may be wrong in her ultimate conclusions -- after all, the state of affairs she describes applies equally well to poetry these days, all small press and print on demand and you-publish-mine-I'll-publish-yours and all too often no sense of history (old poetry is too often considered "boring rhyming stuff written by pretentious dead guys," by people who couldn't construct a villanelle at gunpoint) -- and poetry still rolls along, and there is still a tribe, and sometimes someone fine and interesting will come along and make great poetry.

I suspect that Paula, in her various editorial capacities, is too tired of reading lousy fiction. But I'd take a different tack. I'd probably start by suggesting that people read. Lots of people want to write horror. Many of them, as she points out, only read horror, and not very good horror at that. (There was a case some years ago of a writing team of two nice young ladies publishing a book which was extensively ripped off from a Dean Koontz novel. It was a while before anyone noticed. And my reaction was "what a strange thing to plagiarise".)

And I take heart from one thing. A quick check reveals that over at Amazon.com, Steve Jones and Kim Newman's invaluable Horror: 100 Best Books is still in available. (You need this book, by the way, if you have any interest in horror at all. it's the ultimate reading list. A hundred authors write about a hundred great books. Go order it from your local bookshop. Then try to read the hundred.) And, perhaps more importantly, the Amazon entry shows that the other books that people who bought it also bought are, in the main, books on writing horror. I hope this means that the tribe of want-to-be horror writers has more of a sense of history and literature than Paula thinks.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I wrote the review of Anthony Boucher's Compleat Werewolf in the Jones and Newman book, because Steve or Kim phoned me up at the very very last minute, and said "Reviewer number one hundred just completely flaked out on us, so you have to do one. What book do you want to do?" And I suggested books, getting ever more obscure and recondite, they would say "No, someone's already done that one for us." Eventually I said "Just read me the list of books you haven't got reviews for," and the first one they got to that I liked, I said "I'll do that", and it was the Boucher.)

....

Behind the scenes, they are working hard to get things on this website that aren't working, working again. The FAQ e-mail address started working half an hour ago, although none of the e-mails people have sent previously have come through yet. But to celebrate the first one of these to come through in a week or more...

I read _American Gods_ this past summer, and enjoyed it. I have always been
interested in the old Norse Mythos. You have an incredible imagination. My
only regret with your book was that none of the "gods" of the American South
were represented (Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, and the like), but as you had
mentioned in your FAQ, you really don't have much experience with the rural
South.


True enough, although they were still in there, more or less, as gods, not as children's folk-tales. After all, the tar-baby story and many of the rest of them were originally African stories told about gods. And the god that much of Africa told the tar baby story about wasn't a rabbit, it was the spider god, Anansi...

(If you've sent an FAQ thing over the last ten days or so, feel free to re-send it to the NGFAQ@authorsontheweb.com address while they're working stuff out.)
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