“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Irma Gold Reviews Known Unknowns for Overland

The first review of my book has been posted on the Overland Blog, which you can read here. It's a generally very nice review, which says many nice things about my work.

There are, however, two hysterically funny factual howlers that I just have to note (I know, I know it's passé to respond to a review). Gold very kindly states that ‘“Apex”, which deals with a young boy’s trauma over the death of a friend, is an absolute gem.’; this is very sweet of her to say, but no-one dies in ‘Apex’, so maybe it wasn’t quite as good a story as she thought it was.

The best bit, though, is this: ‘“Sickness unto Death” is a potent story and the only one not set in contemporary times. It takes place during the Black Death outbreak and Stinson gives the narrator an uneducated voice of the time. While I would suggest some of the phrasing and language used is not historically accurate, ultimately it didn’t matter.’ I ultimately agree: in ‘Sickness unto Death’ I refer to many things – automobiles, gasoline, rifles, electricity – that would seem anachronistic if the story were set during the 14th-Century outbreak of the Black Plague. These references might, indeed, lead some readers to conclude that the story is not set in the 14th Century at all . . . 

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