Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Review--A Wild Sheep Chase

Book Review

I am really slow to decide whether I liked a book or not, so my reviews are pretty slow in coming. All the same, for the sake of furthering my understanding my own writing, I am going to post reviews of the books I’ve recently finished.

A Wild Sheep Chase (1989)

This book, the third in a series, was Haruki Murakami’s U.S. breakout novel, and it is clear how this powerful, and often pensive novel, made it past the U.S. market border.

On the surface, the book focuses on a quest that the protagonist must go on to avoid having his life destroyed by a man that is only know as “the boss.” The narrator (we never get a name), and his girlfriend (“the girl with perfect ears”) set out to find a mysterious sheep that may or may not be pivotal to the boss’s existence. Along the way, the narrator realizes that an old friend is somehow connected to the sheep and possible the boss. This friend, “the rat,” becomes the focus of how to find one sheep in all of Japan.

The story takes us from urban Tokyo to the very rural Japan in an ever-increasingly bizarre adventure. This story is what I would call literary speculative fiction, as a number of important elements of the story depend of paranormal events. I ended up really liking the book, but it was definitely not a quick or light read. I suppose you could breeze through it, taking in only the quest plot, but what I liked most about the story was the focus on the various character’s interpretation of what was important in life, the quest, and each other. I can’t whole-heartedly recommend the book, but when you are feeling adventurous and patient, pick it up and follow Murakami on his mental hike through human spirit.

Stars (out five)


Monday, September 24, 2007

San Juan Island Picture Share

Dead Man's Bay
Isn't it beautiful!

Relaxing weekend

I spent my weekend up on the San Juan Islands. It was so relaxing, I didn't get a ounce of writing in all weekend. In truth, I sat talked with friends and pondered the ridiculous nature of elitism (essentialist and reductionist philosophies as a cornerstone, which are there as a means of controlling group membership). It has shaken a couple ideas out of my noggin, so let's see if I can't get some more short stories out this year.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I have my newest story out at Ideomancer right now. It's only been a week, but I am always so surprised how impatient I can get about hearing back. I have so much confidence in this piece that I know it will find a home, but I particularly like Ideomancer. They are a great magazine, and they are very respectful to writers (I actually got a good deal of feedback from Sean Melican about a piece I sent in to them about six months ago). I think I might be done sending into F&SF, Asimov, and Analog. In fact, I think I'd rather run with this crowd--Strange Horizons, Lone Star Stories, etc-- as they print very cutting edge speculative fiction instead of recycling the same authors and stories over and over. I think these magazines take more risks, which leads me to finding some of the coolest stories and new authors. Hooray for small presses, magazines, and publications!

*crossing fingers and toes for mah story*

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I couldn't resist ...

Writing Marcom

I am writing a pamphlet today for my work's new "big" product. I am always amazed how different it is to write marketing material compared to any other form of writing (except poetry). Grammar rules go out the window with phrases like:

Access our powerful magic from home! (commanding isn't it).
Know your magical item is safe with us. (I feel safe, don't you).

No wonder we all talk in sentence fragments: it is the most common reading we do these days (billboards, etc.). Then I started wondering, is it really wrong, or does it just annoy me. I mean, most editors or writers agree that that grammar is 70 percent solid rules and 30 percent opinion. Still, it makes my red pen twitch.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Confessions of an editor (and writer)

  • I can never remember if it is congradualations or congratulations. I look it up every time.

  • Lay, lie, lying ... it's best to let cranky editors lie ... or is that lay ...

  • I abuse semicolons.

  • I am scared of colons.

  • I leave words out ALL the time.

  • I put the wrong word more often than I like to admit. ;-)

  • When I need to edit, I procrastinate by writing.

  • When I need to write, I procrastinate by editing.

  • Spell check is my friend.

  • Cut and Paste is my enemy (it is only in combo that I really get into trouble).

  • Style? Isn't that a magazine.

  • I still can't figure out when to use a dash to any good end (but I do hate them).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The reason for all the quiet

I recently got the bright idea to buy a new house. My life has been swallowed by getting my condo ready for sale. Dear dog, it is more work than I ever expected. I have been dreaming (or nightmaring) about painting, tiling, and cleaning.