Thursday, March 31, 2005

House Of Leaves

posted by Tim Walters @ 8:47 PM

I've been busy with music and such, so it took me quite a while to read Mark Z. Danielewski's House Of Leaves (a Christmas present from Todd). It's famous as a typographical tour de force, with some justice. Interestingly, it's done almost entirely in the most generic (and ugly) possible fonts--Times for the main text (a critical analysis of a clearly fictional film) and Courier for the fictional executor's footnotes (which tell a parallel story to that of the film). I assume that Times was chosen to reflect the (explicitly stated) resemblance of the main text to a freshman paper (and Courier, of course, recalls a typewriter), but I found myself wondering if the real reason was that people would recognize the names, which are also mentioned explicitly.

So, um, oh yeah... the book. It's a bit first-novelish in places--there are some mawkish and/or cliched descriptions, and I found it hard to believe that the footnoter would have the vocabulary he did and still type "alot" and "should of"--but the horror stor(ies) are gripping, and the typographical tricks and metafictional aspects don't feel tacked on. Not quite Pale Fire, but very enjoyable. And my lunch waitress caught a look at the inside and said "What the heck is that?"

Plenty of opinions and speculations about the book at

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Titan, Wizard, Demon

posted by Tim Walters @ 6:07 PM

I finished Carmen Dog on Friday. I still think Emshwiller is better at stories than novels, but that's praising with faint damns, since her stories are damn near perfect (and Small Beer Press, if you're listening, I hope a reprint of The Start of the End of It All will come soon). CD has a few perspective changes I found jarring, but other than that it's funny, deft, assuredly absurd, and absurdly assured. Highly recommended.

I had a very busy week, and when I came home Friday night I was fried to a crisp. Time for the three esses--space opera, space music, and scotch. Titan is still a highly enjoyable adventure, and the other two aren't as far below it as I remembered (especially Demon; here I may be influenced by Matt Austern's interpretation that it reflects Varley's tribulations with Hollywood). Satire isn't really Varley's forte, but I remembered Demon as being nearly unreadable, and that's not the case at all.

And I liked this bit of snark from the first few pages of Titan:
Few people gave a damn about the space program. They felt the money could be better spent on Earth, on Luna, and at the L5 colonies. Why pour money down the rat-hole of exploration when there was so much benefit to be derived from things that were established on a businesslike basis, like Earth-orbital manufacturing?
The space music was Grow by the Joint Intelligence Committee and One and Two by Touchxtone, all quite tasty and by folks I met at Different Skies 2004. The scotch was a 17-year-old Bowmore, quite tasty as well. Thanks, Chris!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Carmen Dog

posted by Tim Walters @ 11:57 AM

Started yesterday: Carol Emshwiller, Carmen Dog

Finished Sunday: M. John Harrison, A Storm Of Wings (re-read). What once seemed spellbindingly weird to me now seems to be trying a little too hard, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Read recently: Jack Vance, the Demon Princes series (fun, but would have been better spread out more); Ray Vuckevich, Meet Me In The Moon Room (outstanding surreal short stories); Curtis Roads, The Computer Music Tutorial (not much here I didn't know, but it sparked a few ideas); Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword (re-read, still rocks).