While looking for something else, I ran across Swans by Kelly Link.
My own swan experiences have been oddly formative. This started when I was a kid, with the Ugly Duckling tale, which made me learn patience and gave me hope that my oddness would turn into something useful. Then there were the swans on the Thames, during my summer course at Oxford, who mostly looked graceful and serene, but once attacked my friend while he was punting and the poor guy couldn’t figure out what to do about it. Swans are under the protection of the queen, you see.
A pair of swans lived in a tiny pond at Iowa State University, and each winter they disappear somewhere when it gets too cold – with humans providing transport I think. They’re named Lancelot and Guinevere. Maybe they’re gone by now. A swan can live 10-20 years, and I’ve been away twelve. They are terribly romantic images, paddling around on a sunny day, and that they mate for life, usually, unless there is a nesting failure. Perhaps that’s what my first marriage and subsequent divorce during those first years in Iowa was – nesting failure. Disagreements about how to manage the dog and ferrets factored heavily.
Anyway, read the story, which is about grief and transformation, but not it turns out, closure. Like life.
Brilliant, wrenching, mind twisting, that’s the first reaction to listening to the audio version of Lolita, read by Jeremy Irons. I read the text version in between listening sessions to take in the text visually as well, and to finish sooner. This I recommend to folks interested in revisiting an older masterpiece, and inviting multiple vectors of appreciation in approaching the work. There is also a film, staring Jeremy Irons, which I haven’t seen. I have doubts it could match the text version.
Nabokov is certainly a writer’s writer, and masterful at choosing exactly the right words to communicate the shredding depravity and self delusion of Humbert Humbert. And also, his sensitivity to the wonders of the landscape as he takes Lolita on their long cross country ride, and also, his tragic humanity. Horrific. Astonishing. Why did I wait so long to read it? My reading of it is too fresh for me to dare to look for the flaws, in what is described as “the perfect novel” by some coaches on writing. What can I say? Training as a scientist makes me skeptical about anything described as “perfect”.
Anyway, if your reading budget is tight, and like me you have missed this treasure of literary competence, visit your local library for a stunning read.
If you happen to be attending too: Here are some of the panels I’ll be attending:
Thursday 3:00 PM Pacific 1: When I Was a Kid, We Didn’t Have . . . Rights – Panel
Friday 10:00 AM Pacific 6/7: My reading – Amanda Clark – I’ll be reading a flash piece called British Colonial and one other short story. I will be there for a couple of the readings that follow.
Friday 4:00 PM Pacific 2/3: A Sea of Stars – Panel
Saturday 12:30 Pacific 4/5: Reading – Garth Nix
Saturday 2:00 PM Pacific 2/3: The Year in Fantasy – Panel
Sunday 11:00 AM Pacific 2/3: Time Goggles: Modern Perspectives and Period Literature. – Panel
Sailing the Seas of Imagination… is that a great theme for an F & SF convention or what? I’m poring over the descriptions of the panels — lots of cool stuff this year. Okay, there’s always cool stuff to hear about and interesting people to converse with at WFC. This year I’m reading, on Friday Morning at 10am. Wow. After that my friend Mark Ferrari reads — very cool.
This has been a busy month, which began with a fun visit from my grad school chum Kaye, followed by my week at Viable Paradise (and an amazing, productive, mind-stretching experience that was!!!). And the month ends with WFC. I’m flying out tonight.
Now… what to read for the entertainment of my fellow WFC folks. I have some ideas.
One day to go before we leave for Burning Man. Loads still to do. I can hardly wait!
I’m just getting my breath back after some really intense time exchanging critiques with other writers at the annual Cascade Writers Workshop, held at a small resort on the Washington coast. One of the interesting things about this event is the open nature — we get a range of writers, from those new to fiction writing to those about to break out. All of us getting time for informal chats and critiques with seasoned pros. Most of the writing is genre, aka speculative fiction. That’s SF, fantasy and magical realism, among other things I may have missed because I don’t write it.
It’s my third year at the event, and again I took back important tips on improving my writing and polishing the story I submitted. Better yet, the time with other writing folk put a fire under me. Thanks to Karen Junker and her family, who give so much to make the event happen. Lots of work, much appreciated.
I’m already signed up for next year.
I don’t get out much..between two jobs (one in high tech project management, one as a writer), I pick and choose among outings that cut into writing and research time. But Jethro Tull came to town and I bought tickets. My husband enthusiastically indulged me and came along. (He doesn’t quite groove on my love of ‘story songs’) My inclination to piss and moan about limited time and energy as I move into middle age and work to become more widely read as a fiction writer was doused by 63 year old Ian Anderson playing the flute standing on one leg and rocking the lawn at Edgefield in east Portland Friday night. Lots of boomers stretched out on the grass, and a surprising number of 20-somethings alternately tapping, clapping then up on our feet for Aqualung and Locomotive Breath.
Grey haired rockers, blew out great tunes, played and sung flawlessly, and yes I still think Ian is as hot as I did when I was in my twenties.
The bottom line: Creativity only dies if you let it. And you’re never Too Old to Rock and Roll, and ALWAYS too young to die.