A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for September, 2008

Nisi Shawl Reads at BookPeople Oct. 4 in Moscow, Idaho

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Nisi ShawlNisi reads from her new story collection, Filter House, and answers questions about African Americans in speculative fiction, Filter House, and Writing the Other: Bridging Cultural Differences for Successful Fiction at BookPeople in Moscow, Idaho, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Copies of Filter House and Writing the Other will be available for sale, with a signing session following the reading. BookPeople is at 521 S. Main St., Moscow, ID, 83843.

Also, Nisi and I may play one of my songs together at her reading. She’s got a great singing voice and I’ve written an SF carpe diem love song we like to do.

This is a brown-bag affair, so hit the farmer’s market to score some lunch to munch while Nisi reads to you. Bring questions and ideas, too, on anything about writing, life, the universe and everything, as we’re hoping for a lively postprandial discussion.

My review of Filter House is here. Nisi’s Science Fiction Writers of America page is here.

Filter House, said writer and critic Samuel R. Delany, “is just amazing. What a pleasure and privilege it was to read it!”

The eminent novelist and critic Ursula K. Le Guin wrote of Filter House: “From the exotic, baroque complexities of ‘At the Huts of Ajala’ to the stark, folktale purity of ‘The Beads of Ku,’ these fourteen superbly written stories will weave around you a ring of dark, dark magic.”
Matt Ruff, author of Set This House In Order and Bad Monkeys calls Filter House “A travelling story-bazaar, offering treasures and curios from diverse lands of wonder.”

Karen Joy Fowler declares, “Sometimes enigmatic, often surprising, always marvelous. This lovely collection will take you, like a magic carpet, to some strange and wonderful places.”

Eileen Gunn, author of Stable Strategies, concurs that these are “Remarkably involving stories that pull you along a path of wonder, word by word, in worlds where everything is a bit different.”

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Written by Brian

September 27th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Visual Thinking in Engine Summer by John Crowley

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some notes from an article I wrote on the Visual Reasoning wiki

Engine Summer is set in post-apocalyptic distant future, hundreds of years, at least, after a series of anthropogenic catastrophes, known collectively as the Storm, have reduced human populations to a fraction of their former billions. The teller of Engine Summer is Rush (as in reed), a member of the Little Belaire community, all of whom are “truth speakers.” Truth speakers attempt to communicate in such a way that “they mean what they say, and say what they mean.” One of the ways they do this is by telling lots of stories. As a boy, Rush — Rush that Speaks is his full name — spends time with a “gossip,” a wise woman, named Painted Red.

Storytelling allows for the creation of communal meaning; but by what cognitive means is that accomplished? In as much as Crowley’s novel is a meditation on this question, he seems to argue that the means is through perception. For instance, the young Rush is being counseled by Painted Red while they are both in a heightened state of consciousness thanks to the use of a “rose-colored substance” dabbed on the lips:

What I did notice was that Painted Red’s questions, and then my answers, began to take on bodies somehow. When she talked about something, it wasn’t only being talked about but called into being. When she asked about my mother, my mother was there, or I was with her, on the roofs where the beehives are, and she was telling me to put my ear against the hive and hear the low constant murmur of the wintering bees inside. When Painted Red asked my about my dreams, I seemed to dream them all over again, to fly again and cry out in terror and vertigo when I fell. I never stopped knowing that Painted Red was beside me talking, or that I was answering; but — it was the rose-colored stuff that did, of course, but I wasn’t aware even of that — though I knew that I hadn’t left her side and that her hand was still on mine, still I went journeying up and down my life. (359; references, unfortunately, to an oddball 3-in-1 edition.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

September 16th, 2008 at 8:08 pm

The Sacred Family by Sebastián Campos

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review by Brian Charles Clark

The Sacred Family - DVDThe Sacred Family is a jarring, sometimes hard-to-take movie with a great payoff. Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Campos has made a study of a family’s descent into hell, a path that proves to be rutted and pitted with moral degradation and graphic sexual humiliation.

A family — Marco (Sergio Hernández), his wife, Soledad (Coca Guazzini), and their son Marco (Néstor Cantillana) — celebrates Easter weekend by gathering in their home on the cliffs somewhere along the Chilean coast. As Catholics, the group is a continuum, from the mother’s smart, somewhat secularized but fiercely pure faith to the son’s violent doubt.

Marco hijo, newly sophisticated by his studies in architecture, brings home his new girlfriend, Sofia, played by Patricia López. Lopez’s performance is edgy and sharp, sometimes to the point of hamminess, but it helps drive an ensemble performance caught cinema verité-style with handheld cameras in natural light. (Indeed, the verité style of the film, no doubt with a little help from some truth-bending PR types, has some viewer-commentators exclaiming “no script!” and “it’s all real!” but don’t believe the hype: the multiple takes from various camera angles prove that this is a carefully set-up and scripted picture, albeit with room for improvisation.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

September 13th, 2008 at 9:01 am

Posted in film, reviews