Friday, October 08, 2010


Monsters, Toads, Books

The Victorian monster that appears in my previous blog entry is the last in the series. All six together comprise my first self-illustrated story. I have an abiding affection for tales that utilise images as an essential complement to the text, in the manner of certain Donald Barthelme stories, and I have written and published a few examples of this form in recent years; but never before have I done the drawings myself. I hope that ‘Monsters of the Victorian Age’ will appear in a future book; but in the meantime the finished piece is available online here.

Speaking of the great Donald Barthelme reminds me that I have cited him as one of the spiritual godfathers of ‘Romanti-Cynicism’ in the Afterword of a new collection I’ve just put together: a showcase of romanti-cynical stories from the past seventeen or so years. But what is romanti-cynicism? It’s a literary movement I founded when I was younger. Romanti-Cynical fictions simultaneously take themselves very seriously and mock themselves; they have one foot in sober existentialism, one in ironic satire, one in progressive science fiction, one in nostalgic utopian fancies, one in magic, one in naivety, one in cunning, one in fable, one in rationality... with the crucial point being that the total number of these feet is always startlingly greater than feasible. Even a millipede couldn’t manage so many!

My showcase volume is entitled Link Arms with Toads! and I submitted it to a publisher two days ago; so I can’t yet be sure it will ever see the light of day. “Link Arms with Toads!” is the motto of the Romanti-Cynical Movement. What does it mean exactly? I’d like to say that I’ve forgotten or that I never really knew, but the truth is simple enough: whether you are a ghost, a robot or just an apeman, you can always link arms with toads!

Bruce Sterling isn’t a romanti-cynical author; but he’s a tremendous writer all the same. A genius, in fact! My interview with him for La Stampa is now available in English. Here it is. This version is actually longer than the one in Italian.

What else? I think I ought to mention that there's a book-launch and reading at the British Library, London, on October 28th in aid of the "Read for READ" charity anthology. READ International is a charity devoted to increasing literacy by shipping free books to Africa. So far they have shipped nearly 1,000,000 books. They are publishing an anthology to raise money for the charity. This anthology contains the winners of a short-story competition held earlier this year, and also a few guest stories by a handful of invited writers. It's a cause I believe in, and I'm in the book with two stories, one written specially for the charity; so I may be going to the reading if I can drum up the cash for a visit to ultra-expensive London. The British Library is one of the finest venues for a book-launch in the world; and if you happen to be in the area at the time, I definitely recommend going to this event! Click here for more details.

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