You wouldn’t believe how many pictures there are of sickeningly adorable animals hanging from precarious looking limbs, locations and more. Took a while before my cold and dismal heart settled on this guy.
Because if I can melt your heart and get you concerned about the environment at the same time, that makes me a hero, damn it.
But this post isn’t about me. Well, it is. But not in the way it usually is about me. Whatever, it is and it isn’t. Accept the paradox.
Just wanted to say, thanks for hanging in there. Life has been pretty nuts the past month and half. Two part-time-enough-to-be-full-time jobs and constant rehearsals, and making sure I have enough time to work on my fiction writing have left me with scant time for this wonderful, handsomest of blogs. But things will be quietening down in a week or so. I’ll have a lot more time to work on the site, and bring some fun stuff to the table. I may have a secret thing or two to show you guys.
No, it’s not the box under the bed. That’s opened on the Autumnal Solstice, when his dead leaf majesty shall reign forever and into the –!
In the interim, tell me: what do you hope to get out of this blog? Anything you’d like me to post on, review, taste, try, talk about? Let me know in the comments below.
And by life thing, I mean, “Boy, does that get in the way of blogging or what?”
Evening, True Believers.
I’m sorry I’ve been so absent these past few weeks. Life got its claws in me and dragged me back to reality for a while. Book selling and beer pouring and party going and car driving and shakespeare doing and all that good stuff.
But, even when incredibly tired, the writing continues, the stories demand release. And so I have been doing that, writing when I get the chance.
Hmmm . . . so in my absence, here are some fun things that have happened.
My erstwhile twin and womb-buddy, Brendan, came home from his time in Ukraine, (where he is doing successful Peace Corps dealies, like teaching kids how to make homemade pizza, and how to fight with nunchuks [kidding Brendan, please don’t hurt me]).
It was a really great time seeing him, catching up, beating the hell out of each other, as brothers are wont to do. He’s doing some great work over in Ukraine and I’m super proud of him.
Takes a lot for a guy to just up and GO, you know? Drop everything and hit that ol’ dusty trail? Takes a lotta balls. Good on ya, brother. Keep up the good work.
So seeing him was a good time, despite the quick visit. Two weeks here and gone. But he’s back, and already working hard, meeting with ambassadors and the like.
Also, Fireside Magazine will be publishing my story, “Vanilla,” in their May 2014 issue! If you don’t read Fireside, you should definitely check them out. Great stories in every sort of genre by some very good-looking and brilliant writers. Check them out here!
Also, I’m going to be doing some blogging with Quirk Books, one of the most fun and inventive publishers out there right now. So keep an eye out for that. (Also, if you’re not following Eric Smith on Twitter, then, well . . . I don’t know, something just ain’t right, though. Here, fix it: @ericsmithrocks).
Alright, gotta wrap this up. But I did want to say, I talk about books and lot on here, and of course beer, because both are delicious things. However, for all my talk of writing, I don’t really TALK about writing. I want to change that. I want to actually talk about craft, y’know, like it says in the title.
So keep an eye out for those.
We’ll return you to your regularly scheduled writing/book/beer blog soon.
I’ve reviewed one of his works already, Tenth of December, and loved it. Saunders has a wonderful style of writing. One of his strengths is being able to write and feel exclusively from his character’s point of view.
And while I lauded Tenth of December for its interesting hope for humanity through compassion, I want to compliment Pastoralia on something completely different: the separation of thought and action. The themes of compassion and dignity and worth are still there, but they are tackled in this dichotomy: what we think versus what we do.
I’m still in awe of how Saunders has done this, but he writes characters that are human to a frightening degree. He perfectly captures the stream-of-consciousness thought process of humanity, in how we can build ourself up and tear ourselves down moments later. He takes us on a roller coaster of thoughts as characters talk themselves into one thing and one perspective, and then completely backpedal, telling themselves its horrible and terrible and why did they ever think of that? And it’s done so well, that even though their thoughts are terrible, you can’t help but root for them.
And the really interesting thing, is that even while they think in these terribly steep ups and downs, their feet don’t stop moving. Which is what brings me to the point about Pastoralia.
Saunders’s characters are the perfect example of humanity’s strange ability to think one thing and do another thing entirely. In his novella, “Pastoralia,” the protagonist replica caveman worker admonishes his colleague for breaking the period piece and smoking cigarettes and speaking in english, while he goes and uses the fax machine in the back of the cave to check on his family. In “The Barber’s Unhappiness,” the middle aged, sad barber talks himself out of dating the young girl because she is overweight and wouldn’t she look better if she wasn’t, well I’ll let her know and we can tackle this problem together, even as he opens the door for her and hopes beyond hope that it works out. In, “The Falls,” a nebbish, older man sees two girls adrift on the river, headed for sure death, and readily talks himself out of it, even as he dives into the water.
Humanity is a contradiction. We’ll complain about each other until the end of the earth, and still help that miserable old lady with her groceries to the car. We’ll constantly belittle ourselves and tell ourselves we’re no good, but we’ll still put ourselves out there, hoping someone can convince us otherwise. Our thoughts and our actions, many times, are not exclusively on the same page.
Saunders’s work in Pastoralia captures this contradiction beautifully. More than the casual fluidity of his prose, more than his sad and hopeful characters, it is this lens of contradiction and its celebration where Saunders succeeds. Highly recommended.
Trying something new this week. I want to tell you about a wonderful brewery just shy of New Paltz, with a lot of heart (no pun intended), and a ton of flavor.
Ladies and Gents, I give you Newburgh Brewery:
Nestled against the Hudson River, Newburgh Brewery is a fairly recent addition to the craft beer movement, but damn if it isn’t fantastic. I have a friend up in Newburgh, and she always raves about the taproom, the beer, the food. Having experienced their C.A.F.E. Sour at my own bar, I knew I was in for something special. So I drove and met up with my friend at Newburgh and got to tasting.
I actually got a chance to meet one of the owners, a very nice guy named Paul, who let me sample some of his wares and steered me toward some tasty stuff. First draft was their Brown Ale, an incredibly drinkable, light, toffee and chocolate noted drink. Then I had their new wheat rye sour beer, the Roggensauer, mixed with an organic, locally farmed blueberry syrup that was so light and jam packed with flavor, I thought I’d died and gone to beer heaven. I ended the visit on the riverBREW Crown Maple Irish Red, a red ale with a sweet but subtle maple syrup goodness to it. Pair those with a delicious artisanal grilled cheese with rosemary-garlic fries and well, I had a hard time leaving if you can believe it.
Packed with friendly folks, delicious food and beers that focus more on big flavor than a high ABV, Newburgh Brewery is one to watch and definitely one to visit. Thanks to Paul and his staff for the warm welcome and I hope to make it back there as soon as I can!
I have a new review up at The Ranting Dragon, for Elizabeth Bear’s beautiful novel, Range of Ghosts. If you’re looking for something new in epic fantasy, that is haunting and lyrical while breaking new ground, then you should quit reading this and go buy a copy.