Shutting the Player Piano

I’m saddened to hear of Vonnegut’s death. In high school, I read maybe four of his books. They stretched my head in so many strange ways that I didn’t know what to make of them, but they were brilliant, which is why I kept reading them. Science fiction has long been our most powerful genre for political messages. Who has taken his place? I can’t tell.

I feel vaguely ill this morning. I think it was the coffee, or maybe the vitamins I took with the coffee, but I slept badly and had crap dreams this morning. Too much tea, too late in the afternoon was the culprit, I suspect.

Yesterday I wrote 3,008 words. The last thousand were written last evening while The Frenchman was at the Worst Choir in the World. (He says it’s getting a little better but I’m skeptical.) There’s a stretch of about 500 words that are distinctly not funny. Everything goes pitch black. And, incidentally, thanks to everyone who helped me figure out what’s happening to my poor brain. I’m less troubled by it.

I finished Caitlin Kiernan’s Daughter of Hounds last night, which was a beautiful book. I enjoyed it even more than Murder of Angels, I think because the pacing was different. MoA felt a bit elastic in a darkly dreaming way for the first 100 pages, while DoH loped along swiftly and low to the ground like a wolf tracking its prey. I was pleased to discover at the end of the book the answers as to why I felt that Soldier, for all her growling and anger, was just a scared little girl with a gun. What I enjoyed most about this Lovecraftian drama — besides Caitlin’s rich prose, which weaves of starlight and black holes like threads in a dazzling tapestry — were the very personal agonies positioned against the more cosmic conflicts. Very real pain in a fantastic world. The character Esmeribetheda has something startling in common with Mr. Wicker, which painted that character for me an extra shade of sympathetic. I absolutely loved Caitlin’s use of present tense, as I myself abhor using the pluperfect tense. The present tense brings an immediacy to the writing that’s refreshing and engaging. In all, a fabulous story. I’m so disappointed with how little attention her work gets in the HWA. I’m recommending DoH for a Stoker, anyway.

I just received in the mail Girls of Tender Age. I’m going to read that (it should be swift), send an important email, and make some decisions.

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