Wednesday, March 22, 2017


This post is in response to a Fran Lebowitz interview in the NY Times. Ms Lebowitz said, "Books are better than life."

I replied:
I want to argue with the line "books are better than life." No. Books require a plot (usually) and meaning (often). SFF books usually require action and excitement. I like reading about action and excitement (a lot of the time) and debtor's prisons and wretched humans beings such as Mrs. Norris in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. But do I want to encounter all this in my life? No, except in books. Most of the people in Jane Austen's novels would be boring or enraging or both, if met in real life. Being inside a Dickens' novel would be a nightmare. London in the 19th century? Ghastly poverty? Amazing pollution? Inedible food?

What life has going for it is drinking coffee in the morning and reading facebook, talking to Patrick, seeing friends, making dinner, seeing a work of (so called) art such as Captain America: Civil War and discussing why it is so lousy. Life can be painful, because you can't close it like a book and say "that's enough of that, I can find something better on the shelf." In that sense, books are better, I guess.

Though I enjoy the minutia of life a lot. I couldn't write an entire book about activities of daily life, because it has no plot or meaning. It would have characters, but they would be doing nothing much, living ordinary lives. What makes books appealing is -- they are not life. They are different. The two can't be compared.

You can have books in life. (Always good.) But not life -- real life -- in books. I think I have that right. I think I will pull out a laptop and write.
Dust bunnies. There are rarely dust bunnies in books. Piles of filth, yes. Gigantic spider webs. Gigantic spiders. Dinners are rarely spoiled, unless the author wants them so. In books, the author has complete control. The reader has none. You cannot save Little Nell.

P.S. A friend of mine points out that it's possible to save LIttle Nell with fan fiction. True enough, and maybe one of the reasons for fan fic. It enables the reader to exert control.

New Post

I have not been on this blog for a month. Nothing much has happened. We had a mild -- too mild -- winter with almost no snow. I've gotten a little writing done. Did I mention before that I am a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award? If not, then I am. The same book -- my collection of hwarhath stories -- made the Honor List for the James Tiptree Jr. Award.

No other news that I can think of. I am about to brew tea in a lovely handmade pot I got from a friend who is a potter and then settle down to revise a story.

P.S. A friend points out that I have a new story in the March Issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It is titled "Daisy" and is about an octopus who does double entry bookkeeping.