Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Literature as smoke screen, literature as activation energy

The night before last, my poor dog came upstairs at around 4am and got in the tub. This, as illustrated earlier, is what she does when she's scared of something. So I got up, robed up, and wandered the house trying to determine was scared my dog. Nothing. With the lights on I got her to come downstairs, then I got dressed and took her outside, in case she had to go really badly and was *scared* by that. Then I pulled on my hoodie and went to sleep on the couch, next to her bed, so she'd feel okay. Then when I got up I remembered it was election day, so I crusaded my ass over to my polling station and voted. I'm pleased to say that the crazy person is not my mayor, as I was afraid might happen.

I've been reading a lot of short stories, lately, and I'm running up hard against something that bothers me. I don't understand a lot of them. I find myself struggling to make sense of the narrative, expending all my energy on determining the parameters of the world and picking up clever clues left behind by the author as to what the hell's going on. Then I get to the end and...uh...it just ends. Nothing happens. Or worse! Something happens but I don't know what the hell it is. So. Thank you, authors. I don't understand your work. I'm not dumb. I am, however, tired of paying in to your system and not getting much in return. Be well, and good bye. You must be this enigmatic to be my friend. You have failed the threshold, pass on.


At 7:23 PM , Blogger Splitcoil said...

Yes! That is why I don't read many short stories written after 1960. It's why I have trouble thinking about writing short stories. There's so much fucking crap in the pile that the search for the little nuggets of undigested corn seems hopeless and all too wearing for a person with a life.

I've figured out why you haven't "scored big-time" yet, by the way. It's your name. "Tim Akers" sounds too friendly and down to earth. Not at all enigmatic, threatening, or sexually ambiguous. I recommend "Venus Aberystwyth," "J. Rickard Hammer," or "The Octagon" as pen names. Go forth and prosper.

At 7:49 PM , Blogger Colin Peters said...

Hmm. Maybe. There are quite a few short stories out there trying to be ambiguous or enigmatic or something, and then there are the stories that go plonk, thumping you over the head with their simplistic plots. I guess writing good short stories must be hard.

At 7:58 PM , Blogger Marshdrifter said...

I don't read much fiction anymore, but the last sets of short stories I've read were Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, After the Quake by Haruki Murakami, and I think some Hanif Kureishi, although I forget exactly which collection.

Some of these were good, a few of them left me unfulfilled, but I understood them all. At least, I think I did.

At 1:41 AM , Blogger José said...

I seldom comment, not being a writer and being in another continent, but I religiously read you. And this is something that made me stop buying magazines and multi-author compilations. How you are paying for a 20% content, 30% acceptable content and a 50% of uninteresting words. I have found that way a few stories that floored me, but those gems do not justify working for them.

I love the short story format, I just buy single author compilations. Because the signal-noise ratio will be much better. Never perfect, of course, though Gaiman is almost there (and his novels leave me cold).

I know that means I support only established authors, but to take new authors seriously I think you need a novel, not a good short story (or several, as you already have). A bad novel I can give away. A bad compilation with a good story I have to keep in the shelves.

A selfish reader.

At 5:00 AM , Blogger Mike Jasper said...

Hey Tim. Hope you don't mind me dropping in here, but I just read your story "A Walking of Crows" in Electric Velocipede 10 (I know, I'm way behind!), and quite liked it. Cool world, great characters, and lots of nice touches, especially the cloak made of crows from his father.

Just wondering if this is part of a larger work, like a novel. I hope so.

Nice work!

At 6:08 AM , Blogger Tim Akers said...

Thanks, Mike. Yeah, it's absolutely part of a larger work. There are three more short stories, all of which have sold to Interzone. "The Song" appeared in IZ204, "Toke" is in IZ210 (out next month) and "The Algorithm of God" has not yet been scheduled.

I'm also working on a novel, which has been going spottily for the past year. The whole writing a novel while you have a day job thing...that's a bitch. But it's going, and should be finished sometime soon. I hope. Thanks for dropping by!


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