Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The above is a picture of a baby rabbit I encountered at Readercon. It seemed not to fear humans.

(It occurs to me only now that the creature pictured above directly relates to Midnight Picnic in multiple ways.)

Okay, so. I'm on my roof in the sun right now, doing all sorts of online tasks I've neglected like responding to emails and harassing sluggards, etc. It's extremely sunny. This is the universe's apology for June.

Yesterday I had to go by D.E. Shaw and sign some papers saying I can't sue the firm even if it sets me on fire and murders and dismembers my family, or something like that, in exchange for getting my severance pay. But now I'm completely done with that job, and all set to start living hand-to-mouth... like at least some of the many excellent authors I met this weekend in Massachusetts.

So it was Readercon 20, and I was invited I can only assume at the urging of one of blurb-bestowers for Fires or Midnight Picnic who were in attendance. I was a participant in some workshops, but more interestingly, I was on two panels. One was called "The Killers Inside Us" about the portrayal of psychopathology in fiction. That went well. Everybody on the panel was cool and the audience was big. Elizabeth Hand moderated. Paul Tremblay of the excellent-looking and soon-to-be-read-by-me The Little Sleep was also on it. One thing I really regret I didn't mention during the lively discussion was the story of Krystian Bala--I remembered while on the panel, but couldn't remember his name or enough details of the fairly incredible story to discuss it intelligently.

There was another panel called something like "The Nature of Evil in Horror Fiction." I went to watch this panel and one of the Readercon organizers said, "Somebody's plane has been delayed and we need an extra panelist, will you be on the panel!?" So I got onstage and did that panel, too. It was fun. John Clute, among others, was on it as well.

More fun than the panels were the dinners and nights. I met a lot of terrific writers during the weekend, some for the first time and some for the hundredth. I can't even name them all. John Crowley was there of course, a former guest of honor and generally worshiped by most of those in attendance. Little, Big was one of the most referenced titles in general discussion. I saw some pages from the 25th anniversary edition, which promises to be gorgeous. Elizabeth Hand, too, who I'd never met face to face before, was there. She was the guest of honor this year, and she's a wholly awesome person. Super-intelligent, talented, and disarmingly kind and easygoing.

Samuel Delany was there, and every time I saw him, I thought, "Oh shit, that's the guy who wrote Hogg."

Particularly thrilling for the adolescent reader alive and well inside me was the presence of Peter Straub, one of my favorite writers of all time, whose novels I devoured when I was a kid and still love. Shadowland, Ghost Story, and especially Koko were the ones I read most. Straub is an extremely friendly and engaging guy with more of a physical presence than almost anybody I know. Always wearing a dark suit, huge and broad-shouldered, with an enormous bald head and intensely hungry eyes behind big horn-rimmed glasses, he looks like--yes, I'll say it--a character from a Peter Straub novel.

Anyway, the weekend was great fun. Here are some pictures taken and posted by the awesome Ellen Datlow. By the time I got back, I was exhausted. I'd taken the bus up, but got a ride back with a funny, smart agent who told me stories for the whole four hours, like how she once dated James Ellroy (another writer about whom I can't hear enough). In a random diner just off the highway, we ran into a Yale classmate from my year who lives in, of all places, Palestine. It seems we're everywhere.

I just read The Devil's Butcher Shop: The New Mexico Prison Uprising, a very bootleg-looking book about a horrific New Mexico prison riot. It's actually quite well-written and more scholarly and dry than dramatic, but the details are utterly grotesque. Think snitches killed with acetylene torches. Having finished that, I need to read something calming and quiet.

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