Saturday, 29 October 2005

On Third Rate Readers of Wolfe; or, "Stupid Cretinous Cancer Boy!" The folks on the Gene Wolfe discussion list continue to berate Rich and I for daring to speak ill of their beloved Wolfe. Granted, I don't want to discount the obvious differences between casual readers of Wolfe and those who would subscribe to a listserv devoted to his work, but I still think there's a whiff of excessive fanboyism to some of their criticisms: The beauty of the langauge alone in many of the scenes screams out for admiration. I was constantly amazed at the classification of Wolfe as a second rate, one trick pony writer on that blog. Second rate? [emoticon excised] Only to third rate readers. Long Sun, Short Sun, and New Sun are completely distinct in voice. Both of these complaints come from Marc Aramini, about whom I know nothing and therefore will refrain from speculating as to his motivations. That said, I think the manner in which these claims are pressed without evidentiary support points to the difference between the sorts of debates devout fans wish to have about authors versus the sorts of debates which yoke casual readers. Because I agreed with the first statement from the beginning—I noted that Wolfe "refines [his prose] further with everything he writes"—and did not call Wolfe a "one trick pony" but a "brilliant-one-trick-pony." Intense fandom seems to suffocate nuance. Now I admit that I did not, myself, present evidence from the entirety of Wolfe's corpus to back my claim, so I leave myself open to being beat down by pot/kettle/black. But I've done what I should've done for Wolfe to the works of DeLillo. (Given my respective feelings for those two, I much rather would've done this for Wolfe.) Two last interesting notes on that exchange: First, Rich mentioned Yves Meynard's The Book of Knights as a possible source for some of Wolfe's The Wizard Knight. Yves Meynard disagrees. Second, the first list member to respond to Adam Stephanides' original linkage said I can barely stand to read half of these posts. And the most cretinous ones (if that is a word, and if I am using it correctly) don't seem worth responding to, because they reflect opinions held by people so certain of their own infallible faculty of interpretation that they are impervious to correction. I find this amusing on a number of counts—foremost among them that I suffer delusions of omniscience and believe myself impervious to correction—but the most entertaining one is that he calls me "cretinous." Meynard responded to the parenthetical questions thus: It's a real word, but you're only technically correct if their authors suffer from severe thyroid defiency. I'm 100% certain that isn't intended as the insult it could be construed as ("Thyroid Cancer Boy! Thyroid Cancer Boy! Stupid Cretinous Cancer Boy!"), but it amuses nonetheless.
A One-Man Mob of Scribbling...Livejournal Users; or, How to Illuminate a Book and Cover it in Goat Skin [This post reeks of self-indulgence. It's a veritable DeLillo novel. Don't say you ain't been warned.] While I whiled away my summer dissertating, the Little Womedievalist spent the summer making a book. She stretched the goat skin herself and everything. And by "everything" I mean "illuminated the manuscript she copied in the original script." You didn't hear that wrong. She actually learned to forge medieval script and illumination and copied herself poetry enough to fill a book. You don't believe me? I have evidence in the form of pictures. It's impressive beyond my ability to communicate, really. Plus the smell of treated goat skin defies imagination. In other news, my clogged head informs me that I'll be spending some time this week in bed with a terrible cold. Probably the bird flu. So if I don't update for a while, I'm dead. Also, I got mauled last night. (That's only one arm. And the bruises ain't even visible. Nor is my nose.) Happy Halloween! I have many half-formed thoughts I want to communicate. I finished Adam Roberts' Stone this afternoon and while I don't want to gush, it's a wonderful novel. Unlike most "hard" sci-fi—in which scientific theories and futuristic technologies are communicated in dull expository passages of interminable length—Adam strikes a balance between technological and/or theoretical fetishism and narrative pay-off. But I'm going to write about this more in a couple of days. When I'm not on the verge of the perpetual sneeze. In case he fears I'll take it easy on him because he's a friend, well, I want to know how a naked man wipes blood off a blade with his shirt! Burn! (Seriously though, I'll be posting about it later in the week. It's a strong book. Not quite George Eliot, but far superior to DeLillo.) I have more thoughts I'm currently unable to communicate adequately. So I won't. But expect much brilliance this week, 'cause brilliance is what I'll be bringing! (That, or death in the form of avian flu. One of the two.)

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