Thursday, 25 November 2010

Super Sad True Love Story

My review of Super Sad Love Story by Gary Shteyngart is now up on The Zone. It's a terrific book that I enjoyed reading and writing about a lot. It's a very clear commentary on 1984, one of my favourite novels, and so I had a lot of fun with it. Plus it's genuinely funny and clever – the dystopian elements are pitch perfect satire of current media and trends and the characters do more than fill their roles as comic types and really come alive.

As is often the case, this review is just a thinly disguided excuse to write about something else entirely, though. In this case, I wanted to explore the divide between literary and genre fiction. I frequent a big geeky message board and it's a topic that comes up there quite a lot, usually in reaction to some statement by a mainstream type eschewing fantasy or SF (J K Rowling and Margaret Atwood are the examples that keep coming up). The last twelve or 18 months seem to have had a few mainstream SF releases and so the issue's been coming up again, most interestingly a discussion between China Mielville and literary critic John Mullan on the question of why SF novels never win the Booker prize. 

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Butt by Will Self

Well Self is a sci fi writer. He tries to hide it, but a brief glance at his oeuvre should be enough to convince. It's there in the title story of his first collection of short stories “The Quantity Theory of Insanity”, which recounts the results of an experiment at a mental hospital in London. There are clear SF influences in this story – H P Lovecraft, J G Ballard, David Cronenberg, to name just the most obvious. More mainstream readers try to hide it under murmurings about Burroughs, or Kafka or Alasdair Grey or Jonathan Swift, but those of us that are in the know are not fooled!

Monday, 8 November 2010

So, what was I saying?

My apologies. I've been busy on other things and haven't been updating here. Well, never fear I'm still out and will be back soon with a review of Super Sad Love Story by Gary Shteyngart and some less formal comments on Will Self's The Butt. There's also part four of the 2000AD review to come: rather than just Sinister Dexter and Nikolai Dante I'm going to cover all the rest in one last post.

So, hang in there all this is coming soon! In the meantime, here's Jackson performed by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood.