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Showing posts from June, 2019

Review of Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand

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From the decadent, dystopian science fiction of her debut novel, Winterlong; to the immersive magic of her art world fantasies like Mortal Love; to the harsh, earthy, crystalline landscapes of her Cass Neary suspense novels; Elizabeth Hand’s ouevre is as dark, sensuous and edgy as anything out there.

I keep a copy of Hand’s short story collection, Errantry, beside my desk to give me something to aim for with my own fiction. It’s a bar so high that not many writers reach it more than a few times in their lifetimes, but Elizabeth Hand has pretty much resided there throughout her 20+ book career-to-date.

So when I received an advance reading copy of her upcoming book, Curious Toys through a Goodreads draw, I was over the moon. After reading it obsessively over the next few days, and raving about it to friends, family and co-workers, I have finished it, thought about it, and am ready to declare it one of her best.

In this convincing evocation of early 20th century Chicago, 14 year old P…

Writing Lessons from Other Disciplines

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In addition to writing, my other creative outlet is stone sculpture. The two may not seem to have much in common, but sculpting has taught me a great deal about writing. 1) Patience. If you rush a sculpture, all sorts of bad things can happen. The most obvious and common one is splitting the stone unexpectedly. When you are handcarving stone, you start with big tools, sharp hammers and chisels that can sheer away unwanted stone and help you start shaping your sculpture. Rushing this step can be a big mistake. With the amount of stone dust you raise, it can be hard to see cracks forming - and the sheer impact of each hammer blow can encourage any pre-existing hairline cracks to split wide open. I've had more than one sculpture simply sheer in half right when I was starting to get excited about what it was going to become.  If you take your time and pay attention, and you can catch a problem early enough, it can often be averted, by removing the chunk of rock that is already unstab…