Monday, March 30, 2009

At March's end

Odds & ends at March's end ...
  • Marilynne Robinson is anti-science; I don't see any other way to interpret this. Doesn't surprise me. Of course I liked her long-ago first novel Housekeeping. But I felt my (thankfully brief) time reading Gilead a couple years ago was utterly wasted. The wildly overblown waves of glory accorded to this deadly dull little religious tract are nearly inexplicable except as some sort of weird mass hypnosis arising from the glazed eyes induced by turning the novel's (thankfully few) pages. Or else it's the book's inward-aimed non-struggle thrust that so appeals to bourgeois literary tastes. Anyway, check out Blographia Literaria's report on Robinson's recent lectures at Yale, notable for her repeated snide references to "parascience," which is apparently a coinage of her own.
  • The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature is set for late April. Bizarrely, the theme this year is "Evolution/Revolution." The former, well, okay, we'll see what they have to say about that. But the latter? Oh, come on. Maybe I'm wrong but as far as I can see there is not a single revolutionary voice included in the program. This doesn't mean there won't be a number of interesting, worthwhile panels. But revolutionary? Of course not. PEN, as an organ of the liberal bourgeoisie, has frequently functioned as a virtual mouthpiece for the U.S. State Department; its ire has always been aimed first and foremost at the countries trying to build socialism. Thus counterrevolutionary would more accurately describe its stance. Nevertheless, as I said, parts of the program look good and there are certainly many fine writers from around the world taking part. Did someone say "the contradictions of capitalism"?
And then there's this:
  • Welcome to the first buds of spring! These are in my Queens neighborhood yesterday.
  • "In the lesbian fiction market ... there is quite a stunted growth in formats that break away from the community norm of detective or Mills and Boone type lesbian fiction. We're responding to calls for novels that are more quirky." The "we" here is Antitype Press in England, and it's great to hear that while they too, like most LGBT presses, will be doing genre, they're looking for what sounds like a different take on what has become, in my view, a dreary, tired lineup of the same old same old. They characterize their first novel as "dark religious fiction." I'm game.
Busy week ahead, and my wildly whirring little brain is a-flutter with sentences demanding to be written as I return to my newly rediscovered second novel, so posting may slow down a bit. Or not. We'll see.