Sunday, September 18, 2011

Doesn't It Figure?

Just received this email from The Absent Willow Review:

To our readers,
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the Absent Willow Review will be closing its doors. Our last issue will be published on October 16, two weeks before our three year anniversary. It has been an amazing run and we are honored to have worked with so many talented authors and artists. To say that this was a hard decision would be an understatement. We would also like to thank you all for your support and encouragement over the last three years. It certainly made a difference and encouraged us to keep our doors open for as long as we did.

With that being said, our last issue on October 16 will include all stories which have been accepted by us for publication. The site will remain open until December 1st.

Keep Writing!
Kind Regards,
Rick & Bob
The Editors 

 Awesome. The most respected market I've been published in will only feature my story for less than three months before it closes its doors forever.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"The Machine" Is Live!

Head on over to The Absent Willow Review and read my soft sci-fi jaunt "The Machine."

If you don't want to, I'll understand. I'll give you a purple nurple, but I'll understand.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving On

This probably won't be a popular post.

Today is the ten-year anniversary of arguably the worst day in American history, 9/11/01. In light of this, there have been a hundred tributes, from the President and First Lady walking through the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed, to celebrity-laden TV specials, to over-the-top on-field ceremonies at stadiums across the country. And through it all, I can't help but wonder if I'm the only one in the world who is absolutely appalled by it.

Nearly 3,000 human beings lost their lives that day, and before the dust settled, there were pins and patches and logos meant to "commemorate" the terrible event. For a particularly embarrassing and uncomfortable time, the media couldn't quite decide between "9/11" and "9-1-1", the latter having an obvious and cruel double-meaning. It's been an industry virtually since Day One, as outlets have not stopped trying to out-Remember each other, with the aid of increasingly ridiculous graphics and melodramatic vignettes. It's as though these producers sit around in an office all day sifting through pictures of people looking sad and lost in the chaos. And for what?

I understand and appreciate the memorial built on the original site. I think it's a bit vulgar to make a monument of the footprints left by the buildings, but I get it. What I don't get is the need to rub the horrific images in our face all day every day for weeks and months leading up to today, and today most of all. I understand the desire to remember the dead, for it is in the memories of others that we live on, but there is a difference between remembering and constantly being reminded.

My grandfather died when I was a baby. My mother chooses to remember him by sharing stories of him--his life, his loves--with us. It's how she copes and how she honors him. We do not now, nor have we ever, commemorated his death. The day he died was one of the darkest in my mother's life, and she, like any normal person, remembers the man that was her father, not the heart attack that killed him. We don't wear pins over our hearts or shine a spotlight on his seat at the dinner table.

It's all too much. I ran out to the store today to grab a couple of liters of soda for the football games, and I was tempted to wish the clerk a "Happy 9/11", not because I'm some sadistic prick, but because the farce this yearly occasion has become borders on celebration.

I don't think I have any stupid or intellectually dishonest followers, so I will speak plainly of those who would call my complaints crass or without compassion or, god forbid, unpatriotic: Please try to get it through your tiny brain that I was just as devastated as you were on 9/11. I am not some young flag-burner with an instinctual anti-establishment bent. I'm every bit as American as you. It's just that I find these "memorials" to be soulless rating grabs at best, and grotesque tragedy-worship at worst.

9/11 isn't a day to commemorate. It isn't a day to remember, it's a day to forget, to put behind us forever. We should celebrate the efforts of the first responders who selflessly gave their lives, the blessed charities that make lives easier on the families left behind by the victims of the attacks, the average citizens who sacrificed just because it was the right thing to do. That's what we should remember, not the tragedy itself.

I hope someday we get our priorities right.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quick Book Review: Blood Meridian

Earlier this year, I read Cormac McCarthy's more recent The Road and was totally blown away by his unique style and gift for impossibly deep insight. He is sparse with commas and altogether forgoes quotation marks in favor of a muscular, challenging prose that forces you to hold on tight lest you lose the thread.

Challenging though The Road was, Blood Meridian makes it seem like a lazy Sunday skim. For one, replace the familiar plainspeak of the vaguely modern people of the former with the frontier tongue of the mid-19th century latter. For many, can't becomes caint, apostrophes become nearly extinct, and the analogies and metaphors often reach plateaus so dizzying you'll have to stop and re-read them once, twice, three times before you can really appreciate their weight.

If you are a writer, this book (and everything McCarthy writes, for that matter) is required reading. He will expand your vocabulary while shrinking your waistline as you sprint endlessly between the book and your thesaurus. Most of all, though, you'll realize that Rules are for Fools, and that Story wins above all. McCarthy doesn't simply disregard these norms and standards, he peels them off like dead skin and slaps you upside yo' head with them.

But be warned, this is not a friendly world. Fans of "realistic" fantasy such as Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire will never look at those books the same way after they see one of Glanton's killers walk out of an adobe holding two infants by their heels and slamming them until their brains spill in the clay. All the more disturbing is how commonplace these events are, and how little regard men can have for their fellows once they've convinced themselves they are dealing with things less-than-human.

There are expriests and judges and professional scalpers, killers and madmen and suspected pedophiles. There are places that seem touched by divination and men who are less than gods but something more than man, all seen through the eyes of a young man known only as the kid. I'll tell you no more for fear of setting you off in the wrong direction, as this novel is a desert that you may easily get lost in. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up.