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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Prized collections?

Just a quick reminiscence about on of my (many, many) obscure eBay purchases from years back…

Vampire Blood Bank: The Saga of a Jewish Hemophiliac Vampire Who Can’t Bite So He Opens a Vampire Bood Bank by Harry Zelenko.

Great title, right?  Shame the shrink-wrap hasn’t even been cracked.  Why haven’t I read it?  I have heaps of books that I haven’t read yet, even for years and years.  Generally, if I don’t read a book within a week of buying it, I may never get around to it.  I will read my favorite authors within minutes of purchase sometimes, but when I order online, occasionally by the time the books arrive, I’ve lost interest.  Pathetic.

Another great title, and this one I’ve read:

Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox.  Fantastic fun, and I will never, ever forget the sequel Bride of the Fat White Vampire when Jules loses a rat.  A very important rat.  Hmmm, perhaps it’s time to see what he’s done lately.

(Jeez, yes, let’s go buy more books with no money and no time to read them!)  I always say that I think I like to buy books almost more than I like to read them.

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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Research breeds brokeness

I’ve just spent a second day in research for I-forget-what.  Sunday this week I researched for several hours online, focusing on the Isle of Demons and Marguerite de la Rocque de Roberval.  Apparently in parts of Newfoundland, Canada, this is a very known story, but I’d never heard it.  (Or at least I thought I hadn’t, and then I had a momentary feeling of deja-vu later in the day.)  The local fame reminds me of the small town in England that celebrates the Bisley boy replacing a dead Princess Elizabeth, and how he became Queen Elizabeth I.  (And even looking up that link, I got very distracted by the vast quantities of information and conspiracy on the internet.)

Anyway, Marguerite de la Rocque was a French aristocrat in the 16th century who sailed to the new world with a relative (whether uncle, cousin, or brother, there are no records) and had a shipboard affair with someone presumably inappropriate.  Her relative, Jean-François de la Rocque, Sieur de Roberval, the new Lieutenant Governor of Canada as designated by Francis I of France, set her, her lover, and a maid on an island off Newfoundland called the Isle of Demons and sailed on with the rest of his ships to an unsuccessful colonization attempt.

Marguerite managed to survive nearly two and a half years on the island, one of them alone as her lover, her maid, and the child she birthed on the island, died.  This is pretty damn amazing (and sad) considering that while they had managed to bring some supplies, a noblewoman with a gun described as a small cannon and a limited supply of ammunition and gunpowder was unlikely to have military or survival training, and Canada is damn cold a good part of the year.  She is rumored to have taken down at least one polar bear on her own.  (Polar bears are only cute and cuddly in zoos and photographs and I would not sing to one in a pub in Churchill, even with Ewan McGregor.)

She finally was rescued by a fishing vessel and returned to France, where she ended up as a schoolmistress and living out her days in a castle built for the Queen of Navarre, who was Francis I’s sister.

The reasons I was so obsessed with finding out information?  There was little to find out.  Most of what is written about her is thinly veiled fiction, given that the family of her lover would not want the shameful exposure, her relative Roberval was a great favorite of the king, and she was a well-educated noblewoman who likely just wanted to live quietly after her ordeal.  So not only do we not know her lover’s name, how old she was when this happened to her, when and where she died, how she was related to Roberval, we do not quite know any details of the story since contemporary accounts differ slightly.  There are only a few enticing records that prove she existed at all, (a record of her declaring her fealty to the king, for one).

I found a few non-fiction books that were either about her or mentioned her, and ended up spending money on a novel someone wrote in the 70s instead.  The Non-fiction one, called A Colony of One, was a tad more than I wanted to spend.  By the time I happen upon one for a decent price, I will probably have long forgotten my interest.

How I landed on Marguerite’s story, I’m not sure.  I came across Isle of Demons somewhere first, I am sure, but from what wiki link, I don’t know.  There is inherent trouble in wiki-surfing.  One link leads to another, and another, and you finally forget what you were looking for in the first place.  Either way, the story I encountered was most definitely not what I thought I’d find.

Today, I was working on another blog project, and had to look up Dante’s Circles of Hell, (which is likely more similar to the topic I was expecting when I noted the Isle of Demons).  That led to one thing and another and I was suddenly spending money on copies of Fredric Brown and Shirley Jackson collections.

Marguerite, however, will hopefully prove of some use.  A short story I (mostly, partially)wrote in college had a ghostly character haunting a ship’s logbook.  I had written in some vague things about a shipwreck and a lost baby and abandonment, but she really ought to be Marguerite.  I think it solidifies stories, sometimes, to have a basis in fact.  And since fact is often stranger than fiction, it puts my imagination at ease for a moment or two.

And now that I’ve wasted another long afternoon on a gloriously fun research project, I think I will have dinner and contemplate exactly how to rewrite the story so that it 1) makes sense, and 2) incorporates the changes that have taken place with the character and the world in general.  (Grey Anastas, one of the characters in the story, has shown up in my NaNoWriMo novel from 2009, and Ethne, the other, has her own story in NaNoWriMo 2010, supplanting the vaguely-drawn Patrice).

So, with way too much said about that… I’d better think about actual work.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Zombie: A Love Story

I just finished the advanced copy of Isaac Marion’s book Warm Bodies. It’s taken me a while, but it does have the advantage over the other books I’ve been “reading” lately: I’ve actually finished it. I’ve been in anthology mode lately; I pick up books and put them down after a few pages. Perhaps I read a few pages more later, days, weeks later, perhaps not. I haven’t felt very relaxed (even on vacation) and nothing but the drowning sensations of television has been able to transport my mind elsewhere.

I must say I enjoyed reading Warm Bodies. The book was thrust upon me with a “here, you like zombies,” nevermind the distain with which I noticed Stephenie Meyer blurbed twice on the ARC. It’s not a teen book. Audrey Niffenegger is also blurbed on the back, which I found a truly odd pairing. (Two more authors are actually blurbed on the cover as well, which is why I really had no idea what the book was about when I sat down with it. There is a description, but the mix of authors was just too diverse.)

Warm Bodies was not, for me, about getting to the end of the book. I preferred the sights along the way. I adored the zombie wedding performed by the Boneys. I loved R’s kids in the back of the Mercedes, one of them confused as to why he mustn’t bite Julie. I loved that R “lived” in a jumbo jet at the airport with his records. I thought it was undeniably tragic how the walking dead lost that which is most fundamental, their names.

The point of view from R, our zombie hero, and the narration that is almost entirely in his head due to his lack of ability to speak properly anymore, reminds me of a book called Breathers by S. G. Browne. It’s also a love story, but a bit more biting and humorous.  (I haven’t looked at venison the same way since, much like my best friend’s “shit sack” incident.) 

The desolate landscape reminds me of Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum, which can be taken as funny/quirky/odd, or as a short novel of the change into a zombie told in ancient poetic form. I put it somewhere between the two, culminating in my favorite haiku, near the end:

Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains,
Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains, brains, brains,
Brains, brains, brains, brains, brains.

which is the epitome of simplicity, and yet clearly all that would be going through a zombie’s head.

Last to add, I noticed this forthcoming gem in the listings the other day. Pat the Zombie.   Now I was a huge fan of Pat the Bunny as a child. I used to read it to my younger brother because he could participate in the touch-and-feel portions of the book. I liked the perfumey scent of mommy, daddy’s scratchy face, and Judy’s little book. (See, we all start out relatively normal.)

Pat the Zombie promises to crush all our lovely memories.  Also, it should be noted that they authors have a delightful little book trailer up at their website.  I think I’m going to go watch it again.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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blog smells okay… may post

I’ve been having a lot of bloggy-like thoughts lately, so we’ll see how this goes.  

I’m a bookseller.  Years ago, a friend of mine asked for a job application for me and I’ve been with the same store ever since.  I thought at the time that if I was ever going to work retail (and all of my friends worked retail) that a bookstore was the only way to go about it.  I even called it my “dream job,” which was a little crazy in retrospect.

However, it is absolutely true that I love books.  Even stupid books.  Even ridiculous books.  Even books that are so ridiculously over-rated it makes me want to barf.

In my job, I see lots of books that make me laugh.  For reasons ridiculous or brilliant, I am often amazed at what gets published.  Someone out there dedicated a chunk of their life creating this crazy book, then managed to convince someone to spend money on it, print it up, and ship it all across the country. 

For instance, someone thought it would be a great idea to rewrite Pride and Prejudice with zombie mayhem.  And not only did it get published, but it set off a literary landslide of sequels, calendars, stationery, and knock-offs.  The latest of these is the pair of Wild and Wanton editions of Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights.

In the book world, reception to these tends to be mixed.  Purists find them repugnant.  Some think they’re hilarious.  I would put them all together on a single shelf if I could, Android Karenina next to Tom Sawyer and the Undead, The Meowmorphosis just before The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten

I would run the geekiest bookstore known to humankind.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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