Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Interfictions Reading: Thoughts

Friday night I went to a reading at Magers & Quinn. Four Twin Cities authors took part, three of them reading stories from the Interfictions 2 anthology. The fourth, Kelly Barnhill, read her story "Four Very True Tales", previously published in Interfictions Annex. There was a little bit of confusion (by me, but also by at least one other audience-member) whether Kelly was in Interfictions. We assumed she was, but alas.

The one bit of news I have coming out of the reading is that Kelly Barnhill’s debut novel, The Boy Without a Face (if the title sticks), has been pushed back from it’s original publication date of October 2010 to Spring 2011. That’s a bit of disappointment. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while now.

This was only the second reading I had been to. The first was Paolo Bacigalupi last year, so I definitely set the bar high.

On to the reading.

It’s worth noting that except for Barnhill, the writers were not able to read their entire stories in the allotted time. This led to some great teasers.

Alan DeNiro led off with his story “(*_*?) ~~~~ (-_-) : The Warp and the Woof”, which I’ll admit has something of a frustrating title. DeNiro explained that the first part of the title was made of something like Japanese emoticons. I really like DeNiro’s writing, and he read well, but he seemed just a little uncomfortable at the podium. I can respect that. You won’t catch me anywhere near a podium, benighted things. The story was quite good, as one expects from DeNiro.

David Schwartz followed with his story “The 121”. Schwartz had a very commanding presence at the podium and he read exceptionally well. I don’t know if it is his normal reading style or if he was working the story, but what seems to be a somewhat morbidly funny story was very much served by his reading. The bitter humor jumped out at the audience (or just me), but I’m very much enthusiastic about “The 121” from Schwartz’s reading. It would be very difficult to describe this story and there are some assumptions I’ve made about what is going on without knowing the ending, but I am definitely going to track down the anthology just for this story.

The first two stories were both somewhat post-apocalyptic science fiction stories (though Schwartz’s is somewhat more fantasy due to something potentially impossible occurring), but Barnhill shifted the tone with "Four Very True Tales", a more personal story. Barnhill mentioned that Delia Sherman described her story as being “Domestic Surrealism”. I’m blanking on what the second half of the phrase was. The story was made up of four vignettes of family and was quite nice.

William Alexander wrapped up the evening with assorted scenes from “After Verona”. I liked what I heard, but Alexander’s choice to jump around in the story and just give disconnected scenes made for following a story thread all but impossible. Certain things happened, a death, perhaps a murder, and that thread was there. There was another thread set in a bookstore admittedly modeled on Magers & Quinn, perhaps it was the same bookstore, but I don’t recall the story giving a name to the store. I don’t even know if the scenes were in order, so I have a difficult time identifying whether I’d really enjoy “After Verona”. Did Alexander just cherry-pick the good stuff?

The reading was good and Schwartz definitely hooked me on “The 121”. I only knew his work from his novella The Sun Inside (published, interestingly enough, by Alan DeNiro for the Electrum Novella series). He’s also written the novel Superpowers.

If DeNiro and Schwartz reflect the quality of fiction in Interfictions 2, I am very likely to track down a copy. I think this also reflects some of the very talented writers we have here in the Twin Cities*.

*Not to mention that when they were first getting their starts, we had a local writing group made up of Steven Brust, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Pamela Dean, and others. Other writers like Alison McGhee, Louise Erdrich, and Lois McMaster Bujold also come to mind. Again, among others.


Carl V. Anderson said...

It sounds like a great evening. I have only been to a couple of readings myself, but I did enjoy them and each time made me wish I lived closer to one of the more major cities where these things are a regular occurrence.

Ellen Kushner said...

I love "After Verona" - it's one of my favorite stories in Interfictions 2. Hope you enjoy the rest of the anthology!