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February 27th, 2004

I'm finishing out the last few stories in the anthology, and will begin posting comments on them today.

On a personal note, my editor at Gale / Five Star e-mailed frantically last night. He is out of review galleys and Publisher's Weekly has requested a second copy - they are going to do a FULL review of the book. I have to mail out one of my four precious copies today . . . I told them they could have the hard-drive if they promised to like the book (lol).


By Michael P. Belfiore

If you have ever gotten stuck in a traffic jam, you’ll find some amusing moments in this story. You’ll recognize some of the others stuck there with you, as well, I’m guessing, and a lot of the thoughts, curses and irritants that haunt and hunger you at such a time will come to mind. The author obviously had run writing it. As a story, it’s not very strong. I won’t tell you the main happenstance, because that twist IS the plot…but….you’ll recognize it too. Think of animated movies and James Wood.

IMAGES THAT STICK WITH ME: Reference to tobacco executives which reminds me of what I consider the most irritating set of commercials in existence. (Is that just me? ) Rich men and poor migrants are equal in traffic jams. Eyeballs as ashtrays.

Enough said. I don’t think this story was meant to be taken very seriously. It isn’t at the same intensity level as most of the rest of this collection, and though traffic jams are urban nightmares, this one isn’t even into the city yet, so it’s not really even a city story. It’s worth some laughs, but I’m ready for the next story. Comments later today – the review has caught up to the reader…

adarkjewel got me thinking about things this morning - journals are great for that, whether your own, or not. One of the things I've always sought in writing, both what I read, and what I write, is that moment of calm at the end of a piece where the reader is not yet ready for real-world intrusion. It isn't just fiction, though. Movies can bring it. The oddest, most embarassing things can bring it, for me anyway - like the moment in that movie MASK long ago when the character BULLDOZER - huge biker who NEVER spoke, stuttered out his first words of the movie. Like the moment I stood in front of The Acropolis, far away from the rest of the tourists, and locked gazes with one of the myriad cats who now call that wondrous bit of the past home.

These are the moments I write for. Not always, of course...everything isn't seriousness and contemplation - I don't want my navel getting a complex, for instance....but

Anyway, I posted this as a comment to adarkjewel but I'm going to post it here in case a few other people see it.

Pre-note: I write poetry but for me. I have published it - I have won the Bram Stoker Award for it - but I don't know if I consider myself a poet...I don't know if the consideration, or the title, matter even a little bit.

The following poem is part of a series I wrote while traveling the great sites of Europe . . . written after shattering my elbow and being told by US Navy Corspmen it was bruised ( it was FUCKED ) - I had it in a sling and on a hot water bottle, and they gave me GREAT BIG Motrin pills - and that was it. In this state, I wrote a series of poems titled:

"Cities of Light and Darkness"

The poems in the series are:

* Medieval Mutant Masters
(Musings on Florence)

* Thoughts on the Tower in Pisa

* Contemplating The Ruins of Pompeii

* St. Paul's Basilica
(A Cautionary Statement)

* Upon Experiencing Rome

* On the Doorstep of Knossos

and the following poem (Which I'll post in a second)

This ALSO got me to thinking that I had no idea why I never got my 50 contributor's copies of this work - so I contacted the editor this morning, and they are on the way. You can get them from KELP QUEEN PRESS in Canada ( skasturi@corusent.com ) is the contact info. She is also publisher, editor, and a fine poet in her own right - and her hubby, Brett Alexander Savory, is a long-time pal, collaborator, and sort of a protege of mine (though he sure learned fast and took off on his own ). He also is the mad-brain beind CHIZINE, where my own Patricia Lee Macomber ( Mine -- hands and lewd thoughts off (lol)) was fiction editor for quite some time. ( www.chizine.com ).


The Acropolis

By David Niall Wilson

Myth drenched and splendid,
crumbled -- food for time,
Your temples standing idle,
With cats for priests &
The uninitiated swarming
About your battlements in
Spandex vestments,
Flashing memories from
Each moment to save
& savor.
Once Gods wagered upon
Your soil,
Drew lots for
Your people
Fought and lived and loved
In your heart.
Great Neptune struck your soul,
Brought forth water
Heavy with salt,
Pouring from a three-pronged wound.
Athena, from a single seed
Brought forth life,
And leaves, martinis and
shaded dreams.
To the victor go the spoils --
Spoiled walls, tarnished dreams,
And the cats hold court
In the temples of the Acropolis,
Athena's temples,
Myth drenched and splendid,
dying, food for time.

22:19 9/22/94

By James Maxey

How to start? This is an erotic tail. Yes, there is a snail. And a groupie. And a Mosh Pit. And …. A hammer, a gun, and a great white whale. This story slides from image to image very carefully, much like the snail that inhabits the words. Young girl – star-struck. Words to lyrics that no one ever really figures out. Words written by artists that even the people who worship the artist just don’t get – and if they did, wouldn’t understand why they worshipped.

IMAGES THAT STICK: A girl as a table. A snail as a sexual aid. A hook-handed cabbie not watching the road. Ahab – or is it A hab?

This is a strong story. The sexual content is powerful, but not exceptionally graphic, driving home the point I’ve made about most of these stories. While they would work in an erotic market, this one – in particular – would work in a horror market as well. Possibly even the write lit or mainstream market. Everything has meaning in this story – and yet, part of the message is nothing has meaning.

Intriquing…good stuff.

Long Island Iced Tea

By Michael Hemmingson

This is ( I believe ) the longest piece in the anthology. I’ll note that as one of the problems I have with the story before going on. While quite funny, and a good example we could send to Alanis Morisette so the silly twit would understand the definition of ironic, I think this tale is too big for its literary britches. It’s not a new plot . . . one bad thing gets fixed thus causing another ….but no spoilers.

I think this is less smooth than Hemmingson’s other piece, TUCK. You can almost start to believe in the protagonist and relate to him, or place him, and then something a little off comes along and it shifts. For me, anyway. There are a great number of very odd characters. Some of them work, some do not, but the main problem that I see with it is that the protagonist, who is the thread binding them together, doesn’t seem to fit all the molds he is pressed into.

IMAGES THAT STICK: A lawyer who looks like Allie McBeal on crack. A Rastafarian hit man. Vague images seeping in from Pulp Fiction about suburbs and storage. MANY lawyers. A judge tied, bound, and lovin’ it.

Conclusions . . . not my favorite piece, but hey, I liked his other one.


To follow: My thoughts tying up my review of the introduction by the editor…this has been fun.
I don't have a lot more to say. I mentioned in the introduction review many posts back that there was a certain deviousness to that introduction, hinting that it has a secret. I believe that it does.

In the introductin, we are told that the city of the folks that our editor and tour-guide through the Urban Bizarre, Nick Mamatas used to write with was not his city. We were told he went in search of urban fiction for the common man.

I don't know that this is what happened. The cities and streets of these stories don't strike me as close-to-the-bone reality urban weird. They are speculative, intelligent, well-written and memorble. They are honest in their voice - I believe that - but I don't believe this is a collection of stories from the streets where the people writing them live, but merely what any good anthology should be - a thoughtful read that will give you reasons to stop, now and then, and stare at the wall to think, or slide further under your desk to avoid showing everyone ... well anyway. This is a damn good book. Go forth, buy your own copy - don't take my word for it. Never take my word for anything - I'm strange. ( And Nick says, a philistine ). Come back and tell me where I'm right, and where I erred. I'd love to hear more thoughts on these stories, and I hope to see more from all involved in the project.


I'm going to go write for money - it's a thing I'm told I should do while there is still food in the fridge.