The Rime of the Postmodern Mariner

More ramblings of Rhys Hughes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weber the Winner!

Chômu Press, who published my new collection Link Arms With Toads!, held a prize draw recently. The winner would receive a free signed copy of my book. To make it even more personal, I decided to write a poem about the winner on the inside of the back cover. To do this I needed personal information. I'm delighted to report that the eventual winner, Marc Lyth, was good enough to provide this information. Marc often uses the pseudonym "weber" while online; this was my starting point and I extrapolated from that, incorporating some of the other details about his life he was willing to share with me. Here's a picture of the completed poem in the book itself:

As well as a copy of Link Arms With Toads! it seemed only proper to include some other gifts. After all, it could be the case that he won't enjoy my writing style. So I threw in another book, an anthology of Lovecraft tribute stories called Cthulhu Unbound. I do have one story in that anthology ('Abomination With Rice') but there are plenty of other stories by other writers too. I also threw in two minor chapbooks and included manuscript versions of two very short stories I wrote last year ('Down in the Park' and 'An Inconvenient Fruit'). If I ever become as famous as I believe I deserve to be, these manuscripts will be worth a lot of money in years to come. If I only become as famous as certain other people believe I deserve to be (naming no names) they will be worth absolutely nothing! Here's a picture of the array of gifts:

As the poem is indecipherable in the earlier photo, I have taken the liberty of including it on this blog post too. It's called simply 'Poem for Marc Lyth' and it goes something like this:

Caught in a weber spun by himself
Marc waits patiently for the secret
spider of his mind to come
and suck out his juice
with all the stealth of an eight-legged elf.

"Fangs for that!" he'll say. "Most kind of
you, dear spider. Have a nice day!"
or words to that effect.

He lives alone with his books and his cat
and a balding head
which he has never yet read
because he prefers hair-raising tales.
He dismantled radiators in his youth
and we find that's proof (if any were needed)
that he deserves to be eaten
by the secret spider of his mind.

The cat's name is Balrog:
that's another reason.

A jujitsu black belt, Marc should be able
to handle himself in any situation
but the secret spider of his mind is an expert too
and knows all his moves.
Before closing its jaws on his quivering flesh
it will dance for him
an eightfold Can Can,
the sort of thing we can all do without.
But that's Lyth, I guess.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Too Many Books at the Same Time -- Still!

I can't seem to get out of the habit of reading too many books at the same time. It's getting ridiculous! I thought I should gather them all together in one place, stand back and realise exactly what I've let myself in for! How long before I start getting all these mixed up?

Anyone who can identify all of these will win a free copy of Michael Cisco's The Great Lover, recently published by Chomu Press... Most of the titles are easy but some (because of the camera angle) are tricky...

Monday, June 06, 2011

Bad Mr Naipaul

Let's state the obvious first: women are equal to men. They deserve equal rights and opportunities and pay. This is a self-evident truth.

Now let's consider the recent fuss that has followed the comments of V.S. Naipaul that no female writer is his match: he claims that prose written by women is narrow and only sentimental, that it fails to engage with big themes in the way that his own work does. Basically, he has asserted the superiority of his fiction over that of any female writer.

It was a silly thing to say. Naipaul is intelligent enough to have anticipated the negative reaction to his comments, so one can only assume that he wanted to stir up trouble. And yes, the reaction has been strong... Male writers have been especially eager to lambast him, almost as if they were waiting for something like this to happen: the perfect opportunity to prove their own maturity while girls are watching.

One of the problems with the writing world (and I say this as an insider) is that there are too many people who are desperate to conform, to remain on good terms with everyone, to say only safe, bland, acceptable things, never to rock the boat, to protect their own (paltry and illusory) reputations, to be the ultimate sycophants, to be perfect tactical twats... In such an environment, Naipaul's attitude might actually come over as refreshing. Entirely wrong in factual detail but entertaining in spirit.

I can't stand misogynists, racists, homophobes, xenophobes, etc, but maturity wankers aren't far behind in my personal list of undesirables. It's easy to ape public outrage and make all the right grand gestures of defiance when there are no real consequences, when the target is so distant it's almost an abstraction; but it's much harder to fight for those tiny incremental changes that really do make a difference. I wish that some of the men who stamp their feet theatrically on behalf of women when there is no chance of making a difference would instead do something small but useful in an arena where they do have some influence.

Let's put Naipaul's recent comments into true perspective. Imagine if he had said that no male writers were his equal. The resultant fuss would have been small or nonexistent. Let's also imagine that he had simply stated that no writers (of any sort) could match him. We simply would have chuckled at his eccentricity -- "Ho! Ho! What's that old egotist up to now, eh?" -- before carrying on with our business. So why shouldn't we ignore his comments now? It's quite easy.

I recently made a list of my 50 favourite writers ever. Not one woman made that list. Does this mean I'm a misogynist? It surely must! But wait a moment... In a list of my ten favourite artists, the first seven names were female. I'm in awe of Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, etc. So really it's just a question of taste, not of politics. We must never forget this.