I don't do very well in crowds where I don't know anyoneheck, I can get intimidated in crowds where I do know peopleso I sort of slinked around at the back of the room, feeling somewhat like an intruder. Two display tables helped me occupy myself. One was covered with an arrangement of various editions of Ajay's books. The other displayed a selection of interviews with and articles about him, both from print sources and online. On a widescreen television ran a slideshow of photos of Ajay and his family.
The service began not long after I arrived, and I found a seat toward the back. There were fifty or sixty people in attendance, I would estimate, and the number of chairs for everyone was almost exactly right. A pastor spoke for a few minutes about Ajay's greatness as a husband and a father and a writer, and offered a prayer. Then she turned the time over to Ajay's sons.
Jeff shared remembrances and appreciations of Ajay he had gathered from people online over the preceding few days. Among the poignant, funny, and just simply factual snippets he read, I was startled to hear a line I had written in a brief post on Monday. Tim expressed his good fortune at being able to spend many of his adult summers with his parents' house as a home base, and shared an observation an associate at a Renaissance fair had madethat no wonder he seemed so even-keeled, with parents who had always stayed together. Dave recounted the last years and final days of Ajay's life, when despite setback after setback, Ajay had remained cheerful and become even more of a sweet man. All three sons credited their parents with giving them the space to do their own thingas long as they did something. There was also much talk of Ajay's prowess as a bicycle builder and mechanicthe boys grew up having by far the best bikes around, at a time when 10-speeds were still exoticand stories like the time he singed his eyebrows off cleaning bike parts with gasoline.
Here's an article about Algis Budrys that ran in yesterday's Chicago Tribune:
I'm going to head out to Skokie for the service Saturday morning.
I just heard from Geoff Landis that Algis Budrys passed away this morning. He was one of the great writers, editors, critics, and teachers of science fiction, and as the first week's instructor for my Clarion class in 1985, he certainly had a profound influence on my early development as a writer. I'm very sad to hear this news, especially given that I now live so close to Evanston, Illinois, where he made his home for so long.
I've pulled Rogue Moon down from the shelf and intend to start re-reading it tonight, something I've meant to do for a very long time.
Longtime readers may recall me railing against James Frey and the phenomenon of the invented memoir a couple of years ago. Rather than chilling the memoir marketplace, though, Frey was merely in the vanguard of a veritable explosion of exposed frauds that now includes such "memoirists" as Margaret B. Jones and Misha Defonseca.
The topic of these overly embroidered tales is much on my mind as, again, my memoir makes its way back into the marketplace. I feared two years ago that Frey's escapade would make a memoir more difficult to sell. Now I fear that he didn't make it difficult enough.
Nearly two months ago, Scott Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition delivered an editorial that made me stand up and pump my fist in the air. He made the interesting argument that the phony memoirist cheats in two ways: first, by weaving of his life an epic that never was; and second, by scanting the literary rigor a novel would have demanded. Listen here:
Writing and Truth in Fact and FictionSpeaking as someone who has labored for nearly ten years to produce a book that will hold up on both counts and provoke more than skepticism and cynicism, I can only add my fervent amen.
by Scott Simon
This just in. New agent loves new draft of Accidental Terrorist. "I've just read the additions/revisions and I have to admit I am elated.... [Y]ou've completely rounded out the long, strange adventure and added a whole new depth to the tale."
This puppy's on its way to editors again. Thank fucking Elohim.
I have finished the new draft of The Accidental Terrorist and sent it off to my new agent for comments.
Just a quick note from O'Hare, where I'm on my way to Utah to visit my dad, who is gravely ill.
If you're a member of Denvention 3 or were a member of Nippon 2007 and you haven't sent in your Hugo nominations yet, don't forget! The deadline is coming up fastSaturday, March 1.
For the record, my two original stories from 2007 were:
Last April I wrote the first draft of a story called "Care and Feeding of Your Piano." It's a short, humorous piece written entirely as excerpts from the interactive instruction manual for a bioengineered piano*.
Armed with some suggestions from my writing group, I sat in my Baltimore-area hotel room a month and a half later and spent two hours applying some heavy revisions to the sucker, which including reordering many chunks of text to achieve more comic juxtapositions. I sync'd the laptop with the USB memory stick I always carried as backupat least, I presume I did, because that had long been my habitthen rushed over to Balticon for my scheduled reading. I read that story and one called "Timesink" (which was then and is still forthcoming in Electric Velocipede) directly from my computer screen. The reading seemed to go over pretty well, at least according to Jamie Rubin, who was there.
In June, as I prepared to attend the Blue Heaven workshop, I got frustrated with all the cruft slowing down my laptop, so I wiped it and reinstalled Windows XP. At the end of that month, we moved to Chicago. As we unpacked, I became more and more uneasy the longer my black Manhattan Portage shoulder bag, which I was looking for, failed to turn up. I always carried my USB memory stick in a little Velcro'd pocket on the front of it. The shoulder bag has never turned up, one of the very few casualties of our move.
It wasn't until we'd been here a month or more that I went to the desktop machine to take another look at my revised version of "Care and Feeding." I was going to give it a quick polish-and-trim and get it out therefirst stop, New Yorker "Shouts & Murmurs" submission. (Why not, right?)