Friday, July 13, 2012

Pulitzers and Editors

My favourite paragraph from interesting piece on why there was no Pulitzer prize for 2012:
It seemed, too, that a Pulitzer for “The Pale King” would be, by implication, an acknowledgement not only of Wallace but also of Michael Pietsch, the editor. As a novelist, I well know how much difference an editor can make—and there’s no major prize given to editors. The best an editor can hope for is mention on the acknowledgments page, when, sometimes, that editor has literally rescued the book.
'Course, I don't think I'd actually like "The Pale King". I would have edited out this monstrosity of an opening sentence for a start:
Past the flannel plains and the blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the a.m. heat: shattercane, lamb’s-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscatine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek.
This is what they give Pulitzer prize for these days? Oh wait, that's right, they didn't.

But it's all an excellent example of why one has to match the editor to the manuscript/author. I'd obviously have been the wrong editor for "The Pale King"; Michael Pietsch, Pulitzer nominee though he may have been, not the right editor for "Flight of the Illynov".

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Curious if True: The Fantastic in Literature

I had the honour of writing the foreword to this collection of essays on science fiction, fantasy and magic realism written by a talented group of up and coming scholars. Presumably the editor was looking for someone in the old guard to hand on the torch to this new generation of critics, and as I'm looking to retire from academia and move into full time editing, I was more than happy to oblige. Burn, baby, burn! Or something like that. Indeed, the major thrust of my foreword was that these kids today have no idea how hard it was to have SF taken seriously when we were younger. So I just provided a couple of examples of how far SF scholarship has come in just one generation. It really is quite astonishing, when you think about it.

The collection is edited by Amy Bright, the reviewer at Girl to the Rescue and the up and coming author of Before We Go (from Red Deer Press). Amy's academic work can be found in the Journal of Children's Literature and Studies in Canadian Literature. Contributors to Curious if True include Luke R. J. Maynard, Gaelan Gilbert, Mary Eileen Wennekers, Elisa Bursten, Amy Bright, Max F. R. Olesen, Laura van Dyke, Erin Dunbar, Tessa Mellas, Shannon M. Minifie, and Thomas Stuart. Cover art is by comic artist Betty Liang.

The volume is being launched this month (July, 2012) by Cambridge Scholars Publishers.