Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bill Crider; Philip K. Dick; Max Allan Collins; Literary Magazines

For the past twenty-four hours I've been hearing about this big secret about Bill Crider. I assumed it had to do with a book Bill would soon announce was ready for publication--and one that had won him a six figure contract. Seriously. Well this supposed book that WAS announced is funny but I sincerely wish Bill had gotten that six figure deal I had in mind. He's well worth it--one of the finest writers I know--and it's about time. But I have to say even if they didn't make him any money these blurbs are hilarious!

-------------------------------------Philip K. Dick
From The L.A. Times

The series is written by Scott Timberg, the L.A. freelance journalist who runs the West Coast culture blog the Misread City. He's also a longtime (albeit sometimes closeted) fan of science fiction.

"When author Philip K. Dick called Tim Powers to ask him to come by his Fullerton apartment for a drink one evening, the Cal State student expected the kind of night he and other aspiring writers often spent with the science-fiction titan. That is, a wide-ranging bull session about religion, philosophy and the glories of Beethoven -- along with some incongruous chatter about car repair -- over wine and beer.

That night in 1976 started out the usual way. But it soon took a bizarre turn: While writer and student were chewing the fat, Dick’s wife, Tessa, and her brother began grabbing things – lamps, chairs, the crib – seemingly oblivious to the two friends.
“She and her brother were carrying things out of the house,” recalls Powers. “I said, 'Phil, they’re taking stuff, is this OK?’ ”
“Powers, let me give you some advice, in case you should ever find yourself in this position,” Dick responded. “Never oversee or criticize what they take. It's not worth it. Just see what you've got left afterward, and go with that.”


---------------------------------------Max Allan Collins

On his new blog post Max Allan Collins talks about many things including his history as a stone Smothers Brothers fan. He also talks about his early years as a young married man facing the draft. Great stuff.

"At the center of it all are those underrated performers, the Smothers Brothers, hip subversives posing as white-bread American boys. I loved them from the first time I saw them on (wait for it) Jack Parr’s TONIGHT SHOW. In the midst of a lot of smug and self-important folk musicians, the Smothers Brothers came on with their lampoon version of folk that had, in its day, the impact of Andy Kaufman. Initially, Tommy just seemed to be an idiot screwing up the act. We did not know we were witnessing one of the last great traditional comedy teams in the Laurel and Hardy/Abbott and Costello/Martin and Lewis mode. And Dick Smothers was and is a genius straight man.

"I had all their albums. Grew up listening to them. Saw them perform at Hot Springs, Arkansas, at a nightclub/casino (a mob operation my middle-American parents took me to), and got to speak to them both and get my first celebrity autographs. They were extremely kind to me. (I would have been, perhaps, 16.) From junior high on, my friend Jim Hoffmann and I did Smothers Brothers impressions at parties and shows — we got great laughs in the time-honored tradition of kids stealing the acts of professionals, butchering those acts, and getting undeserved giddy praise from their classmates."

for the rest go here"

---------------------------------------Literary Magazines

Thanks to Richard Wheeler, who sent me the link, I read a very interesting piece on the death of literary fiction magazines. Here's the final paragraph but you have to read the whole thing. It's well worth it. Thanks, Richard

From The Death of Fiction by Ted Genoways in Mother Jones

"To pull out of this tailspin, writers and their patrons both will have to make some necessary changes—and quick. With so many newspapers and magazines closing, with so many commercial publishers looking to nonprofit models, a few bold university presidents could save American literature, reshape journalism, and maybe even rescue public discourse from the cable shout shows and the blogosphere. At the same time, young writers will have to swear off navel-gazing in favor of an outward glance onto a wrecked and lovely world worthy and in need of the attention of intelligent, sensitive writers. I'm not calling for more pundits—God knows we've got plenty. I'm saying that writers need to venture out from under the protective wing of academia, to put themselves and their work on the line. Stop being so damned dainty and polite. Treat writing like your lifeblood instead of your livelihood. And for Christ's sake, write something we might want to read."

for the rest go here: http://motherjones.com/media/2010/01/death-of-literary-fiction-magazines-journals


Dan_Luft said...

My problem with little lit magazines is that it could take up to a year to get rejected. And during my sensitive, 20-something, lit days I moved around a lot so who knows, I may have been published in a couple more places than I realized.

Evan Lewis said...

I look forward to reading your full introduction to the Crider book, Ed. You make him sound like the greatest hero since Jim Bowie.

mybillcrider said...

I wish I'd gotten that six-figure contract, too, Ed. With blurbs like that, how could I miss?

And what's eerie is that when I started reading your blog post, I was listening to the Smothers Brothers version of "Tom Dooley." Hilarious stuff.

pattinase (abbott) said...

As someone who works at a state university, I can tell you they will not be able to save the little magazine-and maybe not even their own job. Things are rough and getting rougher as the states look to where they can cut. And universities stand out-it's not about medical help or food or young kids at a university. Universities are going to put what money they have left into labs, computers and tenured faculty. I am so tired of bad news. Can't we just pretend it is 1995 again.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

The Mother Jones piece notes that the 800-plus creative writing programs and MFA programs now offered by American universities are yielding around 60,000 writers with Master of Fine Arts degrees per decade. It further notes that these academically trained writers tend to be narrow. None, for example, have tackled our two current wars. A chance remark by my favorite reviewer, Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post, about "yet another MFA thesis about a dysfunctional family" offered me a clue recently about what these writers are actually doing. My own experience is that MFA-degreed writers focus on dysfunctional people and dysfunctional relationships, and little else. There's a whole world to write about but these people aren't exploring it.

tuffy777 said...

The story attributed to Tim Powers is pure fantasy. It is a tale that Phil used to tell about his fourth wife Nancy. It never happened. My brother did bring us a lamp and a table because we had very little furniture, but he never carried out any furniture. NEVER.

Here is my brother's letter to the Times:

My wife and I got a kick out of Scott Timberg's Sunday story about Philip K. Dick. In fact, when I read the first portion to her, we both had to laugh out loud because it was so out of synch with reality. Somebody sure got this one wrong.

If you are a fan of Phil and you want an accurate account, please read on.

First, we were not at the Fullerton apartment. We were at the house on Santa Isabel.

Second, it was not nighttime. It was bright daylight.

Third, I never entered the house on that day and I never "started grabbing" anything. My wife did go in and help carry out Chris's clothes and toys, but she isn't even mentioned.

Fourth, we had no truck, no van, no trailer to transport chairs or tables.

Mr. Timberg asserts "the details...come from Powers' journals." I doubt Tim Powers was there. My sister Tessa says it was Kevin Jeter who was in the house.

If the fallacious account really does come from Tim Powers, he owes me and Tessa and Phil's fans a sincere apology.


Deanna Dube' said...

I have known Tessa Dick for several years now and this tale is so out of character for her. She never would do such a thing and in fact would give the proverbial shirt off her back to anyone who needed it. It's clear the creature who wrote such a tale had maybe a bit too much to smoke and/or drink.

Perhaps a law suit against the Times and the writer is in order for defamation?

tuffy777 said...

thanx, Deanna
-- I am considering a law suit, but I hope that the Times will see the light and print a retraction
-- that would be enough for me