Tuesday, November 30, 2004

From Cemeteries to Gargoyles to X

I finished the issue of Cemetery Dance last night. It's roughly what I was expecting. On a sentence-for-sentence level, the writing is pretty professional. Things are well described, some of the ideas are fun. Nearly all of the fiction, though, has a twist or shock ending. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The gore aspect is surprisingly limited, which was actually a nice surprise.

The one piece that really deviates from this is my favorite: "Hook House" by Sherry Decker. It's a gothic troubled family kind of story involving ghosts and generations of in-family murder. It's very well detailed, and surprisingly character driven. The other piece that amused me was "Misdirection" by Tony Richards. It's about a performance artist who involves the audience in violent ways, and definitely employs one of those shock ending pieces. But I'm a sucker for anything set in Scotland, and even more so if its at the Edinburg Arts Fest.

I mentioned the Nancy Holder interview earlier, but the issue also features an interview with long time horror writer Richard Matheson. With all he's done from novels, short fiction, film and t.v. scripts he brings an interesting perspective to the genre. Also interesting that he really hates gore, and hints that he regrets writing work that used gore when he was young. There's also an interview with Sean Wallace, head of the small press Prime Books; Wallace had a number of interesting things to say about running a small press that focuses on genre work and all the difficulties involved with it. I didn't know the press by name, but in reading the article realized I have at least two of their books, both by Jeff Vandermeer.

Based on this one issue, I think I'm capable to write pieces of equal quality if I get the ideas. I know I'm no Peter Straub, but this mag gave me a nice sense of hope.

So now I've moved on to the new issue of Gargoyle. The opening piece, Sally Drumm's "Alphabet Story", is brilliant. It's an odd quasi-nonfiction piece mixing letters, journal entries and essays into one. If there's a discernable theme, I'd say it's about writers, readers and exploring and questioning the relationships the two have with one another. It's also about language, and the style and rhythm has a deceptively random feel (although I'm sure it's not random at all). I got the same feeling from it that I get from reading a Kathy Acker piece for the first time. Slightly confused, but very interested in what the author is creating. Which, for me, is a good thing. More Gargoyle later.

Lastly, I want to point people to Alt-x. It's a journal and press that specializes in hypertext fiction, but does have a few other odds and ends mixed in. I hadn't looked at them in several months, but it looks like they've redone their site and made it a lot more organized and easier to navigate. I'm curious what others might think about hypertext fiction, because I have very mixed feelings about it.



LadyLitBlitzin said...

Wow, both mags sound compelling. What issue of Cemetery Dance is this -- I didn't look close enough when I ran across it, and I'm not quite familiar enough to know whether it's a monthly, quarterly, etc. Hook House sounds great.

Okay, I have a question -- what exactly is hypertext fiction? I feel like an idiot asking -- some LadyLitBlitzin I am! ;)

Hebdomeros said...

I read issue 49 of CD. It's got a big picture of a skull on the front. I'm guessing it's quarterly; there were a few mentions of how issue #50 was also their 15 year anniversary. The best part is, its cheap. Only $5, so it does't feel like as much of an investment.

Hypertext fiction is fiction written specifically for the internet. A story will have multiple pages, each page will contain one or more links, and the story can/will have different endings based on which paths you choose. Kind of like those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a kid. Some use pictures, animation, film mixed in with the text as well. It was "the future of fiction" five years ago, but not as many people talk about it now. I'll see if I can find some good examples out there and post them.

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Oh cool. I feel like a bit of an idiot to ask! That's a really neat idea though, and it makes perfect sense.

Ah yes, I used to read those Choose Your Own Adventures books. I always cheated though, would read what was coming and then go back. It's likely everybody did that though.

Hebdomeros said...

I would usually read on the right way, and then try to figure out what choices to make to get the other endings. I hated puzzles as a kid, but for some reason I liked those.