27 January, 2009

Tender Morsels is a Printz Honor Book

Yes, it's true. I...don't quite believe it—what do you do when your dreams come true? Oh, of course, champagne. What was I thinking.

Just as huge news, 'our' Melina Marchetta WON the Printz, for Jellicoe Road, so it will be a big Aussie party there in Chicago come June, when the awards are presented.

It's so exciting. I'm so relieved and pleased.

UPDATE: It's even more official.

25 January, 2009

Avid Reader, 3pm today

Brisbanites, I want to see you out in force today. Yes, pounding rain and soupy air notwithstanding! I'll be reading from, and talking about, Tender Morsels, plus, you may ask any questions you like about previous books, Clarion South, and where I get my ideas.

See you there.

Still not dead,

just in recovery from being crazy busy tutoring Clarion South. What a great week. Okay, so I was almost complete sedentary. But my brain was exercised almost to exploding point, and my mouth! Gab, gab, gab, I went. Story, story, story. Me, me, me. As you can imagine, I had a wonderful time. Wall-to-wall science fiction and fantasy—and, it being 3rd week, some of the fantasies were getting pretty wild.

All capped off with the Aurealis Awards last night. Everyone's got to get hold of Alison Goodman's The Two Pearls of Wisdom, eh, because it's better than Tender Morsels, if you can believe that! :) I had the pleasure of accepting for Jonathan Strahan's anthology The Starry Rift, so I got to glitter (thanks to the glam scarf given to me by my Clarion students) for a tiny while in the spotlight, then to move on to champagne and more wonderful gabbing in the Judith Wright lobby afterwards.

Steven flew up to Brisbane yesterday morning, and we're now staying with friends (and air-conditioning—commiserations, Clarionettes!) for the next few days, and I'm trying to adjust to conversation that is not all about my genius all the time—some of it is, but not all. Sigh. Of course it couldn't last.

12 January, 2009

Oh my goodness, Red Spikes is unsavoury too!

It may be a blessing that these nasty little stories are so confusingly told that the reader often has no idea what is going on; When you do get a glimmer of meaning, you'll often wish you hadn't. This is the kind of collection that makes you wonder about the author—what kind of person has this kind of perversity floating around in her head?

Common Sense (Media) kicks in

With the claim that Tender Morsels is for no younger than 17 year olds, and much overstating and outrage. 'See the advisories for more horrifying details.'

11 January, 2009

Tender Morsels print reviews

Not sure if I mentioned this one, Stuart Dunstan in Bookseller and Publisher way back in August. I got it in my Melbourne Festival goody-bag, and he gave such a neat plot summary of the book that I used it on my panels. He also said the book
has definitely been worth the wait [music to my ears—that was some wait] ... dense with issues of gender, psychology, and society, that makes this a very satisfying read.
Frances Atkinson in the Age at the end of October:
Small stories bump into bigger issues as Lanagan teases part themes about gender, masculinity, love and brutality. I went willingly, while those unfamiliar might need a little more time to warm to the murky depths of her prose.
Murky? Never. My prose is no more 'murky' than it is 'clotted'.

Katherine England, in the Adelaide Advertiser confesses:
As with many of her fans I have waited impatiently through three marvellous collections of short stories for Lanagan to return to the novel. Now ... in spite of the sustained imaginative power and originality of Tender Morsels I find myself paradoxically missing the maturity, the compression, the open-endedness and, particularly, the rich and unpredictable variety those short stories.
That's not paradoxical, Katherine; that's just goldarned perverse. :)

The Maitland Mercury reproduces the back-cover blurb beneath the heading 'Successful Novocastrian'. This despite my only having been born in Newcastle, never lived there, and having left the area, ooh, nigh on forty years ago.

Lisa Nolan in the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun, end of October: 'A wonderful and thought-provoking story examining the human condition, set in a world where anything is possible.'

Magpies reviewed it in November—Lyn Linning recommends it to young adults: 'I have found this moving, philosophical novel shelved only with adult fiction ... Tender Morsels offers rare and precious gifts to maturing, thoughtful young readers. Firstly, Margo Lanagan validates the intensity and power of adolescent girls' feelings, something many adults ahve forgotten ... Secondly, the story shows that, whatever the difficulties of adolescence, adulthood is attainable.'

I've already linked to Lili Wilkinson's review, but I meant to go back and quote you this nice bit about the short stories, which tickled me, and which is reproduced in her review in the Centre for Youth Literature's newsletter:
... an amazing experience. But it takes work. Each of her stories is like running across sizzling tarmac and then plunging into a deep pool of clear, cold water. It's an enormous yet wonderful shock to the system, but by the time you've acclimatised you have to haul yourself out and start all over again.
Time for another nap now, I think. Oh, you're asleep already? Oh.

**signs out, tiptoes away**

And a big lump of Tender Morsels reviews.

OMG, the linkage is killing me.

Well, to begin with, Tender Morsels has won the Allen County Public Library Mock Printz, which is wonderful.

Also, it's had a Blue Ribbon pinned to it by The Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, meaning that it has made all six of the best-of-year lists for the big US children's-book-reviewing journals. Can't complain about that!

A review by Hilary Williamson at BookLoons Reviews: 'Though her story begins in darkness and abuse, Margo Lanagan moves it steadily and assuredly into the light, with strong (mainly female) characters, intriguing magics, and beautiful writing.' Noice.

Abigail Nussbaum is disappointed that TM wasn't grimmer. Well, that's a turn-up for the books. She calls it 'a bit shapeless...but entirely fascinating'. I'm not entirely sure I agree with her that my nerve failed as she said, but she's made me think. Maybe she'll make you think, too, if you're one of those readers who's going nuts because you're the only person you know who's read it and you can't talk to anyone about it. Go over and have a look.

Lisa Hannett, who'll now just be girding her loins for Week 2 of Clarion South (which I'll teach Week 3 of), thinks it's 'brilliant! I SO can't wait to meet her at Clarion!!!!!!!!!!! Even though her brilliance makes me a bit scared'. Bwa-ha! See you soon, Lisa!

Mrs D, who reviews books for 'kids of all ages', says, 'There is a lot of darkness in this book, and at times it was achingly sad, but the characters and story are compelling and rich.'

(Nothing Rhymes with) Rachel: 'The best one I read for the year ... Amazing stuff. I heart it a lot.'

Oh, and did I blog that it was one of the Amazon Editors' Top Ten Picks of 2008? I may not have—that'll be minestrone-brain striking again.

My Clarion South student Jason Fischer has now finished reading Tender Morsels and is in a state of, shall we say, afterglow. :)

'How dark is too dark?' asks Mette Harrison:
There are a handful of YA books this year that I have thought dark and perfect. One of them is Margo Lanagan's TENDER MORSELS. Another is Cylin Busby's THE YEAR WE DISAPPEARED. I think there is some debate on whether these books are actually YA or adult.
And I think that'll go on until we're all talked out...

And OF Blog says: 'Lanagan does an outstanding job in creating a moving story that alternates between being blunt and evasive in its dialogue, as is fitting for this story's themes.'

And that's it for the online reviews and mentions to date. Meanwhile, Allen & Unwin have sent me a very slick folderful of press cuttings, some of which were new to me. A few RSI-preventative stretches, and I'll get straight onto those. No linking there, at least.

Any Goosle-goss?

Why, yes, just a little. Charles Tan says of The Del Rey Book that: 'It's not lacking attention thanks to the controversy surrounding Margo Lanagan's "The Goosle" (i.e. every review after the controversy must tackle this story in one form or another)'. And mostly they do:

OF Blog calls it 'one of the best short stories I've read this year' as well as 'a powerful, emotional read'.

Count Gore puts it in his Tomb Top Ten and says it's 'a ferociously horrific continuation of a well-known fairy tale that, honestly, freaked me out'. Excellent.

And Abigail Nussbaum brings her usual intelligence to bear on it, calling it 'a punishing story, but also one of the most remarkable I've read this year':
[I]t should be clear to anyone who reads it that her goal, at which she was entirely successful, was to depict not only the physical but emotional toll of such abuse, which grinds down its victim's soul to the point where they depend on their abuser for their sense of self.
And Ellen—has she no shame? :) —pimps it for a Hugo, along with every other excellent thing she's done this year. Go and vote, people. Show those Nebs voters how to do it.

Right. Time to update. Black Juice first.

Avert your eyes, Justine, much reviewish stuff coming. This blog is where I keep track of them, so feel free to check back later once I'm done.

It's been a busy couple of weeks, in which there was a lot of Christmas and New Year family-ising and imbibery, but now I've been back at work for a week and can catch my breath and perhaps even rub two of my very own thoughts together.

Let's start with Black Juice. Here's a review from Lucy Sussex in Overland—quite an old review. They must have just put their 2007 issues up online. It sounds a bit sour, to me: 'Some literati who would otherwise eschew Australian fantasy writing are thus forced to accept the fact of overseas validation. They thus read Lanagan and pronounce her "good", in much the same way as they read Rowling.'

Next, a nice review from 'Nancy' over at Goodreads:
Indeed, each story in this collection is richly described, dark and disturbing. Almost too dark to be shelved with books for “Young People”, but what do I know? ... I will definitely read more by this author…later. Right now I’m emotionally drained.
Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling, recommends BJ as a 'great book'. She says: 'I never read short stories, but these ones hooked me. Margo Lanagan has an EXCELLENT BRAIN'. Which is encouraging, when my brain has been feeling a bit like slightly off minestrone for the past three months or so.

09 January, 2009

Okay, this is stoopid enough to get me blogging again.

From a review of Eclipse Two, over at Discover:
I puzzled over the selection of some stories (in particular, Margo Lanagan’s Night of the Firstlings seemed to be neither science fiction nor fantasy, but just a retelling, albeit a well-crafted one, of a bible story)...
Of course, the Angel of fricking Death isn't a fantasy element, oh no. That's gritty realism all the way, that is.


Also, 'just' a retelling? I don't know where this person's head is.