28 January, 2010

The NZ juggernaut begins to rumble to life...

...with this article by Laura Kroetsch, who tells you what books to read in preparation for the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week in March:
We are thrilled to be hosting Neil Gaiman, the literary superstar, and Margo Lanagan, the Australian writer whose recent novel, Tender Morsels, has done that remarkable trick of ‘crossing over’ to adult readers. Both Gaiman and Lanagan are fabulous writers and even those who don’t think they like fantasy should give them a go
She doesn't actually tell you that Neil and I will be on the same panel, chaired by Kate de Goldi. I will just sit there and be fangirlish at both of them, but they, being responsible adults, will talk about how we shouldn't sugar-coat children's literature. I'm sure it'll be a fun, possibly rude, panel, so if you happen to be in Wellington, come by!

Also, I'll be on a panel about story and hi-story with Daniel Kehlmann and Simon Schama. This one will be totally terrifying, so if you could come by and laugh at my lame jokes, I'd be very grateful.

Also, you'll be able to spend An Hour With Margo Lanagan, you lucky thing, at some stage. Details of all these adventures to follow pretty soon, I think.

21 January, 2010

Causing thoughtfulness

Over here, Niall Harrison takes Seven Bites of Tender Morsels, and chews them over thoroughly. I never thought of my blandification of Liga's heaven-world as a swipe at the Grimms' makeover of Stahl's 'The Ungrateful Dwarf', but it could be nothing else:
Re-reading “Snow White and Rose Red” once done with Tender Morsels, it is a real joy to discover how clever, and how sly, Lanagan’s revisioning is. The spine of the Grimm tale – two girls, living with their mother in a cottage in the forest, have encounters with a friendly bear and a wicked, treasure-hungry dwarf – is retained in Tender Morsels. But in Lanagan’s novel, the realm in which this takes place is a secondary world, a personal heaven to which the mother, Liga, escapes from a horrific childhood in a “real” world: this is both a necessary escape, and the sort of sanitisation of reality performed by the Brothers Grimm on the later editions of the tales they collected. The bear (multiple bears, actually, in the novel) and the dwarf are intrusions from the “real” world, and eventually harbingers of heaven’s end; and, most importantly, the novel shows us the story before and after the fairytale.
It's a calm, intelligent review. Most startling, though, (esp. to my critics) is the final sentence: 'If you’re looking for a guide to living in the world, you could do worse than look at Tender Morsels.'

Causing coldness, because someone doesn't know their Bible stories

That would be David Marshall, reviewing Jonathan's Eclipse 2:
We then come to a story by Margo Lanagan called “Night of the Firstlings”. There seems to be quite a stir amongst the tastesetters with many influential voices hailing her as the best thing to come out of Australia since ostrich meat was exported as a leaner and safer alternative to beef. Frankly, having now read four or five of her short stories, I remain unconvinced. This outing is a post-apocalypse tale of a diminishing group trying to stay ahead of plague and floods. I find it uninvolving. I did not care whether any of them survived. Equally, Nancy Kress’ story of a group of people trapped in a hospital elevator left me cold.
*firmly squashes further snarking*

19 January, 2010

Causing mirth and sneering

Philip Womack in the Literary Review holds forth on TM:
It isn't often that one reads a children's book that begins with a dwarf losing his virginity to a witch; still less that it should continue to include incest and rape [etc. etc. mirthful plot summary of the 'Her father dies (phew!)' kind] Underneath all this is an involving, if protracted, fable about the loss of innocence and the need to face up to the horrors of everyday life. Go deeper still, and you'll find Hardy, Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell—authors who love putting their heroines through the mill in order to find redemption. This supposedly original mishmash is actually a competent pastiche of a good old-fashioned Victorian novel. Adventurous teenagers, if they can cope with 'Goodwifes' and 'womanwards' and unconvincing rural dialect, may love it.

More convincing is Jeanette Winterson's Battle of the Sun...
So pleased, to be a writer of a competent pastiche!

*gives rhinoceros-hide a bit of a scratch*

18 January, 2010

Causing angst

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag goes head to head with her uncomfortableness with depictions of casual sex in a review of How Beautiful the Ordinary:
I've got severely mixed feelings about [the anthology]. My conservative side is screaming that the depictions of sex are too blatant for teenagers, while the side of me that recognizes reality points out that kids know about sex already. And anything that will lead teens to a better understanding of themselves and others is probably a good thing...'A Dark Red Love Knot' by Margo Lanagan—The Highwayman is reimagined with a different motive for the ostler than love for the landlord's daughter. This is the first story that my conservative side screamed loudly about, as the ostler and a soldier share a moment.
This would be the moment:
He had me up and down and round about. I cannot tell you how glorious it was, or how confusing, my God. I could not tell, did he love me or hate me? For one moment he was savage at me behind with his claws in my hips and such oaths, such talk in my ears as I’d never heard uttered, saying what he was doing and what he would do, and what kind of filth was I. Then the next he was wound his hot nakedness all around mine, and drinking long drafts of kisses out of my mouth and saying Who are you and Where have you come from and No don’t answer. Be a mystery to me a lovely mystery my darling.
Or thereabouts. Squirming yet? :)

17 January, 2010

My not-very-secret vice

Yes, Twitter. I believe this is becoming for me what some people inelegantly call a 'time-suck'. If you're wondering what I'm up to and want to read a fragmented, indiscreet and frequently outright rude version of things, you can find me over there as @margolanagan.

Horn Book review of TM audio book

Martha Parravano writes:
Entirely appropriate for a story in which sexual politics/oppression plays so great a role, the audiobook is narrated by one male and one female reader, each superb — Page lusty and loud; Flosnik gentle and subdued — and each doing full justice to Lanagan’s vivid prose. Those who found the opening chapters too brutal to read in print should, with this outstanding audio version, be propelled all the way through to the life-affirming ending.
(via @sixboxes on Twitter)

02 January, 2010

Home from hols...

...and facing the new year. *takes deep breath*

Okay, things I know will happen:
  • Harry will do his HSC.
  • Tender Morsels will come out as a YA paperback here in Australia and in the US, and as an adult trade paperback in the UK, in February.
  • I'll work at UNSW until the end of March.
  • I'll go to Perth in February, New Zealand in March and Byron Bay in May.
  • I'll finish the selkie novel (by end March, I hope).
  • I'll start that historical novel that I got the NSW Writer's Fellowhsip for—fortunately, I've still got the Fellowship stashed away safely.
  • I'll turn fifty—sheesh, how'd that happen?
Things that might happen:
  • My collection of YA reprint short stories, Yellowcake, may be out by the end of the year, here in Aus., possibly elsewhere at a (very long) stretch.
  • I might be going to Aussiecon—we'll have to see how the HSC business is going around then.
It all looks quite simple laid out like that. I hope it doesn't snarl and tangle and make me cranky the way 2008 and 2009 did.

New Year's res: Keep it simple—say NO more often.