America, Gods, and Terrifying Sex Scenes: Some Thoughts

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I’m a Neil Gaiman person. I wasn’t always a Neil Gaiman person—few people come out of the womb quoting Stardust and talking about The Endless—but I’ve known of his existence since middle school, when I first found (and was subsequently traumatized by) a copy of Coraline in my school library, and I’ve considered myself a fan since high school, when I first read Anansi Boys. Even then, after reading Good Omens and American Gods and Fragile Warning listening to Stardust and Neverwhere on audiotape, it was still a low-key kind of Gaiman love—I liked Gaiman, I told people, but I considered myself more of a Pratchett person.

And then came college, when my school library carried the complete run of Sandman, and creative writing classes that required you to show-and-tell your favorite writers to class, and somehow, by the time graduation rolled around, I had two Sandman bookmarks, a battered version of Fragile Things, multiple copies of Good Omens, and an extensive knowledge of the Gaiman-Palmer-Chabon-Lemony Snicket wedding. Somehow, as the years passed, I had become One of Those People.

Continue reading “America, Gods, and Terrifying Sex Scenes: Some Thoughts”

Short stories are rad: a listicle

Short story collections are a weird creature—plenty of writers write them, plenty of publishers buy them, but how many people actually read them? Enough, obviously, that they keep on being produced, but outside of MFA professors and particularly pretentious lit students, I don’t really know anyone who buys them. With a few exceptions—Alice Munro, George Saunders, Shirley Jackson—short stories are almost always seen as appetizers, the prelude to an eventual novel that will prove all these writer’s potential on display. Short stories are nice, but it’s novels we get excited about, novels we put in “top 10 lists” and make movies out of because novels are sexy, the strutting cool kids of the literary world. If you talk about buying a book and you’re a so-called “average American,” chances are you’re talking about buying a novel.

Which is a shame honestly, because short stories are, for a variety of reasons, kind of the shit. Continue reading “Short stories are rad: a listicle”