Note: Added photos to…

Note: Added photos to earlier WisCon entry.

Books WisCon made me buy:

  • About Writing, by Samuel R. Delany
  • Black Juice , by Margo Lanagan
  • Air: Or, Have Not Have , by Geoff Ryman
  • Vellum , by Hal Duncan
  • Fool on the Hill , by Matt Ruff
  • Jade Tiger , by Jenn Reese (pre-ordered)
Even after the con is over, the spending continues. I also got a copy of Alan DeNiro's new collection, Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, but I didn't list that one above because I sweet-talked Gavin into giving me a dinged copy. Kelly later tried to give me a dinged copy of the Lanagan, but my guilt at taking free books from people whose living actually depends on selling said books kicked in at that point, and I nobly said, 'no, no, I'll pay for that one.' Which I just did, though I bought all those from Amazon instead of directly from the publisher, which is just dumb. Sometimes it takes me a while to make up my mind.

Amazon also keeps telling me I want The Empire of Ice Cream, by Jeff Ford. Do I actually want it?

Another WisCon highlight -- Chip Delany telling me that he mentions me in passing towards the end of his writing book, as an up-and-coming young writer. Now you know why I had to buy the book. Though I would've bought it anyway, since he's another one of my heroes.

I should make a list of writing heroes. They would include:

  • Dorothy Allison
  • Samuel R. Delany
  • Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Vladimir Nabokov
I'm not sure who else, off the top of my head. Perhaps it is a very exclusive list. What distinguishes the writers above, I think, is that in addition to extravagant amounts of talent and skill, they possess a quality of compassionate wisdom that I find exceedingly rare.

Tell me -- here's a question I was wondering in the car, talking with David -- is literature 'better' if it is compassionate and generous, rather than catty and mean-spirited, keeping in mind that cattiness can often be quite funny?

Corollary: Are people 'better' too? Is compassionate wisdom something you aspire to? Should you?

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5 thoughts on “Note: Added photos to…”

  1. I also spent far too much on books at WisCon. And yes, you want The Empire of Ice Cream.

    It was great seeing you there, Mary Anne, even if only briefly. That sparkly red sari was just gorgeous, and you were resplendent in it.

    As for compassion: I’m studying Buddhism now, and compassion is one of the best things you can do to another human being. So compassionate wisdom is something I defintely aspire to.

  2. You can read the short story “The Empire of Ice Cream” for free online at Sci Fiction to get some idea of whether you want the collection. There are five other Jeffrey Ford stories in the archive there, too; I’m not sure offhand which of them are in the book, but you can search on that archive page for “Ford” to see the stories if you’re not sure whether you like his work. I’m pretty sure you liked his story “Creation,” which I think used to be available at Sci Fiction but doesn’t appear to be any longer. (Link is to eBook edition.)

    Allison, Delany, and Le Guin (note space in her name) would also make my list; clearly I need to read Nabokov. I’m fascinated that you see them as compassionate writers; I don’t particularly think of them that way (well, maybe Le Guin); will have to think about this more.

    Also interesting: I like snarky literature a lot more than real-life snarkiness. (But I’m usually not fond of mean-spiritedness in general, even when it’s funny.) I don’t think literature is necessarily better when compassionate (for example, there are works that are compassionate but kind of naive), but in general, all else being equal, I’d much rather read fiction that treats its characters compassionately than fiction that says nasty things about its characters.

    …I feel like I may be missing your point, though; it sounds like your term “compassionate wisdom” may be a somewhat different quality than just a combination of compassion and wisdom. Can you elaborate a little?

  3. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Umm…I’m not sure. Some writers seem wise, but not compassionate. Some seem compassionate, but not wise.

    I like the ones who can do both, which also often includes an element of judgement — which I would otherwise find very off-putting in literature (and people).

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Have just read “Empire” — thanks for the link. Still thinking about it. I likes it, but not sure I love it. Not sure it isn’t, for all its skilled execution, essentially a one-joke story. I did quite like “Creation.” Hmm.

  5. Aha, so you got the last copy of Black Juice!

    I can barely remember what I said about niceness in the car at this point, let alone contribute anything new, but let me just say that I love that I can still hear all your voices when I read your writing.

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