This is news, isn’t it? After more than a decade (?) on Livejournal, I’ve pulled the plug and consolidated everything on WordPress. So there’s that.
In other news… well, is there news? Bitter Orange has picked up a couple of reviews, one positively glowing and one rather less enthusiastic. Here are links:
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography: http://www.cclapcenter.com/2013/10/book_review_bitter_orange_by_m.html
Bitter Orange has come out at the right time in light of society’s interest in the superhero genre. With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on television and caped crusaders from Marvel and DC filling up megaplex screens, we both cherish our heroes, but at the same time cringe at the excesses superheroes could unleash on a unwary population. Moore’s novel has a lot of things going for it. While the above plot summary may strike the reader as yet another story about superpowers turning an ordinary person into a supervillain, Moore keeps an objective eye. Despite writing from Seth’s perspective, we are never instructed that Seth is either good or evil. It’s something we have to judge for ourselves. With great power comes great … well, you know the drill. Another aspect of the novel’s brilliance is Moore’s power of description. Whether it is a vacation in Spain or a Vicodin high, there is an immediacy and snarky genius to the descriptions. As someone who ingested Vicodin while recovering from a broken collarbone, I can attest that Moore got it right. While powerful, numbing, and perversely euphoric, Vicodin is nothing I’d want to return to. (Seriously, use as directed.)
Marshall Moore has written a novel that is effective in its psychological nuance and its acidic portrayal of a post-9/11 corporate burnout.
Out of 10/8.5
The prose itself is satisfying – I certainly couldn’t raise any complaints. The author can clearly write, and write well. There is a tendency to be completely unvarnished in his handling of thoughts and behaviours. If the expectation is that the characters are going to quietly contemplate existence in a rather sterilised way fit for general consumption, the reader will possibly be shocked and even offended. I don’t really have a problem with the grittier viewpoints, but I thought perhaps that some of the more sexual content encountered didn’t really enhance the story significantly.
Overall, I seem to be somewhere in the middle when it comes to my appreciation of Bitter Orange. It was either an interesting short story that dragged on for too long, or it was a fascinating metaphor that wasn’t explored deeply enough. It was an unsuccessful fusion of two potentials. That stated, I didn’t dislike reading it. The writing was very good, if a little over-played when it came to shock value, and the exploration of Seth Harrington still managed to leave its mark on me.
I am actually quite happy with this second review as well.
Of course I’d be happier with a no-holds-barred jizzfest, I appreciate the fact that the reviewer clearly explained what he thought didn’t work and why. This is how book reviews should be written. In contrast, there was another review published earlier this year (I don’t think I bothered linking to it; would you post pictures of your toilet paper after you’ve used it?) was a thoughtless, dismissive piece of shit in which the writer seemed to be complaining more about the financial well-being of the main character than about the book itself.
In other news, The Concrete Sky has been experiencing a modest sales resurgence in the last two months. It’s been our bestselling book, oddly enough, even outpacing the new releases from Signal 8 Press. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I’ve reduced the e-book price of my backlist titles to US$0.99 in order to entice more readers (I hope).
There’s more: I have finally, finally started edits on Murder in the Cabaret Sauvignon. I would like to see this published in 2015, but I know full well that if I don’t get off my ass and do some serious editing, it’s not going to happen. This wouldn’t be the end of the world. It wouldn’t be the first time several years have elapsed between books. However, with two basically finished, I’d kind of like not to be forced to keep them on ice. After all, I can control the circumstances this time. (And if I get too busy, I can release A Garden Fed by Lightning first instead. The nice thing about short story collections is that they come together faster. I’d just like to see a few more of the stories published first.)
Last: The Queen of Statue Square: New Short Fiction from Hong Kong, the anthology I’m co-editing with Xu Xi, will probably be out in February. It has been delayed and delayed and delayed for reasons that do not warrant explication. In any case, it’s still in the pipeline and will be out in a few months. Really.