Humblebragging

I love this word–humblebrag (v.); it’s been used by two separate people this week in conversations with me; yes, both of those people are Canadian. I also am Canadian, so I’m going to use this word, too. See what I did there? I made a syllogism; or maybe it was science. Imagine this has all been a very compelling and clever segue into me, (you guessed it!), humblebragging a little.

My friend Andrew Cornell recently launched a great new site devoted to good writing about SF, Fantasy, Hard-Boiled, and Horror. Whether or not you’re interested in genre fiction, you should check out Albino Books, because Andrew is a really great writer. For me, the sign of a great writer is that I want to read their work no matter the topic–and Andrew’s right up there among the best.

More than HumanLuckily for me, Andrew thinks I’m an okay writer too, and so I will be doing a regular feature at Albino Books, every two months or so, called Copper Cylinders. It’s just me, a know-nothing about SF, etc, reading classics of SF and then reviewing them. I know, right? SO FUN.

My first installment went up today; it’s about Theodore Sturgeon’s 1955 classic More Than Human. A difficult and compelling and sometimes frustrating book, this. Which is the point–I’m being challenged. So I’m really looking forward to my future posts. (And not only because I will finally be forced to read The Left Hand of Darkness, although that too.)

I’ve been posting a fair bit on Food Riot as well. That I was able to write weekly for them this summer has been something nearly miraculous because I spent almost 3 months without getting more than 3 hours sleep a night–and it was never 3 hours in a row!! I was being crushed and broken and destroyed by back pain so bad I could never get comfortable no matter what I did. To cheer myself up, I wrote a fun and silly piece called The Insomniac’s Cookbook. But my favourites have been, of course, my unabashedly emotional posts on my grandmother and my darling husband. That said, I am rather fond of my latest, An Eggplant of the Mind, which finally solves that conundrum to end all conundrums: the difference between fruits and vegetables.

I’m not being humble enough, am I?

Over at Open Letters Monthly (a wonderful Arts and Letters journal), I’ve been allowed to do some editing, which I thoroughly enjoy. I’m looking forward to doing some more writing for them too, but I’m interested in almost no new fiction…it’s a problem. Maybe they’ll just let me write Second Glance pieces for them forever and ever. (Probably not. Le sigh.)

So, two questions: What contemporary authors should someone who hates most contemporary literary fiction read? And what classics of SF should I make sure I don’t miss? BRING ON THE SUGGESTIONS. (I make no promises whatsoever about taking said suggestions.)

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. For the SF, you need not scattershot recommendations but a book. See if you can find David Pringle’s Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels and/or its sequel Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010. Or whatever is sitting next to these on the library shelf that looks interesting.

    The Hugo and Nebula awards do an unusually good job of picking lasting work, so it would be worth rummaging through their lists, not just of winners but of nominees, and not just of novels but of shorter fiction.

    1. Colleen says:

      The Pringle book is available in my library–thank you! And based on my very limited experience with Huge and Nebula award winners, I agree.

  2. rohanmaitzen says:

    Wow, you are just lighting up teh internets! You go girl! But I’m no help about SF, as that is a genre I find I am (so far) totally resistant too. Mind you, I used to think that about romance, and look at me now. As for the great fruit and vegetable conundrum, I have little to add there either except that carrot cake isn’t the only cross-over baking I can think of: isn’t zucchini fairly common in cakes? Or if not common, at least not bizarrely UNcommon?

    1. Colleen says:

      Aha, zucchini is a squash and therefore a fruit!

  3. rohanmaitzen says:

    Also, I meant to add: you can certainly write ‘Second Glance’ pieces forever. Or how about a series? “A Year With Awesome Early Modern Writers Who Aren’t Shakespeare” kind of thing…

    1. Colleen says:

      That sounds like a really fun project, actually…but do you think anyone would read the posts? I’m vain enough to want that to at least be a real possibility!

  4. Stefanie says:

    Humblebragging, I love it. So Canadian πŸ˜‰

    Isn’t More Than Human a good book? I read it quite some time ago but enjoyed it thoroughly. SF suggestions? H.G. Wells, James Tiptree Jr (pen name of Alice Sheldon), Joanna Russ, Phillip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein (especially Stranger in a Strange Land), William Gibson and oh there are so many good ones! Once you start scratching all sorts of “classics” will bubble to the surface.

    Contemporary fiction, Margaret Atwood (you can even use her for your SF column) πŸ™‚

    1. Colleen says:

      I have some of these authors on my list already; and I love William Gibson. However, I have a sever allergy to Margaret Atwood…

      1. Stefanie says:

        But she lives in Toronto! Can you still call yourself Canadian? πŸ˜‰

      2. Stefanie, recommend Alice Munro next so we can see what happens. Too bad you can’t see people grimace on the internet.

  5. Colleen says:

    The fact is, I haven’t actually read either Atwood or Munro since sometime in the 90s. I didn’t enjoy Atwood and I found the Munro to be completely forgettable. I don’t think my tastes have changed in their direction since then, which is why I haven’t tried again.

  6. I second H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds), Isaac Assimov (I, Robot), Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey), Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Sheep aka Bladerunner). Have fun with The Left Hand of Darkness. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I could appreciate the intention.

    1. Colleen says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve got a copy of Clarke’s Childhood’s End for my next Copper Cylinder; I think I’ll read The Left Hand of Darkness in the new year.

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