Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

For Kore

No eager eyes watching my every swallow,
Willing the crisps to leap into a stomach always hollow;
Crumbs fall and lie forgotten on the floor.
No circling round me as I stand, lead in my hand, at the front door.

No barking at the tiny horses on the TV screen,
Or at a call of "Squirrels!". No more of that daft, delightful scene.
No more T-Rex impersonations, trying to snatch a bone,
No more chasing around from room to room around your home.

No more paws crossed so dainty as she lay
There, quiet, calm and dignified, waiting for snacks, the Kore Tax we'd pay.
I washed her bowls today, put them away;
No more food, no more water and no more, no more, no more to say.

But still, a million hairs on all the curtains, carpets, clothes --
A million memories that mean she's always close.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Last Walk

Thanks for all the comments and emails of support. They're much appreciated, believe me, even if I'm a bit too fucked up right now to respond individually. Special thanks to all of those who helped me through yesterday: my parents, of course; Jim for his Highland auntie routine; Mags and Phil for helping me get good and drunk; Arthur for the photo in the last post, which just says it all.

Anyway, most of the relevant folks should know about this already, but in case anyone is out of the loop in terms of email addresses, phone numbers, etc., I thought I'd post this here:

I’m having a “last walk” round Kelvingrove Park on Sunday afternoon to scatter Kore's ashes on her old stomping ground. Anyone who had the privilege of paying “Kore Tax” at some point or other (the tithe of cake required on entry into my flat), and who’d like to come along and join us for a short stroll in the park followed by a long afternoon/evening in Stravaigan is welcome. Just turn up at my place between 14:00 and 14:30, Sunday afternoon.


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

-- W.H. Auden

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Proper WFC Post(s) 2: Down To Earth With A Bump

OK, it's two weeks since the Con and I still haven't properly blogged about it. WTF? Well, I've been a bit remiss on account of I got back in my house in Glasgow's ph-so-Bohemian West End about 8:30 am on the Wednesday after WFC, went straight to me bed and woke up I know not how many hours/minutes/seconds later to a phone call from my Mum. While I was away, ye see, my parents had been looking after my dog, Kore (you know -- Greek for "maiden" -- other name for Persephone, beloved of Hades -- yeah, OK, I was going through a pretentious/crazy phase when I named her), and, well, she'd been a bit poorly to say the least. A phantom pregnancy turned into mastitis, and the fucker of it was that because of the time of the year -- Halloween and Guy Fawkes and all -- both my parents and myself had put her behaviour down to fear of fireworks rather than sickness. So when my folks realised it was something more, well, let's just say she wasn't a happy puppy. Not that at 14 years old you can accurately describe her as a puppy, but normally... fuck, normally she acts more like 4 than 14.

Anyway, so I'm jet-lagged to fuck and barely know what day it is, never mind what time, and my Mum's on the phone telling me that Kore's sick, and that they're taking her to the vet later on that day. Before you can say "Jesus Fucking Christ Almighty", I'm on the train to Kilwinning, sitting there with a knot in my heart, butterflies in my stomach, a lump in my throat and a bottom lip more quivery than Elvis's hips, and with all sorts of horrible thoughts going through my mind because I'm tired and strung-out, because I was too tired and strung-out to actually ask any more detail on the phone. Imagination isn't always a good thing.

So I get down to my folks' house and my "pumpkin" (hey, her fur's goldy-browny-orangey... and I'm a sentimental sap) is doing a good impersonation of the most miserable dog in the world. In fact, fuck the impersonation; she's been broody, sick, weak, shaking like a leaf, scared of fireworks, doesn't wanna go too far in the dark cause one eye's pretty cataracted... and so on; she is the most miserable dog in the world right now. Thankfully, she's not in the state I'd managed to imagine her in... but then if she had been, well, I wouldn't be fucking blogging about it.

Now it's two weeks, multiple visits to the vet, great fun and games trying to give her various antibiotics and anti-nausea pills, a lot of hand-feeding of freshly cooked chicken breast goujons, and some major TLC and frantic worry later. Last week the vet thought the infection was under control, clearing up -- so after she'd finished her antibiotics on Tuesday it was basically leave her alone, let her convalesce and just make sure she gets food and liquid into her system. Get on with yer life and let her recover. Naturally enough, though, I've been a bit distracted, and apart from the odd wee email, comment or blogbite here or there -- and a little bit of work on INK -- I haven't really had the focus to do much that's constructive.

Weirdly, though, I've had a busy week that should have taken my mind off it. But in all the catching up with friends I haven't seen since WFC I'm going from "WFC fuckin rocks!" to "Yeah... Kore's not very well at the moment." Life is, as the platitude says, ups and downs. Went back to work on Tuesday and spent the next three days thinking mostly fuck this fer a game of sodjies; I wanna be home with my dog. Christ, I cannot be fucking arsed with bullshit programming/support work right now. Had a reading/Q&A thing through in Edinburgh on Wednesday night for the Nova Scotia anthology (including some great post-panel bar-chat with some of the Edniburgh mob)... but that only reinforced the whole "why the fuck am I pissing about with the part-time job?" feeling; I know I could survive the next two years on the deals for VELLUM & INK. Fuck, I got the French rights bought just the other day. So it just feels like the Powers-That-Be are telling me to quit the day job and spend lots of hours at home, writing like a fucking madman... and stopping every hour or so to lavish attention on the dog that, quite frankly, brought order and sanity into my life. She doesn't need a 24-hour Florence Nightingale routine; I mean, she's not that bad. But it's times like this you kinda realise where your priorities lie.

Anyway, she's still nowhere near 100% and after picking up for a bit, fuck, the last few days she's been sick, had the runs, and decided that, no, she'll give the chicken breast goujons a miss, thank you very much. Today she got another check-up and while she doesn't have a temperature, the infected teats were "a bit hot"; looks like the infection's back. So we have more antibiotics, more anti-nausea pills, more fun and games. At least... at least... I came away from the vet with a couple of cans of liquid concentrated food, one of which my little pumpkin doggee just scarfed down half an hour ago, much to my relief. As long as she's fucking eating I'm, well, not quite happy but at least not shit-scared. She's a fucking well-fit dog apart from this fucking infection. Always has been. She's a pure-bred, pedigree Heinz 57, after all, a bona fide mutt whose only other bout of illness was a wee dose of gastroenteritis a few years back. I mean, I kinda wonder if her general history of health is part of what's knocked her for six here; she doesn't know what's fucking hit her cause she's never dealt with feeling quite this shitty, poor girl.

Ach... anyway... I'm off to dote on her for a wee bit. Just thought I'd blog an explanation as to why I haven't been blathering like a crazy man about how much WFC "fuckin rocks" -- with proper specifics and all. I will, I promise, actually get round to it. I know, you've heard that one from me before, but this time... honest, guv... it'll come. I mean, I haven't even told you about my Dario Argento movie impersonation... or the Secret Hotel Within The Hotel... the White Russians... the Venom Cock... soooooo many neat things.

Anyhoo... watch this space.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Je Suis Une Jamais Sod

Vive la France! Yes, those eminently tasteful people over the Channel, with their fine wines and haute cuisine, have bought the rights to VELLUM and INK. Looks like there'll be a first trade edition with Lunes d'encre (Denoël), followed by a mass-market edition with Foilo (Gallimard).


Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Proper WFC Post(s) 1: New York

Where to fuckin begin?

OK, so before I even get to WFC, I'm on Cloud Nine. I arrive in on Monday morning from Glasgow on my Continental Airlines flight, thanking my lucky fucking stars that the inflight movie was not, in fact, the advertised ELF (ye gods, kill me now) and hey-hoing, humming and hawing -- well, it's better than fuckin ELF -- that it was the moderately amusing (if constantly interrupted and shown on a dodgy all red and orange video screen) MR AND MRS SMITH. A brain out, sponge in movie. Perfect for air travel.

So. I arrive at Newark and make my way through the stringent security of Liberty International Airport, getting stopped at customs of course, being a long-hair disreputable-looking motherfucker and on my own, and kinda nervous over the address I should put on my green visa thingy (Well, I'll be in New York for a few days, but then I'm off to Madison, but I can't remember the hotel name, and the details are in my luggage, so, ah fuck it, I'll just put down the New York address... "So you're staying in New York?"... "Well, I'll be in Madison for a bit"... "Come this way, sir."... "OK").

Anyway, I make it through the customs without getting shackled and deported for having a beard or wearing a Peace badge, and get picked up by my chauffeur. Heh. A fuckin chauffeur. Yep, Del Rey, bless 'em, clearly knowing what will tickle me pink send a car from Music Express to pick me up at the airport, so I get to smoke a quick roll-up in the back of a plush Lexus (or whatever the fuck it was... my knowledge of cars generally runs to "it was a black one".) We drive into Manhattan, me bouncing in the back with glee as the driver asks me if I've got a gig out in Madison, and I get to imagine I'm a rock star. "So who've you had in the back?" is, of course, my first question. "Bono. That guy, the Edge" says the driver. And so on.

Coooooooooool, I think.

I check into my plush hotel (the Warwick) and have time to freshen up (well, actually, time to wander round the room thinking "sweeeeeet!") before phoning round to Del Rey to let them know I'm on my way. Then it's a few blocks walk through Uptown Manhattan with a spring in my step despite the whole "what time is it? where am I?" dislocation thing, and then I'm in the foyer of the NEW YORK FUCKING PUBLISHING GIANT. And then I get to meet the Most Excellent Mr Minz and my publicist and native guide, Coleen Lindsay aka LaGringa -- who both, I quickly learn, are very much my kinda people. And I'm getting shown round the offices and shown cover images for the book and page design stuff and, hey, you should meet this person and, hey, you should meet this person and, and, and, and -- oh look there's a monkey!

Well, OK, it wasn't a real monkey -- just someone getting into the Halloween spirit by wandering round the offices in monkey costume, complete with organ grinder on the other end of the leash. But, suffice to say, any NEW YORK FUCKING PUBLISHING GIANT where you can dress up as a monkey on Halloween is alright by my books. Fuck the advance. From now on I wanna know, do you let your staff dress up as monkeys at Halloween? Well, OK, then; let's make a deal. So: lunch with Jim Minz is followed by another little tour, a grazing for free books and then a short respite in the hotel before Coleen takes me out on the town. A meal in Soho. The Halloween parade in the West Village (with Book Slut, who's a hoot, and her friend who I remember simply as the Urchin for her gaiman qualities -- a wee scelf, a wee slip of a lass, as we say in Scotland). Guinness in the East Village (I think). Some dodgy singing of Rocky Horror tunes. Anyway. Kid in a fucking candy store, that's me.

I arrive back at the hotel, sated with sights and sounds, and I sleeeeeeeeeep. Lovely lovely sleeeeeeep.

The next day, Tuesday, I check out, drag my luggage and my sorry ass down to the Del Rey offices and after a proper meeting about schtuff (which mainly consists of me saying "Really? Really? Coooooool!" quite a lot), Jim Minz and meself head out to lunch with Jim Killan, SF Buyer for Barnes and Noble (SF Buyer for fuckin Barnes and Noble!). Great conversation. Great Indian food. I think I did actually manage to get past the "I'm doing a business lunch in Manhattan!" fuckin-hellery of it with the help of beer, but I'm not entirely sure I wasn't just a blithering bag of jetlag and excitement. Either way, it all ends up with me, after more meeting and greeting, on the train back to Jim's home out in the wilds of New Jersey where I'm staying overnight. I get to meet his charming wife, Sondi, and his insufferably charming daughter Rachel (she's just at that wind-up toy stage of crawling where they zip across the floor this way and that -- sweet as a fucking button). John Klima and his wife, Shea, come over for beer, chat and a Western movie, giving me the chance to pass on the rare gourmet foodstuffs I've brought for them (Walkers Crisps -- I only brought them because John quite rightly referred to them as crisps. Had he said "potato chips" I would, of course, have said, No! I know not of what you speak, in this strange barbaric tongue of yours!).

And then, being jetlagged to fuck, and one absinthe to the wind, I curl up in the Minzes' spare bedroom and surrender myself to more of the blessed slumber.

Cause after all, tomorrow is Wednesday and we're heading off to Madison... and I know sleep is going to be a precious fucking commodity there.

Old News But Still Funny

The New Yorker on Libby's novel:

When it comes to depicting scenes of romance, however, Libby can evoke a sort of musty sweetness; while one critic deemed “The Apprentice” “reminiscent of Rembrandt,” certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum. There is, for example, Yukiko’s seduction of the inexperienced apprentice:

He could feel her heart beneath his hands. He moved his hands slowly lower still and she arched her back to help him and her lower leg came against his. He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger. . . . One of her breasts now hung loosely in his hand near his face and he knew not how best to touch her.

Other sex scenes are less conventional. Where his Republican predecessors can seem embarrassingly awkward—the written equivalent of trying to cop a feel while pinning on a corsage—Libby is unabashed:

At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest.

And, finally:

He asked if they should fuck the deer.

The answer, reader, is yes.

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Transitional Landscapes

So I'm reading this link kindly sent to me by MJ and I've just come across this little nugget:

Urbanization thus supports a new type of public space and produces moving landscapes. Airports, train stations, port terminals, as well as interconnecting transport means, have become the new social places of a mobile society. The new category of 'temporary', 'in-between' landscapes, which will from now on be referred to as transitional landscapes, are the ones 'on the route' just before arriving or departing from the city, for instance in-between city and city airports. They are landscapes yet to be completed, work in progress. Placeless, meaningless and ephemeral, residual spaces of an architecture of power, itineraries in-between, they appeal to our sensitivity by reminding us of the temporality of our own existence: one moment they are here and the next one they are gone.

And this:

The highway experience... is one of several few landscape experiences one is familiar with when travelling to a city. Others include the railway, flying or boat experiences. A common element of all is that the traveller is subject to high speed, the restrictions of a container and a more or less 'distant' interaction with the adjacent landscape, which one perceives in transit. Remoteness however is not just about distance; it is a state of mind.

I don't quite know why this strikes a chord. But I know I'm going to have to reread that article a few times.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

World Fantasy

... fuckin rocks!