Notes from New Sodom

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Reader's Response

I got an email from a reader this morning, pointing me to an entry on their blog where they posted their response to Vellum. Much as I'm flattered by what he says, it's the following image, and how he relates it to the book, that I really wanted to post a link to, because it really encapsulates this aspect of what I was aiming for:

My grandmother was a voracious quilt maker. To create her patchworks, she would harvest all the discarded clothing in the family, cut them into little pieces, make designs from those pieces to complete the whole. As it turned out, that little brown striped shirt that I liked so much in second grade would eventually be a part of five different quilts. When you looked at one of the quilts, you would see some strips or squares from the shirt, but never the whole shirt. The shirt didn’t exist anymore, nor could it exist again. When you looked at five quilts, you would see that the pieces of the shirt existed as parts of five different quilts, but again you never saw the whole shirt. The shirt didn’t exist anymore, nor could it exist again.

But all those recognizable pieces were still there, recognizable because of the distinctive pattern of the little brown shirt that I liked so much. Eventually one quilt would be in Texas and one in Wyoming and one in California and one in New Orleans and one in Georgia, the pieces of the brown shirt all across the country. Still, if I went to any of those five houses, I would see and recognize the pieces that had once been my shirt. I might even have said, "There's my shirt," but of course I only meant, "There's a tiny piece of my shirt that recreates the whole in my mind."

Not coming from that quilting culture, I'd always kinda thought of patchwork quilts as an uncomfortable parallel -- too much of a sense of something cobbled together from bits and bobs. But the emotional and familial resonances in that image of the brown shirt, in patches in quilts scattered across the country... something about that really struck a chord and made me think, yeah, that works; that's exactly what I'm trying to do.

Which is a nice way to start the day.


Blogger neil williamson said...

To me, that's a perfect description. I love that - it gives me something to point to when people ask if they'll like your book!

10:49 am  
Blogger paul f cockburn said...

So, when do we get the special range of quilts made up of different pages from Vellum and Ink?

6:43 pm  
Blogger SJB said...

Hmmm.... Just like the old fashion cloth hearth rugs my granny made. Strips of cloth linked through a backing made from an old sack. Granny had an old black tom cat that used to sit before her kitchen fire on one of those rugs.

The creature used to hiss and spit if you tried to move it off. Bit like my daughter over your book, Vellum. Or rather MY copy of your book. I will get it back....

2:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quilts are fairly popular in the Northeast US as part of the craft tradition--my mom made one once, for example, but it took so long that she swears to never do it again and insists that my brother and I should fight over it when she dies.

What's neat about quilts is just how intricate they can be. Although the cloth is recycled from other parts of life, it is then assembled into complex geometries that give new patterns/meanings to the pieces.

So, I agree with that review of Vellum. Even though I can't see the whole pattern it must be out there, after all aren't you the pen of God? (please don't add "is" to pen)

--Eric S.

4:24 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

SJB: LOL! You know you could always buy an extra copy. ;)

Eric: How about if I add "etrator"?

5:53 pm  
Blogger SJB said...

Another!!!Well, that might be easier than trying to find it in the bottomless pit that is at the centre of my daughter's house. (She calls it her book pile. The lord help us if she gets this junior manager's job at Ottakers ;) )

Anyhow, I thank you for your kind words on my blog.

2:40 pm  

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