Lanark: An Appreciation


Lanark is a weird book.

Published in 1981 after 25 (!) years in the writing, Alasdair Gray seemed bent on creating the most unpublishable novel imaginable and still managed to capture interest from the Scottish artistic community—spurring many cryptic and whispered coffeehouse conversations about his sprawling mess of a thousand or more pages—and nabbing a publisher in the end after all. At least, William Boyd’s introduction to my edition gives this impression: Gray, the eccentric muralist, through the power of his wild beard, seemed to have radiated an air of plunging into madness while composing his lifetime masterpiece against the scoffing of those who thought his words would never see the light of day. I’m not sure if that introduction isn’t itself a metatextual device like just about everything in this book: there’s a significant section where one character works on a masterwork (a mural this time) that drags on and on in the process of creation only for the church he’s painting to get slated for destruction. Gray’s afterward does make it apparent that a good many publishers didn’t want to touch it before Canongate came along, but that also accounted for the length of writing and revision: the novel he shopped around first was much shorter and didn’t have most of the strangeness. While the final version wasn’t the rumoured thousand pages long, there is an entire world there that wasn’t initially part of Lanark.

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Another rough draft done

Yesterday, I finished the novel I started writing for NaNoWriMo. It includes significant sections written without commas and employing quotation dashes.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

NaNoWriMo is essentially over for 2014 except for those who are still scrabbling to make up their 50,000 words before midnight hits.

It’s certainly over for me. I made it to 40,410 words today, which is 10,000 more than I expected to write and 10,000 less than I was aiming for. This was my first time doing NaNoWriMo and I admit I wasn’t remotely prepared for it: I only decided to do it two days before the first of November hit and I had nothing prepared beyond a premise: no notes, no plot, no ending, and certainly no outline.

Yeah, I pantsed the hell out of this thing.

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Frank Hebert’s Dune is one of the most influential science fiction novels of all time. Naturally, we have a lot to say about it.

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Source of our theme song

Marie’s blog

Science! Religion! History! A far-ranging discussion of Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s epic post-apocalyptic Catholic-monks-in-Utah novel A Canticle for Leibowitz.

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Source of our theme song

Marie’s blog

Go read it on The Book Smugglers!

On Writing “Mrs. Yaga”

New post over on The Book Smugglers on the inspirations behind “Mrs. Yaga.” The story will be published tomorrow!


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