Tag Archives: reading

On reading three books at once

I’m in the middle of three books. This is kind of a problem, actually, because when I read books like that I have trouble finishing them, which would be a shame, because they are all wonderful.

Orientation by Daniel Orozco

Everybody who has ever had a job in an office needs to read the title story. Here’s a link! I just finished the second story, which is sad. I’m not prepared for sad right now, which is why I picked up . . .

Creating a Life by Corbin Lewars

Wit, comedy, and heartwrenching honesty. I first read Corbin Lewars’ work when she was putting out the Reality Mom zine. I found it on the newsstand at my local bookstore and fell in love because it exactly described what I was going through with my own kids, who were the same age. What it’s like: your brain takes a bit of a vacation, and you have to sell your angel wings to the pawn shop. In Reality Mom, she shamelessly details all her mistakes, and nobody else has ever told the story of early motherhood with quite the same honesty and humor! Well, Creating a Life is the story of how she came to be a mom in the first place. Just started it, and am much enjoying.

 But then I went to a reading and heard Eileen Gunn read about Love Sasquatches in . . .

Questionable Practices by Eileen Gunn

From the blurb:

Good intentions aren’t everything. Sometimes things don’t quite go the way you planned. And sometimes you don’t plan. . . .

The Love Sasquatch was a hoot, and the ending (which she didn’t get to in the reading) was even better.

I just finished the story about Christmas and the elves, and I’m going — wait, what? It’s the kind of story you keep on thinking about and thinking about.

Oh yes, and the Spock and Kirk one, oh my . . .

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Readers are like cats

I like being a reader and I like being an author and I think the relationship between the two is a little strange.

Readers, like cats, are an ungrateful bunch. We lap up books like a dish of milk, which we fully expect to appear every day. Then we lick our fur self-righteously, as if we have done a good deed by lapping up that milk. We wander off. If we found the milk a bit sour, we wander off in a huff. Occasionally we purr as a note of thanks, but we know it isn’t expected. We pick and choose as we wish.

Authors, meanwhile, put out the milk. We watch the cats and enjoy cuddling up to them, petting them, and hearing them purr. We expect things from our cats, even though we know we won’t get it unless they want to give it.

Cats wander off when they get bored. And so I will wander off from this blog post. Look for a book. I might like it.

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Year’s Roundup: 2010

For the past several years, I’ve been contributing to the series Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening at the Aqueduct Press blog. What’s that? Well, it’s a bunch of blog posts written by Aqueduct Press authors showcasing shows, music, and what-have-you that we enjoyed. Want some fine recommendations from geeky, smart, creative, well-read feminists? Check it out. In the next few days, I’ll be reposting my essays on this blog.

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2010

(originally posted here)

This year, I absorbed a lot of works that upset my understanding of the world around me. If I ever thought my identity – or anything else, for that matter – stood on solid ground, I was mistaken. On what does it rest, then? An abyss, the roll of a die, or a cantering horse? I’m really not sure.

 The Short Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Diaz

http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781594489587

Okay, so the author made up fukú – the deadly curse wrought by the dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, after the interference of Europe and America in the country’s affairs. It doesn’t matter if it’s made up, doesn’t matter if you believe in it. It’ll get you just the same.

But on the other hand, there’s also a counterspell: zafa. And Oscar Wao is zafa. He exists in the intersection of oppressions, at home nowhere. He is a Dominican immigrant / refugee in the U.S. and also a nerd and overweight. The Dominicans in his community won’t acknowledge him as their own because he is a nerd. The nerds are embarrassed because he’s overweight. And yet . . . he’s wondrous. In a small but important way, and with geeky panache, he resists a dictatorship.

Oscar Wao suffers. He suffers a lot. But when he takes damage, he takes it Dungeons and Dragons-style, with hit points from the funny-shaped dice. Roll that die. Ooh – maximum hit points.

I can relate.

The Hearts of Horses

by Molly Gloss

http://www.mollygloss.com/hearts.html

Meet Martha Lessen. She’s the Western hero that you’ll never see in a Louis L’Amour novel or a spaghetti Western – she’s unassuming and she doesn’t shoot people. Instead, she rides into town and gets a job “breaking” horses. She’s learned horsebreaking from a “horse whisperer,” winning a horse’s trust rather than forcing it into submission through violence and fear. She fits neither the stereotype of horsebreaker or woman, but she gradually finds a place in the community through her quiet competence and love of horses and people alike.

I read this book after hearing Molly Gloss give a profoundly thought-provoking talk on the myth of “Shane,” the gunslinger who rides into town, saves the townfolk by shooting the bad guys, and rides right out again. That’s our great the Western myth that has done incalculable damage to the world. But, as Gloss argues, it’s a total lie. The true story of the West was about ordinary people homesteading and ranching, making home and community.

Her essay on Shane, “Desperado,” appears in Serving House Journal. (http://servinghousejournal.com/GlossDesperado.aspx)

The Tao Te Ching

by Ursula Le Guin

http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Index-LaoTzu.html

Le Guin spent hours on end reading her father’s copy of the Tao Te Ching, and is grateful to have discovered it so young so she could live with it for her whole life. Most versions are written to emphasize masculinity and authority, but she makes this one “accessible to a present-day, unwise, and perhaps unmale reader . . . listening for a voice that speaks to the soul.” It’s practical and funny, and it will teach you to be like water. I get the biggest kick out of her commentary on Chapter 53, “Insight” – “So much for capitalism.”

Cheek by Jowl

by Ursula Le Guin

http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Index-CheekByJowl.html

This book surveys children’s chapter books with animals as characters. But not the kind of animals who are really humans prowling around in a lion suit – animals who genuinely act and feel like animals. It’s a reminder of what humans have lost as we’ve set ourselves apart from the rest of the natural world. After I put the book down, I couldn’t feel superior any more.

The Man Who Lost His Shadow and Nine Other German Fairy Tales

by Gertrude C. Schwebell

http://openlibrary.org/books/OL5069919M/The_man_who_lost_his_shadow_and_nine_other_German_fairy_tales

There’s nothing like going into a used bookstore and finding a great collection of fairy tales. What happens to a man who sells his shadow? Does a boy with no morals ever get a second chance? These are rich, meaty, and imaginative, and the characters all get their just desserts.

Pippi Longstocking

by Astrid Lindgren

http://www.powells.com/biblio/9780670062768

If my young daughter walks into my neighborhood independent bookstore and heads toward the children’s section, she’ll come across a couple of book spinners. They’ll be irresistible. Who cares that there are other books just a few steps away? Because these spinners have great books for girls, just the kind she craves, the kind you find at the school bookfairs and the Scholastic catalogs, the kind you even get as a prize for completing the library’s summer reading program. Yeah. Disney princesses and Barbie.

But soon . . . maybe one more year . . . she’ll be ready for Pippi. Strong, quick-witted, and owner of a large chest of pirate gold, Pippi could beat Walt Disney with one arm tied behind her back.

And then go back home, gobble up a bag of candy, and fall asleep with her head under a blanket and her feet on the pillow.

Logicomix

by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou, and Annie Di Donna

http://www.logicomix.com/en/

This graphic novel tells the story of the search for truth in the foundations of pure logic, intertwining the lives of famous mathematicians with the mathematical quests and political turmoil of the early- to mid-twentieth century.

Logicomix centers on the story of mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell. Russell had madness in his genes and parents nobody would talk about. Lacking stable foundations for his identity, he sought them in mathematics. Euclid’s geometry gave him “the promise of certainty in total rationality” and a “dream of a perfect cosmos.”

It was a lovely dream, the Enlightenment belief that mathematics pointed the way to a final and absolute truth.

Only thing was . . . Euclid’s geometry was based on axioms, which were unprovable. Russell set about trying to rectify it, spending ten years trying to prove the obvious, that 1 + 1 = 2.

He failed. And to the shock and horror of not only Russell but also mathematicians everywhere, his failure led to an even crazier mathematician, Goedel, mathematically proving that truth is not provable and that every system based on arithmetic is incomplete.

Who cares? What did this quest do to Russell? His wife? His son? And what does it have to do with World War II, the rise of Hitler, and anti-Semitism?

Usually, after you finish a book, you know more than when you began it. But if you dare to crack open this most remarkable book, you’ll know less.

Catching the Moon

by Myla Goldberg, illustrated by Chris Sheban.

http://www.carolhurst.com/titles/catchingthemoon.html

When an old fisherwoman casts her net all night long, the Man in the Moon is intrigued and decides to pay her a visit. But he accidentally lets in the tides and upsets her tea set.

“My heavens,” cried her guest. “I’m afraid I’ve caused a mess.”

This picture book is short, sweet, and lovely.

One Book that I Didn’t Read Because It Didn’t Exist

by nobody

Wouldn’t it be great if somebody wrote a book about Lily Potter? After all, it was her magic that defeated Voldemort – twice! Were they just magically bestowed on her because she is a Woman and a Mother, or did she get busy sneaking around in the invisibility cloak with her gang, reading ancient magical history, having conversations with Dumbledore about how to keep this Snape guy in line? Yeah. Somebody write that.

The Polymath, Or The Life And Opinions Of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman

directed by Fred Barney Taylor

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1014771/

This documentary grabbed my attention off the video shelf with the most basic of hooks – sex. Rent me, it said, and you’ll find out how novelist Samuel Delany managed to have 5,000 partners in his lifetime. Exciting? Extraordinary? No, to listen to him talk, that’s just what life was like for him in the seventies. “You felt like you were having a very ‑ a fairly interesting life,” he says matter‑of‑factly. And just as matter‑of‑factly, he shows us the world we live in, a world we think we know but don’t.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Were the porn theaters romantic? Not at all. But because of the people who used them, they were humane and functional, fulfilling needs that most of our society does not yet know how to acknowledge.

The easy argument already in place to catch up these anecdotes is that social institutions such as the porn movies take up, then, a certain social excess, are even perhaps socially beneficial to some small part of it, a margin outside the margin. But that is the same argument that allows them to be dismissed and physically smashed and flattened. They are relevant only to that margin; no one else cares.

Well, in a democracy, that is not an acceptable argument. People are not excess. It is the same argument that dismisses the needs of blacks, Jews, hispanics, asians, women, gays, the homeless, the poor, the worker, and all other margins, that, taken together ‑ people like you, people like me – are the country’s overwhelming majority ‑ those who, socioeconomically, are simply less powerful.”

I could listen to him for hours on end.

Doctor Who, Seasons 4 and 5

The tenth Doctor, a rather Shane-like figure, blows it toward the end of Season 5, turning into an anti-hero. (I loved this moment so much I wrote an essay on it for Strange Horizons: “The Fall of the Superhero: Doctor Who and the Waters of Mars” at http://strangehorizons.com/2010/20100301/king-a.shtml)

Fortunately, the Doctor can regenerate into a new body and personality – sort of reincarnating without having to go through childhood again. But at the beginning of Season 5, the eleventh Doctor takes a Tigger-ish moment to relive childhood. He turns up at the house of seven-year old Amelia Pond demands an apple, takes a bite, and spits it out. Yogurt, beans, bread and butter all go the same way – thrown or spat. Finally, just as Tigger finds his favorite food in Kanga’s Strengthening Medicine, the Doctor finds fish fingers dipped in custard. Perfect.

The eleventh Doctor’s companion, grown up Amy Pond, is the epitome of what the media requires out of girls and women in twenty-first century. She models empowerment by looking sexy, dressing in miniskirts, and having a voracious sexual appetite. Something about this is worse than, for example, the Wonder Woman who fought bad guys while satisfying the urges of the male gaze. I think it’s because Amy Pond has internalized her stereotype.

Still, Amy Pond has her moments, and my favorite is at the end of “The Beast Below” when she thwarts the Doctor, and forces the Queen of Starship Britain to abdicate.

And a Weekend of Revelations

In February I attended the Fishtrap Winter Gathering in Oregon, with a weekend of talks, readings, and workshops by Molly Gloss, Ursula Le Guin, and Tony Vogt. I wrote a little about it on the Aqueduct Press blog (http://aqueductpress.blogspot.com/2010/02/fishtrap‑winter‑gathering.html) but there’s a lot more to say and think about. I’ve been absorbing what I heard all year long. Just a few takeaways:

  • White people are largely unaware of the ways that white privilege shapes everyone’s day-to-day life. Go to the store and get a box of flesh-covered band-aids. You’ll see.
  • We need to dismantle the myth of Shane.
  • Human beings are animals who use technology. (Does this make my computer part of the natural world?)
  • Technology makes us human, and capitalism makes technology destructive by forcing it to be always bigger and better. (I have to wonder, though: isn’t capitalism just one of our technologies? And what does that mean?)
  • The words that we use matter. It’s time to ditch the war metaphors.

pencil and notebook3

 

 

Year’s Roundup: 2009

For the past several years, I’ve been contributing to the series Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening at the Aqueduct Press blog. What’s that? Well, it’s a bunch of blog posts written by Aqueduct Press authors showcasing shows, music, and what-have-you that we enjoyed. Want some fine recommendations from geeky, smart, creative, well-read feminists? Check it out. In the next few days, I’ll be reposting my essays.

Due to time constraints, I’m reposting without links or images, so I’ll also add links to the essays on the Aqueduct Press blog. Here’s the one from 2009.

A Sampling from 2009

Here is a small sampling of the books and shows I’ve enjoyed this year.

 Stories that Love Stories

In Ursula Le Guin’s The Telling, after the planet Aka joins the intergalactic community, all storytelling is forbidden. What happened? Suty comes as galactic observer and cultural anthropologist to find out. What follows is a quest of mystery and discovery that ends up on top of snowy mountains in a labyrinth of “books, thousands of books, in leather and cloth and wooden and paper bindings, unbound manuscripts in carved and painted boxes and jeweled caskets, fragments of ancient writing blazing with gold leaf . . .” Suty is trying to understand their banned religion, the Telling, which seems to come out of fragmented bits of unrelated stories, but finally comes to understand that the Telling is irreducible, that it is story itself.

Another book about the love of books is Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.

Italo Calvino learned about narrative from his experience of Italian cinema, where it was common practice to enter the theater in the middle of the movie, and maybe stick around to catch the beginning or maybe not, seeing the films all out of order. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler has ten beginnings to novels, interspersed with the reader’s pursuit of the true story and of the woman Ludmilla. It is full of story, tales told in the darkness. As in the Telling, all the fragments of the story come together to make a grand narrative that defies rational explanation.

Doctor Who is a television show that has been an endless source of story since 1963. Like a book, the Doctor’s time machine, the Tardis, is bigger on the inside than the out. It can take you anyplace, to tell any story that can possibly be told. The Doctor defeats villains with his wits or, in the best of the stories (such as Hugo award-winning “The Doctor Dances”), through healing. The episode “Silence in the Library” is set on a planet that is a library, containing all the books that ever existed in the universe. It’s a treasure horde guarded by a dragon, the Vashta Nerada, devourers who live in the shadow – not every shadow, but any shadow. There, the Doctor meets one of the strongest female characters he’s ever encountered: River Song, an archaeologist who has her own adventures, knows his future, and in that future, has learned his true name.

 Stories About Borders and Bridges

A shy girl with glasses and a love of books, I learned in first grade that I didn’t fit. I’m white, and so I can “pass” as not-other, but only by lying, by holding back parts of myself that matter deeply. And so whenever I’ve become part of a community and realized I don’t quite belong, I’ve been quick to blame myself. But how I understand my identity and my part in the world has been changing, and it’s thanks to writers such as bell hooks and Gloria Anzaldúa, women I read back in 1995 and whose thoughts have been growing in my mind all these years. From Gloria Anzaldúa, I learned the concept of the border crosser, the nepantlera, who becomes a bridge between worlds, and the Borderlands, a transformational space that crosses a geographic, metaphorical, or spiritual border.

I recently picked up The Gloria Anzaldua Reader, ed. AnaLouise Keating and I’ve been slowly reabsorbing her ideas. In “La Prieta,” she writes about herself as a border person:

“Think of me as Shiva, a many-armed and -legged body with one foot on brown soil, one on white, one in straight society, one in the gay world, the man’s world, the women’s, one limb in the literary world, another in the working class, the socialist, and the occult worlds. A sort of spider woman hanging by one thin strand of thread.”

Hers was a painful life. As a child she labored as a farm worker near the Mexican border, had an adolescent’s body at the age of three and a hysterectomy at the age of five, and was so sensitive that the pain of others hurt her too. Too white, too brown, too gay . . . But, she asks, why? “Growing up,” she writes, “I felt that I was an alien from another planet dropped on my mother’s lap. But for what purpose?”

She has an answer to that question, which brings me to Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler. The main character, Akin, is a half-human, half-alien hybrid. He fits in neither place, and he suffers for it. Not only do the human and alien (Oankali) worlds reject him, but he is also torn from an all-important sibling relationship; it’s a loss that can never be repaired.

But why? His suffering makes it possible for him to bridge the gaps between the human and Oankali worlds and bring possible salvation to humanity. The Oankali believe that humans suffer from a deadly genetic contradiction of intelligence plus hierarchy, and that it will necessarily lead the human race to destroy itself. And so, after humanity has all but wiped itself out, the Oankali are not prepared to save them. But at the end of the book, Akin is ready to take on the work, and it’s because he’s traveled between both worlds.

Like Akin and like Gloria Anzaldúa, Octavia Butler suffered greatly for her differences. She was too big, too black, too dyslexic. But for what purpose? Going back to Anzaldúa’s question, perhaps it is to build El Mundo Zurdo (the left-handed world), where “the queer groups, the people that don’t belong anywhere, not in the dominant world nor completely within our respective cultures . . . can live together and transform the planet.”

It is a tragedy that both Gloria Anzaldúa and Octavia Butler died much too soon. And so in the middle of an essay on pleasures I have to add a lament, for the troubles of their lives, for our loss of their imaginings.

 Stories About the Underworld

Perhaps it’s time to make a border crossing from our physical reality to the world of the soul, the underworld. So here are a few underworld stories.

“The Beads of Ku” by Nisi Shawl is an underworld story with humor and charm. The heroine, Fulla Fulla, has a head for business and the ability to move gracefully between our world and the Land of the Dead. When her husband grows jealous of her connection with the underworld, he breaks the rules, and it’s up to her to save him, using her wits and her skill at wrangling to outwit the king of the dead. It’s one of my favorites in her collection Filter House.

Humming The Blues by Cass Daglish is a translation of an underworld story written by the first person ever to sign her name to a text. Her name was Enheduanna, and in 2350 B.C., she wrote a poem about the goddess Ananna, who descended to the underworld and, with the help of her female friends, emerged triumphant. The exact meanings of the cuneiform text are impossible to know now, so Cass Daglish did her best by making a “jazz translation” of the text, delving into different possible meanings and using them to create a work of poetry.

 Stories in Picture and Chapter Books

Cheek by Jowl by Ursula Le Guin is a defense of animals, fantasy, and children’s literature. In “The Critics, the Monsters, and the Fantasists,” she writes, “To throw a book out of serious consideration because it was written for children . . . is in fact a monstrous act of anti-intellectualism. But it happens daily in academia.”

It’s all part of a general disrespect for children in our culture. It took being a mother for me to understand how seriously dysfunctional it is to marginalize and silence children. After all, a child is at the core of every one of us. Until you have paid serious attention to children, you can understand very little of the human soul. Children are alien, other, and so are we. So go ahead, find a children’s book you loved as a child, and enjoy it all over again. You know you want to.

Here are a few children’s books that will cheer you up in the dead of winter.

bell hooks’ Homemade Love is about Girlpie, a well-loved child. She breaks something special, and the break is devastating – has she lost the right to be loved? But her parents help her fix it. This is all about forgiveness and mending ruptures.

Shibumi and the Kitemaker by Mercer Mayer is a beautifully illustrated story about an emporer’s daughter who, on seeing the squalor of the city below her palace, goes aloft on a kite and refuses to come down until the city is as beautiful as the palace. The ending is exactly as ambiguous as it ought to be. In the beginning of the book is a poem about “authority without domination,” which I wrote down on a scrap of paper and then lost on my desk. So you’ll have to get the book if you want to read the poem.

Boo and Baa Get Wet, by Norwegian authors Olaf and Lena Landstrom, is part of a series about siblings named Boo and Baa, who have the innocence of children, the autonomy of adults, and a clearly loving relationship. They have little adventures that go wrong but always end up okay. Ants on a picnic, a cat stuck up in a tree, a cabbage that rolls down a snowy hill. In Boo and Baa Get Wet, they leave their croquet set outside and have to go get it in the middle of a thunderstorm. My favorite part is when there is a flash of lightning and the text says, “Now what? What happened?” In this silence, I can stop in my reading and talk to the children about what is going on. And the series is full of these little moments.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren is the anti-Bartleby. Bartleby’s refusal was passive and led only to his death, but Pippi’s “won’t” just means she has better things to do with her time. Luckily, she can back up her “won’t” with brawn, wits, and a pirate chest full of gold. While Bartleby let the police carry him off, Pippi led hers on a merry chase on her rooftop, letting them down only when they asked nicely. Hurrah, Pippi! Hurrah, humanity!

 And A Movie

My favorite movie from this year is Not One Less, about a thirteen-year-old girl who takes the job as substitute teacher in a remote Chinese province for an entire month. She has no qualifications and seemingly little to teach, but she’s the only one who volunteered. How could she possibly take charge of a class? When one of her students leaves the school to find work in the big city and then gets lost, she knows she has to find him. It’s impossible. But she is stubborn, determined, patient, and strong. Can she bring him back? This is a good counterpoint to the travesty of No Child Left Behind.

pencil and notebook3

Potlatch/Foolscap – the Book of Honor

Well, I introduced my weekend at Potlatch/Foolscap in yesterday’s post. Today I’ll say a little bit about the Potlatch Book of Honor. (Potlatch has a tradition of having a Book of Honor rather than a Guest of Honor. Everyone reads the same book and discusses it throughout the con.)

This year the Book of Honor was Among Others by Jo Walton. That deserves its own post, but in brief it is a coming-of-age story of a person with a disability who is also a fan of 1970s SF/F. Mori, the main character, is sent away to a boarding school and has to deal with otherness surrounding both her disability and her love of classic sci-fi. Along the way she encounters fairies that come straight out of . . . not The Lord of the Rings, but from the actual mythology that inspired Tolkien. The book is thought-provoking and heartwarming, won a Hugo award, and is well worth the read!

One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the concept of a “karass.” The term comes from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle, and it mean — very satirically — a “group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God’s will.” It means something different in Among Others. There it means something like “a group of people who don’t fit in with regular people due to fannishness, and who might have the good fortune to find each other and, for the first time in their lives, fit in.” There’s a sense of community, and also a sense of having a similar world view because of having read the same books.

Potlatch is quite a bit like that. Many of the people who have kept it going all these years grew up on science fiction / fantasy from a similar era. For some, it’s the 1970s, and for some, it’s even earlier. There are people who got to know each other by passing around fanzines through the mail. (This was pre-Internet.) These are often thoughtful and beautifully done. There is a tradition of an active participation by fans in the writing of SF/F — readers would write into SF/F magazines asking for more stories from a particular author, or praise or criticize something an author had said or done, and there would end up being two-way communication. Somewhere along the way a local writer’s workshop developed, Clarion West, and many of the people involved with Potlatch are also involved with Clarion West. That means the local fans have built a community that supports the authors of tomorrow, which is awesome.

You can find out more about Walton and her book by reading this interview with Jo Walton.

A Weekend at Potlatch/Foolscap

I spent the weekend at a “reader’s spa.” Chocolate fondue, rest time, reading time, conversation, coffee, brunch, board games, even a masseuse at the ready.

Actually, it’s not called a spa.You could call it a weekend-long book group meeting, with food.

But it’s not called a book group either. It’s called a con, short for convention. But it’s unlike any other con I know about. I’m not altogether sure how to explain it. First off, it was a hybrid between two different cons — Potlatch and Foolscap. I’ve never been to a Foolscap, but I’ve been going to Potlatch for years. It is all about science fiction/fantasy book fandom, and beyond that it means different things to different people. There’s a hospitality suite with free food (and a donation kitty, of course) and hardworking volunteers. There’s a “book of honor” rather than a “guest of honor”, and the book provides a focal point for conversations that take place. As for the conversations, there are two kinds of programming: panels and microprogramming. The panels are decided in advance and involve lots and lots of audience participation. Usually the audience talks more than the panelists. The microprogramming are events that get decided on the spur of the moment. People write them up and then people attend them.

(Now when I said there was a book of honor rather than a guest of honor, that only applied to the Potlatch side of things. Foolscap has a guest of honor – in fact, two. Nancy Pearl, celebrity librarian, and Michel Gagné, artist and cartoonist. And they were responsible for the chocolate fondue.)

Potlatch is extremely well suited for introverted readers and writers. We just plain have difficulty with conversation. Not only that, but we do conversation differently. Actually, what I mean is that *I* do conversation differently. I hear something, and it sets something off in my mind, and then I take a long time to mull it over. Or I read something in a book, and although I might like to talk to somebody about it, maybe nobody around me has read the same book and then before long I forget whatever it was I wanted to say. So in general, in my daily life, I simply don’t talk about what matters most to me.

Put another way, cocktail party conversation is hell for me.

At Potlatch, on the other hand, I might attend a panel with something pre-prepared to say. Or I might spark off some idea somebody else had. Or I might derive some casual conversation to share with somebody later in the elevator. Or I might just remain silent and then go home and write about it later.

That would be now.