As others see us

by Henry on July 19, 2006

William Browning Spencer, in the introduction to his new collection of short stories, _The Ocean and All Its Devices_, contemplates the one form of life that the unsuccessful writer can look down on.

bq. How does the ignored writer dodge envy and bitterness? How does he keep clear of the thought that he is writing in a vacuum, making no real sound as he topples over in the forest? Is he as deluded as some drug-addled blogger alone in a room with his computer and the cast-off shells of ordered-out pizzas, ranting to a potential audience of millions (because they are irrefutably out there; those millions of readers are out there on the Web)?

(The implication in the above that we get forests in vacuums might suggest to the unwary that Spencer is a bad writer, which is wildly untrue. The collection is very good, although so far I haven’t found anything that’s quite at the level of his utterly wonderful short, “The Entomologists at Obala,” in which two increasingly lunatic biologists conduct war-by-proxy in the wilderness via wasps and spiders)

{ 5 comments }

1

JakeB 07.19.06 at 8:14 pm

I thought he was toppling over in the vacuum because he had explosively decompressed . . . .

2

ob 07.19.06 at 8:18 pm

man, that sort of stereotyping really irks me.

I mean, I haven’t even been able to afford order-out pizza in ages, much less drugs.

3

Cosma 07.19.06 at 8:31 pm

Michael Swanwick has forests growing in vacuums in Vacuum Flowers; I think he got the idea from Freeman Dyson.

4

Seth Finkelstein 07.19.06 at 11:06 pm

In bloggingspace, nobody can hear you scream.

5

alex 07.20.06 at 2:18 pm

Listen, given the horrors that Mr. Spencer has visited upon his characters, a minor slagging in an introduction puts you well ahead of the curve. Would you rather be a well-fed if socially inept shut-in staring at a screen, or any person in Resume with Monsters?

That’s what I thought.

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