February 3rd, 2012

Writing redhead

Nebula Nominations Time

I'm rather surprised at how many stories of mine came out this year--although I shouldn't be, since last year was very much taken up by writing them.  By the strange and wonderful Nebula word-counts, they're all novelettes (between 7,500 and 17,500).  For those who are interested, "Ghost" is the longest at 10,400.  If you haven't read it yet, you can click on the link below.

“The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor,” Steampunk!, ed. Grant & Link, Candlewick Press, 2011

“Flying.”  Teeth, ed. Datlow & Windling, HarperCollins, 2011

“How the Pooka Came to New York City,”  Naked City, ed. Datlow, St. Martin’s Press, 2011

I am of two (or more) minds about blowing my horn for my own work.  On the one hand, this is the 21st Century, and that is the way things are done here.  On the other, I'm more of a 19th Century girl.  Still and all, these are my babies.  And I'd be a terrible fiction-parent if I didn't push them out onto the public stage one more time, with earnest assurances that I love them all equally and am proud as Punch at how they turned out.

You can only nominate for the Nebula if you are an active SFWA member.  If you are, here's the ballot.  All nominations are due by February 15th.

My novel The Freedom Maze (Big Mouth House) is eligible for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Novel, a sort of companion to the Nebulas.  The Nebulas and their rules are well-explained here.
La Loge

Wit

In 1998, when New York was still our secondary relationship, we happened to be in town at the same time as Ellen's parents (I think it was probably Passover).  In any case, we took them to see Margaret Edson's Wit at the MCC Theater.  We were sitting up by the ceiling, in little, tiny seats, looking almost directly down on the stage.  What I remember about the play was that it wasn't as much about John Donne as I'd hoped it would be, that Edson's definition of 17th Century wit wasn't mind, and that Virginia Bearing, the play's central character (played by Kathleen Chalfont), put me strongly in mind of my own graduate school professor of metaphysical poetry, who scared me into regular asthma attacks.  I also thought I caught a whiff of an anti-intellectual, smart, well-educated women are abrasive old maids kind of thinking.  And that, at the end of the day, The Runaway Bunny is a more important book than Donne's Holy Sonnets.

Wit has just opened on Broadway, in the same theater where we saw Venus in Fur earlier this winter, with Cynthia Nixon (of Sex in the City fame, as if I needed to tell you that) in the Chalfont role.  I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to see it, but Ellen did, and you know me.  So we went last night.

I liked it much better than I had the first time.  Perhaps it's that Nixon's Virginia is charismatic as Chalfont's was not.  Perhaps it's that the supporting cast treated her with real respect.  Perhaps it's just that, having seen it before, I could pay more attention to the actual text and less to what was going to happen next.  And what I saw was a beautifully-crafted, tightly-woven examination of the ways in which art mediates between intellect and emotion, life and death, God and humanity.  John Donne and Margaret Wise Brown are both great artists writing about fear and death and abandonment and a love that passes understanding.  The Holy Sonnets speak to those who revel in the beauty of intellectually challenging abstractions; The Runaway Bunny speaks to those who revel in the beauty of the familiar and the everyday.  Which, at the end of life, is everyone.  We need both Donne and Brown.

I cried buckets.  I'm getting a little teary thinking about it.

Yep.  Good play.  Harrowing, but satisfying.

Cynthia Nixon acts the hell out of Virginia Bearing.  She's dry, wry, amused, bitter, raging, defended, and finally, vulnerable.  She's very like Donne, in fact. I might have cried in her class (she's not a kind teacher, and her standards are immovably high), but I don't think I would have had asthma attacks.  And I wouldn't have been bored for a nanosecond. I found myself wanting to raise my hand and argue her interpretation of Holy Sonnet IX (even though I probably know the wrong text).  She is ably assisted by her supporting cast.  I particularly liked Greg Keller as Dr. Jason Posner, who is as intellectually passionate about cancer cells as Dr. Bearing is about John Donne, and (again like Dr. Bearing) doesn't quite understand that other people have feelings and things going on in their lives that are as central to them as his work is to him.  And even if he did understand, he still wouldn't know what to do about it.  Carra Patterson brought a real individuality and her own line in dryness to the requisite Caring Black Nurse.  And Suzanne Bertish (who I remember playing Fanny Squeers in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby w-a-y back in 1982; she was also in Red Dwarf) was FANTASTIC in the small but vitally important role of the professor who taught Dr. Bearing the importance of intellectual rigor.

Nixon is a cancer survivor herself, as is the show's director, Lynne Meadow.  How she can bear to put herself through that performance night after night and twice on Sundays, I can't imagine.  But I'm sure glad she does.