Nell Zink (and James Ellroy (and Jared Diamond))

“I try to work with allusions and a sort of knowingness”, says Zink, … . [who] … trusts her readers to pick up the clues in her writing because she read a lot of science fiction as a child. “In science fiction it is often the case that you read for about an hour without knowing what is going on. What are these flowers supposed to be? Are they alive, are they carnivorous? The world-building is all by implication … It seems to me if people can get into science fiction, then they don’t need fiction that is written the way [Jeffrey] Eugenides or Franzen do it, where you get all the background information about every single character all the time.”

Philip Oltermann, The Guardian, 30/8/19

The Wallcreeper was crazy and I really enjoyed it. My particular biases that applied in this case are that I like birds, birdwatching, Germany and stupid people. Plus I picked up a copy in The Hague which was already autographed. There, I think that is the way I should review from now on.

I sometimes line up to get books autographed. Jared Diamond would sign his name but no, what’s the word, attribution? as in, “To David …”. This was despite the fact that he commented on how often I must have read “Guns, Germs and Steel” from the apparent battering the book had. In my head, I said, so seeing I read it so much, does that mean you will break your policy, but instead I just nodded and said that I liked it a lot. I think the best autographs I got were from James Ellroy in 1996 in my favourite book store, Abbeys in Sydney, when I was in a work suit and tie, and he was in a Hawaiian shirt, and somebody made a little speech and I was standing next to him, so he kindly ran through his whole spiel quietly with me while the speech was going on, which included a reference to Donkey Dave, because of course of the size of my penis, which I thought was very kind of him seeing we had only just met, and he said he had a tie like mine, and I didn’t ask if he also went to Sydney University, which is where it was from. He signed my copy of “White Jazz” ‘To David, Rage On You Boogaloo!’. I’d very much like to think that was appropriate for me, but I know it wasn’t. Imagine if Professor Diamond had signed my book that way, instead of “Best wishes”. Still, …


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