Discussion in 'SMB' started by Monty Pigeon, Jan 25, 2015.
Just ordered them for my summer holidays, only £13.00
I'm going through Forbidden Colours at the minute. It's a pretty good exploration of the Japanese gay scene post-war, it's pretty obvious that he's taken a lot of influence from Wilde's Dorian Gray for it.
I find a lot of Mishima camp as hell tbh. Semi-naked samurais getting buff and declaring their love to the Emperor, I mean come on. I just find it funny when I come across nationalists who deny the gayness and take it seriously.
I find they work better in genres that place atmosphere or setting above plot, such as horror or sci-fi.
Mishima's family did their best to sweep his personal life under the carpet after he committed hara-kiri. There are parallels between him and Jorg Haider, the Austrian far-right leader who also surrounded himself with young men and whose supporters have denied his true nature since is death.
Although I'm neither gay nor right-wing, I've always been fascinated by Mishima's fundamental contradictions. A nationalistic hard man with an obsession for military imagery who was also gay and had a weakness for kitsch. Some of the books reflect that, while others seem entirely at odds with the man who wrote them.
I think gay sex was always a part of the samurai ethics. A bit like the Grecian thing.
One of my exes was massively into Mishima and used it as a conduit to get into fitness and MMA. He was a Marxist as well, oddly.
I tried to post a few of mine a few days back, but I couldn't from my phone for one reason or another so I'm doing it now. Here's a link to some of my stuff on my Goodreads account. Quality varies a bit between them, but I'm still proud of them all in my own way.
I'll give them a read later. I don't write a lot of short stories and the ones on my website are mainly ones that I don't intend to do anything with.
I've been in a couple of anthologies including being Highly Commended in the Crossing The Tees anthology for The Wicker Man, my tale of a man who dressed as Alan Whicker and lived in a house made from wicker baskets. Only wrote it for a laugh and it's my most successful one yet.
How do you go about trying to get stories in anthologies?
me too, same pack. Came yesterday nearly finished the first one already!
Wow, that's some going. What do you think so far?
Great page turner. Cos it's been labelled young adult I had always been wary of the series despite loving the first law stuff. The character development is a little light but the plot moves at such a furious pace that it doesn't matter that much. Also one character has a hint of logan about him,, which helps...
First one I was asked to submit something. It was a retelling of the Cauld Lad and in hindsight, I probably wish I hadn't.
Crossing The Tees was a short story competition as part of the Crossing The Tees Writing Festival. It's quite a professional production, a lot better than I expected.
A lot of writing festivals have competitions attached to them, some better than others. I refuse to enter ones that charge an entry fee but some of the more established ones may be worth it.
Short story comps were really good to me when I started entering four years ago. I had some success in some of the big ones: BBC, Writers & Artists, Bath, Fish etc But in the past 18 months it's been very noticeable that the shortlists, and sometimes the longlists, are often entirely female. In part it's wrapped up in the 'MeToo' thing, but when a comp is open to all and there's supposedly no restriction on subject matter, it's wrong to take entry fees off people who have no realistic chance of winning. For that reason I've largely stopped wasting my money. That said, when I tally up entry fees against winnings over the past four years I'm still healthily quids in.
Sadly, the days of writers like Somerset Maugham being able to buy a house from the earnings of a single story are long gone. The occasional competition success and publication in literary magazines and anthologies is about the most you can hope for. But once the stories are out there in the world, new opportunities can crop up. I got a story published in the Saturday Evening Post (the US mag that was one of the main outlets for the short stories of Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Kurt Vonnegut etc) purely because they read it elsewhere.
I recently got longlisted in a fairly major contest (not short story) although I think the longlist is created blind. The longlist was six female, four male. Will be interested to see what happens on the shortlist. That's an interesting data point.
(Edit: I should add that it's a UK-based contest, so it's not a difference caused by an ocean.)
Seem to remember there being a kick off about one of the major ones (Possibly BBC) last year where all of the shortlist were women. When challenged they insisted it was blind but then had to admit that the longlist was but the shortlist wasn't. Doesn't prove wrongdoing but didn't paint a good picture.
At least I know my stories are only discriminated against on the basis that they aren't good enough.
I don't know why the writing community is on the frontline of the gender war (the old war that is, fought in the binary trenches. God knows what will happen when male writers start identifying as female; that'd give the woke brigade a dilemma). Last year both the BBC and Sunday Times Awards shortlists were all female, this year's Commonwealth Prize shortlist is all female (and last year's, I think), and female writers dominated most of the other major short story prizes last year, as well as having several prizes that are women only.
Mostly I keep my head down and just keep writing. I've made a living out of it for more than 30 years, and it's only since I've begun to dabble in fiction that the gender thing has become an issue (in fact, in my career, almost all of my editors have been women - odd, given that we're reliably informed that the industry is totally male-dominated).
I have a literature blog and every year I put on the list of books I've read, usually to no comment. Last year there was a brief flurry of Twitter controversy when a woman took issue with the fact that of the 160 books I'd read 'only' 30% were written by women. Honestly, if we get to the point that instead of reading what we like we must conform to quotas I'm done.
I really enjoyed The Singapore Grip, I really enjoyed being brought into the reality of the Japanese advance, and I learned some stuff too. Not sure I'll like the serialisation. I think I liked The Siege of Krishnapur most of the trilogy, but The Singapore Grip runs it a close second. Troubles I think I got frustrated by the Major's love incompetence but it was fun anyway to see him reappear older in The Singapore Grip.
But anyway, just finished Drop City. Can I ask how you know/met old Top Cat Boyle?
I read today that only 24 of the National Gallery's 2,700 collection are by women, which seems incredible
finished the shattered sea trilogy. Thought the second book was the best, really good. I enjoyed the last one but not quite as much. Didn't feel quite right although that could have been Abercrombie purposely making me re evaluate characters I'd previously loved in the series and generally doing his subvert the genre thing.
You heard it here first.
Stallion Gate by Martin Cruz Smith. 5/10.
Historical crime thriller set in the build up to Los Alamos first WW2 nuke test from the author of the excellent Arkady Renko series (Gorky Park). Written sometime in the 80s.
The hero this time out is a Pueblo Indian chief who’s also a US Sgt and ex number 8 ranked world heavyweight and jazz pianist and a good friend of Robert Oppenheimer prior to WW2 who as the tale begins is in an army jail for shagging a capts wife. He’s sprung to go back to his old haunt, los alamos would you believe to bodyguard Dr Robert and almost immediately shags another capts wife...........absolute nonsense.
Crap lowest common denominator crime fiction dressed up with a sprinkling of Native American mysticism. Avoid.
The Shadow Killer by Arnaldur Indridason
This is the second of the author's Reykjavik Wartime Mystery series, focussing on the detective work of Icelandic CID officer Flovent and Canadian/Icelandic defence forces agent Thorson. A salesman is found shot, seemingly executed, in a Reykjavik flat, only it turns out not to be the man, also a salesman, who lives there. Investigations focus on two lines - the German family of the man who lived there and the dead man's ex=girlfriend. It's pretty compelling but I'm not yet as engaged with the two detective characters as I was with Erlendur, the central character in many of his previous books. Nonetheless, very good crime fiction and I'm gaining more and more knowledge of Iceland's role in the war. 7.5/10
Separate names with a comma.