Contains stories by the amazing Jeffrey Ford, the fabulous Karen Joy Fowler, the unlikely Kelly Link, the thrilling Nalo Hopkinson, the shockingly good Karen Russell, the unnerving James Sallis, and dozens of uncanny others, as well as useful lists of many kinds and straight-shooting advice from Aunt Gwenda.
Edited by Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant
Introduction by Dan Chaon
“Travels with the Snow Queen” by Kelly Link
“Scotch: An Essay into a Drink” by Gavin J. Grant
“Unrecognizable” by David Findlay
“Mehitobel Was Queen of the Night” by Ian McDowell
“Tan-Tan and Dry Bone” by Nalo Hopkinson
“An Open Letter Concerning Sponsorship” by Margaret Muirhead
“I Am Glad” by Margaret Muirhead
“Lady Shonagon’s Hateful Things” by Margaret Muirhead
“Heartland” by Karen Joy Fowler
“What a Difference a Night Makes”
“Pretending” by Ray Vukcevich
“The Film Column: Don’t Look Now” by William Smith
“A Is for Apple: An Easy Reader” by Amy Beth Forbes
“My Father’s Ghost” by Mark Rudolph
“What’s Sure to Come” by Jeffrey Ford
“Stoddy Awchaw” by Geoffrey H. Goodwin
“The Rapid Advance of Sorrow” by Theodora Goss
“The Wolf’s Story” by Nan Fry
“Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland” by Sarah Monette
“Tacoma-Fuji” by David Moles
“Bay” by David Erik Nelson
“How to Make a Martini” by Richard Butner
“Happier Days” by Jan Lars Jensen
“The Fishie” by Philip Raines and Harvey Welles
“Dear Aunt Gwenda, Vol. 2” by Gwenda Bond
“The Film Column: Greaser’s Palace” by William Smith
“The Ichthyomancer Writes His Friend with an Account of the Yeti’s Birthday Party” by David J. Schwartz
“Serpents” by Vernoica Schanoes
“Homeland Security” by Gavin J. Grant
“For George Romero” by David Blair
“Vincent Price” by David Blair
“Music Lessons” by Douglas Lain
“Two Stories” by James Sallis
“Help Wanted” by Karen Russell
“’Eft’ or ‘Epic’” by Sarah Micklem
“The Red Phone” by John Kessel
“The Well-Dressed Wolf: A Comic” by Lawrence Shimel and Sara Rojo
“The Mushroom Duchess” by Deborah Roggie
“The Pirate’s True Love” by Seana Graham
“You Could Do This Too”
“The Posthumous Voyages of Christopher Columbus” by Sunshine Ison
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
LADY CHURCHILL’S ROSEBUD WRISTLET
WHAT IS IN THIS CONTAINER?
SOMETIMES IT IS HELPFUL to have a label. Ingredients, categories, affiliations, and so on. One reason to create a label is for the readers, who would like to know what they are getting themselves into.
For example, it might be simplest to say that the focus of the magazine called Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet has been “weird or speculative fiction.” But then what does that mean, exactly? Does that mean science fiction? Fantasy? Horror? Does it mean, for example, dwarves and faeries and hobgoblins sitting around drinking mead out of acorns? Post–nuclear holocaust cannibal mutants with a taste for sexy college students? Zork and Zurk fencing with laser sabers on the flight deck whilst Becka the plucky intern tries to maneuver the spaceship through a cluster of asteroids?
WHICH IS TO SAY that certain kinds of labels have certain kinds of connotations. When I was a college student, for example, I took a class in writing fiction. I wrote a story in which a little girl lives in a castle with her dying grandmother and her only friend is a telepathic severed human head that is floating in a jar on a shelf in the castle library. The story had some problems, I admit, but the teacher handed the story back with only one comment: Dan~ I don’t accept genre fiction in this course! By which the teacher meant, among other things: no dwarves, faeries, cannibal mutants, spaceships, asteroids, etc. No telepathic severed human heads. NO GENRE FICTION!!!
Genre fiction, we learned, was generally concerned with formulaic plots and one-dimensional characters, and was written in trite, hackneyed prose.
Literary fiction, on the other hand, was primarily realistic and focused on depth of characterization and complexity of thought. It valued the beautiful sentence and the well-made paragraph. It often ended with a moment of epiphany that was represented by a metaphor.
So I wrote a story in which a little girl lives on a farm in Nebraska with her dying grandmother and her only friend is an alcoholic deaf-mute farmhand who lives in a trailer nearby. In the end, she has an epiphany in which she imagines the farmhand communicating to her telepathically, but the telepathy is a metaphor for her yearning to be close to someone. The teacher wrote: Dan~ powerfully realistic and moving!
It seemed like there came a point in the late 1980s, toward the end of my college career, when the idea of “literary fiction” was so narrowly defined that it had in fact become a kind of formulaic genre itself. The editor of a major magazine came to our school and told us that he wasn’t interested in things that weren’t “realistic.” He told us, “If Kafka were alive today, we still wouldn’t publish his fiction.”
After a while, this kind of orthodoxy began to feel increasingly rigid and claustrophobic. Began to smack of tyranny, even.
So let us say, for the sake of a good story, that some people began to rebel. Let’s say that a kind of underground literary movement arose in the dark hours of literature, sometime in the winter in the middle of the 1990s, and that at the forefront of that movement was a little zine called Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, edited by a couple of brave young iconoclasts, Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, who were courageously writing against the grain of the publishing world and the literary establishment and the literature professors and so forth.
Possibly we could apply various kinds of nicknames to this literary movement: “New Weird,” for example, or “New Wave Fabulist,” or “Slipstream,” all of which have been offered by various anthologists and which in some ways all sound like the names of hairdos a girl might have gotten for the prom back in the seventies or eighties or nineties because of which years later the girl’s children will look at a photograph from prom night and say, “Is that your real hair? Are you wearing a wig in that picture, Mom?”
But that is beside the point. Don’t pay attention to the name, unless you like that sort of thing. The point is that they were writing stories and publishing stories and people, the public, became increasingly interested in what was going on. The idea was a good one: to take what was compelling and exciting about so-called genre fiction—all that storytelling stuff that as a kid made you want to read in the first place—and add to it a dash of the so-called literary story’s love of language and depth of characterization, and some of the lit professor’s clever postmodern intellectualism, and out of this mix create something really fresh and new.
(Well, sort of new. There were people like Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Straub, John Crowley, Angela Carter, Ursula Le Guin, etc., etc., who had been working in this vein all along, but why don’t we go ahead and posit the concept of a rising literary movement, okay?)
OR BETTER YET, why don’t we just say that there are some excellent writers in this collection who have written some cool stories. These writers aren’t working in the same styles or modes and perhaps the authors aren’t even aware that they are part of any sort of movement, but their work does seem to have interesting formal connections and occasional glimpses of familial resemblances—possibly a shared set of readings that they all loved as children, a collective dislike of conventional expectations? In any case, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet has brought them together.
They are gathered over there by the fire, sharpening sticks and muttering amongst themselves. I think of them as some kind of tribe, I guess. I imagine that they are headed off into the forest to hunt the wild hind called literature, and that they will return near dawn with the creature’s severed head held aloft, singing at the top of their lungs.