Thursday, July 05, 2007

Programming Note: A McHugh Appreciation

by Ken Houghton

I'll be spending the weekend in Burlington, Massachusetts, asking people such as Maureen (of EOB fame) stupid questions.*

Over the past several years, Maureen has moved from Staten Island to Cleveland (or, as it should renamed, Erinville) to Austin, where she now lives near a National Treasure (who does dog sitting). So I'm incredibly envious.

Her first published novel was China Mountain Zhang. As the Nebulas were being held in NYC that year, several of us (who were not going to the banquet) considered descending on Strand Books and buying up the remaining copies in an attempt to corner the market.** We didn't do it and she didn't win. I still feel guilty.

She went from Tor to Avon with her novels, and (but?) is the only person, iirc, who contributed a story to each of Patrick's three Starlight anthologies.

She's one of the people whose work I don't read enough, and it's not as if there's too much of it, as ISFDB's database (which has two entries for her) makes clear.***

And did I mention that she's (soon to be) a cancer survivor? Or that Jeremy linked to her exigesis of the novel writing process recently?

Clearly, there's something in the air.

*Example: Over the past several years, Readercon panelists have frequently attacked Anne Beattie's work. Now, we are honoring Karen Joy Fowler, whose work, especially in the short form, bears a distinct resemblance to Beattie's. How are we to explain this?

UPDATE: I didn't do it, since Maureen, John Kessel, Victoria McManus, and Amelia Beamer kept things active and interesting (along with Karen herself, who asked Maureen and Kessel about how they sometimes don't like the first drafts of her stories in workshops, to which Kessel brilliantly replied, roughly, "That's the problem with taking workshop advice from people who don't write in the same genre as you."****)

**That Strand Books has copies means that the publicity department of the publisher at least distributed them. It's when there are no copies of a recently-published book that one should worry. (Thank you to Gordon van Gelder for pointing out that necessary piece of the supply chain to me, all those years ago.)

***On the other hand, the ISFDB is a mess and severely incomplete, missing, for instance, at least one-third of Shira's published short fiction. I realise the plural of anecdote is not data, but when the household's published works are underrepresented in two of two cases, I feel a right to be suspicious.

None of which, to be certain, excuses me from not having read enough McHugh.

****Kessel was smarter, more concise, and more sensible than that, of course.

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Erinville ... Yay!
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