Here is the cover from Gollancz for my next novel An American Story. It will be published on 20th September this year:
The visual approach is interestingly different from the French interpretation of the same book, as is the title (see below), but a certain theme is consistent. On this subject I merely say: the American story is not what might seem apparent from this thematic consistency, and the consequences are the real story …
Last week I was in Oxford to contribute to a celebration of the life and work of Brian Aldiss, as part of the Oxford Literary Festival. Other participants included Robin Straus (Brian’s American literary agent), Samuel Fanous of the Bodleian Library (repository of the Aldiss papers), Thomas Lodge (actor, Brian’s grandson via Wendy Aldiss), Petronilla Whitfield (actor, and frequent collaborator with Brian), and Michael Moorcock (in a message read by Marcus Gipps). There was also an ancient television interview with Brian, where he spoke amusingly about masturbation, and a song from Ella Fitzgerald, “Cow Cow Boogie”. A second panel discussion followed, with Philip Pullman, Claire Armitstead and Sophie Ratcliffe, more general in nature, about the relationship between literature and genre.
Speaking of literature and genre, I have just read The Booker and the Best, a Kindle Single from Nicholas Clee. This raises the question of why genre writing is not taken seriously by the perceived literary establishment, and why science fiction and thrillers, in particular, never make it to the shortlists of the major literary prizes. (One could point out the paradox that Brian Aldiss, one of the finest literary stylists in the English language, was never a contender in these prizes.) Clee doesn’t reach a firm conclusion, but his discussion of the problem is interesting and involving, and full of good sense. It only costs a quid from Amazon, so do grab a copy.
At the beginning of last week I completed and sent in my new novel, An American Story. It is partly set in the USA, partly on an island – but not the Dream Archipelago. I would describe it as being at the speculative end of the spectrum of fantastic literature, rather than in the more central scientific or mythic bands.
As a teaser, here is an image from an old photograph, showing one of the main locations in the story, a place in the USA (unlikely though that might seem at first glance):
That does it – Trump has pulled the USA out of the Paris Accord on climate change.
The American novelist Lionel Shriver recently reported a conversation she had with fellow American Sarah Churchwell, who ‘posited a theory gaining mainstream currency’. I had not heard this before, and have pleasure in quoting part of it:
Many of Trump’s characteristics point towards dementia: forgetfulness (leaving an executive order photo-op without remembering to sign the order); volatility, irritability, impulsivity and paranoia; anxiety about stairs and inclines (re: gripping Theresa May’s hand); poor concentration and degraded syntax: reliance on placeholders (‘very, very, very’ buys time), small vocabulary, fragmented sentences.If still arrogant in 1988, [when Trump was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey] he was lucid, coherent – almost articulate. He didn’t sound like an idiot. He could talk. He can’t talk now.
If the US congress doesn’t have the guts to impeach this appalling man, maybe they should consider committing him to a dementia ward. Perhaps that’s unfair on other dementia patients, who would have to suffer his endless post-massively-ketchuped-hamburger farts. It wouldn’t take long to build a special secure unit for him alone.
I shall be at Imaginales, in the Vosges town of Épinal, from the middle of this current week: May 18 – 21. My schedule, as sent to me in advance by Lionel Davoust, my brilliant and irreplaceable French interpreter, is as follows:
14h, venue: Magic Mirrors 2
The wonderful journeys of reading
17h, venue: Magic Mirrors 1
Time and its travels
17h, venue: Magic Mirrors 1
Worldbuilding and worldbuilders
Lionel is himself a writer of great popularity and esteem in France, and I am always amazed by and thankful for the huge amount of time he gives up at events like Imaginales to translate for me. He makes even my most desperate or garbled comment sound elegant and interesting.
If by any chance you can be in Épinal this week, I should love to meet you and say hello. Go to the book tent: this is where we lurk when not in the Magic Mirrors.
Apologies if you have been trying to reach this site in the last two weeks or so. A terrifying error-message which blazoned the word FORBIDDEN in capital letters was all you would find. A virus attack had occurred at the ISP, but it has now been sorted by my son Simon. (A million thanks!) He and I have changed ISP, and things should be back to normal.
But I ask a favour: I understand that after a change of ISP anyone who has a link to my site will not be able to re-connect, except manually. I have no access to social media, and I’d be grateful if this renewal could be made known. The URL is unchanged: www.christopher-priest.co.uk.