Richard Seltzer's Blog: Richard Seltzer

March 21, 2022

Pushcart Prize XLV

The Pushcart Prize XLV: Best of the Small Presses 2021 Edition The Pushcart Prize XLV: Best of the Small Presses 2021 Edition by Bill Henderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hidden gems are strewn throughout this collection. Look carefully.

My favorite stories --
The Master's Castle by Anthony Doerr
The Red One Who Rocks by Aamina Ahmad
Fall River Wife by Peter Orner
The Samples by Kristopher Jansma
Howl Palace by Leigh Newman
The Missing Are Considered Dead by V. V. Ganeshananthan
Laramie Time by Lydia Conklin
Turner's Clouds for Plumly by David Baker
Give My Love to the Savages by Chris Stuck
Freak Corner by John Rolfe Gardiner
It's Not You by Elizabeth McCracken
And above and beyond everything else, the brilliant and inspiring essay
A Beloved Duck Gets Cooked by Lydia Davis

Memorable quotes --

from Freak Corner, about sign language and the deaf
"Were you aware that people can have ideas before they have the words to express them? ... Is eternity on both sides of us?" p. 392
[sign language] "was actually a complete language with a grammar beyond shapes and gesture, hidden in the fourth dimension of timing." p. 396
"... American Sign Language had its own grammar... Gayle's best-known work... circled the globe with a jolt for the word's majority, 'sadly poorer, for the limitations of their spoken languages.'"

from A Beloved Duck Gets Cooked
"A third thing the stories [by Russell Edson] showed me, both the brilliant ones and the faltering ones, was how you could tap some very difficult emotions and let them burst out in an unexpected raw sometimes absurd form -- that perhaps, in fact, setting oneself absurd or impossible subjects made it easier for difficult emotions to come forth." P. 378
"... A good poem is bound to offer you something surprising in the way of language and thinking, even if some of its meaning eludes you." p. 380
"The most pressing question, of course, is one that would take us, if we pursued it, straight into the realm of translation theory and all its intriguing conundrums. Can you say the same thing in radically different ways? If you write it so differently, are you in fact, saying the same thing?" p. 386

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Published on March 21, 2022 07:14

August 29, 2021

Shakespeare's Twin Sister by me

Shakespeare's Twin Sister Shakespeare's Twin Sister by Richard Seltzer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm the author so of course I love it.

The character of the 99 was inspired by Princess Mary Orbeliani, who I met in her nursing home in Penticton, British Columbia when she was 98 and I was researching an historical novel about her brother (The Name of Hero, Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Simma Holt wrote an article about her entitled "The Princess on Welfare" published in the Vancouver Sun in 1972.-year-old lady in whose body Shakespeare's win wakes I dedicated the novel to her.

Like Shakespeare in Love, this is a humorous, romantic take on Shakespeare the man.
Like Yentl, a brilliant young woman finds creative ways to succeed in a man-dominated world.
Like Outlander, it links present and past.

Shakespeare's Twin Sister and my four previous novels (Parallel Lives, Beyond the 4th Door, Nevermind, and Breeze) can be read in any order. They are independent stories, with overlapping themes and styles. Each novel presents a different view of reality, a different way of trying to understand the mysteries of life.

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Published on August 29, 2021 10:02

July 1, 2021

Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz

The Street of Crocodiles The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was prompted to reread this book by my enjoyment of Cynthia Ozick's "Messiah of Stockholm, in which the main character believes he is Bruno Schulz' son. It was much bettr than I had remembered.

My favorite stories ere: Mr. Charles, Cinnamon Shops, Street of Crocodiles, Cockroaches, and Night of the Great Season.

The storis often begin with a rambling sentence that evokes a time of year and a place, hovering between fantasy and family memoir. The most prominent characters ae the father who sounds both insane and magical and the servant/employee Adela. No one speaks.

The best passages are dreams or dreamlike descriptions in which the physical setting is distorted and comes alive, like in paintings by Van Gogh.

from Cinnamon Shops p. 85
"His sense of smell and his hearing sharpened extraordinarily and one could see from the expression of his tense silent face that through the intermediary of these two senses he remained in permanent contact with the unseen world of mouseholes, dark corners, chimney vents, and dusty spaces under the floor."

from Mr. Charles p. 84
"... he stood, hat in hand, feeling rather embarrassed that even at the last moment he could not find a word which would dispel that hostile silence; he then walked toward the door slowly, resignedly, handing his head, while someone else, someone forever turning his back, walked at the same pace in the opposite direction into the depths of the mirror, through the row of empty rooms which did not exist."

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Published on July 01, 2021 07:25

June 30, 2021

Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Wilczek

Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another way to look at the elephant.

The blind men had different ideas about the elephant. And the Universe is a very big elephant. So it's natural that today's physicists have different ideas about the nature of reality.

I enjoy the works of Carlo Rovelli, Brian Greene, and Lisa Randall, all of whom cover this same territory -- from elementary particles to galaxies, and from the beginning to the end of time.

I found Helgoland by Rovelli particularly compelling with its concept that everything is connected to everything. But the works of these four articulate physicists are complementary. As Wilczek notes (p. 218), "Different, even incompatiable, ways of analyzing the same thing can offer valid insights." Don't settle for one. Read them all.

I take issue with Wilczek's basic and unfounded assumption that "one finds the same sorts of substances, organized in the same sortsof ways, spread uniformly over the visible universe, in vast abundance." p. 22 And again on p. 109"... we conclude that the same laws operate upon the same basic materials everywhere in the universe and throughout its history."

He's a Platonist, with with faith in the power of "ideas." "To experience the deep harmony between two different universes -- the universe of beautiful ideas and the universe of physical behavior was for me a spiritual awakening." p. 76. He glories in the fact that at major junctures in the advance of science, the big new idea has come before the evidence that "proves" it.

It will be interesting to see if the pace of discovery speeds of slows when computer intelligence starts making discoveries by brute force, without the guidance of ideas, unfettered by notions of beauty and simplicity.

Nevertheless, this book is well-populated with well-stated, inspiring insights, such as:
"Can we consider 'empty space' itself to be a material, whose quasiparticles are our 'elementary particles.'?" p 90
"...the division of experience into internal and external worlds comes to seem superficial." p. 226

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Published on June 30, 2021 18:21

May 18, 2021

Among Others by Walton

Among Others Among Others by Jo Walton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although it won Hugo and Nebula awards, this is a book of magic realism rather than scifi or fantasy. it happens in everyday modern England and Wales, with a dash of fairies and magic.

The main character, a teenage girl, is someone I'd like to know, someone I could talk to about anything and everything for hours, regardless of the difference in our ages. And even if it didn't have plot and characters (which it does), it would be delightful for its descriptions and recommendations of scifi novels and novelists., many of which I now look forward to reading.

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Published on May 18, 2021 07:32

The Tragedy of Arthur by Phillips

The Tragedy of Arthur The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A slow start to a convoluted story, told in the "introduction" to a supposed forged Shakespeare play. The "introduction" gradually became very interesting, and the narrative style was fun in a way that reminded me of Nabokov's Pale Fire. But then it ended abruptly with the text of the play itself, which is terrible, barely readable. the play didn't feel at all like Shakespeare, and the novel would have been far better if the play wasn't included.

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Published on May 18, 2021 07:25

Soumission by Houellebecq

Soumission Soumission by Michel Houellebecq

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A novel with only one real character, the narrator -- a self-satisfied pedant, with no redeeming qualities. I'd put it in a category with Sartre's Nausee and Dostoyevsky's Letters from the Underground, but nowhere near as interesting and important.

This book does serve, however, as an introduction to current French sex-related word usage. Many of the terms/usages can't be found in French-English dictionaries, but can be deciphered online.

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Published on May 18, 2021 07:16

May 3, 2021

The Just City by Jo Walton

Plato's Republic brought to life, in a fantasy world where gods live outside of time, and the role/fate/goal of mankind is repeatedly questioned from a variety of angles. The style, the rhythm and the subjects of conversation are all in the platonic mode, and the conversations are the heart of the narrative, rather than plot or character. Interesting. A rare pleasure
"make art that says something nobody else can say"
"learning is remembering"
"I love you like stones fall downward."
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Published on May 03, 2021 11:21

April 9, 2021

New Shakespeare Novel

I just finished first draft of my novel
The Bard of Eastport, a Celebration of Shakespeare. That's my second Shakespeare novel. My first, Shakespeare's Twin Sister, will be published by All Things That Matter Press.

Publishers interested in this one should contact me immediately while it's still available :-)
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Published on April 09, 2021 06:08

March 15, 2021

Short videos of me reading my stories and excerpts from my novels

I'm having fun posting short videosont youtube of me reading stories and excerpts from my novels.
I enjoy getting the instant gratification of feedback rather than waiting years until a book is published.
You might enjoy doing something like that. It's quick, easy, and free.

You can see my complete playlist (63 short videos as of today) here (44) Stories and Other Stuff by Richard Seltzer - YouTube
My favorite story is The Princess Tango (44) The Princess Tango by Richard Seltzer - YouTube
You might also enjoy the chapter The Library from my book The Lizard of Oz (44) The Lizard of Oz by Richard Seltzer, Chapter 7 The Library - YouTube
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Published on March 15, 2021 11:18

Richard Seltzer

Richard    Seltzer
Here I post thoughts, memories, stories, essays, jokes -- anything that strikes my fancy. This meant to be idiosyncratic and fun. I welcome feedback and suggestions.

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