My twenty-seventh! (of 28) Readercons went rather nicely.
How I love listening to intelligent people! And it’s exhilarating (if scary) to try to make sense on panels.
Only three mishaps, one on the way over. The highway traffic was appalling, bumper-to-bumper, and my lift, distracted by Siri’s countermands, slid gently into the car ahead, out of which burst an irate and vengeful Chinese couple, dancing like furies round and round both cars, heedless of the six-lane traffic, shouting, “You pay cash! You pay cash!” But on the sight of a cellphone, they vanished like spirits at cockcrow.
Next, I discovered that I’d left my carefully curated selection of chocolate and tea—all carefully matched to my program—on a chair at home. Ah well, there were M&Ms in the green room. And Taylor’s of Harrogate tea, not at all shabby.
After my reading, I found I’d lost an especially pretty and unmatchable hand-painted bead-button from a favorite dress, and was disconsolate. It could have fallen off anywhere in the hotel. But I searched what I could search—my room—before checking out, and discovered the button in the darkest corner of the closet, glinting back at my Light app like a mouse’s eye. I felt (as one does) disproportionately elated. I swear it hadn't been there the first six times I looked. Don’t you love happy endings?
I heard four remarkable readings. Sonya Taaffe gave us intense shards of poetry and a short story about the post-punk tutelary spirit of a Birmingham canal; Lila Garrott read from their astonishing misfits-in-Utopia novel-in-progress, which is stranger than you can imagine, and utterly lucid; Kathleen Jennings read part of an Australian Gothic novella about an outback town invaded, all but strangled, by alien intrusive flowers, and a tale of a wandering exile oneirically entangled in a Briar-Rose-like labyrinth. And the peerless John Crowley read from his essential
mythic tale of an immortal crow, Ka : Dar Oakley in the ruin of Ymr.
It will be out at last in September! He gave me an ARC! Calloo!
For all the brilliance, all the wisdom, wit, and passion lavished on the dizzying array of panels, the hour I remember most vividly was the hilarious Terrible But Great, on irresistibly awful books. What a hoot!
Of my own panels, Good Influences and Sororal Fantasies were simply a joy; and I plume myself on getting through the Deaths of Gods with James Morrow and Max Gladstone without being cut to ribbons intellectually. It was like jumping into Double Dutch with lasers. But I sideslipped the Tetragrammaton: I went pagan, and talked about the voice from the island crying, “The great Pan is dead,” and about walking down through San Clemente in Rome, from Baroque exultation, down through mediaeval austerity, the abyssal ἰχθύς
of the catacombs, the rock-hewn and bull-blooded temple of Mithras, down to the ever-welling spring.
And my reading—always the locus of hope and anxiety—went quite well. There were more than a handful in the audience: they listened intently, laughed at the right places, and asked impassioned questions. They loved the scene I hadn’t read before, about John Donne’s wife and daughter and the compasses. And wonder of wonders, I have a recording! As many of you know, Readercon has been recording its panels and readings for decades, way back to wax cylinders (for all I know), and squirreling them away in a vault somewhere. Possibly in catacombs. After the apocalypse, I imagine they’ll be used to recreate civilization from scratch. Gods help us all. I’ve been asking forever and ever where the archived recordings go. Some of us would love to revisit fondly remembered hours. (There was that panel on language when Crowley recited the first page of Lolita...) This time, the sound guy (there's only one, racing about like an electron) said, Sure. Got a USB stick?
I had, and he just popped the files onto it. Golly.
The bookroom is simply paradise.
Over the four days, I had lively and engaging conversations with (among others) ashnistrike
, Crowley, Michael Swanwick and Marianne Porter, Glenn Grant, Michael Damian Thomas, and too little time with John Clute and Liz Hand, Chip Delany, and Suzy McKee Charnas. Long may they all continue! Oh, and the little Fox came on Sunday and charmed everyone. He's just learned to wave bye-bye, and has acquired an enchanting deep chortle when you fly him overhead.
Then I tottered home and slept eleven hours...