Kurt Vonnegut died last night – it’s a crappy day.

If you haven’t read anything by Vonnegut you should.   Even if you think you’ll hate it, even if after you read it you hate it.

I was late discovering Vonnegut.  I knew the name, but it wasn’t until other writers I admired mentioned him that I actively went looking for his work.

I bought Breakfast of Champions and left it on my shelf for two years.  I eventually read it for the same reason I read Dostoyevsky – because I thought I should.

It was one of those ‘how could I not know about this?’ moments.  As a wannabe writer it was a revelation.  I wanted to show it to people – ‘look at what you can do in a book’. 

To be honest, I didn’t find the story itself that gripping, but I loved being in the world he created.  It was like being in a bizarre terrarium – everything was real and artificial at the same time. There was an almost naïve weirdness to it, unlike the constructed artifice of some recent tricksy best selling novels.

One of the lingering feelings from my experience with Vonnegut is the sensation that there are things out there that I am missing out on.

If you have had a similar experience, or if you have a landmark novel, can you please let me know – it would be nice to end today with something positive.

Onward and upward.


Joe Murphy of Kickass Mystic Ninjas (Spec Fic culture) and Dragon Page Wingin’ it (Spec Fic and beer) and Dragon Page Cover to Cover (Spec Fic books) has passed away.

Only 34.  Apparently healthy only 4 months ago.

Not a big name, but missed by many.

Go to any of the above sites for his memorial podcast.

*Kuato is a mutant from Total Recall – it’s the name Joe adopted for his tumour.

A word about covers

5, April,2007

I’m not sure I have ever bought a book on the strength of the cover, but I have certainly avoided a book based on one.

Jennifer Fallon has released a new novel, The Lord of Tides. Its’ getting rave reviews and I think I’ll buy it. I regularly read Jen’s blog, (she is a very funny person), but I have not yet read any of her novels.
She writes Fantasy, a genre I like to read, and the reviews for her books have been excellent – but the covers.

The title may say Lion of Senet, but the cover screams ‘Lawrence the taffeta elf and Gwendolyn the perfomance artist in the mystery land of Pastel.’

This is not something I want to be seen reading on the train.

Just to put this in perspective, I am a 180cm, steak eating, beer drinking, male**.

The good news is the novels have been reprinted with new covers (hoorah). Do I feel more inclined to buy them – Yes. Will I? Maybe. (If you are reading this Ms Fallon; yes of course I intend to buy them – the whole backlist including the book of Nantucket Limericks).

Other covers?

I avoided Terry Pratchett for a long time because of the covers. My first thought was “The Magic Far Away Tree meets Merlin’s idiot love child”.

I think the publishers realised this because the Australian reissue showed a touch of over compensation. The new covers – mat black. Mmm, stately nihilism – doesn’t exactly capture Terry Practhett.

Then there were the early covers for fantasy legend Terry Brooks’ the Sword of Shannara – ‘Poppy the elf and his brave band of adventurers’, honesty you could have put a smurf in there and not altered the tone.

Tom Sharpe
writes a funny novel, but OMG the covers. Why put cartoons of over endowed, under clad nymphets on your cover. I couldn’t read them until my kids went to bed, and forget the train.

Admittedly, these were published in the days when the Benny Hill show was considered comedy gold.

Some covers I like.

To put ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell‘ in a plain black and white cover showed a nice sense of irony. It might have been more helpful to potential readers if the cover showed a bloated illustration, so needlessly detailed that it overwhelmed the purpose of the core image. But that’s just my opinion (seriously, why hide a good 300 page story in a 1000 page book).

What’s your worst cover?

**I also like Sushi, a good Sauvignon Blanc and Impressionist art.