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Louis Greenberg

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Sins of the Blood

Those who are that way inclined can now read my essay, “Sins of the Blood: Rewriting the Family in
Two Postmodern Vampire Novels” in the March 2010 edition of Journal of Literary Studies (Vol 26.1).

Here’s the abstract:

Postmodern vampire novels often concern themselves with issues surrounding Western family life. In this article I will compare the presentation of family violence in Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls (1992) and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Sins of the Blood (1995). Brite’s radical subversion contrasts interestingly with Rusch’s appeal to less radically reinscribed, liberal values. These novels position their characters in suburban locales, where traditional family dynamics and upbringings are the accepted norm and where the inequalities of these structures are perpetuated. This traditional milieu, with its veneer of order, is often shown to be the breeding place of psychoses and antisocial behaviour, and of cycles of inherited violence. Whereas Rusch’s liberal critique stops here, a key example of the genre’s radical potential is Brite’s exploration of self-chosen and unorthodox family structures as a subversive option to the violence of the hegemonic norm. The inherently subversive, proximate, queer figure of the vampire acts as a catalyst for this interrogation, playing the role, in its chameleonic fashion, of any family member, from abusive father to alluring sister, or standing on the margins of human society and subtly making us compare it to ourselves.

If you have a subscription, you can download it here. If you don’t, drop me a line.

JLS 26.1 cover

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Get ready for Home Away – April 2010

Instead of hijacking Lauren Beukes’s announcement of the fabulous cover of Zoo City, I want to use this space to punt Lauren’s fabulously over-the-top, effed-up Japanese art-vs-mecha-vs-writer story in HOME AWAY (edited by Louis Greenberg, Zebra Press, April 2010) – for all those fans who can’t wait for June to read more brand-new Beukes.

But wait, there’s more: Home Away also includes brand-new de Nooy, Partridge, Wanner, Richards, Lotz, Kozain, Britten, Vladislavic, Snyckers, Mackenzie, Xaba, Rose-Innes, Jobson, Szczurek and more!

Being South African isn’t as black and white as it used to be. People from all over the world make South Africa their home, while South Africans have more geographic freedom than ever before. This unique and captivating collection is a snapshot of South African writing today: emigrant and immigrant South Africans, living at home and away.

In Home Away, twenty-four chapters by twenty-four writers, set in cities all around the world, make up one global day, a mosaic reflecting on the nature of home. As the provocative stories in this collaboration suggest, often it’s when we are far away from home that we see it most clearly.

In Home Away, we’ve divvied up the world and a day into 24 hours shared between some of the hottest, most happening South African, immigrant and emigrant writers working today. All the writing in Home Away is orginal and unpublished, and honorary South African Vikas Swarup has written a lyrical foreword. It’s a fabulous range, a real document of South African writing today.

Here’s the brilliant line-up: (more…)

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Lovely new non-review of The Beggars’ Signwriters

By Colleen Higgs:

Remember that The Beggars’ Signwriters is still in print (barely), and going for a cut price:

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That hot summer evening, Nick saw the invisible writer. He lay on his single bed in loose shorts and a vest, wet with sweat, and listened to the curtain slapping in the light warm breeze, listened to the grunt of the chest freezer on the back veranda as it struggled over the next thermostatic hill. His stars watched over him in his sleepless dreams, countless pictures of his favourite actresses and celebrities layered on his bedroom walls. An Annie Liebowitz gallery of guardian angels.

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A short story about books


I work in a bookshop. It is a beautiful shop. There are thick blue carpets, and little stars in the ceiling. The ceiling curves like clouds and sometimes when nobody can see me I lie between the shelves on my back and look at the stars, stretching far across the store. I talk and move too slowly to work on the counter and I’ve never been good with computers and money, but I can still read and remember. I put the books back in their place in the shelves, and I like to keep all the sections neat and tidy. Sometimes, when I have nothing else to do, I go to a section and take out all the books and put them back the way they are supposed to be. Some sections must be alphabetical and others are by subject. Some are a mixture and I have drawn maps of all of those shelves. I keep those in a small blue file. My boss, Dave, lets me keep my file and my coffee mug in his office next to his books. He will throw away any cup that is left in the wrong place. I was very sad when he threw away Lee’s special cup. I saw it in the bin, the handle broken off, and a chip that looked like a big tear just under the pandabear’s eye. She was also upset and he bought her a new cup and promised me that he would not throw away my mug if I kept it safe in his office. (more…)

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Evoked by Mar-ga-ret are you grieving?

Hi Kathryn, your lovely, evocative post encouraged me to share an excerpt from an unpublished novel. This scene is set in West Park:

Five months after my father died I went back to the cemetery. Nothing had rushed in to fill the blank space he left. Though I was twenty-one years old, I hadn’t suddenly become a man with access to mysteries revealed exclusively to bereaved sons. His death was neither a rite of passage nor a trial by ordeal. Nothing had happened. There was just one less positive presence in the world, and life blundered on. I wanted his death to mean something, to give me some direction. Maybe I hadn’t done it right the first time round, at the funeral. Maybe I hadn’t asked the right questions, immersed myself in the ritual, performed the apt incantations. [...] (more…)

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