You guys, we must never forget that at some point in the recent historical epoch, a man released a very disturbing role playing game called F.A.T.A.L. I think that somewhere in the history of this or my other tumblr, I’ve discussed some of the more obscene charts and rules, but I’ll skip that today. 

I’m only reposting about it because someone must’ve found their archived website for the original game (it was print-on-demand and hella maligned) and one of the tabs includes an explanation called Why Include All The Sexual Tables.

Also found a great reconsideration of the game in all its deplorability that includes this wonderful moment: 

As a quick aside, Byron’s response to this criticism is that those rules were included out of a desire for completeness, a desire that actions that one would expect to typically happen in a fantasy medieval Europe setting would have clearly defined results. But after carefully going over the whole 1003 page game, I found no rules for how much wheat or barley one could grow on a given area of land, or how much meat one could expect to get from butchering an animal. There is a skill, Milking, but no rule for how much milk a cow generally gives. There isn’t even a skill for butchering. An entire page however is spent on the skill Urinating, with rules for how far and how accurately one may urinate.

When I play fantasy adventure games, the question of, “Should we go hungry and suffer hunger penalties, or butcher one of our pack animals, eat that meat and abandon that gear?” comes up. This is a question that I have asked, that my players have asked. When Byron and his crew play fantasy adventure games, the question of, “Can I pee on that dude who is 5 feet away from my character?” comes up.

mastersreview
mastersreview:


Submissions for our printed anthology, open to MA, MFA, and PhD creative writing students, close on March 31, 2014. We sat down with guest judge and New York Times bestselling author Lev Grossman to discuss his likes and dislikes in fiction and nonfiction. For those of you still polishing your stories, check it out. (You guys, he’s amazing.) Then, submit your story!
Forgive the broad question, but can you describe what makes a piece of fiction successful in your eyes? What elements of craft inform the pieces you enjoy the most?

It is a bit of a broad question. It’s hard to single out one element. Fiction is one of those unforgiving mediums where for it to truly work well all the pieces have to be there: the style, the sense of place, the sense of character, the narrative flow, and whatever else. You don’t get to choose. You have to check all the boxes.
But if I had to pick one element that means the most to me, personally, it’s structure: the flow and the rhythm of the narrative. I want to — have to — feel that the story is a whole, that all the pieces work together,  that every piece of the story is in that place for a reason, each one passes you on to the next, until at the end it all narrows to a sharp point — that pierces you, right through.

We primarily publish work from emerging writers. What mistakes do you see new writers make and what would you advise them to avoid?

I’ll mention one mistake that I know well, because I’ve made it myself, plenty of times. “Write what you know” is a cliché because it’s true, but the tricky party of it, the unstated part, is that it can be very difficult to identify exactly what it is that you do know. By default a lot of emerging writers write about themselves, which makes sense. But it takes a long time to know yourself well. Not a lot of people can do it at 23. As an emerging writer one more often has insight into other things and other people.

Do you have a favorite short story or essay? What specifically do you like so much about it?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, comparisons being invidious that way. But I’ll mention Joyce’s “The Dead,” Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” Munro’s “Runaway” (really anything by Munro), Barthelme’s “Paraguay,” Borges’ “The Secret Miracle,” Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and Kelly Link’s “The Faery Handbag.” If they have something in common it’s that they’re bursting with intelligence, and they’re by people who not only write brilliantly but who read brilliantly, and who’ve learned from what they read, and who have read everything.
And these are stories that work hard for their readers. They earn their crust. They’re stories written to please the reader, not the writer.
In terms of essays, John Jeremiah Sullivan strikes me as just about the state of the art these days. Check out “Upon This Rock,” his essay about going to a Christian music festival.

When you are reading a piece critically how does it differ — or does it — from when you read a piece purely for the sake of reading? How can writers hope to strike a successful balance?

It doesn’t differ at all. When I’m reading critically I take notes, that’s the difference. I want to read like a reader, not like a critic, whatever that is.

 What do you look for in a creative nonfiction piece that you feel most writers fail to achieve? (What makes a creative nonfiction really great as opposed to only okay?)
The first question I ask myself is, would I be embarrassed to say any of these sentences out loud? It’s surprising how little nonfiction gets over that bar.

And after that it just has to read like a story. Even if it’s not a story, even if it’s just a chain of abstract logical reasoning, it needs to read like one, to flow and tense and begin and end like a story. And the writer needs to know how to tell a story, and her or she needs to know what the story they’re telling is about.

What, if anything, are you sick and tired of reading?
Anything that isn’t funny. God knows great writing doesn’t have to be a laugh a minute, but if I’m not laughing at least once every, say, 5,000 words … it’s not a dealbreaker, but there better be a damn good reason for it. Even Kafka laughed when he read his work.

mastersreview:

Submissions for our printed anthology, open to MA, MFA, and PhD creative writing students, close on March 31, 2014. We sat down with guest judge and New York Times bestselling author Lev Grossman to discuss his likes and dislikes in fiction and nonfiction. For those of you still polishing your stories, check it out. (You guys, he’s amazing.) Then, submit your story!

Forgive the broad question, but can you describe what makes a piece of fiction successful in your eyes? What elements of craft inform the pieces you enjoy the most?

It is a bit of a broad question. It’s hard to single out one element. Fiction is one of those unforgiving mediums where for it to truly work well all the pieces have to be there: the style, the sense of place, the sense of character, the narrative flow, and whatever else. You don’t get to choose. You have to check all the boxes.

But if I had to pick one element that means the most to me, personally, it’s structure: the flow and the rhythm of the narrative. I want to — have to — feel that the story is a whole, that all the pieces work together,  that every piece of the story is in that place for a reason, each one passes you on to the next, until at the end it all narrows to a sharp point — that pierces you, right through.

We primarily publish work from emerging writers. What mistakes do you see new writers make and what would you advise them to avoid?

I’ll mention one mistake that I know well, because I’ve made it myself, plenty of times. “Write what you know” is a cliché because it’s true, but the tricky party of it, the unstated part, is that it can be very difficult to identify exactly what it is that you do know. By default a lot of emerging writers write about themselves, which makes sense. But it takes a long time to know yourself well. Not a lot of people can do it at 23. As an emerging writer one more often has insight into other things and other people.

Do you have a favorite short story or essay? What specifically do you like so much about it?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, comparisons being invidious that way. But I’ll mention Joyce’s “The Dead,” Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” Munro’s “Runaway” (really anything by Munro), Barthelme’s “Paraguay,” Borges’ “The Secret Miracle,” Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and Kelly Link’s “The Faery Handbag.” If they have something in common it’s that they’re bursting with intelligence, and they’re by people who not only write brilliantly but who read brilliantly, and who’ve learned from what they read, and who have read everything.

And these are stories that work hard for their readers. They earn their crust. They’re stories written to please the reader, not the writer.

In terms of essays, John Jeremiah Sullivan strikes me as just about the state of the art these days. Check out “Upon This Rock,” his essay about going to a Christian music festival.

When you are reading a piece critically how does it differ — or does it — from when you read a piece purely for the sake of reading? How can writers hope to strike a successful balance?

It doesn’t differ at all. When I’m reading critically I take notes, that’s the difference. I want to read like a reader, not like a critic, whatever that is.

 What do you look for in a creative nonfiction piece that you feel most writers fail to achieve? (What makes a creative nonfiction really great as opposed to only okay?)

The first question I ask myself is, would I be embarrassed to say any of these sentences out loud? It’s surprising how little nonfiction gets over that bar.

And after that it just has to read like a story. Even if it’s not a story, even if it’s just a chain of abstract logical reasoning, it needs to read like one, to flow and tense and begin and end like a story. And the writer needs to know how to tell a story, and her or she needs to know what the story they’re telling is about.

What, if anything, are you sick and tired of reading?

Anything that isn’t funny. God knows great writing doesn’t have to be a laugh a minute, but if I’m not laughing at least once every, say, 5,000 words … it’s not a dealbreaker, but there better be a damn good reason for it. Even Kafka laughed when he read his work.

mastersreview
I also review books with Masters Review.
Keep in mind, I am not the titular master. That would be, this year, Lev Grossman. I’m just Andrew. 
mastersreview:

Book Review: A Field Guide to the North American Family
Lyrically told and lavishly designed, Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide To The North American Family follows the story of two suburban families through a series of 63 illustrated chapters. This evocative novella presents its brief vignettes as a series of non-linear “field guide entries,” each complete with an abstract photo of whatever small-town indiscretion, teenage experimentation, patriarchal death, etc. is described on the opposite page. Through playful scenes of fumbled intimacy and gallows-humor descriptions of the human response to universal concepts like guilt, tenderness, youth, and others, a post-modern story of suburban ennui emerges. It’s an innovative web of images and isolated moments that practically begs to be reread upon completion.
Read more….

I also review books with Masters Review.

Keep in mind, I am not the titular master. That would be, this year, Lev Grossman. I’m just Andrew. 

mastersreview:

Book Review: A Field Guide to the North American Family

Lyrically told and lavishly designed, Garth Risk Hallberg’s A Field Guide To The North American Family follows the story of two suburban families through a series of 63 illustrated chapters. This evocative novella presents its brief vignettes as a series of non-linear “field guide entries,” each complete with an abstract photo of whatever small-town indiscretion, teenage experimentation, patriarchal death, etc. is described on the opposite page. Through playful scenes of fumbled intimacy and gallows-humor descriptions of the human response to universal concepts like guilt, tenderness, youth, and others, a post-modern story of suburban ennui emerges. It’s an innovative web of images and isolated moments that practically begs to be reread upon completion.

Read more….

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?

secretmuseumofmankind
Here is my new side-Tumblr (my third book tumblr, actually)…
secretmuseumofmankind:

I’ve started a new book tumblr, a separate tumblr consisting only of the images from Secret Museum of Mankind. All 996 pictures were lovingly scanned in by Ian Macky. I’ve queued the 1000 pics up, and they will now be popping up, one per day, on your screen, should you choose to follow. Which you should. Right now…

Here is my new side-Tumblr (my third book tumblr, actually)…

secretmuseumofmankind:

I’ve started a new book tumblr, a separate tumblr consisting only of the images from Secret Museum of Mankind. All 996 pictures were lovingly scanned in by Ian Macky. I’ve queued the 1000 pics up, and they will now be popping up, one per day, on your screen, should you choose to follow. Which you should. Right now…

johndarnielle
johndarnielle:

fsgbooks:

“There are professional thrills and there are professional thrills, but I am extra especially thrilled to report that FSG is going to be publishing John Darnielle’s novel, Wolf in White Van, this fall. John is famous for his work with the Mountain Goats, and I suspect that none of the many fans who know his lyrics and have heard his stories will be surprised by the revelation that his is a genuinely literary mind. And it’s true—Wolf in White Van emphatically proves that his imagination and voice are at least as at home on the page as they are in song.
There are many things worth singling out for praise in Wolf in White Van:the unforgettable main character, Sean Phillips, who has been isolated by a disfiguring injury since age seventeen; Trace Italian, the intricate game within the novel that Sean created and runs; the interplay of real and imagined worlds, which is both complex and heartbreaking; the structure of the storytelling—audacious, brilliant, and never anything but convincing and unreasonably suspenseful; the prose itself, which is precise and beautiful and (forgive me) lyrical.”
Read more from editor Sean McDonald about Wolf in White Van here. 

so here is a thing that is happening in my life that I am really incredibly excited about

All worlds are colliding. The release of this novel is the biggest thing on my social calendar right now. More important than my impending nuptials. I am planning to write Trace Italian fanfic ten minutes after I finish reading.

johndarnielle:

fsgbooks:

There are professional thrills and there are professional thrills, but I am extra especially thrilled to report that FSG is going to be publishing John Darnielle’s novel, Wolf in White Van, this fall. John is famous for his work with the Mountain Goats, and I suspect that none of the many fans who know his lyrics and have heard his stories will be surprised by the revelation that his is a genuinely literary mind. And it’s true—Wolf in White Van emphatically proves that his imagination and voice are at least as at home on the page as they are in song.

There are many things worth singling out for praise in Wolf in White Van:the unforgettable main character, Sean Phillips, who has been isolated by a disfiguring injury since age seventeen; Trace Italian, the intricate game within the novel that Sean created and runs; the interplay of real and imagined worlds, which is both complex and heartbreaking; the structure of the storytelling—audacious, brilliant, and never anything but convincing and unreasonably suspenseful; the prose itself, which is precise and beautiful and (forgive me) lyrical.”

Read more from editor Sean McDonald about Wolf in White Van here

so here is a thing that is happening in my life that I am really incredibly excited about

All worlds are colliding.
The release of this novel is the biggest thing on my social calendar right now. More important than my impending nuptials. I am planning to write Trace Italian fanfic ten minutes after I finish reading.