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1.04.2010

John Connolly and Tending the Garden

I suppose that I'm in the minority in that my only exposure to John Connolly's fiction is in the realm of his speculative output. I loved Nocturns, The Book of Lost Things and his latest novel, The Gates.

Mr. Connolly is best known for his crime novels, though he readily admits on his website that he has a special place in his heart for the weird tale. That love comes across in his fiction, which is simultaneously creepy and hilarious. It's a crazy salad, to be sure, but a heck of a fine meal.

In The Gates, we get a physics-sprinkled (it is absolutely fascinating; don't let my simplistic description scare you off!) yarn of the Hadron Particle Collider and ol' Satan himself, the Great Malevolence, threatening to rip a hole in the fabric of our dimension to allow his minions a shot at running roughshod over humanity. The only obstacle? An inquisitive boy named Samuel Johnson and his dachshund Bosworth.

Sam is a great character, and Connolly has a keen eye for the mundane idiocies of adult life. It takes a fertile mind to believe a boy when he absolutely swears that he saw his neighbor open a portal to Hell--let's face it, most adults aren't cut out for it. With so many troublesome issues (adultery, loveless marriages, complete absence of anything resembling faith), it's danged hard to listen to the kid in the Halloween costume going on about the end of the world.

Even if he is correct.

Connolly writes short, fluid chapters. His prose is lean and descriptive, and he's got a keen sense of humor. This one's suitable for perceptive youngsters and young-at-heart adults alike, and he hints at a sequel to come in the third act.

Connolly's admitted before that he enjoys writing his crime thrillers because they, in no small fashion, give him the time and financial resources to work on his speculative projects. He also reviews movies and books and contributes to the Dublin Times, so he's prolific and versatile.

Here's to hoping that he continues to get the time to work on his speculative fiction...

I've been reading and writing a lot of science fiction lately, but I haven't made the time to send any stories out on submission. I have three tales forthcoming in the near future, but I'd hoped to have some additional good news coming out of the holiday break. Alas, two markets that had stories of mine for much of last year sent out kind personal rejections over the break. They did like the stories, though, and I think I'm getting close!

How do you deal with minor rejection?

Put together some more submissions, of course. I hit the post office today, friends. Three hours later and I had eleven more submissions out on review. Fingers crossed and all that...

And finally, I read the saddest science fiction story the other day. John Meaney's "Looking Through Mother's Eyes" was a very affecting read. It's a story about parenthood and sacrifice and self awareness. I'm not spoiling the ending by including this brief snippet:

Mother. I love you.
Surely she knows this, that I love her as she must have loved her own fine mother, but I want to tell it to her, just once while we have the chance, and suddenly I feel cool air in my throat and I yell the words:
"I love you, Mother!"
Just for a moment, her nerves regain control and she gives a miraculous reply: "Love you...Daughter."
It is the most perfect moment.

Wow. This story, let me tell you...

Since we had our little one, stuff like this really hits home. I've been writing a lot about co-dependence and vulnerability since she joined us, but I sense it's time to move to another part of the garden for a little while. Might be best to just let the blossoms mature here for awhile and then circle back down the road.

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