the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘interviews

Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview, and Other Conversations, edited by Tom McCartan

published in 2011

where I got it: purchased new










It’s been a while since I read any Vonnegut, but as soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it. Sure, I’ve read plenty of Vonnegut, but I could count on one hand the things I knew about his personal life: he was very close with his sister, he studied chemistry, he was a prisoner of war in Dresden when it was bombed by the Allies. I accidentally learned that his family thought he was very strange. *

The Last Interview actually contains six interviews, spanning thirty years, from 1977 to 2007, and it’s interesting to see what changes over the years, and what says the same. In the first interview, a special edition of Slaughterhouse Five is coming out, and he’s been asked to write a special introduction for it. In a later interview, Playboy is interviewing Vonnegut and Joseph Heller at Heller’s home, and in a yet later interview, Heller has already passed away.   Vonnegut’s opinions on war and family never changes (he’s against the first, and for the second).

After the small talk of “what are you working on now?” and the like, every interviewer wants to ask the same thing: what was it like being in Dresden?  Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut’s most famous work, was inspired by his experiences there, and all the interviewers want to know what it was really like. And in his casual, newspaperman, just-the-facts way, Vonnegut tells them. that Dresden was a beautiful city. and then it was gone.  He wonders how he survived it. He offhandedly remarks that due to the profits of Slaughterhouse Five, he actually made money off the bombing. Like when I was reading Slapstick, I had no idea if I was supposed to laugh or not.

Other topics that come up again and again are Vonnegut’s feeling that everyone should have an extended family,  and that the closest he came to studying writing was being the editor of the student run newspaper at his high school. he was pushed into studying chemistry, and then after returning from the war he studying anthropology. He jokes that when asked where the best new authors are, he says something along the lines of “not in the English departments”.  ouch. but as always, brutally honest.

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Last week I reviewed Love Minus Eighty, the new speculative fiction novel from Will McIntosh.  I might be new to his fiction, but McIntosh has already taken the speculative fiction world by storm, having won a Hugo for his 2010 short story Bridesicle, and his novel Soft Apocalypse (2012) is a multiple award nominee.  He’s been publishing short fiction and winning awards since the early 2000s, so I was over the moon thrilled when Mr. McIntosh agreed to answer a few questions about the new novel, movies, day jobs, and what’s next.

Hi Will, thanks for joining us today!

Thanks, glad to be here!

Love Minus Eighty is an expansion of sorts of your short story Bridesicle. What was the inspiration for Bridesicle?

Bridesicle started as a brief image that flashed as I was waking up one morning.  It was Mira, frozen in her crèche, and as these things usually go, for some reason I knew this was a dating center.  The story grew from there.  At first I wrote it from the point of view of Lycan, a clueless man visiting the center for the first time, but after getting feedback I ended up shifting the point of view to Mira.

Bridesicle has parallels to the world of Hitchers, but in Love Minus Eighty, we’re in a world with plenty of followers, but no actual, traditional hitchers. Why the change?

I wrote a post for the Far Beyond Reality blog that explains this in more detail, but in a nutshell, I decided giving people the ability to upload their consciousness into someone else lowered the stakes, because it allows people to become basically immortal.  It also makes for a really complicated story, if some of the characters are actually two, or five, or ten characters sharing one body.  Sometimes a technology that seems cool in a short story introduces all sorts of complications when you’re telling a longer story.

I read somewhere that Bridesicle was optioned for a film. How exciting! What was your reaction to that? Any thoughts on changes you’d like to see, or fear to see when Bridesicle or Love Minus Eighty makes it to the big screen?

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I recently had the opportunity to get to know Matt, from 52 Book Reviews, a little better. Father, scifi/fantasy fan, and all around cool guy, Matt is pretty new to the blogging community.  This is his first year blogging, but he’s been on GoodReads for ages, and I think he has more Goodreads reviews up than the number of books I own.   Matt has recently reviewed the newest short story collection from Saladin Ahmed, Wool by Hugh Howey, and has a very in-depth interview with Ken Scholes as well. have you bookmarked 52 Book Reviews yet? It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Here’s my interview with Matt:

LRR: your blog is fairly new, what made you decide to start blogging about books?

52BR: Obviously, I read a lot. I can’t think of a time when I haven’t had at least one or two books in process in the last ten years or so. What is not so obvious is that I have always dreamed of being a writer. After two abortive attempts at a novel, I decided to channel my need to write in a slightly different direction, and writing about books seemed the best fit. I already volunteer book recommendations to my family, friends, and strangers in the bookstore, so I thought why not do it online to a bigger audience of strangers. At least they won’t look at me funny, like some of the folks in the bookstore.

LRR: Your blog might be new, but you’ve got hundreds of books on Goodreads, going back years! I’m not on Goodreads, do you recommend it an online community that book bloggers should all be involved with?

52BR: To be honest, up until now I’ve only used Goodreads to keep a record of what I read. No one was more shocked than me to find out just how many books I’ve read. These days I’m posting my reviews on the site and have seen a small uptick in hits since then. But nothing beats networking with other bloggers in my experience.

LRR: What are your favorite genres to read and review?

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Hi Everyone!  This week is Bookblogger Appreciate Week!  They do a ton of themed activities, but the one I mostly participate in is the blogger interview swap.  Each blogger is randomly paired with another blogger, and you ask each other some fun questions, make some new friends, and the best part is that i get to discover a new blog that truly, I would have never found on my own. It’s like getting a random penpal. this is my third year doing Interview Swap, and I’m still in contact with the bloggers I was partnered with in previous years. How cool is that?

This year, I got lucky enough to get paired with Allison from On My Bookshelf. She runs the blog with her friend Holly, and they have all sorts of fun, reviewing novels of many genres, cookbooks, some crafty books, and children literature as tested by their young children. You might know Allison from the Stainless Steel Droppings R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) challenge a few years ago too. Make sure to visit On My Bookshelf for Allison’s interview with me. We talk e-books, vampires, and  scifi in pop culture!

here’s my interview with the super-cool Allison:

You run On my Bookshelf with Holly. How did you two meet? How did you two  decide to start a blog?

Holly’s husband and my husband went to high school together, so Holly and I met through them and found a mutual love (obsession) with books.  Our book blog actually started as a book club with a few other members, but Holly and I were the only ones who always read the book, and eventually, the blog was born.

 You review a lot of non-fiction too, like memoirs, cookbooks, and books on  crafts. How is reviewing a non-fiction book different than reviewing  fiction?

Reviewing memoirs is pretty much the same as reviewing fiction for me.  I’m looking primarily at the story being told, and how successful the author is at telling that story.  Even though memoirs are based on actual events, the art to choosing what to include, what light to cast, and what boring bits to skip is still the core for me. Cookbooks and craft books, on the other hand, are all about how well they convey instructions.  Although I read these books for enjoyment and inspiration as well, I’m reviewing them first based on utility, then noting beauty and style.

You review a lot of children’s books, often by seeing if your kids like  them.  How has your blogging (and being obsessed with books!) influenced  your kids?

The lovely Mieneke of A Fantastical Librarian interviewed me!  see my goofy answers and a photo of my sagging and unorganized bookshelves.

While you’re over there, check out the rest of her wonderful blogger query articles, and learn about more folks in our vibrant community. Mieneke also has a great giveaway going right now for James Maxey’s HUSH. You can learn more about HUSH and GREATSHADOW here as well.

and since it seems to be turning into a link soup type of post, how many titles from the Fantasy Mistress Works list have you read?


I was gone for a few days, and someone started giving away some of my Very Good Books?  As much as I love getting and receiving VeryGoodBooks, it’s also great to share them and pass them on when I’m done with them.  Maybe I should do these long weekends out of town more often!

While I was gone, I devoured Madeline Ashby’s debut novel vN, which hits bookstore shelves in late July.  I did truly devour it. I had planned to read it a little bit here, a little bit there, over coffee, enjoying my Mom’s garden, and nope. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. It was finished before I even got to my parents house. Alluring cover art and a fascinating premise of a future where self replicating humanoids live side by side with humans, marrying humans, being raised as human children, being told they are equal to humans, and well, sometimes not.

With nods to Bladerunner and AI, vN is what you should be reading if you’re canny on the uncanny valley. Suffice to say, I was thrilled when Ms. Ashby offered to answer a few questions for me. While you’re waiting for my review (it’ll post tomorrow if I can get my act together later today), let’s better get to know Madeline Ashby – Strategic Foresight Consultant, science fiction writer, lover of manga and anime, and the woman who proved you CAN do a masters degree on a science fictional topic. Twice.

L.R.R. You can find manga in any bookstore and anime on nearly any television station these days, but this wasn’t always the case. How did you get hooked on manga and anime? Where would you suggest someone new to those forms start?

M.A. I had friends in high school who were interested in anime. Specifically, someone who used the characters of Haruka and Michiru (Sailors Uranus and Neptune, respectively) on Sailor Moon to talk about her own sexuality. But she wasn’t the only one. I had friends who were into Evangelion and Utena and Fushigi Yuugi. I watched movies like Akira and Ghost in the Shell with them. That pattern didn’t change in university or afterward. I still watch anime with friends.

If I were suggesting anime titles to anyone, I would ask them what genres they like in the first place. If they want science fiction with a side of deep characterization and pulse-pounding action, Cowboy Bebop. If they want a thoughtful slice-of-life dramedy with a side of tender romance, then Fruits Basket. If they want something totally surreal, then FLCL or Paranoia Agent. If they want something meta, something that comments on a genre from within that genre, then Madoka or Evangelion.

L.R.R. vN opens with a  beautiful family scene between Amy and her parents; her vN mother Charlotte, and her human father Jack.  They have a healthy normal family life. I realize this is a loaded question, but do you think this is a possible future for humanity – mixed couples of one human partner and one synthetic/humanoid partner?

If you’re a book blogger, know a book blogger, read a book blogger, or simply think that book blogs are cool, post this as your status.  oh, wait, this isn’t facebook?  😉

but it’s still Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

My favorite book blogger appreciation week event (and actually, the only one I participate in) is the interview swap.  It’s super fun and easy, you sign up, and they partner you up with another awesome blogger to chat with a bit.  kinda like, but for bloggers, and like, not romantic?  My partner this year is the hilarious Alison from Piling on the Books.   You can read her interview with me on her site, and while you’re over there, make sure to check out her Wizard of Oz blog posts. Alison is teh soopah cool. and i got to interview her!

It must be heaven working in a library, surrounded by all those books!  How has being at the library affected how you blog and what books you read?

Oh my word, I have got to stop working at a library (not really!).  I did a post about a month and a half ago about thirteen booksI had brought home from the library after cataloging them, and I’m just about ready to put up another one!  That’s crazy but also good, because for a while I was only reading books that I had already read a review of, and I find it very exciting to delve into a book without someone else’s opinion coloring my view.  It’s also fun to be the first person to read and persuade others to read an awesome book!

more with Alison, after the jump!

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.