Paul Park’s City Made of Words

Hello friends, I’ve moved on from Typora! Typora is old news! Now I write in Obsidian. Long live Obsidian. Obsidian is basically the exact same thing, but there’s mobile apps and it’s really good at syncing and there’s a lot of plug-ins, so you can use it as an all-purpose journaling and note-taking app too. I’m writing a short story in it now, for an anthology! Story is going rather well.

Also managed to get my Calibre server up and running and accessible anywhere on the internet behind its own domain name! Am feeling very proud of myself, since that involved getting an SSL certificate and doing some other strange stuff that I’m not really qualified to do. I’ve been using the “Random Book” function on the Calibre web browser more often. Sometimes you don’t want to do serious reading, you just want to gaze upon the vastness of your library in despair.

At some point I bought a StoryBundle curated by Nick Mamatas (I think?) that consisted of a bunch of PM Press’s slim and attractive Outspoken Authors books. And one of them was apparently this volume by Paul Park. I’d read Park back when I was a kid, but I didn’t remember much about his work. He’s one of these well-respected but quite marginal science fiction figures, like Emma Bull or Maureen McHugh or Michael Bishop–a frequent award nominee but not a frequent award-winner. A writer’s writer, in other words (the book has blurbs from Ursula Le Guin, Jonathan Lethem, and Kim Stanley Robinson). Anyway, I started reading the collection and quite liked it.

The stories have a very realist feel, despite their metafictional and fantastic conceits. They often have odd, sudden endings, as if the author has said all they need to say, but the endings work quite well. Several are set in academia and deal with internecine academic feuds, like that between the New Criticism and the insurgent French literary theory. My favorite story was about a professor at an MFA program who’s being tortured by an interrogator who asks him to justify his life–the MFA professor is deeply in doubt about the worth of teaching writing, while the interrogator is an MFA-holder who wants to be told that there’s some value in the practice. I liked the book, it was fun!

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