The monster winter storm Xaver has retreated to more easterly shores and is currently annoying Finland, Sweden and the three Baltic States. However, Xaver or rather the snow and hail he brought us thoroughly messed up St. Nicholas Day before he left for good.
At any rate, I got only two St. Nicholas Day trick or treaters (one was an immigrant kid, which always makes me happy) and am now stuck with 22 Kinder Surprise Eggs. And the eggs don’t keep very long, so there’s no chance of just keeping them for next year. If all else fails, I’ll give the leftovers to my students. Even though they’re in their twenties, they’ll probably still enjoy Kinder Surprise Eggs. Or I’ll hand them out as party favours at the staff Christmas party.
Meanwhile, I ordered a bunch of Christmas presents from Amazon Germany and found an adult colouring book called Colour my Tits (link obviously kind of graphic) in my recommendations. Honestly, I have no words.
Unsurprisingly, the SFF’s genre tempest du jour about Felicity Savage’s problematic article at Amazing Stories continues to rage.
First of all, Amazing Stories editor Steve Davidson offers an explanation and apology of sorts and reaffirms his commitment to diversity and stand against bigotry. Of course, it would help if Amazing Stories would not find itself at the centre of a big genre controversy involving issues of gender, race and diversity every couple of months.
Switching genres, at Dear Author Sunita offers her take on Asian historical romance and the question of authenticity.
Jeannie Lin, who has written some great historical rmances set in Tang dynasty era China, responds on her blog and points out that outsiders writing about a non-western culture, even when done badly, are often more popular than insiders writing about that same culture for an international mass market audience. Privileging mainstream outsider versus minority insider perspectives is of course a very well known problem. And quite often the worse the mainstream representation is (e.g. The Wind-Up Girl and it’s problematic depiction of Thailand), the more highly lauded it is. And I’m not sure what to do about this issue (since I don’t believe you should write only about your own culture, though you should do your research) except pointing out books written by insiders as often as possible.
There have also been a couple of notable deaths in the past few days:
There has been so much written about Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95, that there isn’t much I could add without sounding really trite. Though I find the scrambling (or lack thereof) by those who initially supported the Apartheid regime to praise Mandela now without drawing attention to the fact that his politics were opposite to theirs fascinating in a perverted way. Quote from a messageboard from an American poster: “I was shocked to hear that he was a Communist.” Duh, what did the poster think he was? A supporter of the US Republican Party* or the Tories?
There have also been two writer deaths last week:
Ida Pollock, the oldest working writer in the world who wrote 125 category romances for Mills & Boon, died December 6 aged a stunning 105. Here is a profile of Ms. Pollock as well as a video interview from the Daily Mail, who seem to be under the mistaken impression that she wrote bodicerippers, when it’s kind of obvious that she wrote sweet romances for the more wholesome Mills & Boon lines. Nonetheless, I can only hope that I’ll still be around and writing at the age of 100 plus.
*While on the subject of the Republican Party, I recently found a flyer for a business called “GOP” in my mailbox. Uhm, talk about clueless naming.