My beloved Mark Forsyth noted last January that he has two tsundoku (“a pile of books you’ve bought and haven’t got round to reading yet”).

I have something like that.

First, I have The Pile of Books I’ve Read, But Want to Review Before Returning to the Library:


Then, the Pile of Shavian Poetry (thankfully Luci’s, not George Bernard’s):


Then, the Pile of Apple Books – i.e., the books I took one bite of, and then put down to take a bite of something else.  If I’m not careful I shall have to make a bucket of applesauce.  So to speak.


All that said, since I took these pictures, I’ve managed to remove a couple books from each pile.  Hurrah!

What’s in your tsundoku?

Review: Hint Fiction

During my vacation last week, I read Hint Fiction, Robert Swartwood’s collection of ficlets.  All sorts of authors contributed to it, each writing a particular sort of story: a composition of 25 words, or fewer, which does not simply tell a story but hints at a larger picture.

For example, the very first: Joe Lansdale’s “The Return.”

They buried him deep.  Again.

5 words that imply a man or masculine creature, one who apparently died and certainly was buried, who was buried deep the first time but nonetheless was exhumed (or dug his own way out), and who They, once again, buried…for all the good it will do, which may not be much.  A brief respite?  A century of rest?  We don’t know!  But we’Hint Fictionre left to imagine it.

It’s a strong entry to lead the anthology.  That sort of compression, almost a prose poem, takes a lot of thought and the ability to sift the wheat from the chaff.

Unfortunately, for every hint that grabbed me, making me pause to ruminate on the larger picture implied by it, there were four that let me pass on by.  Fortunately, in a book of 125 hint-fics, that’s 25 stories that left some impression.  The finer specimens make the most of their title, or use allusions to other stories (Penelope, “Not Waving But Drowning,” Shark Week) as a shortcut.

In the interest of moderating my judgment, I tried writing a few; to try and focus my thoughts, these hint fics are summaries of longer books I’ve read somewhat recently, though that’s not necessarily the best method to achieve this sort of iceberg-writing.

Where dreams come true, so do nightmares.

Suffering the rough buffs away our raggedness until we shine. 

Curiosity, puzzle-solving, and loving the 1980s enough could make you a billionaire.  Bonus girlfriend, if the evil corporation doesn’t kill you first.

They shared what beauty they could find like war rations, to multiplicative effect.  Friendship does not destroy death, but it does discourage suicide.

I wouldn’t call Hint Fiction a must-read, and I certainly wouldn’t call it a must-buy.  But it’s a fun read, and beneficial to writers who don’t otherwise weigh out their words.  Certainly these droplets of story prove that a lot of horror fits in a small space; it’s harder to fit a great deal of glory into that same small space.


Taking Up Arms and Velcro

My favorite Tolkien artist has been doing a lot of lovely work lately, which has inspired several Maedhros fangirl rambles to my friends (thanks for humoring me, really!).  Which in turn reminded me of a silly thing my friends and I put together spring break freshman year.  We planned a convention for the maimed heroes of fiction (including a number of our own original characters), complete with seminar speakers, workshops, and guest list.  I bring it to you now, for your entertainment and edification.

I’ve left the list just as it was.  It’s fairly hilarious.  For example, I highly doubt some of these people would take kindly to being labeled cripples–what were we thinking?  (Those are also probably all the same people who’ve overcome their physical limitations, and thus are not anyone you want to be offending…)  Also, a note on velcro: we figure it would be a convenient replacement for laces, zippers, buttons, clasps, and all those other fastenings you just can’t manage with one hand.  However, the distinctive *scrrrrrrrrrrtch* sound it makes probably does kill all credibility and awesomeness of image when you walk into the tavern and remove your cloak.  Yeah, we’re a bit disturbed.

The Maimed Hero’s Summit

List of Attendees



Eleanor Robinson

The Wind-witch





Llew Silverhand

Luke Skywalker

Lord Blakeney


Prince Barrick of Shadowmarch

Benedict (Amber)


Kellen Firkin

Captain Ahab

Mad-Eye Moody


Reggie Fenyx



Marcus Flavius Aquila




Mr. Rochester—blind, missing an arm

Edward Elric—right arm, left leg

Darth Vader—both arms, both legs, various

Lavinia—tongue, hands



Paul Atreides



Martine Desroubins

Matt Murdock

Jim Dunbar

Marque Skyeyes

Susie Hendrix



Roy Mustang

Fai D. Flourite

Hatori Sohma

Corwin of Amber (temporarily)

Other—Psychological Trauma/Cool Scars/Etc.

The Phantom of the Opera—scarred face

Firesong—scarred face/arm

Lt. Pullings—scar across face

Brennon Caldwell—psychological trauma

Valian—star-shaped scar

Inigo Montoya—scars on face

Archibald Craven—hunchback



Prepare to Die!—Planning Your Perfect Revenge: Inigo Montoya

Living Limbless  Q & A Session

Accepting Your Loss and Moving Onward: Llew Silverhand

Madness and You—A Simple Guide: When and How: Barrick of Shadowmarch

Coping with Blindness

It’s Closer than You Think—Adjusting to Reduced Depth Perception

Pain Management—10 Tricks of Highly Stoic People


Taking Up Arms (Prosthetics Fitting)

Left-handed Sword Technique: Maedhros

Fighting Blind

Physical Therapy—Just because it’s gone doesn’t mean it can’t atrophy!


Velcro Booth

Cool Scars Contest