Privileged to read an advance draft of Martha Conway‘s stunning new novel, Thieving Forest, I was thrilled to attend her book launch party in San Francisco over the weekend.
Besides the great spread of victuals and lovely wine (a champagne, a chablis, and a pinot noir) at the sadly now-closed Beast & the Hare, we also enjoyed hearing Conway read an excerpt from the novel, which she preceded with an anecdote about a fascinating memoir she read of a Spanish explorer who became lost and more or less went native in North America before being recovered, almost unrecognized, by his own people.
She explained how this led her to the original ideas for the novel, which tells the story of young women – one a settler, the other a native – lost in the Ohio woods in search of four siblings of the settler taken by Potawatomi Indians.
Here’s my Amazon review of the book, which I am re-reading now in its fine print edition:
As soon as I started reading this fascinating novel I was fully engrossed and in some ways as out of my depth as the main characters. My preconceived notions of how such a story might unfold (informed most likely by Leatherstocking tales and Laura Ingalls Wilder and perhaps the more recent Whiskey Rebellion) constantly failed me as Conway kept me up late with a night light eager to learn how everything would turn out.There is an immersive quality to great writing that beats any Hollywood effects-laden costume drama. Thieving Forest draws you into a fully realized world, one that is alien in many ways and yet somehow easy to relate to, and at times perhaps hints at why some things still are the way they are for us in this world today.A+++++ WOULD READ AGAIN !!!!
I first met Jurgen Fauth in rec.music.gdead on Usenet and found in him a fellow literary adventurer, who eventually contributed to Enterzone, and with whom I’ve kept in touch over the years. We may even have attended a Phish concert together at some point.
More recently, Jurgen has been building an amazing story sharing site called Fictionaut. To me, Fictionaut represents what Enterzone sort of dreamed of being: a community-driven rethinking of literary and creative publishing. (We also delved into interactive and programmatic art and other things too, but at least on the fiction tip, this is exactly what we were hoping would come about some day). So, I was greatly flattered and honored when Jurgen asked me to join the board of advisors for Fictionaut. We’ve had some good conversations about the social aspects of the site and how to evolve the interface and the experience to take the whole thing to the next level.
Along the way, I kept meaning to post a story to Fictionaut, if only to play with the UI and give Jurgen better feedback, but also of course to participate in the community and even tentatively begin re-exploring my quasi-dormant fiction-writer persona. I haven’t been cranking out a lot of stories lately. I blame work! but I did extract an excerpt from a semi-finished memoir a couple of years back to read at Wilmot’s in Alameda and I felt that people enjoyed the story, so today I finally got around to posting the story, and I’ll include a link to it in the following post on this blog.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading or writing short stories (and poems and other literary forms), you really should check out Fictionaut.