Belated Garlic

28 July 2002

I don't stink quite as much as I did. I came home last night reeking of sunblock and garlic. It was a good Garlic Festival. I don't really feel the need to have garlic ice cream again, but the garlic sausage was really impressively garlicky. We kind of had to play Marco Polo with our cell phones to find Amber, since the festival was much, much bigger than we thought.

This is my attempt to make a yummy face at the garlic ice cream. I didn't like it that much, so it came out a good deal more skeptical than yummy.

And here's Amber. She also brought one of her flight attendant friends, but he didn't seem to be the sort of guy you just threw your arm around, screaming, "Smile!", so we have no pictures of him. (Actually, I don't do that to anyone.)

We brought home a pound of garlic, some garlic pistachios, and garlic salsa. And some corn, but that was by the roadside, not at the festival itself. I'm pretty satisfied with our Garlic Festival experience, although I'm not sure I'd go back again next year if we still live here.

Before we drove down to Gilroy (through Moussaoui-reasonable traffic), we went to the local mall. Uff da. Third verse, same as the first. Only worse. Not only could I not find shoes or skirts (or dresses or anything) that I wanted, I couldn't find some of the things that I thought were quick errands. Navy tights. Target had no navy tights. I don't need them until fall, probably, but still. It wasn't that they had none of them in my size. They had none. And some people didn't have much left on their wedding registry that wasn't either tiny or furniture, so we couldn't buy them something cool yet, either. Sigh. Do you know what size Limited thinks I am? Limited thinks I am a size 0 with a size -2 or -4 waist. (And, of course, they don't sell that size combo.) Um, just, no. No, no, no, no, no. I'm really scared, because most of my summer skirts and shorts are at least a few years old, and they're cotton (not polyester, which will last until the end of time), so I have this fear that they will all wear out at once and I will have nothing to wear and no prospects of finding anything and will have to go naked for the rest of my life. I also have this crazy hope that it'll be better in the Upper Midwest, where there are more Scandichicks and thus a better chance of people having similar bones and genes to mine.


On a happier note, My short-short, Instead of Glass Slippers, is up at Rogue Worlds, so go, read, enjoy. It's a short-short, so even if you don't like reading stuff online, it shouldn't be a big problem.

So. Otherwise...I was sitting here, happily reading along in the latest Bluejack entry, and I got to this: "The main thrust of his [China Miéville's] short talk was on the importance of fantastic literature, what it can be, what it should be, what makes it fantastic, how the stagnant body of 'high fantasy' is failing in its duty."

Its duty.

Perhaps you can imagine how well that one went over with me. But guess what? I'm gonna tell you anyway. (Aren't you lucky.)

See, I don't believe high fantasy -- or any particular branch of literature, or, in fact, any art -- has one unified duty. Much less one particular duty that has been revealed to any author working in the field. I believe the first duty of my fiction is to tell an interesting story, and that's one of the criteria on which I judge other people's fiction, too. But. If I don't like a piece of fiction, or a group of pieces of fiction, I don't believe it has failed in its duty. It may have failed to hold me, but no author in any field has an obligation to me, my principles, my preferences, or my beliefs.

I express my opinions on fiction. Of course I do. I write letters to authors and editors when I particularly like something they've published. But I expect that the authors and editors will weigh that opinion with other people's opinions and with their own priorities. I expect that if nobody else likes the books I like, or if they like them for utterly different reasons, I will have a harder and harder time finding things that I like or agree with. I don't think it's anybody's duty to change that, except maybe my own.

If we have a duty to do something in art, we also have a duty not to do something. There are some things that are made off-limits by the very existence of that duty -- not just out of the scope of one author's aims, but something that No Author Should Try because it is Their Duty to do something else. And whether that's a novel-length prose-poem or another huge elfy fantasy, I'm just not willing to tell people that they can't, ever, at all. Or that they should be doing something else. Or that if they can't do something else, they just shouldn't write. I may not want to read a novel-length prose-poem or another huge elfy fantasy, but if that's what gets stuck in your head and wants to get out, hey, good luck to you. I'm not your mommy, I'm not your conscience, and I'm not the Queen High Goddess of Anything Much. I'm not in charge of figuring out your duty for you, along with the (identical) duty of anyone else who might want to try his or her hand at this type of work. And I'm really, really skeptical of anyone who thinks that he is.

Especially when what he claims to be opposed to is stagnation.

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