Hi, it’s been nearly 4 hours. Would you like some more news about me, Daryl? Put on your best James Earl Jones voice and say it along with me: This is… DNN.
I’m trying to figure out what part of The Devil’s Alphabet to read at the Barnes & Noble signing this Friday. I don’t think it should be the scene where the main character helps three thugs drain pus out of his father. I’m just saying. If you’re curious to hear how this turns out, and you’re anywhere in central PA, please stop by — 6:30 Friday night.
Meanwhile, some reviews of TDA have been coming out. About a week ago Locus featured an interview with my friend Charlie Finlay, also known as Charles Coleman Finlay (to readers of his short stories), C.C. Finlay (to readers of his secret history of the Revolutionary War, with witches, known as the Traitor to the Crown trilogy), and Cuddles Finlay (to me, when I was feeling cold and alone one night at his Blue Heaven workshop). I really liked hearing why he chose a secret history over an alternate history for his books, and how Tim Powers influenced him. I can see it now, but I completely missed it when I read the books!.
Anyway, also in that issue of Locus is a review of my book, by Faren Miller. I found it interesting that she highlighted how much of a regional book this was. I liked this bit at the end:
Graduate thesis writers could probably find rich material for investigations of its allegorical nature, since the clades can be seen as exaggerations of various southern types: long, lean hillbillies; religious sects whose obedient women devote themselves to childbearing; and gluttons unacquainted with the concept of healthy food.
But Gregory doesn’t limit himself to parody, and major characters among the Changed can seem very real in both their memories of lost humanity and adaptation to their new conditions… Events in Switchcreek may also have wider implications for human evolution and the fate of the Earth itself, making this as much an innovative work of science fiction as it is an extraordinary exercise in regional literature, tinged with medical horrors.
And that pretty much says it.
Pretty much. Thanks to Google Alerts, I’ve been able to hear of a bunch of other reviews as they’ve come out:
Kel Munger of the Sacramento News and Review picked The Devil’s Alphabet as one of his top five fiction books (all genres) for 2009.
BW Fenlon, over at the Missions Unknown blog (staffed by various Texans of San Antonio, one of whom is a friend of mine, John Picacio) wrote a review of TDA. He works at a San Antonio bookstore, and says, “It was the cover of The Devil’s Alphabet that initially drew my attention with its gloriously creepy upside-down eyes staring back at me every time I walked by.” I definitely get a binary response on that cover. Some people, especially editors and booksellers, think it works. And some people really, really hate it. Even Mr. Fenlon, who liked the contents of the book, by the end of the review sounds a bit ambivalent about the cover: “One question I do know the answer to: I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more stories from Daryl Gregory, upside-down eyes or not.”
Ryan on the Battle Hymns blog recently wrote a nice (in both senses) review of Pandemonium.
The Barnes & Noble Online F&SF Book Club featured a two-person discussion on The Devil’s Alphabet. Okay, only two people, but I was happy to hear Paul and Ryan’s thoughts on the book. Thanks, guys.
Several nice reviews have showed up on Amazon.com from Moses Siregar (Moses stops by here a lot– hi Moses, thanks for posting that), Amanda Mitchell of SacramentoBookReview.com, and Amy Gwiazdowski of BookReporter.com (who really disliked the main character, but liked the book).
And on the GoodReads site, GoogleAlerts scooped up this review by someone named “Ellen”– who turned out to be the editor Ellen Datlow! She gave it 4/5 stars and said, “My only complaint is that I thought it was going to be darker than it is and so I don’t feel comfortable including it in Best Horror. (sniff)” My next assignment: Write something really dark for Ellen. Maybe I can finish it before I see her at the KGB Reading Series in NYC next month.
(You see how I slid that in there, mentioning again how I’m going to be reading at KGB? That, my friends, is the equivalent of a text crawl at the bottom of the screen. Next up: DNN Headline News.)