Whiz-bang pulp exuberance + witty, inventive style + just the right amount of psychological depth and moral/political seriousness = 👍👍👍.
The Sometime Seminar discusses the midcentury science-fiction stories of Cordwainer Smith, the best of which are selected — along with the novel Norstrilia — in We the Underpeople. (Many other collections of Smith’s work are available.)
What’s so scary about trees, shrubs and untamed landscapes? How come so many turn-of-the-20th-century weird fiction writers were reactionary bigots? And why are they now being summoned from the crypts of genre history and niche publication to walk the earth in the likeness of Penguin Classics?
The Sometime Seminar discusses Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories, a collection of short fiction by Algernon Blackwood.
Emotional intensity: plenty. Haunting and evocative symbolist/surrealist imagery: in spades. Conceptual organization of the footnotable, explicatable variety: who needs it?
The Sometime Seminar discusses Concerning the Angels (Sobre los angeles, 1929), a book of poems by the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti.
Tormented interiority squares off against dumb luck, in prose as sparkling as the stream of consciousness is muddy. The Sometime Seminar discusses Omensetter’s Luck (1966), William Gass’s first novel.
It’s the end of the world as we know it! It’s the end of good writing as even the 1820s knew it! But we feel fine: it’s the beginning of science fiction. The Sometime Seminar discusses The Last Man (1826), a lesser-known apocalyptic novel by Mary Shelley.
Your favorite troubled quasi-messiah returns, with all the philosophical conversation and enigmatic meta-allegory you can handle…and a grisly murder subplot, too! Featuring special surprise guests from literature and history.
The Sometime Seminar discusses J.M. Coetzee’s The Schooldays of Jesus, the sequel to The Childhood of Jesus (previously on The Sometime Seminar).
Modernist novel meets mystical treatise, psychological self-investigation meets self-annihilating via negativa, smashed cockroach meets tongue.
The Sometime Seminar discusses The Passion According to G.H. (Portuguese 1964/English 1988, 2012) by Clarice Lispector.
The Sometime Seminar
engages in an extended conversation concerning talks at some length about discusses Correction (1975/English 1979) by Thomas Bernhard.
How does a primitivist power fantasy become the kernel of a fleshed-out fictional world? How do you write an interesting story about an invulnerable hero? (Hint: giant snakes.) And when a pulp classic gets the full authorial-originalist textual-editing treatment, is the work honored or just entombed?
The Sometime Seminar discusses The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (2003), which along with The Bloody Crown of Conan (2004) and The Conquering Sword of Conan (2005) collects all of the Conan stories written by Robert E. Howard in the early-to-mid-1930s in the order of their composition. (The editorial history of post-Howard Conan stories and books is quite complicated.)
If you cram enough occasional criticism into a volume, will an aesthetic theory emerge? How far can you go as a critic with a gift for attention, a way with adjectives, a love of unsubordinated details and a healthy contempt for self-inflation? (Pretty far, it turns out!)
The Sometime Seminar discusses the film criticism of Manny Farber (1940s–1980s), collected in Farber on Film (2009).