Of Solids and Surds: Notes for Noël Sturgeon, Marilyn Hacker, Josh Lukin, MIA Wolff, Bill Stribling, and Bob White

Samuel R. Delany. Yale Univ, $18 (168p) ISBN 978-0-300-25040-4
The latest entry in Yale’s “Why I Write” series provides a fascinating glimpse into the creative life of novelist and critic Delany (Dark Reflections). While he is fond of Samuel Johnson’s saying that “no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money,” payment is only one of the 68 reasons Delany gives here for his craft. Other reasons: because he loves to play with language, and because it “was fun” (past tense intentional, he notes). He also writes as a way to “tell the truth.” The explicit sex in The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals, for example, was written as a kind of duty in light of the AIDS crisis: “To indulge in a general mystification... was tantamount to encouraging murder.” Along the way, he dispenses wisdom about craft—including the demanding revision process his dyslexia requires—but most moving are the moments when he sheds light on connections he has made with others readers and writers. (One anecdote recounts an off-the-cuff conversation he had with a sanitation worker who recognized him and loved his work.) Delany’s fans are in for a treat. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/22/2021
Release date: 09/14/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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