Monday, January 12, 2015

Lafferty News (Issue 3!)

Okay, it’s unfortunate I haven’t been able to keep up with this more regularly because there have been regular, sometimes weekly, developments.  Here’s what I can remember, starting with the newsworthy item most recent and biggest:

  • Centipede Press have announced the release of Volume 2 of their Lafferty Library:  The Man with the Aura (introduction by Harlan Ellison).

(I gotta say, I like this cover for the second volume a LOT better than the cover for the first.)

Interestingly, they've also announced a second limited run of Volume 1: The Man Who Made Models.  So if you're kicking yourself for not getting it the first time round, you've been granted a second chance:

Says Kevin:
  • Expression of Interest: Saturday, January 31, 2015
  • Content complete: Friday, February 20, 2015
  • Publication: Saturday, March 18, 2015
Email with all your ideas, submissions, stories, daydreams of things you'd love to write about R. A. Lafferty, and even requests.

  • If you didn’t see Andrew’s photos of the Lafferty piece in This Land, you’ll wanna check those out.  I would love to see Lafferty more and more often in contemporary journalistic print like this.

  • Lafferty’s short story ‘What’s the Name of That Town?’ (1964) was mentioned last week on a WNPR news radio program summary:  ‘It's a brilliant story on a number of levels and one of those levels has to do with the impossibility of suppressing historical records.’  (The radio program was about ‘historical deletion’, a theme indeed dear to Lafferty.)

  • It was pretty exciting to see Lafferty’s lesser known story ‘Thieving Bear Planet’ included on the Electric Literature website in an article entitled ‘31 Fairly Obscure Literary Monsters’. (It was a Halloween piece, but I didn’t see it until after I’d posted Issue 2 of Lafferty News in November.)  It was also amusing to see that they used a picture of the ‘Ro-Bear Berbils’ from the Thundercats cartoon.  When I saw the Berbils on an episode of the new Thundercats series a few years ago, I was immediately put in mind of the creatures in Lafferty’s ‘Thieving Bear Planet’.  Seems I’m not the only one!

  • Andrew Ferguson also announced that his article for the scholarly journal Science Fiction Studies went live in November.  This is only the second ever peer-reviewed academic essay on Lafferty, the last one from 1983.  Andrew’s fascinating article is entitled ‘R.A. Lafferty's Escape from Flatland; or, How to Build a World in Three Easy Steps’ and draws on the work of Paul Ricoeur.  I’ll do a full review of it at a later point.

  • Andrew himself made Lafferty news by being included in the ‘Bright Young Collectors’ series in Fine Books Magazine for his extensive Lafferty collection, one to make the rest of us drool and contemplate burglary.  Mr. Ferguson even came out from behind the scholarly curtain to allow a fine photo portrait of his person to go public.

andrew ferguson photo.jpg

  • It’s worth noting that the indefatigible and skilled Rich Persaud is always updating and innovating the website in a number of ways.  My favourite and most-used aspect of late is that now the title of every single published Lafferty story is listed in chronology of first publication, with the ability for anyone to comment on each story - a function I have availed myself of several times now and urge the rest of you to go and do likewise.  This is a very easy and permanent way for the Lafferty community to really get busy with the joy of discussing his works.  Every type of comment is welcome and appropriate, from simple exclamations of ‘this is one of my faves!’ or ‘I never liked this one’ to more in-depth commentary and analysis.

There is also a page that lists Lafferty’s own favourite stories, at least the ones he mentioned were personal favourites in interviews - with a few quotes from the man himself about this.  Very intriguing.  There’s a page devoted to listing out the books that Lafferty was known to have possessed in his personal library, usually with a comment or two from Lafferty about each book.  This is updated at intervals when new information on the matter is obtained.  And there’s a page with a working timeline of Lafferty’s life.  And there’s more, but you must explore!

  • In my own personal Lafferty-related news, I’m happy to report that I’ve received an offer from the University of Glasgow to start a PhD on Lafferty this October.  It will develop the topic of the Honours Dissertation that I’m writing this semester on the ‘ecomonstrous’ aesthetic in Lafferty and Cormac McCarthy.  Now to find some funding!  If any of you know of some Lafferty Studies scholarship that I’ve somehow overlooked, please let me know!  I’m sure they’d be happy to fund the first-ever doctoral thesis on Lafferty, right?

There have also been a number of Lafferty book and story reviews on various blogs in the past few months as well, but I’m going to do a separate blog post on those.  Please let me know of any news I missed!  (I’ll try to do these more frequently so they won’t end up as long and involved as this one.)


trawlerman said...

The Berbils! Again with the Thundercats! :-)

Excellent news post.

Congratulations on the PhD path. It is exciting to see you get to work on something you so obviously love. May it always be so! We all eagerly await your thesis and will read it like any other page-turner thriller when it finally arrives!

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

Thanks, John! It will indeed be a labour of love. I'm sure they're going to put me through my paces, but Lafferty deserves to have high-standard scholarship.

'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)