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Department of Miserable Vacuity
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I spent five hours at the DMV today. Got there at 9:30, walked out the door at 2:45. Cursed, evil DMV. All this to renew my driver's license -- they were understaffed because of budget cuts, they say, and had only four people working the windows. So I sat a lot. I finished reading the last hundred and fifty pages of one book and didn't have a new book to start. I did, fortunately, have a couple of magazines and chapbooks in my bag, so I didn't go absolutely crazy. About three hours into the ordeal-of-waiting I took a walk in the rain to a little coffee shop where all the patrons spoke some language with which I was unfamiliar; it was something African, I think. I got a cup of coffee and sat outside and listened to rain plunk down on the plastic roof. I picked up one of the free weekly papers, because by then I'd read everything in my bookbag. The paper got me through another twenty minutes. The rest of the time, I wrote in my little moleskine, working away on the Frog novel. Finally, at 2:30, they called my number, and I renewed my driver's license, which took all of fifteen minutes, most of which was spent standing in another line to have my picture taken. I should've gotten an appointment. People who had appointments only had to wait about three hours past their scheduled time. But when I was looking for appointments a couple of days ago, the only ones available were two weeks away, which is too long to be driver's license-less... Still, it could have been worse. Most of the people waiting in there (and there were well over a hundred) didn't even have anything to read. Plenty of them were yapping on their cell phones, though, complaining endlessly about the long wait. Sort of like I'm doing now, only verbally, and in realtime.

In other news... I have a reprint online now at Ultraverse, "Angel of the Ordinary". It's the second story I ever had published, way back in 1999 in Jackhammer. It's the oldest thing I've written that I still like, and though the story has a lot of stylistic awkwardness, there's some nice stuff there, too. It's set in the trailer park where I spent part of my childhood, Twin Oaks, right off highway 13 in Dudley, NC.

I got my first rejection of the new year, from Realms of Fantasy, and the note from the editor is amusing enough to share: "Hi Tim -- I was enjoying this, and then the acid wore off! Seriously, it's nice, but not right for RoF" So it goes. She has another story of mine, that I sent a couple of weeks after this one, so maybe I'll hear back about it soon.

A couple of reviews of my work have appeared at Tangent Online, the relevant bits of which I shall quote here. Sherwood Smith says:

"Romanticore," by Tim Pratt, is a tale of love, desire, possession and loss, told in a wonderful voice. Pratt is aware of all the clichés that he might fall into, and doesn’t just avoid them, he plays with them before he rips them apart and gives them new shape, usually as a tight and skillful transition. Here are a couple of typical ones: "I drained my beer and looked into the smudged-up mirror behind the bar. (No, I’m not gonna take this staring-in-the-mirror-moment opportunity to describe my face. . . .)"

And this one: "Was Lily just a rebound? Shit, in my vocabulary, the only thing 'rebound' means is the bounce off a backboard in basketball. I’ve been going from woman to woman my whole life; it’s less a rebound and more like a skipped stone, or chain-smoking." Last: "I can’t decide if all this is boring or not, if you care about the good times, or if you’re just waiting for the monsters to start jumping out of the closet. . . ." A good yarn, made excellent not just by Pratt’s masterly narrative voice, but by his insight into human emotion and motivation.

And Steven H. Silver says:

Tim Pratt’s "Down with the Lizards and the Bees" is one of the strongest stories in this issue of Realms of Fantasy, a reworking of the story of Orpheus in the underworld, this time with two travelers going to retrieve their lost loves. B, the protagonist and narrator, is looking for his lover, lost six years earlier to drugs, while Jay is looking for his girlfriend who died following a bee sting. The story is told in a matter of fact manner which shouldn’t work, but does, as Jay and B both face choices once they arrive in the underworld.

(I'll just note that I think the story works at least partly because of the narrator's matter-of-fact manner.)

That's all for now. More later, dear ones.

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