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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:12 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:43 pm
Posts: 143
Thanks, David!

Ever since, I've been looking for an opportunity to use the word myself - I've come to rather like it - but unfortunately it doesn't slip in very naturally in my everyday life. My life is too mimetic, that's the prob ...


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 2:44 pm 
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One of the interesting things about being reviewed in depth - as I’ve been, really for the first time, with So Far, So Near - is seeing the odd things that reviewers pick up on. Odd to the author, I mean. All the reviews for this book, without exception, have been generous and thoughtful - I couldn't have been much luckier. Even so, some of the things people said amazed me.

One reviewer spent quite a lot of time discussing what my metaphors meant. Fascinating, not least because I don’t really use metaphor. I just come up with a daft idea, a “What If?”, and write it up ... that’s about the limit of my literary technique. So that when I’ve got a cat killing people inside a telly, that’s exactly what it is: an actual TV, with an actual cat inside it. It may be silly, but it’s definitely concrete. But this bloke was full of lines like “What Coward intends to tell us here is ... ” and I was thinking “No I nevah!” But of course, the onlooker sees more of the game, so perhaps writers shouldn't argue with reviewers, even silently.

It’s all made me think somewhat about my own reviewing; how many times have I confidently informed my readers what such-and-such an author “means to say”?

One little thing I’ve got to argue with, though, because it isn't about me - it’s about history - and one of the most rewritten histories in the history of history, at that.
Jim Steel, in his very nice review of my book in Interzone 210, which I’ve only just got round to reading properly, writes the following:

“The narrator [of one of the stories] is driving a CIA agent around seventies’ Britain. In a disingenuous piece of authorial hindsight, the agent states that Russia will lose the cold war to the USA because having the Second World War fought over its territory has economically disadvantaged it. The differing pre-war economic policies of Stalin and Roosevelt might also have had a long-term effect, methinks.”

I have to argue with that, on two counts.

1) World War Two was fought in the USSR. Four fifths of the war’s casualties fell on the Eastern Front. 26 million Soviet citizens died. Entire villages, towns and cities, and vast areas of farmland, were laid waste. Industry and agriculture - along with every trade and profession - were decimated or worse.

WW2 was not fought in the USA. No US property was damaged by enemy action. Very few US citizens - in comparative and absolute terms - died (which does not of course lessen the contribution of those who did die, or the sadness of those bereaved; we are talking about cold economics here). One country suffered an unprecedented holocaust; the other didn’t suffer a scratch.

Before WW2 had ended, the Cold War had begun. To put it simply: in a capitalist economy, an arms race is good thing - it leads to more jobs, more profit and more demand. In a planned economy, an arms race is a bad thing - it soaks up resources which (in the case of the post-War USSR) could otherwise be used for rebuilding.

Obviously, many things (external and internal) led to the eventual overthrow of the Soviet Union, but to suggest that “differing pre-war economic policies” could make any serious difference, measured against the above, is simply anti-historical.

2) There is no “authorial hindsight” involved. There is, indeed, no hindsight of any sort, authorial or otherwise. The policy of bankrupting the USSR through the arms race was openly discussed from the late 1970s (to my knowledge; it could have been earlier, for all I know). Therefore, the idea that a CIA agent might have known about it in the early 70s is hardly far-fetched. Specifically, the character is referring to the vast sums of money spent by both sides during the Cold War on paranormal and parascientific research. It is now openly acknowledged that one of the reasons - if not the main reason - for such patently idiotic projects being approved was that “If we spend ten million investigating psychic bombs, then the other side has got to spend even more to catch up.”

Apart from that, Jim seemed to enjoy the book - and I certainly enjoyed being reviewed by someone who had read the book so closely, and so thoughtfully.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:13 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:43 pm
Posts: 143
I’m currently putting together a second collection of my crime short stories, provisionally entitled “You Can Jump and Other Stories.” It will include, in my opinion, almost all of my best crime fiction, and certainly almost all of my most-praised crime stories. I haven’t yet started looking for, or even thinking about looking for, a publisher for it, but if anyone’s interested in publishing it - let me know.

The stories I plan to include are:
The Hampstead Vegetable Heist; Where The Cat Came In; Nice People; Nice Place; So Where've You Buried The Missus Then, Paddy?; Reason To Believe; And What Can They Show, Or What Reasons Give?; You Can Jump; Back To The Land; Too Hot To Die; If All Is Dark; Persons Reported; The Hope Of The World; One Hand One Bounce; Jizz; Three Nil; The Dog’s Route ...

... or more, or less, depending on space.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:14 pm
Posts: 1501
Location: Interzone
MatC wrote:
You Can Jump


Best story ever written. :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:29 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:43 pm
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So Far, So Near is now available as an e-book:

http://www.fictionwise.com/eBooks/eBook66375.htm?cache


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:07 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:43 pm
Posts: 143
Thanks to the boundlessly enterprising Elastic Press, “So far, so near” is now available as an audio-book download, produced by Action Audio. This is my first audio-book, so I’m rather excited about it. You can find it here: www.audible.co.uk (just type “Mat Coward” in the search box). It costs £9-99, or £7-99 for members of Audible.


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