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Stay on Valencia Street, GW Metanovel

Sylvia and I were up in SF this week, staying at the Hotel Tropicana on Valencia Street in the Mission. It was cheap and clean, though the service is kind of vague, as are the rates. Great to wake up here every day. And convenient to try living in the middle of the novel I'm writing.

I like this neighborhood a lot, it’s what North Beach was in the 40s and the Haight was in the 70s. Great murals here and there, like the Women’s Building.

Dread Lord of Cyberpunk Richard Kadrey came to our room and let me photograph his tatts.

An art gallery had a picture of those same two twins I always see in Union Square, looking raucous in this environment.

On the sidewalk I saw, like a message from the cosmos, the affirmation of an SF story I’m working on with Terry Bisson. More shall be revealed…

X21 is the greatest upscale junkstore ever. Statue of Mr. Peanut who used to scare the sh*t out of me as a boy. That imperious, rapping cane.

Rainy day after rainy day. We passed some time in the Dolores Mission.

Hit the greenhouse in the park, admiring the water lilies.

We saw something seriously gnarly in the Tibet section of the Asian Art Museum: trumpets made of human thigh bones, and a ewer made of a pair of skull caps.

Sunnier denizens of museum included Parvati and Ganesh.

I hit the Tartine Bakery on Guerrero at 18 St. once or twice a day. One day I picked up an ingot of lemon meringue cake to take to Paul Mavrides’s house.

A reverent silence as the initial incision is made.

Paul has this amazing collection of plastic toys, a veritable Bosch-hell of them, click here to see a bigger image. He also has a large collection of toys like this that he’s doctored in various surreal and dada ways, but those images are classified for now.

{Begin novel excerpt}

Bouncy Linda Loca was working on a metanovel entitled George Washington, depicting the world as seen from the point of view of a dollar bill; Linda had gotten the idea from an exercise she’d been assigned in a high-school writing class. What lent her work its piquancy was how literally she’d managed to execute the plan: perusing George Washington, you felt flat and crinkly, you spent most of your time in a wallet or folded in a pocket, and when you came out into the air the main thing you saw was counter-tops and people’s hands. The beezies had worked their magic by providing Linda with extensive records of real, orphid-meshed bills. Of course the user could rapidly scroll past the dull patches, but it gave the work heft and seriousness to have them there. When, once in a great while, Linda’s happy dollar changed hands, the bill did a good job at moving the story along, buying drinks, influence, or sex, and thereby sketching out the rise and fall of a young cop whom Linda had playfully named George Washington as well. Young officer Washington became corrupted due to his sexual attraction for a promiscuous older woman named Donna, who talked him into executing a hit on her landlord, who turned out to be George’s biological father, this fact being unknown to George until too late.

For a time, Linda had blowback issues with her George Washington character because, to round him out, she’d made him an aspiring writer. Problem was, he began pestering Linda with messages about the metanovel –— dumb suggestions, by and large, for the George Washington character George Washington was, after all, only a beezie simulation of a human, and not a true artist. He failed to grasp, for instance, the dark, claustrophobic beauty of such scenes as four hours consisting of the slow shifting of the dollar within a felt-applique wallet stuffed into the tight pocket of Donna’s jeans as she trolled up and down Mission Street, or that the invigorating convex pressure of the virtual Washington’s butt-cheek upon the walleted dollar during a full day’s stint as witness in courtroom hearings might be more interesting to Linda Loca than a transcription of what virtual George told a virtual judge. Weary of arguing with virtual George, Linda edited out his love of writing, and made him a bowler instead; and just to show who was boss, she patched in ten hours of bowling-ball-point-of-view.

{End novel excerpt}

4 Responses to “Stay on Valencia Street, GW Metanovel”

  1. greg r Says:

    if you don’t already know, michelle tea wrote a beat novel ‘valencia’ a few years back. haven’t read it, but it is about being a drunk, stoned lesbian writer in the mission. the mission is nice. the people at Borderlands say positive things about you and had ‘lifebox’ in the window. i’m over the hill in bernal. peace

  2. hthtfhfcghjg Says:

    I’m getting more and more the feeling that this novel is going to be utterly irrelevant. Hey Rudi, your country has declared war on the world! The Neo-Nazis have taken over and already destroyed one country! And you write novels about candy in cyberspace? Sorry man your novels were always good but they also dropped in relevance over time.

  3. Rudy Says:

    I’ve never gone for hthtfhfcghjg’s argument that fiction should be about current events.
    “We don’t have time for art, times are too dire.” Anti-intellectual pinhead have said that in every time. Should Bruegel have done his paintings, or should he have been going to meetings to evict the Spanish troops? Should Jack Kerouac have written ON THE ROAD, or should he have been demnonstrating against the Bomb?
    In any case, as it happens, MATHEMATICIANS IN LOVE has a major plot element involving the overthrow of a stupid and criminal president who has stolen an election. And in POSTSINGULAR an evil president is convicted of treason and put to death.
    Being political alone isn’t enough to carry a novel, though. If you want the novel to be read, you need things like plot, interesting characters, good language, and ideas.

  4. Steve H Says:

    Yeah, ’cause writing science fiction is all about being relevant. Like, um, DUNE was popular back when everybody was into, like, ecology and stuff.
    Har. Write ’em your own way, and tend your own garden; is that relevant enough?
    Maybe this novel will be the next STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and everyone will grok it. Or maybe you’ll just enjoy the hell out of writing it and get paid for the pleasure.
    Maybe it will be so grim soon that we all end up writing humorless crap about fighting to defend our rights and taking back our country. POSTSINGULAR sounds like more fun.
    – Steve H, Defender of Liberty and Justice and the A-Merican Way

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