Friday, October 26, 2012

Of Ghoulies and Janis Ian


From Ghoulies and Ghosties, Long-Leggitie Beasties . . . 
(Part 32)

We give shape to the fears you dare not face. 

(Continued tomorrow.)

And my commentary . . .

Also true.  This is why, with familiarity, monsters like Dracula and Cthulhu become lovable (can Cthulhu Crunch breakfast cereal be far away?), while death and an empty, meaningless universe do not.

Halloween is coming fast!  And so is the end of the story.  Don't forget that the typescript, framed and suitable for hanging on your wall, goes up on auction afterwards.  Tell any collectors you may know.  Because if it goes for a pittance, it might as well go for a pittance to somebody you like.

You can read all of the story to date here.

And last night . . . 

Marianne and I went to the Sellersville Theater last night, to see our friend Janis Ian in concert.  I like Janis personally, and I value our friendship.  But I have one small, special connection with her that I don't have with most of my friends -- she gave me a story.

Several years ago, Janis edited Stars, an anthology of science fiction stories based on her songs.  I was invited to participate and knew immediately which song I wanted to use.  When she wrote it, Janis thought she was writing about Mary Black.  But anybody with any Irish in them at all will recognize her Mary as an incarnation of Deirdre of the Sorrows, who is in turn the great symbol of the Irish soul.  There are very few songs that can make me cry, and they're all about the Irish experience.  This is one of them.

Not bad for a Jewish kid from New Jersey.

As it turned out, I didn't make the anthology.  The story was too intensely personal and too difficult to find for that.  But the years passed and the story at last came of age and I was so intensely pleased with how it came out that I took Janis's lines "We are ships without a harbor/We are sailors on dry land" and put them, slightly altered, into the mind of someone who's leaving Earth never to return -- a damaged man and a failure, but sustained by just enough hope to keep on going.

Those words are hers forever.  But now an echo of them is mine.

Oh, and . . . 

I learned last night that the audiobook version of Society's Child, Janis Ian's autobiography, is up for a Grammy.  I read the text version and was immensely happy with it.  Janis really can write and, yes, she did have an extremely varied and interesting life.

I haven't yet heard the audio version but I will, because Janis mentioned that in it she not only does all the narration but also sings the songs that the printed book could only quote.  So this may be that rarest of literary animals, the audiobook that's better than the original.  I'll find out soon.


1 comment:

Janis Ian said...

Ah Michael, that is too sweet - thank you! And the story you DID write is absolutely wonderful.
Funnily enough, my own wife Pat said as soon as she heard Mary's Eyes "Wow. What a wonderful tribute to every woman in Ireland."
I take no credit for what you suggest as the real subject. As my beloved Stella Adler used to say, "Writers are born knowing." I think her unvoiced subtext was probably "Pity none of them realize it..."

With a big hug,
Janis Ian