alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


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As funny as a….woman?

Just read Tayari’s link to the Jezebel post about the NYT article. Women writers aren’t funny! Just off the top of my head:

  • Florence King. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady. Made me laugh until I was stupid.
  • Dodie Smith. I Capture the Castle. A gentler humor, but seriously funny.
  • I’d even argue that a lot of The Country Girls trilogy by Edan O’Brien is comedy.
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the 1925 Anita Loos novel, not the 1953 Marilyn Monroe vehicle.
  • The Egg and I, by Betty MacDonald. OK, so it’s a memoir, not a novel. Still.
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary. Chick-lit? Sure. Spawner of a thousand pink-covered saccharine imitations and responsible for the current plague of clumsy heroines? Guilty. Funny? Definitely.

And I don’t even have my bookshelf in front of me.

Of course, Tayari asked for funny women of color, and that’s, sadly, a lot harder.


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Countdown to Scotland

The last time I was in Scotland was more than 10 years ago, struggling my way against the crowds up Market St. in Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve while the Bay City Rollers played “Saturday Night.” This time I’m off to Glasgow and Remote Parts West.

In honor of my trip, I’ve been watching Scottish television, and now present a list of Scottish reading:

  • Denise Mina – Garenthill & Exile. Excellent, brutal, mysteries set in shitty parts of Edinbrugh with protagonist probably more messed-up than the actual killer. Mina has written other books but, frankly, I’ve been too scared to read them.
  • Lanark, by Alasdair Gray. Yeah, I read it, but maybe I’m not Scottish enough; I liked the idea of it much more than the experience. Others feel differently.
  • Ian Rankin. #1 author of Tartan Noir. I haven’t actually read any, to my shame. I can’t believe that the 1st Inspector Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, is out-of-print in the US. What is that about?
  • Heart of Midlothian, by Sir Walter Scott. There really is a Heart of Midlothian in Edinburgh, set into the pavement along the Royal Mile. Everytime I walked by, it was covered by gobs of spit.
  • Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh. Yeah, I know. But the first time I saw the movie, I was blown away, and went out looking for the book on the trip home from the theater. Say what you will about Welsh, I think (if my memory is accurate) that this one book was pretty amazing. Maybe it was a fluke, but I’d be happy to write a fluke like that.
  • Muriel Spark: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Driver’s Seat. I admire Spark tremendously. Half the time I’m not sure what’s going on, which is probably why I admire her; I know she’s smarter than me. Her novels have a sly, manicured composure that seems out of fashion these days, and I’ll admit, there’s something retro about my enjoyment of her work–it’s cool and encapsulated and ever so slightly untouchable, like running my fingers over an immaculate 1962 issue of Woman’s Weekly, shrinkwrapped since publication and preserved from the ravages of time, hip-hop, chav girls, and spider poo.


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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Chicago skyline from 31st beach

Chicago skyline from 31st beach

I went to Chicago last weekend. This is one of the things happening in September that is keeping me from writing.

I have been squashing the lazy shirking feeling and have been telling myself that not writing for a month is actually A Good Thing. Not writing means that the little trolls or fairies or mice on unicycles that slog in the story factory will have time to relax, improve their nutrition, and oil their unicycle wheels without any interference from management (me). When I got back, the furniture would be tastefully re-arranged, morale would be at an all-time high, and one-wheeled bicycles would glide with eerily silent efficiency. I would sit at my desk and perfect stories would flow from my fingertips to the keyboard at An Amazing Rate (TM).  Complete with exciting plots, fascinating characters, and wicked one liners.

Dream on, me. Walking down Armitage with a lull in the conversation, I couldn’t resist giving the factory a little exploratory poke. Just lifting the lid a leeetle bit to see what delights might be brewing in there. And you know what…nada. Just nothing. No exciting fragrances. No curious but exciting scurrying. Not even the sound of a squeaky wheel.