Re: [delany-list] Digest Number 124
- New 1984 review
Fred Cleaver just sent me his review of 1984, which ran in the Denver Post
on Sunday, Sept. 24. If any of you come across other reviews (aside from Mr.
Cozy's great one), please send 'em my way. I'd appreciate any reviews and
interest we can get.
180 E. Main St., 2nd flr.
Ramsey, NJ 07446
Letters recount a year of bullying by big brother
By Fred Cleaver
Science Fiction Columnist
1984: Selected Letters
Voyant, 384 pages, $17.95, paperback
Sept. 24, 2000 - Samuel Delany is obsessed with telling. "1984: Selected
Letters" (Voyant, 384 pages, $17.95, paperback) brings together some of the
telling he shared with his friends in that year of Orwell.
The stories told in the letters include all the basics of fiction:
characters, vividly described places and interesting events. And some of
these letters must have been quite an event to receive since they would run
up to 80 pages long.
Nineteen eighty-four was a big brother nightmare of a year for Delany -
the IRS had seized his bank account and he had to pound away at his word
processor to earn more money for the government while scrapping by on
practically nothing. In the background is the slow failure of a sevenyear
At the beginning of the year he is working furiously to finish his
Neveryon fantasy series. At the end of the year he is struggling with the
sequel to the just published "Stars in My Pockets, Like Grains of Sand" (a
struggle unfinished to this day).
Like all good letters there is plenty of gossip. Delany goes to science
fiction conventions where he generally enjoys himself despite bumping up
against the limits of his fame. He also has an occasional presence in the
larger literary world.
The book opens with an account of the funeral of poet Ted Berrigan, near
the end there is an upscale luncheon with Umberto Eco and in between are
regular sessions picking poetry for "The Little Magazine." Other topics roam
from Wagner and deconstructionism to sexual encounters in Times Square porno
theaters. Delany's correspondents range from his bibliographer with whom he
tries to sort out details of decades-old publication chronologies to a
street hustler locked up in a Florida jail.
Delany grounds all his intellectual concerns in close attention to the
details of life - the weather, his health and his 10year-old daughter. He
comes out of the literary stratosphere when he writes to her at summer camp.
There isn't much about the Orwellian 1984, and with one major exception
the world condition is not a topic Delany addresses. The exception is the
growing AIDS epidemic, a topic not only of these letters but completely
entangled in the fiction he wrote that year and every year since.
Orwell's "1984" [I assume he meant Delany instead of Orwell] is an
important piece of the story of science fiction writing. Also the story of
gay writing, black writing and the very act of writing, as Delany interrupts
his writing to write his 10,000- or 20,000-word letters.