Saturday, July 02, 2016

Thurber House: Day Thirteen (A Tale of Two Jameses)

It's the start of a long weekend here at Thurber House, with none of the women who work here back
until Tuesday. Good writing time--I'm now 6,243 words and four chapters into the new project and loving it--but it's also a little isolated.

So I was thrilled when my friend and favorite author James Enge drove down to visit me with his wonderful wife  Diana DePasquale.

When I was an editor, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I acquired and edited six fantastic books by James Enge, Blood of Ambrose, This Crooked Way, The Wolf Age and the three books of his "prequel trilogy" A Tournament of Shadows: A Guile of Dragons, Wrath-Bearing Tree, and The Wide World's End. These six novels chronicle a portion of the life of Morlock Ambrosius, a hunch-backed, alcoholic, exhale, a broken man who feels his world is done with him when it is only getting started. I grew up on classic swords & sorcery fiction--works by writers like Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock--some of which still holds up today but a lot of which, I'm sad to say, really doesn't work for contemporary audiences who didn't grow up with it (I'm sorry but that's true).

Enter James Enge.

At a time when fantasy was celebrating the New Weird moment, Enge was consciously Old Weird, unapologetic S&S fantasy that was nonetheless written with a modern, literary sensibility. Blood of Ambrose was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, after all. His books mixed humor and pathos in a way few authors can and in a style that reminds me of nothing so much as the music of Robyn Hitchcock, the writing of Terry Pratchett, and the best episodes of Doctor Who. Like putting old wine in new bottles, Enge was managing to take S&S with all of its tropes and reconstitute it as something that could stand as 21st century fantasy literature. I wasn't allowed to have favorites when I worked as an editor, but now that I'm just another full-time author, I can say honestly and openly that James Enge is one of my top five all time favorite fantasists. I'm an unapologetic fan.

But James is also a person I've come to love spending time with. We hung out on the convention circuit quite a few times, but I don't think I've seen him since I was Editor Guest of Honor at Convergence in 2013. Which is way way way too long. So I was deeply honored and deeply thrilled when James and Diana drove down for the afternoon and evening.

I gave them a tour of Thurber House when they arrived. We sat in the tea room on the first floor, which was weird because I tend to stick to the upstairs when I'm here along. And I took a photograph of James Enge the writer posing with James Thurber's typewriter. The Two Jamses! Afterwards, we went to Wolf's Ridge Brewing, for yet another fabulous meal (and great libations). I visited their Tap Room last time but we ate in the restaurant in front this time. Afterwards, we came back to my apartments here, where we drank tea and solved all the world's problems. And managed to set the burglar alarm off yet again. It was a lovely evening with lovely people.

Everybody, read James' books. You won't be sorry. And James, great to see you, my friend!

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