This past weekend, I attended Readercon for the first time in a couple of years. I had a blast.
I have to admit, I’m tempted to leave things there. So much happens over the course of a convention that it’s difficult to know how much of it to describe in what amount of detail. I suppose the principle reason for me to attend an event such as Readercon is to meet readers, and to connect with writing friends old and new. I had a chance to do the former a number of times, signing more books than I have before and talking to a number of younger writers who told me they had read and even analyzed my stories (this last produced in me the disquieting revelation that I am no longer the new writer I still think of myself as). As for the latter: the weekend was an embarrassment of riches, from rooming with my old pal, Paul Tremblay, to hanging out with Paul and the other board members of the Shirley Jackson Awards, to spending time with the charming Glen Hirshberg, whom I’d met before but never had the chance to talk so much with. And this isn’t even mentioning brief discussions with folks like Michael Rowe, Jeffrey Thomas, Mike Griffin, Justin Steele, Shawn Bagley, and Sean Moreland.
In the midst of all of this informal talking, there were panels, one on ghosts I attended and one on zombies I took part in, both of which sparked so many ideas I had to scribble them down on the nearest available surface. There were also some spectacular readings: Gemma Files’s dazzling reading/performance of her story in the new Fearful Symmetries anthology; Michael Cisco walking an intellectual tightrope with ease and grace as he read an excerpt from his novel-in-a-workbook about unlanguage; Glen Hirshberg giving a magisterial reading of a late chapter from his new novel, Good Girls. There were good meals sprinkled throughout, perhaps none better than the Friday night dinner at the local Thai restaurant that’s become something of a Readercon tradition–at one point, I looked at the long table of eighteen people associated with horror and dark fantasy, and thought, If this were the con, with maybe a couple of additions, I’d be quite pleased. Sunday morning brought the annual Shirley Jackson Awards, whose winners reacted with joy and grace.
Then it was back home, but even there, Michael Cisco joined me for a drive/conversation that took in Robert Aickman’s stories, Thomas Ligotti’s anti-natalism, Roberto Bolano’s fiction, and the pros and cons of owning a house in the mid-Hudson Valley.
There were folks who weren’t at the con that I wish had been, especially the Three Musketeers of Toronto, Richard Gavin, Ian Rogers, and Simon Strantzas. I also wish I’d found a way to spend more time with Peter Straub, and Livia Llewellyn and Robert Levy. Overall, though, I can’t complain.
So that’s Readercon 2014. Did I mention I had a blast?