This is a blog (or a column, as one used to say) about writing — fiction, history, and the intersection of the two, with a particular focus on the craft and techniques of narrative. It contains “reviews” (writing about things, mainly books, that I’ve read) and “commentary” (anything that isn’t a review).
Sartoris is a bit of a dilettante and famously can’t settle to anything, having been a professional historian (but he fled the guild), fiction writer (still trying to badger his way into “print”), and Chief Technology Officer in his lengthening time. His range of interests includes:
- authors such as Dickens, Melville, Hardy, Tolstoy, Lovecraft, Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, W.S. Merwin, Richard Stern, Peter Matthiessen
- poets such as Dickinson, Hopkins, Yeats, Frost, Wallace Stevens, Vachel Lindsay, Archibald MacLeish, Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds
- pulp and comics: Conan, Cthulhu, Tintin, Pogo, Batman, Dick Tracy, Donald Duck, Buck Rogers, DC over Marvel if we’re taking sides
- writing for the “younger” (or so we’re told): Tolkien again, C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, Madeleine L’Engle, Lloyd Alexander, William Sleator, John Christopher (the Tripods series), J.D. Fitzgerald (The Great Brain), John Bellairs, oh how one could go on
- the history of anything since about 4000 B.C., with a special focus on Europe since Late Antiquity, and a growing need to figure out the 20th century
- the craft of fiction-writing (because craft precedeth art, me lovelies, at least if art is on its good behavior)
- for completeness: software project management, business analysis, and object-oriented design, though the references to these arcana are likely to be few and cautionary
The phrase “Story! Story, dammit, story!” in the site tagline comes from John D. MacDonald‘s Foreword to one of the earlier editions of Stephen King’s Night Shift, in which the prolific, successful MacDonald wrote that “Stephen King is a better writer at thirty than I was at thirty, or forty. I am entitled to hate him a little bit for that.” (King would later return the praise with interest in an interview in Faces of Fear.)
Most book links on the site connect to Amazon, via my affiliate account. This means that if you click through to Amazon and buy a book there, I get about 5% of the purchase price. I assume this is at best a break-even maneuver: if enough people are clicking on those links to generate more than a few bucks a month, I’ll be needing to funnel the proceeds, and more, to my hosting company to keep up with the traffic, improve the site, and so forth.
And The Name?
Sartoris is an old family name, though not this writer’s. (President U.S. Grant’s daughter married one.) The name brings to mind a rich conclave of associations, for example sardonic, sartorial, Sardis of the Persians, enigmatic Sardinia and its ancient language, and of course a first and a family name in the Faulknerian canon (Sartoris/Flags in the Dust, “Barn Burning,” Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion). The borrowing of the name is thus rank appropriation, though of exactly what sort might make for some discussion.
If you’d like to know more: