The Alien in My E-Mail and Other Stories
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McAllister was born in Baltimore , Maryland in McAllister wrote, "The theme of the Outsider, the Other, the Alien in the larger sense, runs through almost all of my fiction. That came from being in a military family, from having a sense of being an outsider I had no idea who the guy was, but my momma raised me right. I wanted to be courteous, and he offered, so I shook his hand. Hemingway , who lived in a little beach house with palms and banana trees and who, though we didn't know her, was hospitable. He told Neilson that as a child he had a sea-shell collection of more than specimens.
This interest appears in his fiction, notably in two stories, "Heart of Hearts" and "The Courtship of the Queen. Immigrated from Scotland to Ireland, then the US in the s. Wore his kilt till the day he died, outlived five wives, had fifteen children. Maybe the right stuff for a frontier, a New World, but I've always been horrified by the thought of having to live with someone like him. The domestic, family side of Braveheart? Another influential childhood memory was this: "As far as our father's world went, we had, on the Navy base where we lived in San Diego , the bathyscaphe submersible in our back yard literally we would have played on it if we could have gotten a decent grip ; a year later it would make the deepest dive in the Pacific ever made, with Jacques Piccard and a Navy diver and a civilian scientist—all of them diving legends if not then, then later.
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Literary archivist and agent Sarah Funke Butler describes an enterprise McAllister undertook when he was . Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction.
Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind? Confident, if not downright cocky, he thought the surveys could settle a conflict with his English teacher by proving that symbols weren't lying beneath the texts they read like buried treasure awaiting discovery. His project involved substantial labor—this before the Internet, before e-mail—but was not impossible: many authors and their representatives were listed in the Twentieth-Century American Literature series found in the local library.
More impressive is that seventy-five writers replied—most of them in earnest.
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Sixty-five of those responses survive McAllister lost ten to "a kleptomaniacal friend". Answers ranged from the secretarial blow-off to a thick packet of single-spaced typescript in reply. When Butler interviewed McAllister decades later, he remarked, "The conclusion I came to was that nobody had asked them. New Criticism was about the scholars and the text; writers were cut out of the equation. Scholars would talk about symbolism in writing, but no one had asked the writers. McAllister attended middle school and art school in Italy.
He taught literature and writing at the University of Redlands in southern California for twenty-four years. White Distinguished Professor of Literature and Writing from to Later, he started the company McAllister Coaching, helping writers of books and screenplays with their manuscripts. Publishers Weekly wrote, "McAllister's first novel is a stunning tour de force Masterful interior monologues that yield eerie, tingling tension make this terrifying novel one of the most memorable chronicles of the Vietnam war.
Throughout the narrative are interspersed transcripts of interviews, memos, etc.
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The apocalyptic ending does strain the willing suspension of disbelief. Still, the story is fascinating, very well told, and likely to appeal to readers of Vietnam War fiction and nonfiction. There are a lot of interesting bits in this story, and some nice nuance in the actions and ideas. As Gardner points out in his intro, McAllister may not be prolific in his output, but what he does offer us [is] excellent work. Bob Blough reviewed the short story "Blue Fire" for Tangent Online , the review magazine for short stories of science fiction and fantasy:.
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