Make Jeff VanderMeer Dance, Dance, Dance


Self-described “burly sea-captain” looking guy, author and editor Jeff VanderMeer, and his wife, the notably non-burly fiction editor Ann VanderMeer, are busy working on a new volume of their award-winning anthology series, Leviathan. Titled Leviathan 5: The Next Wave, the co-editing VanderMeers plan for the book will feature Weird fiction from not only the English speaking authors, but non-English speaking writers as well. However, to make this globe-spanning effort successful, the VanderMeers will need to be able to pay an international team of associate editors. In order to raise the funds – about $1,000 –  they’ve embarked on a fund raising effort the likes of which you may never see again…or may never want to see again.

Jeff – again a burly, bearded, salty looking fellow – has agreed to produce and upload a video of himself performing an interpretive dance based on the title story in his collection The Third Bear if he and his wife receive the required $1,000 in donations. You can read how to donate here.

News of Jeff’s offer threat to dance on camera has been met with a variety of reactions from his peers and fans in the writing community, most notably from Felix Gilman, author of The Half-Made World, who wrote the following missive:

Dear Mr. Staggs:

I was shocked and disgusted to hear that Mr. Jeffrey VanderMeer is proposing to perform one of his so-called “dances” on camera. In these times of soaring deficits and economic malaise I do not understand how supposedly productive writers can find the time for dancing. We will not beat China with that attitude. Back to the grindstone with him!

In any case Mr. VanderMeer’s dances are a terrible thing and should not be allowed in a civilized society. I can never forget the awful day when my wife and I met him in a bar in Marrakech. He was reeling from booze and hashish and the heat and ranting about squid. He sat at our table and one thing led to another and we began to talk about the Decadents, and a disagreement arose over Baudelaire, as to which I was right and he was wrong. He would not admit his error and he became belligerent. “You’ll see,” he said, “You’ll all see!”

He climbed on the table and kicked the hookah out of the window and began to turn in place, slowly at first and then faster and faster, swiveling his hips and then waggling his arms like Kali and finally rotating his head counter-wise from the motions of his body. There were elements in it also of the Hustle and the Electric Slide but the whole was much worse than the sum of its parts. He kept grunting. I averted my eyes. My wife on the other hand began to applaud, then after a while simply stare, raptly. Dogs began to howl and the mangy tavern cats rolled on their backs. Women in the street outside discarded their veils and the sky turned black. At last he leapt from the table and still gyrating he went out through the curtain and into the street. Moments later my wife followed, forgetting her purse and her cigarettes. I have seen neither of them since.

If I ever set eyes on Mr. VanderMeer again I will shoot him like a dog. Nobody should give this dreadful man any money.

Yours sincerely,
Felix Gilman

Those brave enough to ignore Gilman’s warnings in favor of funding international literature should head post-haste to VanderMeer’s website. Let the dance again!