Greetings, fellow Lafferty fans & friends.
There have been rumblings and rumors of actual LaffCon planning happening behind the scenes.
LaffCon3 is definitely happening. June 9th, 2018.
Right now, here is what is on the table, all of which is still being discussed, none of which is final:
--A panel on Not to Mention Camels. It is unfortunate that this book is out-of-print and expensive on the secondhand market. If you act soon you may be able to snag one of the dozen or so copies that are available at the usual online sellers for around $25-$35.
A few of us like this one a lot and believe that it is worth arguing for and arguing over. There have also been strong hints that our favorite friendly LaffCon artists will be bringing NEW Not to Mention Camels related artwork.
In a critical review of the novel (for Delap's), the wonderful Michael Bishop wrote,
"...I can easily envision a literary cult devoted to the Lafferty persona, one distant day in the future, placing Not to Mention Camels at the heart of its author's oeuvre."
I don't think we're quite a cult (we do need to develop more ceremonies and honorifics) and I wouldn't argue that Camels is at the heart of its author's oeuvre (there's a good argument that that honor belongs to the Argo Cycle), but I do confess that Bishop was pretty close to prophetic when he wrote that in the mid-70s! :-)
--At least one panel on Okla Hannali, which has in its favor the simple fact that it is the only Lafferty novel in print in the U.S. at this time. (As far as I know, the only other in-print Lafferty novels available anywhere in the world right now are the Japanese volumes; there is a Gollancz omnibus coming in June 2018 in the UK and there is work being done by Locus on U.S. releases, but nothing yet).
This is the only Lafferty novel that I know for a fact has been taught at the university level, in Oklahoma History courses. It is regarded by many as an unjustly neglected masterpiece of American Fiction. Lafferty himself considered it a contribution to the Great American Novel.
In his must-read essay, "The Strange Case of Raphael Aloysius Lafferty," the always wonderful Michael Swanwick evaluated Okla Hannali:
"Often Lafferty has been too imaginative for his own commercial good, shedding wild ideas and strange whimsies with such abandon that many readers simply couldn't keep up. But in Okla Hannali the need to stay true to the historical facts and to the character of the Choctaw people results in a straightforward narrative in which the tragedies are irreversible, the joys undeniable, and the fate of virtually all the characters, minor as well as major, truly matters to the reader. For plot alone, this is one great book. As history, it's a revelation."
Terry Bisson wrote:
"I believe his day is yet to come; that like Melville, Lafferty will be “discovered,” and his Okla Hannali will take its rightful place as one of the three or four truly great 20th century American novels. But that’s for others to decide."
I highly recommend that you buy a copy of the book from the Choctaw Store. "The Choctaw Store is owned and operated by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma" and they approve of Lafferty's novel enough that they sell it in their store. I can't think of a higher compliment to a work of historical fiction.
--A complementary panel on "Lafferty's American Indian Stories"
Bisson wrote that "There’s a wise (or at least watchful) Indian in almost every tale."
That's an overstatement, but it still feels right.
I'd love to have someone present on the panel who actually knows what he/she is talking about in regards to midwest tribal cultures/histories, the shape of these cultures and their stories, and how Lafferty interacts with these in positive (and maybe negative?) ways. If anyone is qualified and interested, please do contact me.
--More Andrew Mass documentary footage? I hope so.
--Maybe a more general panel on Lafferty's "philosophy of history" and/or his "historical imagination" or some such. They're even harder to find than anything mentioned above, but maybe a panel on Alaric or the Coscuin books would also work well.
--We are also interested in just about anything Lafferty related that anyone is willing to bring to us. Consider this a "Call for Papers." If you've ever wanted to dig deep into anything related to Lafferty and share your findings in front of a room full of hardcore Lafferty nerds, this is your chance.
--We're open to other ideas. Please comment or send along your suggestions via email.