Saturday, September 19, 2009

And stay off of my lawn!

As the three people who read this blog know I'm a big fan of the hardcover book.

Big. Stalker-like. Fan (1).

This might explain the minor irritation I found myself experiencing when looking at this LA Times piece on bookshelves. An online feature that, for some reason, includes bookshelves with no books on them.

It makes me think of the clothing ads where a stylist bends a model into some ridiculous, spine-breaking slouch, wets them down and then drapes a completely impossible clothing combination on this human coatrack. The photographic image is almost always cool and visually arresting.

But its ability to exist in the real world?

Questionable.

So what's with the bookless bookshelves LA Times? It's like the American Library Association hired Abercrombie & Fitch to shoot their new literacy campaign.

1. I have now visited The American Painter Emma Dial three different times. Trying to square away the job front is getting a little stressful but it is doing great things for reducing my material intake.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reader, I filleted him.

For those of you anxiously awaiting the sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I have some good news and some bad news.

First the bad news. The sequel involves no vampires whatsoever.

None.

The good new is that the new book is now hitting the shelves.

The next dagger in the heart of Jane Austen academics everywhere is a little book they're calling Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

According to a piece in Slate, SS&S takes the classics meets creatures genre a few steps further by actually lowering the percentage of Austen.

For Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith "wrote 15 percent of the final text."

But that wasn't enough for the audience that transformed the book from lit-geek gag gift to genuine publishing sensation. So, for this battle of manners and briny mammals Ben H. Winters was given the mandate "to deliver a book that was 60 percent Austen and 40 percent [Winters]."

Sorry Jane. You've been downsized.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dibs.

Stories like this...where authors show that creativity doesn't end after the last page...is why I don't give much street cred to the idea that print books are dying.

Author Stephen Elliott had some advanced copies of his book The Adderall Diaries and started his own lending library. Readers could request a copy of the book as long as they agreed to forward the book to the next reader within one week.


Genius.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Children of the Revolution

This was brand new information for me.

Apparently this writer, Matthew Stewart, has been putting his entire debut novel out on Twitter. Stewart started tweeting The French Revolution on July 14th - Bastille Day.


You can check out the plot...and the author's tweets...here.

Or, you can do like I'm doing and just kind of sit and stare with a sense of awe and admiration.


Up in the sky.

September is national sketch comedy month.

I know. Who knew?

Michael, the really funny proprietor of the blog So I Like Superman has been writing a sketch a day over at his blog and this is probably my favorite one so far.

Okay.

That's all I have to say.

Click the link.

No. Really. That's it.

Just a little something funny I thought I'd share her instead of writing a giant group e-mail that I would start with the sentence, "I never like to send mass e-mails like this but I just had to share this."



Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Breakup.

Van Pelt and I had a discussion the other day where, not for the first time, the comparison was made between my leaving my last job and breaking up with someone.

This is mostly because I will admit to having some difficulty finding final closure.

I have some anger hanging around.

Ironically, when I hear (or see for myself) things that should make me wipe the back of my hand across my forehead and say, "Phew..." I find myself getting angrier.

And it seems that I'm not the only one with some issues surrounding letting go...which is good since it offers me a chance to do a post that is a little less about me and my stages of grief.

There's been a lot talk lately about authors who have taken other people's characters to create their own literary "sequels." It's hardly a new game. One could actually look to that most basic of storytelling - actual, verbal storytelling - and see how mythic characters have long been considered in the public domain.

So is there a difference (royalty checks left to the side for a moment) between an author taking temporary possession of the rabbit found in traditional Native American mythology and the Rabbit created by John Updike?

And more specifically to where I'll say my discomfort rests...is there a difference between an author whose muse leads them to adopting someone else's character for their own work and the kind of publishing house creative auction for possession of literary figures like James Bond?

How do you know when a (literary) relationship is over? When is it time to move on and meet someone new?

And by new I do not mean zombies.

Because "A Confederacy of Dunces" doesn't have a good cover.

There are a number of unique issues one has to manage when living here in the lap dance of Democracy.

One of these is the number of times entire sections of the city are closed down and blocked off with no real notice, especially if you happen to live on one side of "The Hill" and things you need to do are taking place on the other side.

Public transportation, quite obviously, offers no respite. This is perhaps best illustrated by a story I shared with Van Pelt, Jump the Snark and The Freelancer after the last "Right to Life" protest day here in the city.

If you're not familiar, every year the "No Baby Left Behind" masses descend with their posters and slogans and overwhelming sense of moral superiority.

Another favorite prop of this crew is young people. "See! The next generation wants you to stop killing babies!!"

Actually, the next generation wants a few days out of school to go hang outside on the National Mall.

Here's another thing you might not know about students on a field trip. They move in great impenetrable gangs. Think bulls in Pamplona or Filene's Basement's bridal gown sale.

During last year's Fetus Festival the Metro train I was on pulled into a station and some 80-odd students tried to press their way into just one of the three sets of doors. Apparently abortion and common sense are both evils to be avoided.

The operator, who sounded as ready for this day to end for another year as the rest of us, came on the speaker and said, "Please use all doors when getting on and off the train. These doors are not like elevator doors. They will not re-open. Please use all doors."

I turned to the woman next to me and said, "That means they have a choice. A choice of what doors to use. Isn't it great to be able to choose?"

I thought of this story yesterday, trapped in my car, trying to get from one side of "The Hill" back to my house. In my way? Vast roving bands of people protesting the idea of giving people like...well...me...healthcare.

As was reported by a number of folks, the crowds I saw were white, middle aged and older, and really, really fond of flags. A personal favorite was the revival of the "Don't Tread on Me" segmented snake flag which I guess was being carried by those folks who would like to go back to just 13 colonies.


Instead I will share another story from my fair city on that day. A quiet story but one that, well, amuses me.

Waiting for the guy at the parking garage to retrieve my car I found myself standing next to a trio who were apparently leaving the rally and a woman and her daughter who seemed to have been - like me - caught in the wrong part of town at the wrong time.

The three protestors, though they might have preferred the term "Freedom Fighters," was an older (white) couple and their adult daughter. At one point dad vanished causing much consternation because he had the keys (he didn't actually) and they didn't understand why the person from the parking garage was moving their car and, while it was not said, you suspected that once they were in the car and safely on their way home someone said, "And that's why I hate going into the city."

So in the midst of this minor crisis mom stepped off the curb and directly behind the car...which was being backed up by the attendant.

The other woman standing by me noticed first and yelled to get everyone's attention. The attendant stopped the car, mom stepped back and we all breathed a sigh of relief that no one was hurt.

Or, mostly breathed a sigh of relief.

My first impulse was to ask her, "If you had just gotten hit, would your health insurance have covered it?"

But I did not.