Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Strike up the banned.

You might not have noticed but we're are smack in the middle of Banned Books Week.

Banned Books Week was started by the American Library Association and is sponsored by folks like the American Booksellers Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (1).

Among the books to appear on the banned or challenged list?

Kurt Vonnegut's modern classic Slaughterhouse Five. The book was seen by some as being obscene and irreverent. Something about lines like: "The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty."

I don't get it either.

And now a new collection of short stories by Vonnegut is on its way to bookstore shelves (2). The fourteen previously unpublished stories is called Look at the Birdie and, for those of us who started reading Vonnegut (3) well before we could understand what was actually going on, it's pretty darn exciting.

It's not just a new hardcover book...it's a piece of history and a strike for First Amendment rights every where.

It would be wrong not to buy it.

1. There are others. They're all listed here.
2. Wood and virtual.
3. And Norman Mailer. What can I say...I never got into Pink Floyd.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lob-stah, lob-stah, a whole lotta lob-stah...

Somewhere in the back of my head is a quote.

I don't even remember when I heard it the first time but it was some time ago and it was on, as always, NPR.

An author was being interviewed about the book she had written about Maine's lobster wars.

In the course of the interview this author, who had not grown up in Maine and was not part of the state's lobstering culture, said, "Write what you know unless what you know is boring. Then write something else."

It's long for a sampler, but pretty darn good for words to live by.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting it in writing.

What exactly makes someone a writer?

Is it getting a paycheck for putting words on paper or getting published?

Is it just a mind set?

Is it enough to hang out the proverbial shingle and say, "I'm a writer?"

It's funny really. Because you can't just get up one day, open Quickbooks on your laptop and announce to the world, "I'm an accountant!"

I have a piano in my house but I'm hardly going to sit at it tomorrow and declare myself a musician.

But is writing a different thing?


What a waste.

Riding home from work today a woman sat down beside me and pulled out her Kindle.

So, I thought. There it is. The Kindle.

How cold.

How sterile.

How lacking a cover.

Unable to help myself I glanced over at the screen only to read the following list:

Bowel obstruction

Colitis

Diarrhea...

Which was more than enough to convince me to stop eaves-reading.

Maybe some books are just fine without a cover.

Especially on the subway.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

and you were there, and you were there, and you, and you...

[Artboy wakes up. Laptop keys imprinted on the side of his face.]

So. Yeah. I've not been the best of bloggers lately. I've actually done that thing that totally drives me crazy with blogs. The long, unexplained silence.

The unexplained absence.

The vanishing.

The blog-ture.

It's been strange actually.

I've started teaching. Two classes, each 1-1/2 hours long...and then I fill the rest of my day either preparing for the next classes or job hunting to fill the rest of my time and paycheck. And then I sit down. Laptop open. Ready to roll.

My plan during the very brief period where this part-time lifestyle was worked out to be possible (1) was to write. To write a lot. To turn this blog into something useful and entertaining and turn this laptop into something other than a cute accessory (2).

Instead, I've been experiencing a state of, well, coma.

So tomorrow I am declaring another "first day of the rest of my writing life" kind of thing.

It seems fitting to make another run at this on the day that God is putting his own pen to paper on how this year will be turning out (3).

1. And we're talking brief...like Calvin Klein undies brief.
2. Though it totally is. Leopold scored on this gift.
3. Happy Yom Kippur! Is that appropriate to say? I mean it in whatever way is considered appropriate and least offensive. My people gave up Judaism during the Inquisition. We didn't necessarily want to...but it seemed a good idea at the time.