Posts Tagged ‘writers’

Book (and one audio) links

September 27, 2013

Here’s a collection of JG Ballard covers done up by James Marsh.  I have still yet to make the leap to ebooks, and this is part of the reason. While I know ebooks still have “covers,” an electronic cover is far from the physical thing in your hands. The book cover is one of the primary ways to attract a reader to a book, being literally the first thing the reader sees.  Looking through these covers and I know that if I was roaming through a bookstore, and saw these covers on the shelf, I’d have to pick at least one of them up and look through it. They’re just interesting and engaging, they pull you in and  make you curious about what past the cover awaits your eye.  While I may, technically, be able to see the same “cover” on my ereader, I think it loses something when you remove its tangibility. It becomes just a picture, something to click through, something easy to be discarded. It is no longer tied to the text in any real way.

Which might be one of the largest problems with ebooks in general. While they offer great convenience, they also become less important because of their literal lack of weight. You don’t have to make room for the book on a shelf or on your coffee table. You don’t have its bulk continually taking up space, shoving itself before your eyes every time you glance in its direction. Ebooks can be forgotten, lost to the ether of ones and zeroes.  While ereaders may have pulled more people than before into the readersphere, they  have also helped for this appearance of a product easily ignored, easily removed from thought.

I’m a bit late to the remembrance, but Carolyn Cassady has passed away. She was the husband of Neal Cassady, the close friend of Beat legend Jack Kerouac. She wrote her own memoir remembering the Beat scene, that I’ve read bits and pieces of and encourage anyone who is interested in that time and place in American literature to check it out.  The whole Beat generation thing seems too often to be overly condensed to Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg, with everyone else reduced to extraordinarily minor  spots – the women especially. Her voice is an important one for perspective on the scene. It shouldn’t be ignored.

And the British aren’t happy about the Booker Prize being opened up to American writers.  Not much to say, as I don’t entirely agree with the opening the Booker competition up, either. It’s okay for it to focus on United Kingdom born writers. I don’t see how it cheapens the prize by maintaining a narrow focus. If anything, I think it opens the prize up to a nearly impossibly deep well of applicants, where merely deciding on finalists from year to year will become increasingly difficult.  Also, there’s nothing wrong with some pride for the UK.

Finally, not book related at all, but you can no preorder a massive Bob Dylan collection. Two things are interesting with this. The first is that it is labeled as “volume one,” but it contains all 35 studio titles that Dylan has released, as well as 6 live albums, and another two disks called “side tracks.” Which leaves me to wonder when (or if) volume two is released, what will be on it.   It makes me wonder if maybe we will see the material Dylan has used to release his occasional “Bootleg Series” editions released in one measure treasure chest of B side and rarity goodness. It is something I would desperately want, but also be desperately unable to afford. The second curious thing about this collection, is that there is an Amazon exclusive version that is packaged as a harmonica…but has all of the songs on a relatively tiny USB drive.  And it’s a hundred bucks more than the conventional collection of CDs, hardcover book, etc. While I think the harmonica thing is cool, you’re also giving up a lot of nice extras – including the physical CDs to keep around as master sources for your own personal rips. I like the idea of the USB stick, but I don’t see how it is worth $365. I’d rather have the box set and all of the tangible swaggy goodness that comes with it.

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Book Links 8-19-12 Early (?) Edition

August 19, 2012

Alright, I had these links to put up on the 18th, but I got sidetracked screwing around and being generally unproductive and didn’t get them posted before the clock turned over.  So I guess I’m just going to get a big jump on tomorrow (today’s) links.
First is this digital essay by Will Self called Kafka’s Wound. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but I really appreciate the attempt. At the very least, it’s worth checking out.

Remember that bit about the government buying a crap ton (technical term) of Kindles from Amazon while simultaneously pressing a major lawsuit against their major competitors and publishers? Remember how that kinda sounded like a bullshit move? Well, apparently the government has agreed. Now, it seems the government is saying that they want to now explore other possibilities, but a few months back they seemed pretty positive that the Kindle was the best bet for whatever it is they wanted it to do (something I’m still highly doubtful of considering things like the iPad are out there that do everything the Kindle does and then some-oh, and Microsoft has Surface coming out that seems even further along the path of actually being more than a media box). I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s aggressively countering the DoJ’s attempts to hurriedly push through some sort of agreement about the whole ebook price fixing thing  didn’t play into this a bit. I hate to say it, but I’m hugely in Apple’s corner over this.

Because beer steins are awesome, and I’ve ended up being a fan of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim novels, I love these Sandman themed steins.  If you’re not interested in looking at merchandise, don’t click the link, but it’s something I’ve really liked and considered throwing $20 down for. Not a huge fan of the shirts, though, which is a shame.

Don’t cry for me Argentina, just give me a decent pension plan. They are giving pensions to writers. It’s awesome. While I live in a nation where a presidential candidate is for cutting the meager funding for the NEA and the NEH (who, combined, are given less money than we give our military just to manage their bands), other countries who are far less economically robust are finding new ways to spend more money on the arts.  One of the few (many) places I don’t want to take this blog is into the world of politics and everything it entails, but lately I’ve realized how my stances are pretty much a polar opposite from what appears to be a pretty fair share of my country. They want to spend more money on making better guns to kill more Arabs, I want more money thrown at space exploration and artists.

Finally, because I’m horribly ignorant of massive exhibitions by national institutions, here’s a much belated link to the Library of Congress and their Books that shaped America. Like any list, it’ll probably generate more discussion for what’s not on it as much for what is. For some info on what went into slim pickings, here’s an interview with someone who was involved in the process.

Alright, that’s all for today, maybe more later today. 🙂

Dean Haspiel is Talking About Me

March 17, 2010

And it really isn’t very nice.

Upon first reading this, I went back and wanted to edit in some sort of clarification to my Quitter review.  Then part of me wanted to defend myself on his journal but I can’t because I don’t have a live.journal ID and, frankly, I don’t want another ID to keep track of. I even thought of emailing him but, honestly, he probably doesn’t care by now and, if I slept on it, I’d probably just blow it off by morning, too.

But after re-re-reading my review, I think I am clear enough in my calling not Haspiel personally out for his credibility, but the possible credibility of one of the narrators, either the illustrator or the writer. Put another way, it is a question of reliability. Much like how you gradually come to know that Humbert Humbert isn’t to be trusted as a narrator in Lolita, I wondered if the reader wasn’t given reason to not trust one of the interpretations of “Quitter,” either that of the illustrations or that of the words. Here’s the block of text from the review that I think caused the problem:

Considering the visual nature of comics, I wonder if this doesn’t take away from the credibility of one of the narrators, either the writer or the illustrator. The text matches up well with the illustration, but considering the effect small things from facial expressions to stances to shading can affect how a panel is viewed and interpreted, there is a clear possibility for one to provide an interpretation of the story that might be different from the intended interpretation the other half of the story telling might desire to communicate.

Now, I admit, it’s not exactly William Faulkner. But it’s not horrible. And I think the credibility (or reliability) of one of the narrators is fair game. Maybe I was entirely wrong but I thought there was a certain disagreement, at times, between what the illustrations depicted and what Pekar’s words depicted. And that this disagreement could mean that one was slightly more or less reliable than the other. And that such a thing might be entirely purposeful by the writer/illustrator. The idea of two narrators telling the same story but in different ways, at the same time, seems like an intriguing idea to me. Something that makes me think of Last Year at Marienbad, for instance.

I also do not believe his examples of a director/screenplay and singer/lyrics are really fair comparisons. First, they can’t be referred to as “narrators” in the same way the writer/illustrator can (and must necessarily be) referred to as “narrators” in their respective forms. It isn’t a question about the credibility of the artist as a person. It’s simply not, and I think that’s clear. The credibility that is being questioned is the narrative truthfulness of the illustrator versus the writer. they’re telling the same story in different mediums. Each is, essentially, a narrator. If the interpretation of the text ever differs significantly from the interpretation of the images, I think the credibility of one of the narrators has to be called into question.

Just as you question the narrative credibility of Humbert Humbert in Lolita. It’s not a question of Nabokov’s credibility as a writer but of his creation.

too many ideas, too little time and ambition

May 24, 2009

The only thing required to be a writer is to write.  There’s nothing else to it. Good or bad, published or not, I think that as long as you honestly try to write then you are a writer. I’ve met numerous people who have spent thousands of dollars (hey g/f!) for validation in their writing, and I just don’t get it.

With that said, I need to start setting aside more time and making more effort when to keep writing. It sucks because I have the ideas, they’re in my head, they’re floating around, they’re building and when I do sit down and start writing, I can usually ust pick up the keyboard and go. But I get bored. I get distracted. I shouldn’t. I be able to just sit down and work but I keep wanting to just wander off to other projects.

Ugh, this is going to be a short entry. My head’s a blank right now, the girlfriend will be over in a bit and I have a ton of stuff to still get done, preferably before she got here so she won’t feel awkard as I continue to work around the house. Take care folks.

say anything-writing is the most important part of being a writer

November 1, 2008

I got into an argument with a friend yesterday about writing. She says she doesn’t have time to do it, that it doesn’t bring in any money and that she feels guilty about doing it. All valid things but also things that writers pretty much just has to look past such things and write regardless. Maybe it’s just an overly romantic notion of mine that writing isn’t something done for money. Or to even be published. Or be read. It doesn’t matter if no one ever reads what you write. What matters is that you write it. If you want to try to get it published, great, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Success is a good thing. People knowing your name is a good thing. People reading your stuff is a good thing. But it’s not needed. If you’re going to write, you’re going to write. It’s not going to matter what happens to the stuff fter it’s written because you’re going to write anyway.

But then we got to something that I think is the real fruit of the nut: she feels like she doesn’t have any natural gift for the work. And this is something that I have encountered a lot over the years. People like to believe that writers have some mystical power that enables them to string some words together. That if it’s not a gift from God, it’s a gift from genetics. The question of “where do you get your ideas?” is akin to asking a priest what the voice of God sounds like.   It doesn’t matter. We do our jobs regardless. You can do it, too. Writing isn’t about some natural talant so much as it is about hard work and grinding it out from day to day, putting one word after another and slowly moving forward.

And that’s the most important thing in saying you’re a writer and being a writer-writing. You have to put ones on the page. Regardless of what happens after that, this is the first, most important and most critical part. It’s really the only critical part.