Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Links links links

February 13, 2014

In case you’ve been living in a hole this morning, you’ve probably heard about how Comcast is looking to buy Time Warner Cable.   Personally, I don’t get how this doesn’t hurt consumers. Removing choice, removing competition, putting more companies under fewer umbrellas..yeah, great for rich people, kinda bones the rest of us, though. What’s especially scary is how this could work with a world without net neutrality. It’s a defacto regulation of the internet where a handful (or maybe just one) company can set prices to play. Want a blog? Pay this. Want to publish a video podcast? That’ll cost ya. Want to stream video over the internet that directly competes with legacy television powers? Oohhhh, netflix needs to find a nice bridge to crawl under and die. How does this affect publishing? Well, look at Amazon’s push into that market. Look at the gobs of fan fiction. Look at the various lit blogs (hello!) that still litter the net. If access to these forms becomes restricted in some way, don’t think they will only come for the big boys. They might be first, but they won’t be the last. The control may come from nothing else than Comcast being able to make cable so cost prohibitive (and service so miserable) that people forgo it.  People don’t trust the government because of a fear of it becoming too powerful, but don’t trust these corporations, either. We need the government and the business world to counterbalance each other, never getting too friendly and never getting too antagonistic. The problem is they’ve been buddy-buddy for too long, and maybe the idea of the internet falling under an ever smaller net will be very appealing to an espionage heavy government.

Do you write? Are you supposed to be writing right now but you are procrastinating instead? You’re not alone.

Finally, I made these today. They are still cooling in the fridge, so I won’t know how they are for awhile yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I had another lit link or two, but I want to re-read them first. Things have been a bit up in the air in Casa el Loose Leaf Bound. We’re looking at buying new flooring for the house, I’m finishing a cedar chest and a writing desk, and we just found out the wife is pregnant with a parasite…er, kid. Yeah. They only become parasites later, right? as they leech off your time, your vitality, and your will to live. Anyway. There ya go. Also, I ate too much peanut stir fry and I’m kind of nauseous now. Too much info.

 

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Book Links

January 10, 2014

Frankly, a bunch of numbers too big and too numerous for me to really get into. If you’re curious about how many people are sending their little literary babies into the world, though,  here’s an article you’ll want to read.

Reading is a workout for the brain. Yeah. Not exactly surprising for anyone who reads, but at least now we have some more evidence that reading is literally good for you.

Hey, someone 3D printed a slip cover for a book. Check it out.  It looks pretty cool, not something I’d pay extra for (sorry folks) but if you have the cash and Chang-rae Lee is one of your guys, something like this could be up your alley. Regardless of whether or not you would buy it, still pretty cool.

And The Atlantic has a a great article on Marian Bantjes. She’s a designer who does a lot of great looking stuff with lettering.  Worth the read.
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Book Links

September 30, 2013

Leave it to Texas. They have decided to open a new library…without any books. It might make budgetary sense, but the idea of a library being essentially a Mac Cafe doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it is just a cultural inevitability, though. I know there have been sales numbers over the past year that has shown the market for ebooks slowing, and that there is a renewed hope for paper and cardboard to hang on as the present and future principle form for books, but I just don’t see it.  Not with wages stagnating, population growth and growing urbanization making living spaces smaller, and the general desire to comfortably lug whatever the hell we want with us to wherever we want to take it.  Hardcopy books will likely, eventually, go the same way hard copy movies and music appear to be going: towards a niche market.

Please don’t buy my book on amazon. Author Jamie Clarke wants you to buy his book direct from the publisher, instead. He has  a website up promoting his cause, and I encourage folks to go and check it out. And if you want his book, buy it from the publisher (and get it early!).  As always, I support the majority of antiAmazon sentiment, but I’m not familiar with Clarke’s work. I’ll be checking it out, though.

Finally, TC Boyle has a new collection of stories coming out. 15 years worth of stories covering 900+ pages. I enjoy Boyle’s work, though I haven’t made enough of a dent in his last collection. Still, I look forward to this one.

Book Links 7-15-13

July 15, 2013

And then there were five.  I’m not a huge fan of consolidation, though I also get that it could all work out. I routinely hate on the consolidation of newspapers, radio,  and all things telecom. It destroys the variety of our windows unto the world, but things like the publishing industry can be different. The different houses coming under ever larger umbrellas can still maintain an identity, which is really how the different imprints  should be defining their necessity. In an ideal world an imprint would justify its existence by being known for something, and consistently delivering it. Whether that will actually happen or not is anybody’s guess. They might also become homogenized, neutered of their individuality to become just a rubber stamp on a cover, promoting some larger vanilla image. For now, though, I have cautious faith.

David Carr has a nice article up about the necessity of Barnes and Noble. It begins promisingly, building a case for the necessity of a physical bookstore as a foundational place of gathering for a community. People go, they look, they talk. It’s healthy and good. He briefly hits on the need for multiple sources of distribution needed for the health of the publishing industry and how Amazon is arguably more of a monopolist and price fixer than Apple could yet dream of being. However,  for me much of the article boils down to the physical bookstore being a necessity because people need to go and browse to discover writers to buy from cheaper online market places.  This ties back into the whole “multiple paths are necessary” thing because ebook sales fell after Borders was shuttered.  I know it’s not the point Carr wanted to drive home, but it’s the one that hung in the air when I was done, and I have to admit it’s at least partly true. While it would be another article entirely, someone other than Nick Harkaway needs to get on a platform and start arguing that the publishing industry needs to do more to take back their industry. Of course, that’s kind of hard when the government then immediately takes them to court to shift business back into Amazon’s hands… .

In case you missed it, JK Rowling released a book under a pen name. I haven’t read the book, I don’t know if I ever will, but I don’t see what the big deal is. And I don’t like the fact that someone cowardly outed her. It wasn’t hurting anyone, and if it gives her the freedom to crank out books that are good, all the power to her.  Now, every “Galbraith” novel she might write will be looked at as a “Rowling” book and carry that baggage with it.

And yet another NYT article about Barnes and Noble and their failing Nook division. I like the Nook tablet, I’ve been considering getting one since they’ve slashed prices, and I think it’s horrible that it’s dying in such a manner. From what I’ve toyed around with, I enjoy it, and I think it’s a quality little piece of hardware. I still support publishing just having a general, all-platform format for ebooks to level the digital playing field a bit, but if you have to support one ecosystem over another, there is no way I could stomach siding with Amazon. Unfortunately, it appears too many people could stomach that particular meal.

Alright, there’s my links for the day. It’s been awhile, but I’ve been busy and I haven’t really been able to find a lot of news I really cared about. But the Apple trial and the health of B&N are two biggies for me and they’ve been in the spotlight recently. Hopefully this is the beginning of getting back on the blogging track.

book links 10-2-12

October 2, 2012

My less than glorious return to book blogging after a short hiatus. About every two weeks I have to make a weekend trip home for whatever various reasons and while they are rejuvenating in a get the hell out of the city sort of way, they also play all sorts of hell with my schedule and rhythm. I end up simply out of sorts for a bit. Anyway, here’s my links for the day.

This is apparently the very last thing Ray Bradbury wrote before venturing away from this world. It’s excerpted from The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.  You know, it’s Ray Bradbury. It’s worth the read.

Terry Pratchett has just went and set up his own media company. I like it. It’s interesting and a bit daring. It sounds like Pratchett is looking to have total control of his works and doing something with them that maybe wouldn’t have been done otherwise (such as adapting them to film).  It could either implode with no one caring, or it could  take off. I wish the guy luck.

Finally, The Paris Review has an interview with William S. Burroughs. Maybe this is just nostalgia day, dealing with links involving some older (or, regrettably, dead) authors, but I like the mix. You can’t go wrong checking out the works from any of these folks, in the articles or in their various works.  Alright, that’s all folks.

Book Links 9-17-12

September 17, 2012

Salman Rushdie has recently had the bounty on his head reinstated and the reward upped, so he went on Today to talk about the recent storm generated by a youtube video. First, I just don’t see the point of going after Rushdie. It was stupid then, it’s stupid now and I just wish the guy could live his life. I also agree with him about people doing things like the youtube video just to get people riled up. At the same time I find it pathetic that such a large group of people could be so easily and transparently trolled into action. Wake up.
Richard Kadrey’s doing a blog this week for Powell’s Books. Today he wrote about writing a series rather than a singular novel. As always, it comes in Kadrey’s inimitable style. If you like his books or his twitter feed, you won’t be disappointed.

William Gibson has an excellent interview on Wired.

Alright, that’s it for today. I have other work I need to dive into and the hour is growing late.

Paywalls, ebooks, and making way in a digital world

May 25, 2012

My distaste for Amazon’s foray into publishing has made it into a number of posts, but the only alternative I keep spouting is, “Go to Barnes and Noble!” (Or their website). But this isn’t exactly breaking new ground for publishers, and finding a way to stay afloat in a changing world. Then I came across this today. Now, magazines/newspapers are clearly a different beast from book publishing, or at least they have become different, but there is something that seems stunningly similar: the distribution/pay models being pushed by outside companies (Apple, Amazon) do not make a lot of money for the producers of the content. The NY Times went behind a paywall and, as far as I know, have done pretty damn well with it. I pay for it, and I love the coverage they provide. Now, the Financial times have pushed away from the Apple store, set up their own ap, and are enjoying a booming success.

I wonder if this is something the publishing industry could learn from.

Set up their own aps, allow people to subscribe to them for X dollars, distribute some works through digital serials, give access to extra materials, etc. In other words, customize their brands, personalize their products, and provide materials that go above and beyond the books themselves. Is it more work? Oh, hellz yeah. Could it pay off big? Yes. It could also give control back to the publishers. And if they are really afraid Amazon won’t play along, so what? I’m sure Barnes and Noble would be more than willing to find a way to co-exist with such an environment if it meant it could strengthen the prospects of their brick and mortar stores. Independent book stores would probably be all for it, if it meant they had a stronger ally in fighting off Amazon. I have a feeling even a lot of the authors themselves wouldn’t mind getting into something where they could have a stronger impact on the end product and its distribution/marketing/etc.

Maybe none of this is possible, but I want to see the publishing industry not get steamrolled by the digital walmart. And I wouldn’t mind shelling out $5 a month to Penguin if they provide the right content.  Give me serialized novels from up and coming writers, give me interviews with writers and editors,  or notes/revisions kept by the writer, etc.  I don’t know what all, but the possibilities are endless. Give me a reason to give you my money, Publishing Industry. I give a damn about books, and I want you to stick around.

I’m an adjunct and it’s killing me

September 6, 2011

I’m not good at it. I think it’s fair to put that right out there. But, under fair circumstances, I do alright. This fall has been hellish so far. I’ve been teaching comp pretty much non-stop for the past year and ahalf. Maybe two years. Which really isn’t all that long. I know this, too. Except I teach online.

You don’t get to see the faces of your students. They don’t get to see you. The entire reward of working with people is fairly obliterated by the computer screen. Having two discussion threads and 25 papers littered with basic spelling and grammatical errors per class , per week, week after week, can be fairly dehumanizing. After awhile, all that you know is that this massive pile of incredibly tedious work descends on you every sunday night and you just wish it would stop. While your employer pushes for greater retention, you just want them to disappear, one by one, until you’re left with something a bit more manageable, or at least a bit less soul  crushing with its omnipresent weight of tedious repetition.

And that’s under the best circumstances, teaching online, at least for me, anyway. This fall has already fallen into the “worst circumstances” category.  The institution (business?) I’m working for decided they needed to revamp their email system for this fall. So, in August, I got instructions for setting up my new email account to use in the fall. Assuming I had a job, which hadn’t been confirmed when all of these emails were going out, but I assumed it was a promising sign. So I set up the account and then pretty much set it aside, believing it was for the fall.

Except for one of my bosses, and I mean “one of,” as in, I have several. And all of are able to simply nip into my class and observe me quietly from afar and all of my students have ready access to complain to them over any real or perceived slight. With a little imagination, you are probably beginning to grasp how nerve wracking this existence could be, with this idea that Big Brother could be omnipresent and that anyone can turn anyone else in and have it given weight, after all, because retention is key.

This one boss was using exclusively this new email address while the summer semester was still going on, while there was still three weeks left in the summer session. So I missed out on his email saying that the class I’m teaching was being revamped. I missed out on the email offering a workshop in all of the new stuff they’ve crammed into this thing. And I missed out on the email reminding me to get the new books for the new course, just in case I didn’t notice that the entire course has been altered for the fall.

Frankly, I was too burned out to care too much by Aug. 8, and I still 17 days in the summer semester. And when that Summer semester ended, I had to simply bottom out for a few days. So, I was pretty much fucked when I opened up my new classes the day or two before they were to begin and saw the whole damn thing changed. I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. My students are miserable and bitchy because the campus bookstore can’t manage to send them any of their books on time, so they can’t access half the work. I’m in a horrible mood because I still haven’t gotten all of the books myself and my students are freaking out because of something I essentially have zero control over. But that hasn’t stopped them from bitching to me about it.

And the worst thing is that I sort of like the new class layout so far. It actually seems easier if Ihad my book or if mystudents had theirs or if any of these emails that I missed had been sent to the email account my other bosses and department secretaries were using.

And what does all of this have to do with writing or literature? I don’t have time for it right now. I’m trying to make time but it’s just not there and when I do find free time, I’m so stressed and angry and tired and just thoroughly unhappy with what I’m doing for a living that I can’t concentrate on anything I really care about. Instead, I continue to just need to crash. To bottom out. To push everything aside for a bit and engage in some mental.emotional candy like obsessively scouring ebay and craigslist for specific toys for the kid or trying to figure out what that song by the cranberries is that I have stuck in my head from 15 years ago (it was Zombie) or watching Ghost Hunters International on Hulu while also bitching about the regular Ghost Hunters no longer being on Hulu.

The thought of picking up pen and paper or opening an office document file and diving into serious editing and revisions is damn near impossible at this point.

Alright. Piss and moan over. Back to the world.

Typewriters, the new bottled water

April 1, 2011

I have a feeling that, among thirty year olds, I might be a bit of a rarity. I remember Johnny Carson, not from best of videos but from staying up far too late at too early of an age to watch him. I remember Cheers and Nightcourt, also not from re-runs. I remember the Atari 2600, DOS, and a time when the Lions were a decent (though not good) football team. And judging from my girlffriend’s poetry class, knowing what hammer is may also be a rarity (three guys, no idea what the claw of the hammer was called, one confusing it with the handle, which I’d personally love to see in use). I have also used a typewriter, manual and electric.

Apparently they are coming back into style.

I find this cute. Every typewriter I have used has been a sturdy, well constructed machine. There is something reassuring to this. The slap of the keys, the movement of paper, the rise and fall of the ribbon of ink, revealing a new letter with each fall. They were also a pain in th ass. You make a mistake and you have to break out the whiteout, brush it over, move the paper down, hope to god you line it up right, re-type it.  Rewriting was a literal thing then. To redo something, you literally redid it, from start to finish. If you happned to start moving too quickly and your fingers slipped a bit, you would suddenly find yourself with a handful of metal keys jammed together, stuck.

Personally, I don’t miss them. The keyboard might not offer the same tactile pleasures and reassurances, but it offers a helluva lot of convenience.  Maybe it’s one of those things where, unless you had to do it in some point in your life, it has a certain nostalgic appeal. But having to use one in the past, I don’t miss them, and I’ll make this trade every day of the week. Viva la office suite.

I’m at AWP

February 3, 2011

Well, I’m there. I made it to AWP this year. For those who don’t know, and I certainly wouldn’t have until my girlfriend asked me, “Hey, you want to go to AWP?” it’s where’s a bunch of writers and writers/professors and writers/whateverers gather to talk about writing. There are a bunch of different little sessions where four or five writers get together and do a presentation on a theme or idea that they’re interested in, usually followed by a little Q&A. This morning, I went to a session that was basically about monsters and their prevalence/use/possibly abuse in fiction. Hannah Tinti was awesome. She was quick, she was insightful, she was engaging. And she had trouble with this little projector thing, which introduced a welcomed bit of levity and everydayness that should have set the tone for the rest of the session.

I wasn’t a fan of Laura van den Berg’s short story collection, but I thought she did well here. As she guessed, she would have people disagreeing with her over Murakami’s work being his After the Quake collection (for my money, it’s still  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or, maybe, Kafka on the Shore) and with her description of Murakami having a lot of “zaniness” in his work, but it was still entertaining.

I don’t really want to get into a review of the whole thing, largely because I don’t also want to be critical of any of the presenters . What they are doing is difficult, and I know they are doing the best they can. By and large, the session was fun and informative and, in the end, I think that’s what counts. What I do want to say, though, is that I have a feeling what I feared about these sessions will come true – writers talking about writing isn’t always the most entertaining thing and they aren’t always the best at it. As one of the presenters said, writers like to write because they’re better at that than talking. And he might have been right. From the start I was thinking that this might have been a more engaging experience if it was a group of lit professors up there, plying their trade (which is really what the writers were doing =- trying to be lit professors). While I was engaged by the discussion, I can’t say I learned much. I wonder what some legitimate lit professors would have said up there, what they would have focused on, and what I might have learned. This isn’t to knock the group who were up there, or the event, it’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s entertaining. But, so far, it’s also been a bit hollow. I’m not looking at putting together a session heavy schedule (I really would like to see all of the touristy crap, I can’t help it, I AM a tourist here for god’s sake), so I don’t plan on having a lot of little posts about this, but I do plan on having a few. So…until the next literary thing pops up…