It's not my usual posting day, but I have a smitch of time and some odds and ends for y'all.
Simon Owen of the media commentary and interview blog Bloggasm has an interview with yours truly. He does his research on everyone he contacts, which makes for some interesting questions (also check out the interview with C. Max Magee of The Millions). I got a chance to send shout-outs to my favorite book industry lit-bloggers at the end; thanks for being around, guys!
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Two blogs have posed open-ended questions to readership lately, and I thought I'd extend the questions to you. Feel free to respond in comments here, or on the source blogs.
Matthew Tiffany of Condalmo asks, what's with the hostility toward the short story? I never got around to answering the question myself, but several others did, and Matt has compiled their comments in this post. Feel free to continue the conversation with your own thoughts on short fiction and its discontents.
Dan Wicket of the Emerging Writers Network forwards the question of EWN member Quinn Dalton:
"Hey Dan! I’m moderating a discussion at my local library about the role libraries can play in communities—how it can best support what people need and want, with all the available resources online. I wondered if I could throw this out to the EWN membership—folks could answer any or all of the 3 questions as they please:
What do you want from your library these days (ours already supports online book discussion groups, video/audio downloads, online catalog and many search engines).
What do you see happening with publishing now and in the near future—print on demand, e-books?
What are the best online resources—blogs, literary communities, etc., that you use on a regular basis these days (we’ll assume EWN is at the top of this list)?"
Any thoughts on the role and potential of libraries can be emailed to Dan by clicking on the "Email Me" link on the left of the Emerging Writers Network site. Your answers might play a role in helping readers, writers and libraries find ways to link up!
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Dan was also the one who sent me his responses to the little "One Book" survey making the rounds among blogs. I'm usually mildly opposed to such memes, but this one was too much fun to pass up. You can read my responses below. Then make your own answers and send them to me! (And also send me links to other blogs that have already responded -- I can't find or remember them right now.)
One book that changed your life.
Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. One of the only nonfiction books to ever make me cry, and one that shocked me into new ways of looking at the world, myself, and the art and purpose of writing. (Also Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Kapuscinski's The Shadow of the Sun.)
One book that you’ve read more than once.
L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables -- I actually read the entire series every summer in my teens. It probably gave me some hopelessly romantic notions, but I like to think it also taught me a little about the power of imagination, family, and place.
One book you’d want on a desert island.
David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. Favorite book of the last ten years -- I've already read it twice, and I feel like I could read it another dozen times with satisfaction.
One book that made you laugh.
Allessandro Boffa's You're An Animal, Viskovitz! made me snort aloud in public places. Couldn't sell it to anyone to save my life, but the chapter where a snail falls in love with itself is one of the funniest things I've ever read. (Also White Teeth, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, and every Jeeves & Wooster book by P.G. Wodehouse)
One book that made you cry.
Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things had me wracked with sobs; my college roommate got a little worried. (But a lot of books make me cry, as the ALP can attest. Everything Is Illuminated, Cloud Atlas, Caddie Woodlawn -- almost any emotionally resonant book can make my throat hurt and vision blur.)
One book that you wish had been written.
I wish C.S. Lewis had written more Chronicles of Narnia. The world he created seems like it has space for infinitely more stories, and I wish he would have complicated it a little more.
One book that you wish had never been written.
The friggin' Da Vinci Code. I hate that people confuse fiction with fact; I hate that people accept bad writing for the sake of a "fast pace"; I hate that every bookstore has had to sell it in order to stay afloat, and that every conversation about the state of the book world has had to mention it. I'm just glad it's finally starting to die down.
One book you’re currently reading.
Shelly Jackson's Half Life. Brilliant dark comedy about unhappily conjoined twins in a world where radiation has made "twofers" a powerful special interest group -- cleverly speculative, psychologically astute, symbolically resonant, imaginatively bizarre. Good stuff.
One book you’ve been meaning to read.
Laura Miller's Reluctant Capitalists, about the evolution of the bookselling industry. Nonfiction is a lot harder for me to motivate myself to read (and this is a dense academic book), but this is a subject I'm deeply interested in, so I'll get to it.
Hope to hear from ya!
Off the Shelf
1 hour ago