On Friday I'll be gearing up for NAIBA Con this weekend, and I'll give you the rundown on my schedule and what there is to look forward too. (Amazingly, registration is still open, so if there's any way you can make it to Baltimore Sunday or Monday -- come, come, come!) In the meantime, here are some links that just won't wait.
- Today was the first time I've ever seen a book-related blog first thing when I logged in to my Blogger account, and it makes perfect sense: it's Robert Warren's amazing PostSecret blog. The latest book, A Lifetime of Secrets, just came out, and there's a pretty well-done YouTube video about it (except for that tagline at the end -- a tad cheesy.)
- Backlash is an inevitable result of prominence, I guess. Melvin Charles Bukiet has a Brooklyn-hating article in The American Scholar, in which he accuses J.S. Foer, Myla Goldberg, and Nicole Krauss, as well as Dave Eggers and Alice Sebold (who don't actually live in Brooklyn) of writing "Brooklyn Books of Wonder" -- self-congratulatory, glorified YA novels. To me, this was the most revealing passage in Bukiet's argument:
"Unfortunately, it’s false to all human experience to find “growth” in tragedy. In fact, the dull truth is that pain is tautological. The only thing suffering teaches us is that we are capable of suffering. "
This is an imminently arguable premise (I'd argue that sometimes suffering DOES lead to growth, sometimes not), and seems to show that Bukiet's problem with the borough is just a clash of ideologies: wonder vs. what? nihilism? "authenticity"? It's seems to me that it's hardly shameful to write about the possibility of redemption, at the risk of occasionally veering into youthful sappiness, rather than sticking to an equally adolescent life-totally-sucks attitude, which is no more "truth" than its opposite. (And Bukiet gets several things wrong: it's not true, for example, that Eggers' third book What Is The What appealed less to readers of Heartbreaking Work because of its darker subject matter -- it's been a massive bestseller.) And as every single subject in the Brooklyn Lit Life series has pointed out, Brooklyn is a hugely diverse place -- it's pretty incredibly reductive to equate the entire borough with a single sensibility anyway, and it clearly doesn't work. Of course, Bukiet lives in Manhattan, where people sometimes tend to be scornful of anyone who lives anywhere else. Okay, okay, sorry for going off a bit there, and thanks to Megan for the link.
- Speaking of responses to polemics, the minister at my church in Brooklyn (and one of the most literate people I know) wrote this article in response to the anti-religion literature of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. His conclusion? God is not especially concerned.
- Meanwhile, I feel like I've somehow made it in the Brooklyn blog scene: Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn named The Written Nerd as "blog of the day" yesterday. (I can't figure out how to link directly to the post, so scroll down to see it.) I'm a huge fan of this comprehensive blog, and have met the author at several functions, and I'm flattered to be included in her roundup of things Brooklyn.
- The Literary Writers Conference, hosted by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, is coming up in New York. According to the LWC/NYC website, it's "a three-day conference for fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction writers learning how to maneuver in the marketplace" -- an opportunity for learning, networking, and confabbing for writers. Yours truly is serving on a blogging panel, and I'm in some intimidatingly impressive company! Definitely check it out if you're in the city November 8 to 10.
- Pop culture maven Lady T of Living Read Girl is hosting her first ever blog contest, and the prize is a free copy of Alice Sebold's new book The Almost Moon! Here's the info about her jingle writing contest -- you have until October 30 to submit your brilliant ideas.
- Best new blog idea of the day, #1: James Tadd Adcox's Fiction Volante, which promises " one new story, every weekday, for one year" and has so far delivered in spades. Read it, read it!
- Best new blog idea of the day, #2: Blog A Penguin Classic. Email Penguin, they send you a randomly selected title from the massive Classics library, you read it, you blog about it on their site. Possibly there's some incentive for unfairly positive reviews, and you'll have to wait until the final batch is released to even get a chance to participate, but I think it's a cool way to get readers into the conversation. (Thanks to Steve at Norton for the link.)
- Oh, this is irresistible for us indies: according to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, "The Wal-Mart Era... is drawing to a close." Reading the entire piece, I'm not sure if the reasons or results are all good -- more internet retail, the rise of other "niche chains" -- and Wal-Mart is far from over. But it's more evidence to point to the backlash against big box retail.
- On the other hand, check out this piece about digital song downloads at Starbucks and the implications for books. Don't be fooled by the blog name, Print Is Dead -- it's not anti-books, just actively curious about how things will develop. The author even has, yes, a print book of the same name.
Whew, that's enough for today. Time to finish compiling my notes for this weekend's "Making the Most of the Internet" panel -- it should be exciting!
Meet Michael Katakis
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