Chris Hayes, Victor LaValle, Ayana Mathis, Michael Chabon, and George Saunders discuss the political stories we tell, the construction of artifice, and Saunders’ assertion that trust and authenticity are the only drivers of a voice that works in both poetics and politics.
“Look at it another way. We’re here. We’re nice guys. We’re doing O.K. But we know that in X number of years, we won’t be here, and between now and then something unpleasant is gonna happen, or at least potentially unpleasant and scary. And when we turn to try and understand that, I don’t really think the humanist verities are quite enough. Because that would be crazy if they were. It would be so weird if we knew just as much as we needed to know to answer all the questions of the universe. Wouldn’t that be freaky? Whereas the probability is high that there is a vast reality that we have no way to perceive, that’s actually bearing down on us now and influencing everything. The idea of saying, ‘Well, we can’t see it, therefore we don’t need to see it,’ seems really weird to me.”
George Saunders, “George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year”
Book publishing has been trying to commit suicide for all the decades I’ve been writing, and now it’s finally getting some traction on that project. Its latest folly is ironic: one of our most antitechnology businesses now places unrealistic hopes on technology as a savior, a textbook case of an American industry’s unwillingness to make significant changes until one minute before doomsday. I don’t expect more from publishing than stabs of experimentation until business gets much, much worse.
Earlier this week, the literary journal Electric Literature launched a “microserialization” experiment by publishing a new story by Rick Moody(pictured) on Twitter–co-publishing the story on other Twitter feeds, including the Vroman’s Books feed. Jacket Copy summarized the frustration that some Twitter users felt with the simultaneous delivery: “In the past, having bookstores, bloggers and other magazines simultaneously pass out a short story would widen the circulation. Today, many of those people are in overlapping social networking circles, and the result is repetition rather than reach.”
“And just as the iPod has killed the album, so the Kindle might, in time, spur a revival of the short story. If you can buy a single song for a dollar, why wouldn’t you spend that much on a handy, compact package of character, incident and linguistic invention? Why wouldn’t you collect dozens, or hundreds, into a personal anthology, a playlist of humor, pathos, mystery and surprise?”
Colleen Wainwright (aka the Communicatrix) is rocking the Internet these days. Or maybe she’s always rocked the Internet and I just figured it out. At any rate, she’s on one of her patented “21 Day Salutes,” which you should definitely check out if you have any interest in changing something about yourself in the new year. And, of course, you do. So go.
But my point is that I think Colleen is a shining example of someone just Taking Control of Her Shit and Living Full Volume Online.
And maybe, just maybe, some of Colleen’s Fabulosity will rub off and inspire you to rock the Internet too. It’s working for me.
Awesome pdf download:
(via Tim @badbanana)
What you’re looking at here is one of the most important artifacts of my life. I have had it with me as long as I’ve lived on my own, and even while it languished in a box in my parents’ basement it was never forgotten.
It’s a classic scenario, probably as common today as it was thirtyish years ago—at the end of the school year the teacher handed out awards to every student. Mrs. G gave out the usual awards—class clown, best smile, most helpful—but she also made some bold predictions.
And in mine, she changed my life.
I received the “Future Author Award” that Spring day, and from that day forward whenever anyone asked me the perennial and horrid question “what do you want to be when you grow up,” I answered without hesitation: “author.”
(Astronaut remained a very popular answer, but I knew deep inside I would write stories long before I would ever leave Earth.)
I’m sure my parents had impressed the idea upon me at some point early on. They still talk about the “amazing” stories I would tell them while I took my bath (apparently a family tradition; my own daughter delivers some pretty wonderful narratives during her own bath times), and we lived in a house full of books. Sure, it would have happened in any case.
But the Future Author Award made it real.
Of course I would write books (or ads, or marketing brochures, or essays, or a blog). I had a blue ribbon that made it so.
I wish I could remember why Mrs. G had such confidence in my literary future; the reason for her prophecy is lost to my memory. But I’ve never forgotten the gesture. There’s a part of me that wants to do everything I can to make sure I don’t let that faith be misplaced, and to fulfill the destiny that was given me in a partitioned classroom on the last day of school.
I wonder if anyone else from that class has kept theirs, or if it means as much to them as mine does to me.