this guy writes the same thing over and over again, but a little different each time, so much like gertrude stein, cyclical, i’ve never encountered someone who does it quite like that, cyclical to the point of incantation - rural fixation, rumination, fish, rivers, mud, brothers, mothers, fathers, rusted nails, reading his prose is like falling asleep on a boat, rocking back and forth, lulling, but sounds too, shocks, and then calm again, though with Markus, it’s visceral and disturbing too. it’s as though he’s writing short stories that are sestinas. can language be soothing and disturbing? yes, i think it can. i know it can.
"When he asks us brothers, Where is your mother, one of us brothers whispers, Fish, and the other one of us mutters, Moon. To this, these words, our father, he nods with his head, then he heads back down to the river. And without so much as a word or a wave from his goodbye, we watch our father walk back across the river’s muddy water, back to the river’s other side: walking and walking and walking on, until he is nothing but a sound that the river sometimes makes when a stone is skipped across it.”
An Impassioned Rant: In Defense of an Author's Hard Work
What makes me the saddest about this whole discussion of books, ebooks, and price is how the desire of the consumer (for low prices) devalues the hard work of the author.
So many of the comments (which I’m not supposed to read) on mainstream articles on the topic make the utterly preposterous supposition that it costs nothing to produce an ebook — that when you take away the physical object, there is very little else that goes into its production.
Frankly, it’s an offensive assumption, because the writers that I know and love are some of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever encountered. They spend years of their lives working on their books. They toil away at day jobs and then write when they’re not working. After their book gets published, they work their asses off to get it publicized, they do events, they write supplementary materials, they maintain websites, they talk to fans online, and they start writing their next book — A WRITER NEVER STOPS WORKING.
And most booksellers I know do the same thing because they love books so much, they love authors so much, they love stories and culture and thought so much that they, too, toil away.
And many of the people I know who work for publishers are the same way as well.
Don’t try to tell me (or them) that there is no work that goes into a book except its printing, shipping, and storage.
So, dear commenter, if you want to pay $1.99 for some unedited drivel that took someone a month to write and a minute to upload, go right ahead. But do not — I repeat, DO NOT — tell me that is all that years of an author’s life is worth to you, and months of an editor’s or a publicist’s or a designer’s life, and weeks of a bookseller’s life or hours of yours, the individual reader’s life, is worth.
How can an ebook (or any book) be worth exactly $9.99, regardless of whether it took 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years to write and publish?
If you see yourself first as a consumer, then by all means, search for the deals, buy the cheapest crap, and keep the cycle going. You’ve obviously got lots of marks in your favor these days (not to mention many states and the US Department of Justice). But if you consider yourself a reader, then do yourself a favor and be willing to pay for good content, be willing to respect hard work, and be willing to do whatever it takes to help this vibrant and passionate culture survive. Because frankly, I’m nervous about handing literary culture over to the consumer. And I sure as hell don’t trust Amazon with it.
“He never talked about his mother — and I had learned never to ask — but I sometimes sensed her absence in his reactions to certain events, as if he knew even then that there existed under everything a universal grief.”—
- Karen Thompson Walker
galley edition of The Age of Miracles (Random House), due out June 26, 2012
“Raymond Chandler on Los Angeles: “A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is…”—
"Among the many curiosities of this correspondence: “No offense intended” by the card’s image (a book cover from Sheldon Lord’s A Woman Must Love), the mention of Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker piece on William Gaddis, the brick shithouse of a palm tree, and a request to eyeball DeLillo’s “new novel” (Cosmopolis?). So many of the sentences create space for wondering what more there is to know.”
sigh. thinking about how hard of a life it must be to be homeless, to be mentally ill. as i left the bookstore today, paramedics were tending to a homeless man who sleeps on our block every day. he had passed out, or was having a seizure, or something. he didn’t look good. i was so glad that the paramedics were there, that someone had called them, that someone was tending to him.
but as i was riding home, i started crying. i felt such compassion for him, and such helplessness. i see him every day. often times, he’s sleeping, wrapped in his blanket, using his shoes as a pillow. he never asks for money. he isn’t loud. i haven’t seen him “go off” in a really long time. i think it is the same guy who we used to call the “town crier” a few years back. if it’s the same guy, he was a lot louder then, he would yell, he would even sing sometimes. and then he disappeared for at least a year. but even transients move in cycles — about 6 months ago, he was back again, but much more subdued. hardly ever said anything. i certainly didn’t know his name. what happened in that time when he was away? and what will happen to him now?
maybe his body was failing him because he hadn’t had any food. maybe he ran out of a drug, prescribed or not, that had been keeping him level. maybe he is dying. maybe the paramedics will take him away, maybe, at the hospital or in the ambulance, they’ll try to save him. but who will know? who will care? there won’t be anyone to notify. if he’s “okay,” where will he go when he’s discharged? will they save his blanket for him? will they show him compassion? will they care that he has no money? no insurance?
and i may never know what happens to him.
or maybe he’ll be back tomorrow, sleeping on the sidewalk a few doors down…