Friday, February 22, 2008

The Populist Publisher Blog Author Survey

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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Literary Game

Is that the right word… literary? I’m not at all sure it applies to me, really. I fled academia years ago, whimpering softly to myself. Especially after the one Mod Lit class that I was forced to take… well, not forced, exactly. It just fitted in with my schedule, and I thought maybe I ought to be a little more conversant with the Giants of English Lit who had published something after 1940?

Well, it turned out to be a bad move, and I never made that mistake again. If it’s in the approved canon and published after the Depression then it’s probably a tedious and politically correct wank-fest, passing laborious to read, and generally about as much fun as do-it-yourself root canal surgery. Life is just too short, and I am an equal opportunity fugitive anyway. I’ll run just as fast from “The DaVinci Code” as I will from “The Corrections”. Oprah’s Book Club be damned… unless she picks one of my books, in which case I will cheerfully play along. (Scribbling notes to myself… Oprah Book Club… is there someone I have to sleep with, or something? Will they accept decorating advice or home-baked cookies, in lieu?)

Just don’t pop off the name of the literary wonderkind-du-jour in front of me, and expect any response but a blank expression, and the question. “Umm… who is that?” Look, I read all of Raymond Chandler, once. Surely that counts for something.

So… I am not literary. I tell stories. I tell stories about people, and interesting times, with a bit of vivid color and a lot of historical research, and I try to explain about how things were, and how they happened the way they did, and how it all felt to the people who had to cope with the resulting messy situation. If I identify with any literary heroine, I’m afraid it would be Flora Post, who hated team sports and untidiness.

(a variant of this essay previously posted at The Daily Brief some months ago. Look, it's the done thing to recycle.)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

BAMC – Bookshelf: Follow Up

(Background for this project here)

Mary Simonsen and I delivered a box and then some of books donated by IAG writers on Friday afternoon. We had agreed to meet at the flagpole in front of Brooke Army Medical Center’s main entrance at 2 PM, and take the books up to the Patient Library, where we would turn them over to the volunteers who keep it in order.

There was zilch local media interest, I’m afraid – which might have been a good thing, because doing a formal presentation through the Public Affairs office would have meant involving approval of the Commanding Officer, and the Judge Advocate General’s office taking a stern eye at the value of the donation… in brief, a lot of bureaucratic fuss and waaaaaay out of proportion to our aim… which is – to put our books in front of a large number of readers who otherwise might not have encountered them. And to do a good deed for some young servicemen and women who richly deserve any good thing we can do for them.

And there was one more snag – my daughter hadn’t realized that the registration on her car had run out, as of the last day of December. The gate guards wouldn’t allow her to drive onto post with expired registration – presenting somewhat of a challenge, since we would barely make the 2 PM deadline for rendezvous at the flagpole. I had her drive me around to the south entrance; a shorter distance to hoof it with a heavy box of books.

I used to work at a corporation close by – and for my lunch-hour break, I would pop onto post and walk a brisk circuit around the facility – so I at least knew exactly were to go and the shortest way to get there. Nice to see that the rehab facility, which was entirely built with donations, is finished and open for service; so are the two new Fisher houses. They were still under construction when I left that particular employment.

So – puffed up the long drive to the main entrance, met Mary and her sister, and bro-in-law, infiltrated the facility and stealthily found our way up to the fifth floor. The patient library is a small office ante-room just off the main fifth-floor elevator lobby, entirely filled with bookshelves and books, a pair of chairs with a low table and a GSA-issue magazine rack. And there was no one there at all. We weren’t even that late! Nothing daunted, we tastefully arranged the books we had brought on the low table, stealthily took two pictures to prove we had been there and departed; mission accomplished.

We went back to my house for tea and scones; recipe for the scones available upon request.

Thanks to everyone who sent books: besites ourselves, donors included Frances Hunter, Tony Burton, Christy Tillery French, Jack Dixon Michael Katz Diane Salerni, Joy Collins, Donna Nordmark Aviles, Laurie Pooler Pelayo, Marva Dasef, Al Past and Melika Dannese Lux. I made an attempt to read as many of them as I could fit in, and to write and post a review at Blogger News Net. I’m only sorry I couldn’t read them all – I’m a fast reader, but not supersonic.