Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Matchbook Story, Issue 2

Although this may not be particularly relevant to anyone who doesn't live within commuting distance of Santa Cruz, Matchbook Story is having a bash for the second matchbook volume on July 1st at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, which is located at 402 Ingalls Street. I'm not an entrant this time, so this doesn't  smack even a little of ruthless self-promotion.

Editor Kyle Petersen probably doesn't really need my help. He had a front page story in the  Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Did I say there was no self-promotion involved? Well, maybe just a little. I was interviewed in said article to hold forth on Matchbook Story and the fate of small local presses in general. Who knows? The words in the article may even be more or less what I said.

Friday, June 18, 2010

July 1st is eavesdropping day in England

I don't live in England, but if I did, I would be very tempted to take part in this interesting competition sponsored by the Guardian. On July 1st, they're challenging everyone to eavesdrop on their neighbors and then take what they record and make some kind of story or other written art piece out of it.

Now frankly, I'm not sure if this really cool, or just mainly cool and a little bit creepy, but in any case if you follow the rules and live in the UK, you might see your work up on their blog or even anthologized. And if you don't live in the UK, why not play along anyway? You can post the result on your own blog, or send it to me and I'll post it here. Subject to my own discretion of course, and you aren't going to be getting any money. Or fame, for that matter. Or copyediting. Basically, you won't be getting anything. Sorry.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ulysses, or the downside of ebooks, part one

Sure, I work in an indie book store and ebooks apparently threaten our very livelihood. However, that may well just end up being collateral damage of the tech revolution. At any rate, that's not the problem I want to write about today. After going to my  Finnegan's Wake group last night, it's not surprising that this bit of info from Slate's The Big Money feature. In  a rich bit of irony, Ulysses is once again being banned for indecency, this time in the form of an online graphic novel called Ulysses "Seen" where you will have the, uh, titillating pleasure of seeing Buck Mulligan in mid-nude dive.

Although it does raise questions about a corporation like Apple getting foolishly involved in censoring a classic, the good news is that  at this point in time, there are easy enough ways around it. So check out Ulysses "seen".  It's your civic duty to do so...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jonathan Franzen on The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

There's a nice essay by Jonathan Franzen on  rereading The Man Who Loved Children by Australian author Christina Stead  in the latest  NYT Book Review. I assume it's a preface to the new edition of the book.

I first came across Franzen through a long rant of an essay about novel writing in the late stages of the twentieth century ( "Perchance to Dream", Harper's, April, 1996, for those who have access to it), so I actually know him first as a  brilliant essayist and only later as a wonderful novelist. It's not easy wearing both these hats so well, but I sincerely believe he does.

I first learned of Stead's The Man Who Loved Children many years ago when I was either just going into college or in some summer hiatus in between. As Franzen says in his article, it has never been widely adopted in college courses, and  I am quite sure that it was through some extracurricular reading that I learned of it and not in the classroom. It's actually a book I've heard endorsed many times over the years and as Franzen says himself, if an intelligent introductory essay by Randall Jarrell in a previous edition at a much more opportune moment in literary history hasn't put it over the top into the classics category, it is probably destined to its outsider status.

I'll admit to having started it once or twice. (Actually, I suddenly remembered that the first reference was a New Yorker article, because I remember quite clearly that there were quotes that I didn't understand the importance of. I was not dissuaded, because I have rarely if ever been wowed by quotes in the New Yorker in reviews. I'm a bit quote  deaf,  I think.) I don't think that at the first stab, I was really old enough to appreciate Stead's effort, but Franzen's essay makes me think I would like it. A lot.

My one quibble with the essay is that it makes out that  Stead was unattractive as a child. That's hard to quite believe from the picture in the review.

Does this mean I'm finally going to get around to tackling it? I would like to say definitely, but I don't know. I'll get back to you on that one.