Thursday May 27, 2010
This mind-bending subway signage reminds me of Baudrillard’s claim that a fake bank robbery would be punished more severely than a real one. The latter only threatens Capital, while the former threatens Reality.
Sent from my iPhone
Good news. Five weeks after appearing in the iBookstore (via Smashwords) my 2006 e-book Single is finally available at the price I chose. Free. So if you’re still unsure how your iPad will render stories about dogs that can’t really talk, astronauts that may or may not exist, and people who cry for a living, your testing can now recommence.
The two stories in Single—“Miss Tennessee” and “The Cryerer”—serve as a nice preview of my forthcoming collection, Why They Cried. Both of them will be in there. And when the writing gets rough, I sometimes wonder if I have ever written (or will ever again write) two stories as good as this pair. Give them a try. Single is of course still available directly from Feedbooks and Smashwords.
Wednesday May 19, 2010
I’m extremely excited to announce that I’ve entered into an agreement with a new e-book imprint run by Canadian lit site Joyland and backed by ECW Press; and that my new collection, Why They Cried, will be released by the imprint this fall.
There will be a lot more to say about this in the coming months, but the bullet points are as follows:
2. The cover, designed by David Gee, is awesome. I can’t stop looking at it.
3. I feel lucky to have met Brian Joseph Davis (close readers will recognize him from a recent coincidence) and Emily Schultz, who run the imprint and are both accomplished writers themselves. I get them and I feel like they get me, which is a great feeling after years of working more or less alone.
4. Want to join me? Joyland is holding a contest to find the third title for their nascent imprint. Details are here. Brian and Emily talked to the National Post yesterday about the imprint and the contest.
5. If you want to keep up with this project as it develops—and to know the second Why They Cried is available—consider joining my mailing list at whytheycried.com.
Friday May 14, 2010
The Cannes Film Festival has swung around again, so I thought I’d revive “The Arab Bank,” my Google Maps-based serial from last year. I’ve tweaked it a little bit, removing the Street View scenes from the story itself so the whole thing loads faster and more readily from the tokens on the map. People I know in advertising tell me that if you think of something, you’d better do it immediately, since somebody else is surely thinking of it. I’m certain mine is not the first story to use Google Maps in this way, but—sure enough—the most famous current example, Dinty W. Moore’s “Mr. Plimpton’s Revenge,” appeared last June, just a month after “The Arab Bank.” Zeitgeists, evidently, are real.
If you’re interested in how this story came about, I did an interview about it with Small Stories shortly after it appeared and later blogged about my trips to Cannes as a trade journalist that inspired the story. The story itself is also included in my 2009 e-book collection Cassingle.
Thursday May 13, 2010
I think I actually typed "Ha" when Brett sent me the manuscript. The coincidence was just too much.
Let me rewind: I was recently recruited (translation: I volunteered and my offer to help was accepted) to join Publishng, a project cooked up by Brett Sandusky—who I know only via Twitter. You can read all about the project on Brett's Publishr blog, but the basic idea is to assemble people with various publishing skills, form a working group, and bring an e-book to market from acquisition through retail. If you know me, or this blog, you know this is right up my alley. I volunteered because I thought it would be fun and I figured I could learn a lot. Now that the team has been assembled, I know I'll learn a lot. The idea is also to be as transparent as possible about the process, so that what we learn can benefit others who (like us) are trying to imagine what publishing might look like as digital-first publishing becomes mainstream.
Back to me typing "Ha." As soon as Brett announced the team, he told me he was e-mailing over a manuscript. When I opened it and saw it was by Brian Joseph Davis, I had to laugh. Brian and I haven't known each other long, but we've quickly become collaborators. He is, along with his wife Emily Schultz, founder of the Toronto-based lit site Joyland. We met at a Joyland event at KGB bar last September. Brian was kind enough to review my e-book, Cassingle, in Toronto's Eye Weekly a few months later and to run a new story by me, "Pangaea," on the Joyland site in March. Last month, I read with him at McNally Jackson as he toured to support his new collection, Ronald Reagan, My Father. Which is where he also met Ami Greko—the only Publishng team member I have met in real life—who invited him to submit a manuscript to the Publishng crew. Brian and I are also collaborating on a project involving my work that will be announced next month. (Topic for future blog post: "You Can Only Be as Transparent as Your Least Translucent Partner.")
I say all this just to get it out there, and to let you know how astounding it was to me—how utterly Ha-inspiring—that Brian had ended up submitting his work to this project and I hadn't been the one who brought him in. The world felt small. As I immediately wrote to Brett, "I guess this can be read in one of two ways. Either I am unqualified to pass judgment, or the coincidence is so ridiculous that it is meant to be."
Brett leaned toward the latter, and Brian had no objection to us both being on the project when I checked it out with him later. Here is what I told Brett about Brian at the time (I'm trying to push myself on transparency for this project, keenly aware that the line between transparency and self-indulgence is thin. I'm sure I will cross it, if I haven't already):
Brian, in my opinion, is a smart and hilarious writer. I read his last book—I, Tania—when we were talking about working together and it made me snort out loud, and I do not snort out loud. (It's a fake autobiography by Patty Hearst if Patty Hearst were, say, Mark Leyner.) He writes stuff I wish I'd written, and he's done very clever stuff on the side, like commissioning well-executed radio plays of his work. (You should really listen to the audio version of "Johnny," a story composed entirely of movie lines that include the name Johnny. The Norma Desmond-esque performance is priceless.)
I'm happy to report that the rest of the team is at least as enthusiastic about Brian's present manuscript as I am. Brian himself introduces it today, along with reactions from the Publishng team. (I particularly like what Matthew Diener has to say, and I've also wondered if we shouldn't just call the book The Millionaire.) The book is in a relatively early stage, as Brian stipulated when he submitted it, but it's well on its way. To give you an idea of how perfect Brian is for this project, the first story in his collection is about a pair of frustrated self-publishers who—angered that their books aren't selling—take a print-on-demand clerk hostage and force him to write something. The Incompetents is likewise a satire that takes a hard, hilarious look at the place, value, and (at times) absurdity of art. The Publishng crew is lucky to have it. I hope we can do it justice.
If you're interested in watching this project unfold, team members will be posting updates on a rotating basis every Thursday at the Publishr blog. There is also a Twitter account, a hashtag, and a Formspring account if you have questions.
Wednesday May 12, 2010
Pictured here is a dust jacket for my story “The Cryerer”—which originally appeared as One Story #8 in 2002—created by graphic designer Patrick Borelli. It will be auctioned off next week at One Story’s Literary Debutante Ball, a fundraiser for the magazine that I’m excited to support.
One Story, founded by Maribeth Batcha and Hannah Tinti, started out with a great idea: sending one slim story out (via good old snail mail) to subscribers every three weeks. Eight years later, they’re up to issue #135 and the list of authors who have appeared in One Story’s pages is a virtual who’s who. For next week’s fundraiser, more than 30 artists have contributed work inspired by issues of One Story. I asked Patrick to design a dust jacket because, well, I thought it would be funny to put a dust jacket on something so slight, but also because I knew Patrick (who is an accomplished comedian as well) had been thinking very hard about book covers. I think he killed this one, and I hope it raises a little money for One Story.
Even if you can’t make it to the event for the silent auction, you can submit an absentee bid on this and the other works up for auction on May 21. With Patrick’s dust jacket, however, it does actually come wrapped around the issue it was inspired by. The best way to acquire the story is, of course, via this auction, but if you’d like to sample it first, it is available in my 2006 e-book release Single.