Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rushing to relax links

For the past couple weeks the literary blogosphere has been alight with coverage of BookExpoAmerica, the big annual publishing industry confab that recently took place at the Javits Center here in NYC, and with endless considerations and reconsiderations of Amazon's Kindle, the rise of e-reading and the demise of books as physical objects, which latter was of course a central concern at the BEA, which led in turn to yet more articles and essays, this time not merely about e-books but about the publishing industry's response. The Times did its thing: Charles McGrath singing his body electrified since he is after all the typical book reader what with golf trips to South Carolina and monthlong excursions to China and zing! zing! zing! ordering up book after book for his Kindle 'cause they're so gosh-darned cheap and $9.99 per adds up to, what, nothing; and then Motoko Rich reporting the BEA frenzy to figure out a way for the conglomerates that own most of the publishing industry to adapt to the e-book takeover and get rich off it.

I've been trying to work up a meaningful response of my own to post here, but what with being swamped at work in this last month before vacation, running around taking care of household responsibilities on my lunch hour, and overwhelmed with writing tasks and deadlines to deal with evenings and weekends, while trying to fulfill at least a tiny bit of my political responsibilities as a supposed revolutionary socialist activist ... what was I saying? Oh yeah, what with life, I haven't been able to give this whole issue of books and e-books the attention I'd like to. Not to worry, however. Yesterday's MobyLives has a pretty good rundown, especially on Sherman Alexie's terrific comments at the BEA and since. I offered some thoughts, shorthand version of what I'd wanted to do here but haven't, in the comments section, so should anyone be interested please head over to MobyLives to check it out.

Fiction writers will also want to check out Tayari Jones' post about how she tackled writing a particular passage in the novel she's working on. She says she's generally reluctant to put this sort of thing on her blog, but I'm glad she did. It's a lesson in subtlety. In how to take the oblique rather than the head-on approach. My writing tends to be short on subtlety. I'm working on it. I just might print Tayari's post and tack it up over my desk. It just might help.

I mentioned my coming vacation. For reasons (1) financial and (2) personal (I didn't apply to any writing residencies for this summer after leaving my loved one alone for a month last year; our agreement is that I won't do it two years in a row), this year it'll be a staying-in-NYC rest break. The F train to Coney Island! Free concerts in Central Park! And so on and so forth; before the end of June I'll put together a list of all the free or cheap things to do. There's no place better for it. (It's slightly possible that some time during July Teresa and I will take a day trip to Connecticut and get married but it's unlikely for reason 1 above. If we do, and probably even if we don't, one of these days I'll write something for this blog about why we would. Why communists would do such a thing. Hint: It's not about renouncing Frederick E.'s analysis or embracing bourgeois institutions. It's about equity.) Overall, the vacation plan breaks down into the following delightful blocks. A.M.: Write. P.M.: Vacate. That's it. Can't wait.