This blog has been renamed The Formality of Occurrence because that is the name of my next big project. I started it about 10 years ago and decided it needed to sit, but it’s up and running in my head non-stop these days. I am finishing work on eight short-stories and then will be focused for at least the next two years on bring The Formality of Occurrence to fruition.
First step is research and a shit load of note taking and question lists. I will be reading lots of Percival Everett, Kathleen Collins, William Faulkner, Mat Johnson, Tracy K. Smith, James Baldwin, E.B. DuBois, Jean Rhys, Teju Cole, Claudia Rankine, Ta Nehisi Coates, and will even be attempting a full reading of Ralph Ellison’s monumental unfinished novel, Three Days Before the Shooting, in it’s unexpurgated form. There are many other books on my library shelf as well.
My intention with this blog is to record my reading notes on these books and to indicate how they map onto the grid that is the book I’m working on. It’s not going to be a nice little moral treatise on the horrors and evils done to black people in America. And it’s not going to be a simple story about identity (which is how it started out), or even expanded existential exploration. I don’t yet know what it’s going to be, if you want honesty. I’m mad at the world, that I know. Mad at how limited and stupid everyone is about race, how limited and stupid we are about the language we use to talk about racial issues. I see insanity and mental illness on so many fronts, ignorance, too, and the overt creation of confusion and catastrophe that simply serves no one.
How do you turn that anger into a bomb and a book? How do you use that anger to free your own sense of language and story? How do you rip free of the bonds of all the mental illnesses that seems to have infected everyone in America, making it impossible for them to escape the asylum they have created for themselves and their children?
Yes. Everyone. All of us. Research is all about finding a way in.
I’ve been a fan of Jesse Biddle since 2010. If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have read my story from Jesse’s first appearance in Clearwater… SEE HERE where I recounted first seeing him make his first professional start in Williamsport.
I consider myself lucky that I’ve gotten to know him. After seeing someone pitch over the years you start to recognize their rhythm, their little habits, all the things they do before-and-after each pitch.
When I saw Jesse back in June, it was his second to last start before being deactivated. He seemed tense, all the “little things” seemed off, nothing you’d notice if you’d hadn’t been watching him for years.
Tonight, Jesse was different, he was like that Jesse I’ve known all these years. His confidence was back and all the little habits are just as they were when he was here in Clearwater back in 2012…
Barnes & Noble re-launched PubIt! this week as Nook Press, a largely superficial makeover which failed to address some fundamental problems, like restricting access to US self-publishers only, and introduced new howler: updating existing titles causes the loss of all ranking, reviews, and momentum.
There were only two noteworthy things, to me, about this launch. First, the PubIt! brand had been closely associated with Barnes & Noble. This re-launch seems like an attempt to tie the Nook Press brand to their subsidiary Nook Media, probably in advance of a sale (Barnes & Noble already sold a stake to Microsoft, and a smaller slice to Pearson – Penguin’s parent company but maintain a controlling interest in Nook Media).
This re-launch is full of things that sound great in a corporate press release (innovative editing tools!) that most professional self-publishers won’t really care about, which makes me further suspect this is more…
There’s a slew of lessons in this post by Nate Thayer, although you need to read the comments to get the full story. Some serious miscommunication here all the way around. Still, it’s 2013 and writers continue to get the short end of the stick.
Here is an exchange between the Global Editor of the Atlantic Magazine and myself this afternoon attempting to solicit my professional services for an article they sought to publish after reading my story “25 Years of Slam Dunk Diplomacy: Rodman trip comes after 25 years of basketball diplomacy between U.S. and North Korea” here http://www.nknews.org/2013/03/slam-dunk-diplomacy/ at NKNews.org
Cottage industry has slipped back into vogue in America in the past five years. Indie authors are setting up shop in bedrooms and dining rooms and kitchen tables on every street in every neighborhood from Staten Island to Oahu. In 2005 about 300,000 new book titles hit the shelves of bookstores and the pages of Amazon. In 2012 I’ve read estimates of over 1,000,000 titles — just for this year alone!
It used to be when I told people I was working on a book, they would look at me like I was some cute, exotic monkey creature with bucked teeth and big brown eyes. Now they say, “Oh, do you know Ed Jones or Continue reading →
David Gaughran is someone to pay attention to on these issues. I think the venture he writes about will be short-lived and the market will take care of itself pretty quickly. I may be wrong. But I do think that in the spirit of free enterprise their are consumers who are going to need to pay a price before all is said and done (they already have been, of course, but the suckers who are born every minute have always put food on people’s tables).
That said, the most important thing here is for writers to understand what independent publishing is about. Focused, “hand-crafted,” detailed oriented artists have always been able to find great satisfaction in their work. Readers should go out of their way to support those efforts. This is just another reason to ditch books by corporate houses on principle.
First thing on the path — I was running through the woods — worms writhing this mid-summer morning in a death dance after drowning all night long in a torrential, black rain. Bouncing and leaping into the air, up from their dark tunnels collapsing and spewing water everywhere, they were no doubt more afraid of drowning in that world of their own making than dying on the sunlit surface of this tiny green and blue planet with the rest of us.
I try to go down the trail silently. My dog senses this and prances methodically by my side, not even panting.
Thoughts come to me regarding the purpose of literature. It is said often that there are two schools of Continue reading →
These nine stories are about life as a maturing American watching maturing Americans mature. We all know how life can implode on us at any given moment. I am fascinated by how implosions usually don’t destroy us. They make us better and stronger and teach us lessons. And yet life continues to be such a special mess for each of us.
Implosions? Well, these stories aren’t really about huge destructions to personality, they’re more about the small stuff and the way that small stuff can affect love, dignity, and what gives meaning to waking up every day. Most of these stories, I realize after finishing the book, are memory games where longing and affection act like fogs over reality.
What I wanted to do with this book was try as best I could to remake the male psyche Continue reading →
Black bear (Ursus americanus ) removing a dead and decaying Salmon from a creek near Hyder, Alaska. Black bears tend to be more timid than their larger relative, the Alaskan Coastal Brown bear, so they come out of the brush, grab a fish, and then go back into the brush to eat it. Brown bears will generally eat the fish where they catch it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Below is a very short excerpt from the middle of a story in the collection Implosions of America. I’ve tried as best I can over the years to write interesting, uncommon fiction that both touches deep and makes the reader wonder about the meaning of life. Don’t ever stop wondering. Don’t ever stop looking to be touched. That is what art is all about.
From “So Beautiful,” a story about reconnecting and maturing beyond beauty.
…She said she wanted to work with grizzly bears and wolves. She said people didn’t understand them. She wanted to represent wild animals. She said that Americans needed to know that black bears will track people for food just like polar bears.
“I read a story once,” she said softly, coming down off her tears. “It was about a black bear that stole children from a village in New England and piled them in a cave on the outskirts of town. The villagers finally found the children, still alive, but wildly frightened and cold. The bear had been filling the pockets of their coats with uneaten pieces of fish he’d caught. He was using the village children to store food for the winter.”
She told me this and in my memory I saw her beautiful face and gentle lips quivering below me. Back then I never imagined someone of such beauty could have those thoughts and laugh so dangerously close to insanity. … <snip>
Implosions of America: Nine Stories will be released to the Amazon Kindle Store on Friday, November 16.