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Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times: A Collection of All Original Essays from Today's (and Tomorrow's) Young Authors on the State of the Art ... Hustle--in the Age of Information Overload Paperback – May 25, 2005
Book Description: The sky is NOT caving in on American letters. Far from it. The immensely talented writers in this collection all came of age professionally in the last decade--and all chose reading and writing over another more lucrative and decidedly flashier pursuits. They became producers and consumers of the written word at the most media-saturated time in history, a time when books face greater cultural competition than ever before. Why? How did they come to writing as a calling? What's the relevance of literature when the very term seems quaint? Bookmark Now answers these questions--and many more you probably never thought to ask. Like: What to do when your rabid fans start writing fiction about you? Why don't you have to choose between John Updike and Grand Theft Auto? And, can you really get paid for it?
The end result is not only a voyeuristic peek into the creative lives of today's writers, but a timely glimpse into a changing book business. Storytelling, it will become clear-as a means of self-realization, community building, or simply putting one's point across-is NOW more relevant than ever before.
|Authors Featured in Bookmark Now|
Glen David Gold
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| Authors Featured in Bookmark |
From Publishers Weekly
The goal of this collection of essays from some of America's younger or emerging novelists is to disprove the dire warnings regarding the disappearance of a reading public. Smokler, a book critic and commentator, passionately sets the tone when he assails the sense of impending catastrophe that has gripped the literati since the 2004 publication of the NEA report Reading at Risk, which he accuses of double-talk. He brings together writers who, faced with other choices—careers in film, video production, the vast landscape of Internet possibilities—still opted to pursue writing as a career. This is a varied bunch, from Christian Bauman, who tells of discovering Hemingway as a soldier in Somalia untutored in literature, to Paul Flores, a Latino spoken-word artist who began writing in response to California's Proposition 187, which denied public education to immigrants. These writers have used all available avenues—MFA programs, stints as journalists, blogs, exposure to other countries and cultures—to find their subject matter and voices, whether lyrical, such as bestselling author Tracy Chevalier, or satirical, as in Robert Lanham's The Hipster Handbook. In addition to showcasing individual talents, the book illustrates a generational posture: these writers are relaxed and confident in their audience. Most write with ease and immediacy, as if the space between writer and reader has grown measurably closer. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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There is, however, some amount of hope. For those fearful of the book's death, some essays, and especially the collection's introduction, do serve to promote optimism in an increasingly TV/video game/interactive culture. It would have just been nice to have more of these moments that actually followed up on the promise of the collection's subtitle: Writing in Unreaderly Times.
1) Blogging : from the early days of Pamie.com when there were so few bloggers out there that pioneers like Pamie built up huge followings, to the blogger echoing and exhaustion of recent bloggers who are contemplating stopping altogether or printing their blogs on paper for distribution. We seem to go full circle on these newer paradigms of the same essence - i.e. writing!
2) Other new entrants: hip-hop as poetry, video games as the replacement to the novel, spoken word poetry
3) The limitations of MFA programs: graduate students average 1 story a year; no one is making a living out of writing ten years after the program - per one graduate's experience.
4) Collaborative writing: husband and wife or same sex couples finding another level of intimacy and bonding via their writing. So, not everyone has a Scott/Zelda relationship!
5) The dangers of self-aggrandisement - where the novelist appears as a character in the book - and how vulnerable one is in the Internet era where critics can pounce from everywhere in cyberspace.
6) A Dave Eggers-like take on Dave Eggers - it appears that shock value and rediculous juxtapositions of words and situations sell.
7) The Latino writer in America - dreaming in Spanish and writing in English - must be quite uncomfortable, especially with some of the racially obvious laws in California that are mentioned in the book
8) The rise and fall of Gay Lit - AIDS gave it a voice that is now hard to maintain because AIDS has drifted into the rest of the catalog of sexually agnostic deseases plaguing mankind
9) Our obsession with work has filtered into literature. Work or the workplace is a setting for many books. The paradox is that in being forced to do a second (or even third)job to pay the bills, writers are finding limited time to ply their craft Blame it on work!
10) The vanishing mid-list due to the Internet and the rise of the blockbuster that is actively sought by mainstream publishers. Or put another way, the mid-list has been thrown onto the Internet by all those self-published authors - finally giving them an outlet for their dreams, if they are willing to work hard to promote them.
Shane Joseph [...]
My favourites among the 24 essays include the one where Paul Collins reads through 121 years of the proto-blog "Notes and Queries", and the one where Neal Pollack discovers fan fiction written about himself. Also, the one where Nell Freudenberger talks about reading her short stories to students in China while reading her father's teenaged journals from his trip to Communist Yugoslavia and Hungary. And the one that alternately mocks and adores the Eggers/McSweeney's/Believer magazine cabal. Oh, yeah, and the one where Glen David Gold confesses to Googling himself obsessively. Meghan Daum's essay about the vocal tics of the NPR set was interesting (though it would have made more sense as a spoken word piece), and Pamela Ribon's tale of how she accidentally became a "real writer" kept me smiling and reading. There were a few dead spots, though, mostly the stuff about whether an MFA in Creative Writing was a useful detour or not. In fact, the pieces I liked the most had the least to do with writing as an academic subject.
Overall, the book has a higher-than-average ratio of good essays to not-so-good. It will give you an idea of the current state of the "writing life" and will bring you optimism where you may have been feeling none. If anything, there is more writing (and more importantly, more publishing) going on than ever before in human history. The challenge to come will be to filter through all this information to find the writers that are truly gifted and to help them use these new tools to reach audiences that they never could have imagined in the last century.
Kevin's book has shown that writers are finding a way. In fact, they are finding many ways, and that makes Bookmark Now an essential read. Even if it is printed on dead trees.