Monday, June 9, 2014

Jareds Juiced on Tea

When you get people full up of conspiracy theories about the government trying to enslave its own citizens, eventually there will be a crack and the weak link will go on a bender for blood. This is what seems to have happened again this weekend in Las Vegas. There is a spectrum of mass murder ailing us, running the gamut from an out and out crazy like Jared Lee Loughner - who shot Gabrielle Giffords in a psychotic haze, to Jerad and Amanda Miller, coherent and politically active Tea Partiers who apparently acted out of a desire to spark a political uprising.

It will be difficult but not impossible for right wingers to claim a distance from these two. It looks like even Cliven Bundy knew they were a couple slices short of a club sandwich - they were asked to leave the Bundy compound in the middle of that family's faux showdown over grazing rights. But what they have in common with Loughner besides a first name, is a propensity to blame the government for all the problems in the world, a propensity they seem to share with the Republican Party platform. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Literary Scene Today

I was going to write about social media. I don't really have any expertise, but who does? But instead I thought i'd touch on a broader idea, and that is the notion of grassroots literary culture. This is the  emerging world of self-publishing and independent publishing that is beginning to shake out authentic voices from the multitude, voices capable of gaining a readership on new literary platforms such as Amazon or Smashwords. Traditional publishing that once held a monopoly sway over opinion and access to print has crumbled under the rush of technological change and societal pressure for reform. Many have been resistant to the revolutionary sweep of the change, including writers who had gotten used to the familiar voice of the old master and his promise of easy living in the big house of belle letters where all writers would have to do was cogitate and dream, untouched by the drama of real life and the possibility of confrontation with authentic rejection. The critique of the new literary landscape until now had been an elitist lament that the unwashed masses were incapable of discerning quality in the written word. But I think this is nonsense on multiple levels. Literature is meant to serve the people and if they are directly engaged in the search for what pleases them, their tastes will be expanded by the variety of new voices they are exposed to.

Instead of a cloistered existence apart from the battlefield of the culture wars, writers now must get used to the fact that their work will be taken up into the whirlwind of debate and argument that marks every corner of our collective life as a people. This is a calling worth pursuing, and not just a new opportunity to chisel out a crust of bread in the form of cheap entertainment. Readers too, must take their responsibilities and opportunities for curation seriously, and help promote the voices that will bring this vision to light.

The reason this is a fresh topic for me is my book SAVIOR, in the middle of its first few months of existence on Amazon, is struggling to find a readership, and every review is like a touchstone marking a victory or defeat on the long march forward. Here's a shout out to Kateshine, for your honest and simple words of support and encouragement in the latest review. It's awesome to connect with readers who have taken the initiative to set down their support.

By the way, SAVIOR will be on sale for 99 cents this week from Thursday, June 5 to Sunday, June 8. Pick up a copy and spread the word by sharing the link:

Illustration from Wikimedia (The Editorial Staff of Krokodil by P Belyanin 1929)