• A new take on binge reading?

    Binge reading. Okay, I love to read, and by extension — write. But, binge-ing? Though I understand the editorializing on the “joy of reading”, why can’t someone engage in one of the most pleasurable solitary activities in recent times that doesn’t require a screen, without having to acknowledge some kind of condition be met to make it happen?

    One night a couple of summers ago, the power went out and, unable to watch Netflix or engage in my customary internet fugue, I lit a candle and picked up a thriller by Ruth Rendell. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my sole source of entertainment for an evening was going to be a book.

    Okay, I’ll roll with the context. The reader is forced to entertain himself with what he hopes is the right kind of fiction. He starts to read, but then something weird happens. The physical book becomes a sort of extension of an autoplay feature that somehow the reader incorporates into the method by which he consumes the book. (Hello 21st century metaphor for protracted media consumption?)

    Now this may all seem a bit rich, coming from a fiction writer. You aren’t enjoying reading? Then read longer! Read faster! The problem is you! But the corollary to this way of reading — of taking books down in gulps rather than sips — is that you will discover much more quickly when a book isn’t for you, and you can then set it aside without the nagging suspicion that you might have sabotaged it by your method of ingestion.

    Sigh. I just like reading with a rhythm that’s on my own terms. | LINK

  • Book subscription services

    The race is on to be this century’s take on the old Columbia House model of (instant) gratification. Of course, it’s not that instant, but the subscription model of book purchasing takes out much of the musing over how and when to purchase your next favorite novel. Book Riot presents 30 of ’em.

    Me? I’ve only tried one service — Powells. Nothing wrong with it, but, alas, life — and a busy medical practice — managed to get in the way.

    Every six to eight weeks, Powell’s Books delivers the best new books, with special attention to independent publishers. Powell’s promises signed first editions, exclusive printings, and tons of other exciting surprises. For a peek at what Powell’s has featured in past boxes, check out the impressive list here. …
    Past books have included: The Mothers by Britt Bennet, Borne by Jeff VanderMeer, and There There by Tommy Orange. The next book, shipping out on December 18, is A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne.

    Check them all out!

  • Political thriller with ominous overtones to POTUS re-released in time for holidays

    I first heard about this novel which was featured on the Rachel Maddow Show … during a recent feature on Trump’s paranoia (honestly, when isn’t this an issue?). At the time, Amazon was not carrying it. Now the retailer is. Cool.

    Senator Jim MacVeagh is proud to serve his country—and his president, Mark Hollenbach, who has a near-spotless reputation as the vibrant, charismatic leader of MacVeagh’s party and the nation. When Hollenbach begins taking MacVeagh into his confidence, the young senator knows that his star is on the rise.

    But then Hollenbach starts summoning MacVeagh in the middle of the night to Camp David. There, the president sits in the dark and rants about his enemies, unfurling insane theories about all the people he says are conspiring against him.

  • Chinese novelist jailed for writing about gay sex

    A reminder of just how free the U.S. is.

    A Chinese writer has been given a 10 year sentence for writing and selling a novel which featured gay sex scenes. The writer, identified as Liu, was jailed by a court in Anhui province last month for producing and selling “obscene material”.

    Her novel, titled “Occupation”, featured “male homosexual behaviour including perverted sexual acts like violation and abuse.” But her lengthy jail term has sparked protest across Chinese social media.

    According to the Beijing News, Liu – better known by her online alias Tian Yi – has now filed an appeal to the court. Pornography is illegal in China.

  • Trump pulls out all the stops on eve of midterms

    I normally do not write political posts on this, my author blog, but this one is just so insane! We all know that POTUS is doing everything in his power to thwart the momentum the Democratic party has going into the 2018 midterms. Sheer desperation in this man — emblematic of his party’s vibe — is a profound understatement tonight.

    What’s he saying now? That Dem candidate for Georgia governor, Stacy Abrams, wants to take eveyone’s guns away in that state. Yes, it’s a completely inane talking point, but to throw it out there tonight is just, ugh…

    President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday that Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams would take away all guns from the people of the state.

    “Stacey and her friends will get rid of it,” Trump said of the Second Amendment.

    Abrams has not said she would want to abolish the Second Amendment. She has said, however, that she supports an assault weapons ban in Georgia.

    Which is, of course, the Dem party platform. Always has been. I guess I’m just flabbergasted at how stupid this fascist thinks his base really is.

  • National Novel Writing Month

    …or NaNoWriMo, as it’s affectionately called, begins today. I’ve always wanted to take part in this exercise. But now that I’m a published author, I suppose the point is essentially moot. If anything, I adore the spirit behind the cause.

    One part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) celebrates its 20th year of encouraging creativity, education, and the power of the imagination through the largest writing event in the world.
    This year, NaNoWriMo expects over 400,000 people—including over 95,000 K-12 students and educators on our Young Writers Program website—to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Throughout the month, they’ll be guided by this year’s theme: “NaNoWriMo Is…”
    (…)
    “NaNoWriMo is more than just a writing challenge. NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to step out of your everyday life, open your mind to infinite possibilities, and create new worlds with people from around the globe. It’s a joyous leap into unexplored worlds, a laboratory of the imagination, a chance to free yourself from the obstacles that prevent you from telling your story. Our stories help us understand ourselves and others, so we need our stories more than ever in this age to bridge connections and heal divides,” says Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo. Last year, NaNoWriMo welcomed 394,507 participants, in 646 different regions, on six continents. Of these, more than 58,000 met their month-long writing goal.

    Best of luck to all who participate!

  • On bullshit jobs

    I’m always searching for the accessible narrative within social science and economic literature. For someone with an interest (who took only intro sociology and econ courses as an undergrad), Bullshit Jobs is the perfect mass-market tome to consult. I’ve always been interested in the concept of meaningfulness of acts within society, and if those actions are truly needed, or just simply superfluous wastes of time. Bullshit Jobs seems to get right to the point.

    In “Bullshit Jobs” (Simon & Schuster), David Graeber, an anthropologist now at the London School of Economics, seeks a diagnosis and epidemiology for what he calls the “useless jobs that no one wants to talk about.” He thinks these jobs are everywhere. By all the evidence, they are. His book, which has the virtue of being both clever and charismatic, follows a much circulated essay that he wrote, in 2013, to call out such occupations. Some, he thought, were structurally extraneous: if all lobbyists or corporate lawyers on the planet disappeared en masse, not even their clients would miss them. Others were pointless in opaque ways. Soon after the essay appeared, in a small journal, readers translated it into a dozen languages, and hundreds of people, Graeber reports, contributed their own stories of work within the bullshit sphere.

    Until today, it was #4 on my to-read list. Just bought the Audible. Starting tomorrow.

  • Car Trouble

    I always like reading novels that explore certain aspects of Americana. The folklore, demographics, and culture of a given region in a period of time. Perhaps my favorite periods in recent modern history are of the years of the middle twentieth century — specifically the years 1950-1970. I can’t wait for this novel to hit the stands next week.

    A bygone world of childhood haunts and teenage pleasures came rushing back. The Kool-Aid stands I set up in front of the corner laundromat on Church Avenue. Diamond’s candy store, the scene of scandal when an employee was arrested for selling airplane glue to a minor in the days when kids would sniff it to get high. Discount City, the bargain department store where I bought my first record albums for $6.99. I remembered climbing to the corner-apartment house roof with my friend Marcia to see the Coney Island Parachute Jump or the lights of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and fetching my father from bars like the Dew Drop Inn, where he spent too many nights.

    I don’t care if it’s mystery, literary fiction, or historical fiction. I just love the period. Bring it on!

  • Journaling with music

    Pretty interesting post today on the merits of using a playlist of music to document life experiences. Too busy to write? Love music? A nostalgia buff? Why not use the power of the playlist to document your true feelings at a given point in time? Heck, I even did it with the most recent post to this blog.

    There’s actually science backing up why music triggers such visceral memories — a 2013 study at the University of Newcastle in Australia found that pop music helped patients with severe brain injuries remember pieces of their past. The study played the most popular songs from the patients’ life, and asked participants about whether they liked it and what they remembered. The study was the first of its kind to look into how music-evoked autobiographic memories (MEAM) affects people with brain injuries. According to Psychology Today, “Songs that evoked a memory were noted as being more familiar and more well liked than songs that did not trigger a MEAM.”

    A UC Davis study mapped the brain while participants listened to music and found that familiar music activates regions of the brain linked to emotion and memory. Petr Janata, the study’s author said, “a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that stays playing in our head.””It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye,” Janata said in a press release. “Now we can see the association between those two things — the music and the memories.” A more recent study from McGill University tested responses to four different moods of music, and concluded that “happy” samples of music triggered the fastest memory recall.