All About Blurbing...

article posted 55 days ago

We’ve all seen them; cover blurbs are ubiquitous, after all. In fact, in recent years I’ve seen books whose back covers are entirely given over to blurbs; the author bio reduced to a line, the book summary sometimes eliminated entirely (or relocated to an interior page or inside cover.)

Still, more often than not, I don’t actually read them… and I wonder if anyone does. Can they have any effect on sales or readership at all? And if not, why are they so ubiquitious? This article has some explanations and ideas… along with some interesting history of the form! And it is more venerable than one might think.

Here’s that link, again: happy reading

Easy Reading and Reading the Easy...

article posted 86 days ago

Like many people in writing and publishing I’ve been known to spend a little time thinking about what people read, what they say they enjoy, and what gets recognized as good writing… Or as important writing. This piece at the Times considers a few questions that have struck me too in recent years.

What is the place of complexity and/or nuance in a culture that more and more demands immediate satisfaction of needs and easy solutions to every problem? I don’t know that there’s a simple response to that (indeed, that may be the point) but, at least, there’s some food for thought with which to begin in this article.

Thinking Bookstores...

article posted 158 days ago

Bookstores are one of my favorite things, so I’ve done my share of worrying in recent years. This is an interesting look at how the situation is developing for independent booksellers. And — the story has a little something interesting to say about the ambient technophilia floating around the culture as well.

A Wish List of Sorts

article posted 185 days ago

The good folks at PW put together this interesting list of what a certain number of folks in LGBTQ publishing would like to see happening in the biz.

There are a lot of interesting things being hoped for out there, and though there is a lot raised here list that I might not necessarily put at the top of my personal priority list there’s also an awful lot that I would. So, it’s an important conversation to have for sure! Take this as an opportunity to think about what you would like to see happening in LGBTQ publishing and see if your priorities are shared by these folks. You can find the article here

Returning to Carter

article posted 195 days ago

Those of you who know me (or, perhaps, who have heard me speak or read somewhere) know of my immense admiration for Angela Carter’s work. I discovered her when I was young and the impact of her writing was immense: the lushness of the language, the expansiveness of the culture behind the tales, the baroque imagination, deep humanity and intellectual rigour, all thrilled me. They still do; I return to this exemplary body of work regularly today.

So I am always thrilled to see her name cycle back into prominence as it has recently. I am eager to share my fondness for these books, so — for those who already know her writing, and for those curious about it — here’s an essay that recently appeared over at Salon on the occasion of the republication of her volume of feminist fairy tales. It touches on a number of the marvels to be found reading Carter and I hope it encourages you to discover, or rediscover, her books.

Here it is again. Happy reading!

Lovely Review of Beginning with the Mirror

article posted 265 days ago

I’m delighted to note that my recent short fiction collection Beginning with the Mirror is receiving terrific reviews. Here’s a great one from The Montreal Review of Books. Many thanks to the team at mRb!

Have a look if you’re curious.


A Welcome Closer Look...

article posted 323 days ago

It feels like a truism to say the world keeps getting increasingly complicated, but I can’t help but sometimes feel that although we all acknowledge that fact as true, too often with a shrug of the shoulders, we may not spend enough time looking at how, why and at what cost this “complexity” keeps growing. That’s why I read this essay the Times with such great interest.

The author looks at how the ambient enthusiasm for new tech keeps burgeoning without a concomitant examination of its effects. What are we giving up for our new diversions? What are the effects of a nearly infinite and permanent web of information (if one is willing to call much of the stuff we all increasingly spend time with by that moniker)? I think we call agree on what is good about these things, but I suspect at least some (perhaps many) of us haven’t given much serious thought to the flip side.

Which means this piece might be worth the time it takes to read. (Even though it’s way longer than a status update.)

Hope you enjoy it!

E-Readers, Sleep and Health

article posted 339 days ago

As if the debate about e-readers and electronic books that has so animated conversations among bookish folks in recent years weren’t lively enough, some Harvard Medical School researchers have added a new wrinkle to the mix. This article will give you the basics of their findings, but, in brief, it seems that reading from an electronic device before bedtime interferes with one’s sleep, which – of course – has an effect on one’s overall health and well-being.

Though it’s a first study, it is certainly something to think about; the article, which can be found here is a quick read and lays out the not-inconsiderable questions.

Enough with the "Relatable"...

article posted 341 days ago

I was delighted to come across this piece at the New Yorker; it says publicly some of the things I’ve been talking about with friends over the last few years. The notion that a work of art’s “relatability” is a key factor in assessing it has seemed outrageous to me since I first heard someone raise the point. In fact, even the basic idea that “relatability” is a critical criterion with any legitimacy at all seems untenable to me.

Though the article doesn’t deal with all my objections to this troubling notion, it does raise some important points: most notably the extent to which “relatability” as critical concept (not to say bromide) is informed with a kind of intellectual laziness, an expectation that one shouldn’t have to do any work in engaging with art, that everything should simply be given to a reader/viewer/listener. And that makes it well worth the reading.

The Publishing "Cycle"...

article posted 362 days ago

Over at the Globe, a certain Mr. Smith has some interesting comments about how publishing decisions are being made at the Big Houses. Given how much attention these — rare and arbitrary-seeming — gigantic advances get, and what kind of impact they have on a fragile literary ecosystem, it’s nice to see someone taking a nuanced look at them.

Have a look here to get a sense of some of the effects of the search for the next “Big Book.”