Roll Over Gutenberg and Tell Your Printers Devil the News!

    Tough about Borders Books, eh. Guess they never should’ve swallowed Brentano’s. That’s a specific New York reference for New Yorkers of certain ages.

    We readers should mourn Borders diminishment. Coupled with vanishing independent bookstores, fewer national outlets will limit variety. Less shelf space means filling what remains with more common titles and crowding out the new, experimental or just plain weird.

    Might Borders’ survival mean selling Glenn Beck coloring books? Given the addled masses lapping up his daily misinformation, and a struggling book chain looking to turn quick, immense, tidy profits, how soon until corporate interests begin offering brain-dead America’s favorite savant’s wigwams and drawings for his audience’s pleasure?

    Naturally with Beck scribbling inside the lines isn’t as important as smoking peyote-infused crayons. 

    There’s no shortage of reasons why brick and mortar bookstores are being strangled. But those inquisitions are for earnest periodical column inches. Pains me as it does, Reveries ( and the ebooks crashing in after it will be major factors in further crippling the above. 

    Yet brick and mortar stores aren’t entirely imperiled. As long as there are bound Helmut Newton and Enrique Metinides photo compendiums, there will be genuine bookstores. Handheld devices suffice for literature. Only viewing either photographer’s enlarged prints at the International Center of Photography can best the thrills of seeing them shimmer across the pages of an oversized book.

    After expanding the four stories comprising Reveries, I bypassed circulating the manuscript through traditional channels. I chose digital diffusion because I well understood the collection’s theme precluded any publisher from taking a chance. Away from writing I’m in business. My other Bible glorifies the bottom line. 

    Brave publishers like Barney Rosset and Maurice Girodias are admired, but the first is mothballed, the second dead. Their influence is past tense. And their successors, particularly their corporate overlords, are risk-adverse to inventiveness if it remotely threatens the holy bottom line. So no pioneers among the current ruling bunch.

    Without our current technology no way I would’ve taken Reveries the vanity press route. Keystrokes can instantaneously update manuscripts, thereby simplifying compilation. Bytes also eliminate need for warehousing product. I much prefer my butt dusting a seat at Maison Premiere in Williamsburg than inventory accumulating dust and accruing cost. 

    It was easy forgoing the supplicant/beseecher jig writers perform in order to curry the elusive nod of an exalted editorial patron. For the longest I’ve yearned to toss my name upon the American letters heap. A few years ago I came close. Had an agent and everything. Ultimately I withdrew that manuscript from consideration and stopped responding to the agent’s entreaties. Healthy as my ego is, my personal satisfaction is paramount. 

    What I’d written then was decent. Good, safe, inoffensive, too. It would’ve been one of those “sensitive” first novels whose “perception” might’ve “astounded” as it induced plenty of “poignancy.” 

    The story presented could’ve garnered respectful notices. Before being defrocked and exiled from journalism, though leaving my fair share of critiquing behind, I imagined some freelancer hankering after a sterling clip reading that softball and struggling mightily not to muscle up on his or her swing while trying to smack it over the “Important!” sign covering the short right-field fence. 

    Sure. It was that good. A less mannered Auchincloss.

    All it lacked was verve, vigor and vinegar. Instead of delivering a racket it dropped a hush. Couldn’t produce what ought have been my last book first, could I? 

    My satisfaction demanded something short and sharp. Like Reveries.

    Browbeaten into societal relativism as Americans have been, making plain talk so much slander against our gentle ears, I invite visceral reactions. 

    Political correctness has robbed American English of vibrancy. Brittle as our usage has become, fragile as we’ve become, the formerly innocuous now bears the potential to shock and enrage.

    Woe unto thee who speaks unfiltered.

    On the other hand, no way I wanted Reveries to come across as cool, hip and flip. This has not been developed through some graduate writing program! 

    Nor, as the ad blurb states, does Reveries feature zombies, vampires or celebrities. The first two indicate a regression into adolescence, while the third often behave worse than sugar-saturated preschoolers. Nonetheless Borders’ plight kicked in my mercantile reflex. 

    If a Glenn Beck coloring book is too lowbrow, what about getting either Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian to lend her brand, uh, name to a book which traces the evolution of Daisy Dukes? (I bet Al Capp never saw that coming.) 

    Yes, single-cell plants have greater complexity than my prospective Paris/Kim project. Meaning it would sell easier than swampy Florida real estate to snowbirds. One glance at the cover and even halfwits could assume the sentences within would be simple, the chapters short and the art “hawt!”


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