Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Rambling about Books

Oh shut up, you're in finals, you prefer lighter fare.

Currently reading Matt Mason's The Pirate's Dilemma, a pleasant if flimsy little social history on how piracy has shaped the biggest movements in recent cultural history. It's been fleshing out a lot of things I was already superficially aware of [the creation of Sealand, how The Pirate Bay continues to operate, etc], but if you're already immersed in this sort of talk on a regular basis, there's not much there for you. But if the emerging world of free culture is new to you, it's a fun, light primer on how we got here, and what the future might bring us.

Downloading sneakers to 3D printers? Interesting....

You may notice that Mason's book was not in that photo of my reading stack I took the other week. I have no regrets. Plus, there are hardcovers by Cory Doctorow and Jose Saramago in the bargain bin. How am I to fight that, Windsor?

Aside: if I hadn't mentioned it yet, Alice LaPlante's 'The Making of a Story' is officially the greatest book on creative writing I've ever read. It's like the expanded director's cut of Prose's 'Reading Like a Writer,' giving you pointers and then giving you the full text of stories that do it well, so you get a kickass short story anthology as well as a guide from someone who's taught creative writing at Stanford for years. It's the last book I'll be buying on the subject. Time to get to it.

In other news, I know I spend a lot of time here bemoaning the state of the publishing industry [note I said the publishing industry, not the book retail industry, Big Brother], but when you see what people buy....ack.

Take Kevin Trudeau for example. The man has been indicted for fraud, larceny, misrepresentation, and on and on. But the guy can self-publish his books on the natural cures 'they' don't want you to know about, washing his hands of his own products with a disclaimer telling you, 'the man doesn't want you to know about these miraculous cures! I've seen the results! But I'm not a doctor, so if you take them unsupervised, it's your own damn fault.'

But by God, they sell! Trudeau knows if there's one great way to make money, it's to prey on people's fears, and there's few things people are more afraid of than death. So bust out the snake oil.

Nevermind the cult of Oprah. I swear, Windsor, you have no idea the power this woman wields. If she mentions a single book on her show, even in passing, we will sell at least 60 copies. On a Monday morning. With inclement weather. And everything she shills is a variation on the Law of Attraction hooey, that argues if you think happy thoughts, you'll get whatever you want. And who doesn't want whatever they want?!

This isn't even taking the manga fans into account.

I know someone in my line of work shouldn't complain about the people who buy the product, or about the product itself, since one Eckhart Tolle blockbuster can finance Penguin's entire fiction line the next year, but it's so disheartening. I should be happy to see literacy in action, but Good Lord sometimes I want to smack these people with a copy of Pynchon. Not because I like him, because 'Gravity's Rainbow' is heavy.

Recommend me some books, Windsor!


Blogger Athena said...

It's too bad Gravity's Rainbow is such a terrible book though....

7:32 PM

Blogger The Trail said...

Are you one of the 15 people who read it? I tried reading V. last year, got about 60 pages in before I gave up. No dice, Thomas.

8:13 PM

Anonymous David said...

The Jazz Culture of Postwar Japan by Michael Molasky

12:48 AM


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