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BLAH BLAH BLOG... (July 2009 - December 2009)

WARNING: some blog links tend to go out of date and eventually disappear from other people's servers; the newer the lead-off date, the more likely the listed link will actually work. Otherwise, caveat h4X0r.

December 19th, 2009
- Are you a grown-up who's also a fan of Twilight and the Harry Potter book series? Well, The Onion News Network has the scoop on the latest reading sensation!!!

December 10th, 2009
- Who cares about who wrote the best book of the aughts/tens/whatever you want to call the first decade of the 21st century? Naw, man, let's talk about the worst books of the decade! The Da Vinci Code? Vernon God Little? Saturday? Let the hatefest begin!!!

November 27th, 2009
- Quote Of The Week from Richard Bachmann, owner of Different Drummer Books in Burlington, Ontario, on the ultimate effect of book prizes on Canadian literature, in this article otherwise celebrating the fact that there are now three major Canuck literary awards (The Giller Pirze, The Governor General's Award, and now the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize):

The fact remains that there are too many books, and the reading public has deputised jurors to do the reading for them.

October 24th, 2009
- I swear to god this ain't me in the cartoon (taken from the October 19th issue of The New Yorker)

October 23rd, 2009
- Here's a prescient quote -- well, it sure seems prescient, given the state of literature these days -- from a Paris Review interview (full PDF available for download) with writer Henry Green (quote originally posted by Nathan Whitlock at his blog):

People strike sparks off each other; that is what I try to note down. But mark well, they only do this when they are talking together. After all, we don’t write letters now, we telephone. And one of these days we are going to have TV sets which lonely people can talk to and get answers back. Then no one will read anymore.

October 18th, 2009
- Okay, someone tell me again what I am missing by not having my book released by an established publishing house?:

Let me introduce myself. My name is Gineen Klein, and I’ve been brought on as an intern to replace the promotion department here at Propensity Books. First, let me say that I absolutely love “Clancy the Doofus Beagle: A Love Story” and have some excellent ideas for promotion.

To start: Do you blog? If not, get in touch with Kris and Christopher from our online department, although at this point I think only Christopher is left. I’ll be out of the office from tomorrow until Monday, but when I get back I’ll ask him if he spoke to you. We use CopyBuoy via Hoster Broaster, because it streams really easily into a Plaxo/LinkedIn yak-fest meld. When you register, click “Endless,” and under “Contacts” just list everyone you’ve ever met. It would be great if you could post at least six hundred words every day until further notice.

(P.S.: the above article from The New Yorker is meant as satire. From what I've been reading about the publishing industry of late, it succeeds, but only barely.)

October 11th, 2009
- Way back in more innocent days -- 2003, to be specific -- I wrote a meandering essay on the topic of self-publishing, starting thusly:

I want a book published. There, I said it. I want to go to Book City or Indigo and see my novel or collection of short stories, or both, sitting there on the shelf between Jay McInerney and Larry McMurtry. I want the satisfaction of knowing that my writing means something to someone other than myself, and that it deserves to be printed and bound and put up for sale.

So long story short (a rarity for me, admittedly), I caved in earlier this summer and self-published my novel. Apart from the uncertainty of actually selling books on my own, and all of the frustrations such an endeavour entails, there is also the matter of eating my own words about not really wanting to self-publish in the first place. So go read the essay and laugh at my expense. And then go to one of these stores and buy a copy of PUNKER THAN YOU, if only so I can assuage my own sense of accomplishment. I'll be glad you did.

October 3rd, 2009
- Continuing with my experiments in online promotion, I now have profile pages on both Facebook and Twitter for PUNKER THAN YOU. You can log onto the Twitter page via the username PokerCartwright -- I had to use "PokerCartwright" because someone's already grabbed up "punkerthanyou", the lousy sumbitch. Fans of Facebook, of course, can stick with the Facebook profile already in progress. Next up: a possible profile at MySpace, though I'm still looking for the proper over-loud music files and eye-bleeding background graphics to make the MySpace experience a proper one. Then again, as visitors to this site might attest: one ugly web page is more than enough.

September 20th, 2009
- Y'know, I know I should have announced this earlier, but I went ahead and self-published my novel (click here to download the official announcement). In fact, it's available for sale right now in independent Toronto stores including Book City, Soundscapes, McNally & Robinson and This Ain't The Rosedale Library. I'm still sorting out the finer details (this all came up in a rush over the past month and a half, for a variety of reasons), so I will be posting further updates as things develop. Oh yeah, you can also log on to the PTY Facebook Page and become a fan. Am I a bloomin' Web Tycoon or whut?!

September 18th, 2009
- The folks at The Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk) cordially invite you to come snicker at Author Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences:

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4:
Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow.

Did they hit him with the kaleidoscope?

September 12th, 2009
- Because it's easier to pilfer from Metafilter.com than to search the web on my own time for interesting links: a professional screenwriter explains in pointed detail Why He Will Not Read Your Fucking Script...

It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't.

(By the way, here's a simple way to find out if you're a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you're not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)

You may want to allow for the fact that this fellow had never written a synopsis before, but that doesn't excuse the inability to form a decent sentence, or an utter lack of facility with language and structure. The story described was clearly of great importance to him, but he had done nothing to convey its specifics to an impartial reader. What I was handed was, essentially, a barely coherent list of events, some connected, some not so much. Characters wander around aimlessly, do things for no reason, vanish, reappear, get arrested for unnamed crimes, and make wild, life-altering decisions for no reason. Half a paragraph is devoted to describing the smell and texture of a piece of food, but the climactic central event of the film is glossed over in a sentence. The death of the hero is not even mentioned. One sentence describes a scene he's in, the next describes people showing up at his funeral. I could go on, but I won't. This is the sort of thing that would earn you a D minus in any Freshman Comp class.

August 26th, 2009
- By now it is obvious to many that newspaper publishers are in trouble. The Internet is usually blamed for luring away paying customers with a free product, but of course there is more to the problem than that. Here's a good essay from someone within the industry, who also cites corporate hubris, an unwillingness to upset potential readers, gross misunderstanding of how the Internet might work as an alternative to paper printing, and simple economics related to the changing business model:

Remember “shoppers,” the poorly designed throwaway publications filled with tacky little ads? Daily newspapers are high-end shoppers. They spent a lot of money on original content to class up the operation and give people a reason to ask for the ads to be delivered. Long before the web displayed the power and leverage of critical mass, newspapers benefited from it; once you got the franchise in your particular locale, you tried not to stir up trouble, because it just distracted you from time better spent cashing checks.

Some people liked the news, sure; most thought they were paying for it. And some papers spent more money on news than they had to. But the papers weren’t selling the news. They were selling ads and charging a lot of money for them because of one thing only: They held an informal monopoly on a societal convention whereby they deposited those ads -- around which they wrapped some reporting, some of it serious, some of it fluff -- on subscribers’ driveways.

That the model was going to change was obvious for many decades; even before the Internet age, papers saw their readership grow older, year by year, as longtime subscribers died and weren’t replaced by new, younger ones. This should have prompted rethinking and change—but it didn’t, really. Why? Because of a quirk in the way the newspaper industry was viewed by investors prevented that. Wall Street’s implacable demand for increased returns -- ever-improving returns on a traditional net of 20 percent or more -- which the papers and their parent companies focused on to the detriment of evolution.

(BTW, this is a two-page essay, so don't forget to read Part Two after you have finished Part One.)

July 28th, 2009
- Well hey there, friends. Long time, no talk. Okay, I have to admit: I haven't been spending much time reading this summer, much less updating this website. All of the new book reviews might indicate otherwise, but that's more of a case of me putting things off until the last possible minute. It is a bit odd considering how, you might say, I have a lot more time off this summer than I had originally planned on having. But now that the novel's done, I'm actually feeling a mite burned out on the whole literary thing. Whatever writing I am doing is more concerned with editing past work rather than creating anything new. That said, the break feels good, so I might coast on all of the previous labour for a while. I will add new reviews when I get to them, and maybe throw y'all a link or two when the mood hits. Otherwise, I won't blame you at all if you don't log in here looking for the good stuff. Take care, and have a good summer. Or what's left of it, at least.

July 12th, 2009
- Usually I don't bother looking at the winning submissions from the Toronto Star Short Story contest, but this year's third place winner is actually pretty interesting:

The Man Who Ate Sunlight by Stephen Gauer

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take off, eh?