Last year I quit The Underground Literary Alliance because I wanted to devote more time to writing rather than getting sucked into another time-consuming albeit fun project such as organizing The F Independent Literary Festival (2006). The result has been Blog Love Omega Glee (the serialization of the second part, Love, commences tomorrow by the way, thanks for being patient during this brief intermission). Unfortunately, the publisher who collected my first novel was ULA Press, who obviously is devoted to publications by Underground Literary Alliance members, so since I'm not a member anymore, then you can probably do the math and arrive at the conclusion: I need to find a new publisher or agent who will find me a new publisher. I enjoy self-publishing (which is why I serialized The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus as a zine and I am currently serializing B.L.O.G. on this blog), but I enjoy writing more, so I like to self-publish in short doses (the serializations) and then find a publisher to collect the work and keep it in print afterward (and, of course, getting paid is nice too). So, if you are a publisher (no vanity presses please), whether you're part of the vast conglomerates, or think I'm the next Charles Bukowski and you're the next John Martin, and you're interested in collecting B.L.O.G. in book form, please get in touch (wredfright AT yahoo DOTT com) and let's talk. Or, if you're an agent (no fake literary agencies running scams please) looking for a new writer to take on and think you can get me a nice advance and yourself a nice commission from a publisher to publish B.L.O.G., then come on down! Consider this an open call for publisher/agent auditions! I'll be doing the more traditional author groveling in a query letter approach as well, but since this is the age of the brave new world Internet, I thought I'd post the announcement here too and let the magic of online social networking work. And, if you aren't yourself an agent or acquisitions editor, but know someone who is, then please feel free to pass this along to her or him. In print, B.L.O.G. will probably have to be a series of four novels because it's very long as one single novel (probably 250,000 words) and publishers love series. Fortunately it neatly divides into four parts (the recently completed Blog, Love, Omega, and Glee) of about 60,000-65,000 words each. And, of course, I don't plan to leave the blog serialization up forever. Once the novel is collected, then all the posts, except for maybe the first few which will work as a sampler, will be taken down, so enjoy it while you can, folks! As for the novel's marketability, I think works such as Good Omens and Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy have proven that humorous fantasy and science fiction can be very popular. And, though B.L.O.G. is slightly more realistic than those works (not by much, how many vending machines after all are heads of state in the world, with "head" being very literal in this case?), it's in a vein that follows the fantastic whimsy of Tom Robbins and Robert Anton Wilson, also very popular with readers. Furthermore, the elements of the novel from professional wrestling to politics to conspiracy theories to comic books are all subjects popular with readers. The Harry Potter generation is coming of age and ready for sex, drugs, and rock and roll (oh, sorry that's my first novel Emus); well, anyway they like to blog and read so they would no doubt enjoy a story of two bloggers falling in love as the world falls apart. And, no I'm not going to make them vampires who eat bears instead just because Twilight is popular. I do insist on creative control. But the publisher can market the book as they want. A cover photo of someone blogging naked. Sure! A picture of Obama since Obama books are selling. Why not? Marketing it as a feel-good Oprah book club novel to women worried that 2012 means the end of the world? Go for it! Publishers are the experts at selling books, so I'll leave that up to them. And, if everybody decides B.L.O.G. isn't marketable? No worries, I understand. It's a brutal economic world out there. Good luck with that great new novel Paris Hilton is "writing"! I'm sure that will sell for generations to come. In any case, if anyone's interested in this novel, get in touch!
Want to read what Harriet was reading in the last chapter? To celebrate finishing posting the first quarter of Blog Love Omega Glee, I'm putting my first novel, The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus, about a garage rock band, on sale for the rest of 2008. I still have some copies left over from last year's reading tour, and I think they'd be happier stuffed into somebody's holiday stocking than sitting around in a box in the corner of my living room. That's right! Emus make great stocking stuffers! Well, the book, probably not the bird (the bird is pretty big so you'd need a very large stocking to stuff it into, plus it might kick you and you wouldn't want to ruin the holidays with a concussion from a large Australian flightless bird, would you?). So from here until the end of the year, copies of Emus are on sale for $10 each. I'll sign it and throw in a bonus zine too. To take advantage of this special deal, don't order them off the website (which has the standard pricing) but email me at wredfright (AT) yahoo.com with your address and the number of books you want and I'll figure out the shipping costs (typically for the U.S. I can send the books media mail, so one book would cost $2.23 to ship for example) and tax (but only if you have the honor of living in Ohio), then send you a bill with the total, which you can pay via PayPal, or check or money order. Once payment is received, then I'll ship out your book(s). The novel has a nice red cover so it's perfect for yuletide cheer too. Have a cool yule, and make it cooler by drinking eggnog with Emus!
The publisher of my novel The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus has included it along with seven other books in a box set, and they're having a sale! There's some other classics in there including Crazy Carl's Fat On The Vine, so that's a good deal for someone who's looking for a holiday gift or just a spot of reading for herself or himself over the winter. A set of ULA trading cards including one of me is thrown in to sweeten things even further. I imagine they make good bookmarks.
I have begun to post a few chapters of Blog Love Omega Glee on Textnovel.Com, a website that allows members to follow serialized novels on their cell phones. Reading novels on cell phones is very popular in Asia, so the folks behind Textnovel are hoping the activity catches on here. So if for some reason you want to read the new novel on your cell phone, check out the site!
Frank Walsh of the Underground Literary Alliance was nice enough to offer to run an ad for the new novel, so I whipped one up. Here it is: (You can find a better copy of the ad at Wredfright.com since Blogger reduces the size a bit here). I haven't read all the other novels this year so the tagline is a bit of puffery, but I am fond of the novel so it very well could be. If you're fond of the novel, then feel free to post this ad wherever you want, and just link it to http://wredfright.blogspot.com with my thanks. One thing's for certain, it's the cheapest novel of the year since it's free with computer and Internet access. It'll probably be collected down the road in print, ebook, and audiobook (though I couldn't tell you when that will be) and it probably won't be free then so enjoy the wonders of blog serialization while they're here, and please use the ad to share it with friends. Tooting my own horn! Toot! Toot! Oh, and if any bookstore owner takes offense at the tagline, then you're welcome to sell the print copy of my first novel The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus, which is in bookstores!
This is the second novel by Sean, and I think I like it even better than the first, Drinks For The Little Guy, which I liked a lot. Set in his Yoknapatawpha County-like setting of real-life Cocoa Beach, Florida, the novel has some recurring characters, also like Faulkner, from Carswell's other work show up such as Helen and Lester, but most of the novel focuses on Danny McGregor, who has to deal with the guilt of an ex-girlfriend's death, and his own living past the youth when he expected to die from living fast. Publisher's Weekly complained that the novel lacked "emotional depth", but you know PW loves Harry Potter and lots of terrible mainstream fiction so maybe there just wasn't enough dragons in Train Wreck Girl for their taste. I found the novel engrossing myself. Filled with humor, suspense, and genuine philosophizing about what to do with one's life, it read like a combination of Charles Bukowski and Jim Thompson. You know, a drunk being tossed into a film-noir, sort of like The Big Lebowski, except with not as many White Russians. A great read!
I wrote The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus based upon my experiences playing in garage rock bands in college towns in the 1990s. According to a very nice email I received from a reader, things have, for better or worse, remained essentially the same for people playing in garage rock bands in college towns in the 21st Century. Here's the email:
Subject: I read your book and fucking loved it! To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thursday, October 2, 2008, 12:41 AM
I don't know if you get emails from people often (hopefully you do) (EDITOR'S NOTE: NOPE! SO YOURS WAS A TREAT--THANKS!) but I'm not usually one to write such letters. However, I read The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus and wanted to tell you how awesome that book was. It was the closing day of our beloved local record store and everything was half off. My band even played a set of all covers of bands the two owners loved (Archers of Loaf Guided By Voices, Pixies etc.). Well I found your book on a shelf with a few other books and I guess it was really the picture of the drum set in the bathroom that stood out ... so on a whim I bought it.
I don't know if I could have read that book at a better time in my life. Me and four other guys were all seniors in our last two months of college in a shitty rented house surrounded by nice houses occupied by less than nice neighbors. While no real bands were ever started there was always a drum set and amps in what we dubbed "the couch room" where our hypothetical bands might have one practice and never play again.
But honestly your book summed up my college career. Playing in bands that never went anywhere and just meeting crazy people (a few of them probably saw it the other way around). In one band we practiced under the addition that was put onto our drummers house. We had to load in our equipment through a cabinet sized door and the only connection it had to the inside of the house was a little trap door under the kitchen table. The ceiling was so low I had to make sure my head was positioned between support beams while still watching out for nails sticking out of them. (EDITOR'S NOTE: GOOD WORK SURVIVING! GEORGE JAH OR ANOTHER OF THE EMUS WOULD HAVE PROBABLY GOTTEN IMPALED IN SUCH A SITUATION!)
This letter is already getting much more long-winded than I had intended so I'll end here. Luckily on our last day at the house we just put our fridge on the curb and told our landlords to fuck off after they refused to give us any of our $3,000 security deposit back for things that were already wrong with the house. Seriously though, your book was like the validation I needed for most of the shitty things I put up with this past year renting a house and depending on four other people to be responsible.
So I just wanted to say thanks and keep up the awesome work.
Sincerely Patrick Gartland of South Jersey
PS This book seems like it could easily turned into a hilarious TV show, has anyone ever shown an interest in the idea before? (EDITOR'S NOTE: YES, BUT USUALLY THEY WANT TO MAKE AN EMUS MOVIE BEFORE THEY SOBER UP AND CHANGE THEIR MINDS. I THINK EMUS WOULD WORK WELL AS AN HBO SERIES MAKING EACH CHAPTER AN HOUR LONG EPISODE. THEY COULD DO TWO TEN EPISODE SEASONS FROM THE BOOK ALONE, THEN A THIRD SEASON FOLLOWING THE BAND ANTIGONE, GEORGE, AND TED FORM AFTER THE EMUS, THEN THEY SHOULD CALL THE SERIES A WRAP BEFORE IT GETS STALE. TELEVISION PRODUCERS BANKRUPT OF IDEAS BUT NOT BANKRUPT IN MONEY, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH ME.)
Thanks for writing Pat! You made my day! If any readers of the blog want to experience what Pat discusses, then I have plenty of copies of Emus for you! Unless I can convince the government to bail me out by buying my unsold books!
The Associated Press recently ran a story that featured Horace Engdahl of the Swedish Academy, who select the Nobel Prize in Literature, explaining why no American has won the prize in years, nor will be likely to win one for years. His comments are similar to those I made a few years back when I wrote an article for the Underground Literary Alliance, explaining why American authors shouldn't expect to win a Nobel. I wrote a follow-up article a year later. I was going to make it an annual tradition, but frankly it was too depressing, because nothing changed in the literary world. Maybe now that a member of the Swedish Academy is also pointing such things out, literati will take notice. I'm not optimistic about that though because so far they all appear to be complaining about Engdahl's comments, and claiming he doesn't know enough about American literature. No, my fellow Americans, it's you who don't know enough about American literature. That's the problem. Good books go unnoticed while bad books get awards here. No wonder the Swedes think we're nuts.
Last night I did a reading at Pat's in the Flats in Cleveland, Ohio USA as part of a variety show put on by the band Repressed Memoriez. Also performing were Tony Void, C. Allen Rearick, and Delmoko doing Bob Crane comedy. You can see a bit of the last act on YouTube. It was a lot of fun. I only announced it to the subscribers of the Wred Fright Email List so if you want to get the inside scoop, as the old saying goes, for something like that in the future, just join the list. It's free.
Friday, I plan to start serializing my new novel, Blog Love Omega Glee, on this blog. It's about two bloggers who fall in love while the world falls apart. If you liked my first novel, then you'll probably like this new one. And, if you've never read anything by me before (not counting this blog post), then the new novel is a good place to start.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the reading at Mac's Friday night, and thanks to Mickey, Sean, and Suzanne for putting it together! It was a lot of fun! Sean Carswell's book tour continues through August, so if you live in a city he's coming through, then please check him and Train Wreck Girl out!
Cool Cleveland and The Free Times have both noted my reading tomorrow at Mac's Backs at 7 p.m. with Sean Carswell and Mickey Hess. I'll be reading an excerpt from my new novel Blog Twilight. It's free so please come on out if you're in the area.
The new book by Kevin Phillips, Bad Money is an interesting read if you're trying to figure out why the U.S. economy has been so affected by subprime mortgage loans. It effectively boils down to greed, but Phillips will guide you through the details. His other books are interesting too, particularly American Theocracy and American Dynasty.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to see a sneak preview of the new film The Rocker starring Rainn Wilson. The film's set in Cleveland (though mostly filmed in Toronto as most of the street scenes make evident--Cleveland doesn't have streetcar tracks in the streets anymore alas) and Wilson plays Fish, a heavy metal drummer who gets kicked out of his band in the 1980s. The hair metal band goes on to success while Fish stews bitterly in low-level cubicle jobs for twenty years. Just when he seems to have hit bottom and almost becomes homeless, he starts drumming for his nephew's emo band and sees a second chance at rock glory. While the film has the standard rock and roll story plot of the band getting big or nearly getting big (I think only my novel The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus and maybe the Australian film Garage Days don't), it is pretty hilarious. The film definitely shows that Wilson, like his fellow The Office actor Steve Carell, can carry a movie almost by himself. He also strips naked--providing probably the movie's funniest scene ("The Naked Drummer")--proves himself adept at slapstick, and makes Fish a character the audience roots for. If you liked Emus and you're looking for more rock and roll laughs, check out The Rocker!
Over the past couple of years online, I've been seeing a six word short story ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") being claimed to have been written by Ernest Hemingway. The story is usually cited as an excellent example of flash fiction. You can see an example of this in an article about very short stories published by Wired. The story is often accompanied with a longer story explaining that the six word masterpiece was created by Hemingway to win a bar bet that he couldn't write a complete short story in just six words. Both stories are great, but they both smell of urban legend. I couldn't find the story in my copy of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, and having read a lot of Hemingway, I couldn't recall ever hearing about this story before. I checked with two experts, one on Hemingway, and one on misattributed quotations (Robert Trogdon and Ralph Keyes respectively), and neither knew of any source for the Hemingway story beyond the only legitimate source I could find. That source is Arthur C. Clarke, who in an 1980s essay on Reader's Digest called "The Power Of Compression" relates the anecdote of how Hemingway created the story (you can find it on page 354 of his essay collection Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays, 1934-1998). Clarke doesn't cite a source himself, and unfortunately he died earlier this year so we can't ask him where he heard the story. It's possible he heard it from Hemingway himself (though I haven't been able to determine if they ever met), or through writer circles, but since Clarke is rarely cited as a source for the story, much less where he got it from, I think the legend of Hemingway's composition of the story is probably a case of people seeing something on the Internet and then perpetuating it whether it's true or not. But, if anyone has more information on the source of this Hemingway legend, please pass it along. I suppose we should be thankful no one claimed the short story was written by William Faulkner, though that would be more amusing, since I don't know that dear old Faulkner could compose even a grocery list as brief as six words, much less an entire story.
The announcement of a new Larry Richette book is always good news. This novel sees Larry (since I know him, we'll call him Larry, and not the more formal Richette) branching out from his usual setting of Philadelphia to take a look at New York City in the 1980s. AIDS, greed, career obsession, cocaine, and all your other 80s favorites are there, mixed in a tale that could be a spiritual bookend for The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. Instead of a character having an existential crisis as well as being obsessed by the movies, Larry's protagonist and narrator, Tony, a film school student, has an existential crisis while being obsessed with making movies. Another good reference point would be all the 80s blank generation fiction novels such as Bright Lights, Big City. This novel glamorizes things a bit less, probably because of the distance in time, but has similar themes to those novels in that the characters risk losing their souls seduced by their own ambition and that of others in the big city. The major literary path followed here is that of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose sensibility is referenced explicitly in the novel as one of the characters prepares to play the role of Zelda Fitzgerald in a movie. Of course, Fitzgerald was writing of the same themes in the 1920s and Larry explores them in the 1980s, particularly how individual ambition can destroy love and marriage. Though you root for them, none of the characters are particularly admirable (here's an indication of what they're like: the most likable character, Manfred, is a pornographer and pimp) so what keeps the novel moving is the strength of Larry's writing. He captures the feel of the time in lines such as "She led me to the master bedroom. There were signed photographs of Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher. In the Cape Cod moonlight they looked like signed photographs of Beelzebub's chief three attendant demons." A lot of Republicans try to convince us today that Reagan was a great president. I lived through Reagan and I can tell you that he wasn't. He was a fake down to the color of his hair, and ultimately a lousy shill for General Electric his whole life, first as a tv host (General Electric Theater) and then as President so we went into massive debt buying weapons and other defense products we really didn't need (Star Wars) so the rich could get richer chomping at the trough of the public treasury. Hmm . . . communism as the bogeyman to scare us into coughing up tax dollars so that the rich can loot the treasury with their corporations, and now terrorism as the bogeyman to scare us into coughing up tax dollars so that the rich can loot the treasury with their corporations--the classic scams never go out of style in America, do they? Even though Larry doesn't get terribly political here, he does get the feel of the times exactly right, reminding us that Reagan and the rest of the 1980s weren't as pleasant as our hazy memories want to remember them as. Instead, it was an era when greed invaded not just our dreams (the ultimate private screenings), but also our beds, and whom we shared them with.
So, I went to The Chestnut Street Cafe, a bar in Sharon, Pennsylvania with my pal Dave on the weekend before the Pennsylvania primary in April. Coincidentally, there was a Barack Obama rally there, and it turns out we had just missed seeing Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas. Huh? The governor of Kansas in a Sharon, PA bar? I mean the Chestnut does have a pretty good beer selection, but I don't know if it's worth a trip from Kansas. What I suspect Ms. Sebelius was doing there was betting on the right horse and helping to sew up a spot on the Democratic ticket in the fall. A female governor who's won twice in a red state has got to look pretty good paired with Obama, and the VP signs are looking pretty good for Sebelius: she gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union, she apparently attended Bilderberg in Virginia, and now she's giving the keynote at the the 2008 Ohio Democratic Party Family Reunion Dinner. For a governor of Kansas, she's been spending a lot of time in presidential battleground states. I'm not a betting man, but I won't be surprised when Obama picks her to be his running mate. Of course, I could be wrong. I was almost certain Hillary was going to move back into the White House in 2009. I wasn't thrilled about it, but it seemed pretty much inevitable. So much for pundit predictions, eh? Still, watch that Sebelius--I think we'll be seeing more of her over the next four-five years!
It's been a bit since I posted a poem on here, so here's one I wrote in November.
Hundred Yards by Wred Fright
Yesterday Literary conference Renaissance Hotel Downtown Cleveland A fancy place in a not so fancy city From the looks I got from the staff and guests I judge I must be just on the boundary of respectable Up the elevator because I couldn't find the stairs to Meeting rooms named for robber barons Rockefeller Others who didn't do so well, but well enough In the meeting room, the literary critics talked of human suffering. I had to wonder Did they experience it firsthand or just read about it in stories? Walking to the hotel I passed some human suffering Homeless guy sleeping Steam grate People pay a lot to stay at the hotel But they could sleep for free across the street True, there's no room service No complimentary Starbucks Coffee But you don't need a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the doorknob You could freeze to death and no one might notice until spring It's a free country or at least a freeze country. It's a great nation or at least a grate nation. Only one hundred yards or so was the distance between hotel and grate Was that the difference between rich and poor in America, or at least in Cleveland? Only a hundred yards But a hundred yards that can take a lifetime to cross.
Walking Man is a novel that poses as the biography of Brian Walker, America's "most famous zine publisher," who publishes a zine about how he loves to walk. As author Tim W. Brown relates Walker's rise in the zine world of the late 1980s/early 1990s, he keeps the humor deadpan, but he can't disguise the fact that this story is a hoot! If one knows anything about the zine scene of that era, it's tempting to read the novel as a roman a clef--for example, Stet, former busboy and the publisher of Buzzboy, starts off as a Dishwasher Pete figure, but then morphs into an R. Seth Friedman figure, who publishes Ned's Feat Live, a Factsheet Fiveesque review zine--but the novel is more concerned with getting the spirit of those times accurately rather than satirizing specific figures. In any case, the zine world of that time was so wacky that one barely needs to satirize it in order to make things comic. Brown was active in the zine scene of that era so he knows his stuff, and he gets all the details right--photocopies, petty postal rivalries, the question of selling out, and, of course, the strange folks driven to publish zines--making Walking Man a very fun read.
Part of the first chapter of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus, my garage band novel, is excerpted in INSCAPE, The Ursuline College Fine Arts Annual 2008, so if you're around Ursuline College, stop by and pick up a free copy. If you're not around the college, then just buy the whole book!
Yes, this is the third day in a row I've posted on the blog. After posting about that many times the whole rest of the year, you may interpret this as a sure sign of the apocalypse. Speaking of apocalypses, the dystopian future Jeff Somers created in his novel The Electric Church is back in a sequel called The Digital Plague. Apparently Somers has a science-fiction series on his hands, starring his character Avery Cates, former assassin for hire (called a "Gunner" in the slang of the novel). And, even though Cates is basically a scumbag, he has more honor than the rest of the corrupt society so he becomes our hero by default of everyone else being so much worse (I'll employ this same logic no doubt when I vote for the Democratic candidate for president this fall). In addition, Cates has a bit of gruff humor in the manner in which he narrates the novel that makes his charm grow on you. In this novel, we see him even growing more of a conscience, which for the reader just makes Cates more convincing in his heroic role. However, in the savage world of the book where civilization has fallen apart (this time around even for the very rich, who were a bit more insulated from the daily carnage in the last novel), Cates's conscience is a liability, making him less likely to survive, and, consequently, due to the effects of the digital plague (yes, it literally is a digital plague of nanobots infecting human bodies) in the novel's plot, everyone's chances of survival. As a result, Cates spends the book basically getting beaten up (in fact, if Mel Gibson was a bit younger, he'd be perfect casting for Cates in a movie version since he seems to love masochism). Will Cates save the day? I can't say; the book doesn't get officially released until May 12, and I don't want to spoil the many surprises of the plot. But I will leave you this hint: There's a third book in the works. Fans of Somers's longtime zine The Inner Swine will find much to like here, as will any devotee of cliffhanger thrills, futuristic action, brutal humor, and thought-provoking commentary on the future of society and technology. I hope Somers's fictional world remains a disturbing fantasy, but sometimes wandering around Cleveland makes me think it might be just around the corner.
Crazy Carl, author of Fat On The Vine has a new column on Scared Stiff Reviews. In his latest column he reviews Unholy Sideshow: The Movie starring our pals Frank Walsh and Jellyboy the Clown. And, if you look closely at the pictures accompanying his review, you might recognize a few familiar faces from The F Independent Literary Festival we held a couple of years ago in Cleveland . . .
Novelists Sean Carswell and Mickey Hess are rolling across the USA to promote their new books. I'll be reading with them at Mac's Backs in Cleveland Heights, Ohio on Friday, July 11 at 7 p.m. It's free, and should be fun!
Are you insane with your marketing budget? Do you have spare change under the couch cushions? Perhaps then you would like to advertise on WredFright.Com. Email Wred at wredfright ATATAT yahoo DOTT com.
Google plops ads on here with my permission in the futile hope that I will make money (so far, um, no). I find the ads amusing because they try to tie in with the content of the posts. However, if Google has a crush on you, then the ads may deal with things you're interested in instead. Please set your browser accordingly if you object to that (eat those cookies). Google also provides traffic statistics to me so I can see if anyone's reading this silly thing (yes, people are), but otherwise I don't give a hoot who you are. Enjoy the blog and love Big Brother! I also don't receive money or other compensation for Yips, though I have nothing against money or other compensation (that's why I run advertising and sometimes use Amazon referrals for links); if I'm selling something (say, my books), then it will be pretty obvious I'm selling it . . . say, have you thought about buying a signed copy of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus lately?
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