Karen Lillis has been running a great set of small press book recommendations for holiday gifts on her blog. I finish off the series with my picks. Thanks, Karen! And thanks to all the giant readers of the small press! Happy 2011!
The serialization of Blog Love Omega Glee will be up for as long as I can leave it, but I am working on collecting the novel and once that happens (say when my publisher demands that the book can't be available online for free) the serialized version may disappear. So enjoy it while you can and consider it my Christmas gift to you. If you want to return the favor, then if you spot a typo or anything else seemingly wrong anywhere in the novel, then please feel free to leave a comment on that chapter alerting me to it. There is a lot of wordplay so some goofy uses of language may be intentional (such as the previous sentence having two if thens), along with some strange subtle plotting, but I'd still appreciate anyone pointing out anything that seems to have gone awry. I won't be changing the serialized chapters, but I'll try to fix anything that needs to be fixed in the collected version of the novel. Grazie!
In yet another installment of the occasional WredFright.Com feature, an emu has made the news yet again. This time, one of the big birds escaped in Rhode Island and tried to run back to Australia. It was unsuccessful and was caught and returned to the farm from which it escaped, but it had a nice two days on the lam. See what the AP has to say about it. Have I mentioned lately that my novel The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus makes a fine stocking stuffer? And, unlike a real emu, the book can fit in a stocking. Have a cool Yule!
We're now three-quarters through Blog Love Omega Glee. Glee, the fourth and final part of the novel, starts on October 1st with the chapter that takes place on October 1st. Thanks to everyone who's been reading it in its blog serialization!
With autumn rapidly approaching, this year's winner of the world's most prestigious literary award, The Nobel Prize In Literature, will soon be announced. Last year's winner was Herta Muller, a European writer. Shortly before last fall's announcement, I wrote the following article to warm up for doing some freelancing again (by the way, I'm still freelancing so if you have any editing/proofreading/writing needs, then please get in touch--no, I'm not so desperate that I'll shave your back or something; writing-related work only please). The article was never published though, and I came across it the other day and thought that I'd run it here since sadly it still remains relevant. Let's hope that some day it won't be!
Horace Engdahl Was Right
Last autumn, Horace Engdahl, then permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, the group charged with selecting the Nobel Prize in Literature, stated that the reason the United States has not produced a Nobel laureate in literature since 1993 was that "The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining."
Secretary Engdahl's frankness was met with a reaction from Americans that ranged from hostile to patronizing. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, sniffed that the Academy just didn't recognize great literature when it read it, citing Joyce, Proust, and Nabokov as examples of lionized literary legends unrecognized by the Swedes, and Harold Augenbraum of the National Book Foundation offered to send Engdahl a summer reading list so he could brush up on his American literature.
A few days later, Engdahl, seemingly surprised by the reaction by this spasm of nationalistic pride by the Yankee literati, reassured American writers who still harbored dreams of winning the large European prize that he wasn't prejudiced against Americans: "It is of no importance, when we judge American candidates, how any of us views American literature as a whole in comparison with other literatures."
A few months later, Engdahl quietly turned over the permanent secretary position to fellow member Peter Englund. One wonders if the furor his words raised had anything to do with his decision.
Nevertheless, in their rush to malign Engdahl and make snide remarks about value of the Nobel in literature, defenders of American literature overlooked an important aspect of Engdahl's comments.
He was right.
In fact, if anything, Engdahl put things mildly. American literature today isn't so much insular as it is inbred.
First of all, in recent decades, higher education has placed a stranglehold on it. While the market for literature seems to decline (the National Endowment for the Arts reported that the percentage of adults who read a book other than for work or school dropped yet again in 2008), creative writing Masters of Fine Arts programs continue to grow. Though universities seem happy to take the money of these aspiring Hemingways, we as a society cannot seem to find a need for these newly-pedigreed writers afterward beyond having them teach creative writing to more aspiring Hemingways (and perhaps the occasional Faulkner as well). At some point, like with all games of musical chairs, the music will stop. And, even for those who find a chair, when they're seeking tenure, how daring as writers will they be, and if they're not daring writers, how can they be expected to ever be worthy of the Nobel?
Unfortunately, the number of charitable organizations and government bureaucracies outside of higher education that support writers don't seem to be much help either. If anything, they contribute to the inbreeding since most of the award panels are composed of writers who seem to award other writers on the basis of friendship rather than merit. Rick Moody once served on a panel which awarded his friend Jonathan Franzen $20,000 from the NEA as a creative writing fellowship. This was, of course, in 2002, the year after Franzen's novel The Corrections had already become a bestseller. Apparently, Moody and the other committee members believed Franzen still needed the taxpayer money.
Perhaps this cozy give and take (mostly take) emerges because of the continuing concentration of American publishing in New York City, which is another reason American literature remains inbred. In fact, in 2004, all five of the fiction finalists for the National Book Award lived in New York City. This was pointed out as a cute fact in the press release by the NBF, but served as confirmation that what we have is a regional literature masquerading as a national literature.
Of course, most Americans don't even notice what's become of the national literature. If they're reading at all, they're reading about sexy vampires who prefer to eat bears to humans or about Ivy league academics foiling Masonic conspiracies in the nation's capital, and not the sort of material Engdahl and his American critics sparred over. Not surprisingly, the publishing industry follows suit, preferring to spend money on publishing novels by soap opera actresses and other celebrities instead of books by authors who can actually read (not to mention write).
All of these factors combine to intensify the inbreeding and consequently make the chances of an American author winning the Nobel less each year.
There is hope however. Good literature can be found in America, but one has to dig. It's produced occasionally from the commercial publishers, nurtured by university presses, even written by MFAs who've decided to develop their own style, and, most of all, rooted in the underground of the independent small press, including self-publishers. All of this, however, rests far beneath the notice of the average newspaper book review editor, an endangered species themselves, so it's unlikely Engdahl and the rest of the Swedish Academy even know such writers exist. In any case, writers such as Alabama's scruffy but delightful Karl Koweski generally have bigger problems to worry about than not being nominated for a Nobel.
On Thursday, the 2009 recipient will be announced. Assuming the Academy doesn't toss American literati a bone in order to apologize for Engdahl's honesty, it will be yet another year without a Nobel in Literature for an American. But, unless Americans stop blaming the messenger for revealing some unwelcome truths and look honestly at the message itself, this may only be the beginning of a long Nobel drought for American literature.
Every once in a while, I get the urge to make a comic strip, but rarely do I have time to follow that urge. I drew comics occasionally growing up and even did a daily strip for my college newspaper for a semester or two before I had to give up on meeting cartoon deadlines so I wouldn't flunk out. Lately, when the rare urge strikes and I have the opportunity to follow it, I've been having fun with photograph comics (or fumetto/fumetti as they're known) starring a teddy bear and a snake sock puppet, with the gag being that the bear's a drunk and the snake wants to eat everything. Naturally enough, I call the strip "The Thirsty Bear & The Hungry Snake". Over the years, I've published cartoons with them in Gestalt & Pepper and as a minicomic for Genghis Con, among other places that I, um, forget right now. Anyway, the latest Bear & Snake sighting is on the Facebook page for Xerography Debt. Since I'm not on Facebook, I figure I'd republish it here for the rest of us nonFacebookers. If you're on Facebook, you can friend XD and find out about some cool new zines.
Author Mickey Hess has been perfecting his book blurbing skills over the years and now has honed them to such a degree that he can deliver just in time (within 24 hours) blurbing for any author who wants a blurb for the back cover of her or his book, or the front cover, or, hey, even the spine! When he announced his black belt in blurbing on GalleyCat and The Rumpus, I took him up on his offer to blurb and here's what he said about Blog Love Omega Glee: "Goons and patriots, get ready! Wred Fright’s new novel scowls at your perfect sentences. There are gorgeous techniques and colorful dialogue, the book’s action, mood, the author himself. There are things this novelist should be allowed to do that the rest of us are not." Earlier, he had this to say about The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus: "Brilliantly, it is possible to watch the book in the process of revising itself to death." Remember, his guarantee is speed, not accuracy, but if you need a blurb, see Mickey!
The last time I did a reading was on July 11th back in 2008, and the next time I'm doing a reading is on July 11th of this year. There's nothing special about that date, but maybe I should rename it Reading Day in light of the coincidence, and give a reading every year on that date (er, probably not . . . but it is a nifty idea--let me know what you think in the Comments section). In any case, Mike Faloon and James Jay are touring to promote their new books from Gorsky Press, and Ohio author Erika Meyers and I will join them at The Barking Spider Tavern (11310 Juniper Road in Cleveland, Ohio 44106 USA--behind The Coffee House At University Circle near Case Western Reserve University). The festivities should start at 6 p.m. unless they start at 5 p.m. instead (I'll try to get some clarification on that for you). It's free, so come on out for some bookish fun!
Crazy Carl and I toured together in 2007 when our novels came out from the ULA Press, and I've always been a big fan of his work, so I'm quite excited to announce that he has a new book out. It's called Bloodreal and features material from Fat On The Vine, as well as excerpts from his subsequent novels (Dead In The Head and My Parents' Medicine, both of which I hope someone will publish in their entirety someday) and uncollected and newer work. It's sort of a greatest hits, a Crazy Carl reader. I get quoted inside it commenting on his work in general, but I haven't read all of this book yet. Let me tell you though, it's going to the top of my reading pile! And, by the way, the "Wred" in the book is quite fictional . . .
I have a poem called "Ode To Twitter" in this year's Inscape, which is finely produced by the fine folks at Ursuline College. The magazine is available for free on campus, but I'm not sure how off-campus folks could get a hold of a copy so I'll just include my poem (all 140 characters) in this post.
Ode To Twitter
Some people don't have much to say, but they will say it anyway, so thank you for restricting them to 140 characters so they don't go on and
I worked up some courage, worked out, ate my vitamins, said my prayers, and went to bed early so I could take on King Wenclas's Three Question Challenge! Answers have to be kept to a hundred words or less so I made mine exactly a hundred words with the hundredth word "Hundred!" He's looking for more writers to take the challenge, so if you're a scribbler, slither on over to his blog.
Here's a bibliography of some of the writing I've done. Some of the links go straight to the writing; others will tell you how to get a hold of it (usually for the printed works). (This post has been updated here.)
Blog Love Omega Glee is my latest novel, about two bloggers who fall in love while the world falls apart (2008-2010). It is available now as an ebook for free (sort of, you can make a donation if you like it).
Underground Literary Adventures is a literary blog that Pat King and I once edited for the Underground Literary Alliance. You can find a few works by me there including the short story "Cancer" (a slightly revised version of "Cancer" was later published in the 2009 issue of Inscape, the Ursuline College fine arts magazine) (2005).
"Weekendless" is a short story starring my longtime character Harold Grumblebunny in which he passes a pleasant afternoon in the park contemplating the best way to drop out of the human race, published in the literary anthology The Bukowski Hangover Project by Poison Candy/Sisyphus Press (2003, out of print now but the link might have information on how to still obtain a copy).
"The New Kid Has An Old Bicycle", is a short story starring another of my longtime characters, Bill Falcon, in which he gets his first bicycle and tries to make some friends in his new neighborhood, published in the literary anthology Punch & Pie by Gorsky Press (2003, link has purchasing information). In Verbicide #9 Jackson Ellis wrote: "Wred Fright creates another highlight of Punch & Pie with the sad coming-of-age tale, 'The New Kid Has An Old Bicycle.' It'll definitely bring back some sketchy memories of anyone who was a shy social misfit as a child who did stupid things to impress the 'cool kids.'"
"A Sentence Of Grace" is a Harold Grumblebunny short story in which he finds religion and deals drugs with a preacher, published in The Slush Pile 2 by the Underground Literary Alliance (2002, link should have ordering information).
"Ironic Occupations" is a poem published by Mark Sonnenfeld as part of his Marymark Press Give-Out Sheet Series (please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Mark at 45-08 Old Millstone Drive, East Windsor, NJ 08520 USA) (2007).
"What Is The Best Time Of Year To Die In?" is a poem published in the 2007 edition of Inscape, the Ursuline College fine arts magazine (2007).
I actually have no idea how one says "zine" in Portuguese, but I bet Douglas of UGRA, "a Brazilian non-profit project focused on producing, researching and promoting radical and alternative cultures", does since he's just translated a portion of my master's thesis, Personality On Parade: A Psychoanalytic Analysis Of The Zine Revolution into Portuguese here and here. For those of us who can't read Portuguese, you'll have to stick with this bit of the thesis from Zinebook.Com. And those of you who can't read either English or Portuguese I don't have to worry about because you won't be reading this.
This post is outdated. The update can be found here.
Wred Fright is the pen/stage name of one of the many thousands of blokes named "Fred Wright" wandering around our world today. This one primarily potters around Ohio and Pennsylvania in the USA but occasionally has been known to migrate farther afield. One of these migrations is cyberspace and this little blog which makes a nice outlet for himself and others to keep tabs on him and his writing, music, and whatnot.
Musically, Wred likes to sing and play guitar, with the occasional runs on bass, drums, accordion, theremin, and whatever else. The music is often described as rock and roll, punk, alternative, garage, and pop by listeners. In the past, he's played solo and in such bands as The Darrow Dregs, The Escaped Fetal Pigs, Satan Tortilla, The Flaming Toasters, Anal Spikemobile, The Lenin Spoonful, Yeast?, Ungoat, Rage Against Dabney Coleman, Shang Tsang, The Hot Glue Guns, The GoGoBots, The Joslyns, and Team Fright. Currently, he occasionally plays out solo or with a band under the Wred Fright name.
In terms of whatnot, as for why many pictures on the site feature Wred in a Mexican wrestling mask, Wred was much entertained by a picture from 1962 of The Destroyer in a wrestling mask eating a meal with his family, and got in touch with his inner Cindy Sherman with this series of photos by the Squire documenting Wred wrestling with domestic life. Other examples of such serious silliness by Wred and others can be found on this website.
If you're press, and you need a photo, feel free to use the one above, which is also available as a high resolution JPG 1.94 MB if you need to print it.
Here's some of what our friends in the press have said about Wred:
I am revamping the WredFright.Com Website, so please pardon the strange posts as I transfer pages over from the old Website to Blogger over the next couple of weeks. My novel The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus has gone out of print (don't worry, latecomers, plenty of copies are still available through me and a few other outlets) so I'm making a few changes. Blog Love Omega Glee will carry on shortly as we start to round third and head for home.
Thank you for your donation or payment. Your transaction has been completed, and a receipt for your donation/purchase has been emailed to you. You may log into your account at PayPal to view details of this transaction. Please email wredfright (whereit'sat) yahoo.com for any questions regarding your order. If you ordered a copy of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus, then I will ship out your order as soon as possible, but if I'm out on tour or anything, it may take up to a month so please be patient. I generally ship media mail in the USA and economy internationally, and I hope that you enjoy the book! If you donated because you enjoyed Blog Love Omega Glee, then I thank you for your patronage and I'm glad that you enjoyed the novel! Cheers!
This post is outdated. You can find the update here.
Signed Postpaid Copies of the Book Available for $15 Each in the USA (i.e., if you live in the USA click the button below)!
Signed Postpaid Copies of the Book Available for $20 Each Internationally (i.e., if you live outside the USA, click the button below)!
The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus is a comedic novel about a garage rock band in a college town, told from the point of view of the four band members--keyboardist Alexander Depot, bassist George Jah, guitarist Theodorable, and drummer Funnybear--and other characters. Unlike most other rock and roll novels which usually tell the story of a band rising to stardom, the Emus tells the story of the local band who never will "make it big" but rock on nonetheless. Previously published as a zine and online, The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus is now available as a book! The book is a handsome 6" by 8" paperback and 228 pages long. It may also have the silliest author photo ever: (Would you read a book by that author? I sure would!).
To promote the book, I toured with with Crazy Carl, on the Underground Literary America reading tour, where we gave readings with special guests in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Lakewood/Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh.
Originally, the novel was serialized in zine form in seven issues on a quarterly schedule in 2002-2003 to rant and rave reviews. Xerography Debt wrote, "It's like the Monkees with more sex and booze. It's like . . . Extreme Monkees! Oh man, if I was a TV producer I'd buy the rights to the Emus from Wred and shop them around to the networks as the Monkees of the new millennium and . . . oh man, we'd have such a hit on our hands." Blank Generation wrote, "This zine is one of the best I read." ZineThug noted, "I'm getting impatient for the next one." Zine World said, "I found myself laughing out loud a number of times, and that's a rare occurrence." Literary Fan Magazine opined, "We sometimes forget the first requirement of fiction is to entertain--to get people to read it in the first place. And yes, the Flabbergasted Saga is often hilarious." Thoughtworm declared, "Highly recommended!" Low Hug pronounced, "Better than average fiction, much more engaging than I've read in a mass-marketed book in a while." Justin Chatwin in Zine Nation exclaimed, "What can I say, by now you have probabally heard it all before. In fact this zine is proving so popular, that Wred may have to start web postings pronto or risk getting a hernia from spending so much time bent over his printer." Razorcake testified, "I've been following the Emus since the first issue, and I'm hooked. I get excited when a new issue comes in the mail. I usually stop what I'm doing and sit down and read it right away." Zine Guide called it "Fun" and made it one of their zines of the week. Chumpire remarked, "well-written." Roctober commented, "I really like how the book reads musically like a good Nuggets tune." Neufutur liked an issue so much that James McQuiston wrote "Here's to hoping that . . . we hear more from Wred in the near future". In Breakfast #4, Vincent declared Emus "a fun read"!
After the zine run, the novel was available as an ebook on this very site for some time. Now it is available as a book (10 digit ISBN is 1892590476 and the 13 digit ISBN is 978-1892590473)! If you like a good story, you will likely enjoy reading Emus. If you like to laugh, you will likely enjoy reading Emus. If you like rock and roll, you will likely enjoy reading Emus. And, if you've ever played in a band, you will definitely enjoy reading Emus!
If you'd like to read a sample of the book, excerpts from the novel are available a few places, including Issuu; Scribd; the 2008 issue of INSCAPE, the Ursuline College Fine Arts Annual; and on the blog on the Wred Fright MySpace page.
If you're press and need a high resolution image of the book's cover, you can download a 3.2 JPG here. If you want to use a low resolution photo online for your blog or whatnot, please just copy the one at the top of the post. The cover photograph is by me, and yes, there really was a bathroom with a drumset in it.
I have some signed copies of the book for sale. They are $15 postpaid in the USA ($14 plus $1 for shipping--I will ship it media mail in the USA; if you want it shipped faster, that's a possibility, please just contact me at wredfright AT yahoo.com so we can determine the cost of the faster shipping) or $20 postpaid internationally ($14 plus $6 for shipping--typically first class airmail). Please also indicate how you want your book signed (e.g., "To Claudine, Wred Fright") (there should be a "Notes/Dedication" field above the button for notes if you order via PayPal--otherwise just send me an email or note via mail), and I'll sign it that way within reason (e.g., if you want it made out "To Gertrude, Remember that passionate night we spent together on the banks of the Potomac, Wred Fright," it might show up just signed "To Gertrude, Wred Fright," but you never know . . .). To order, please choose the appropriate PayPal button below (the first is for US orders, the second for international orders; if you need to send a check or money order for $15 in U.S. funds per book domestically or $20 per book internationally payable to "Fred Wright", please contact me for the current mailing address). Unless I'm out on tour or something, I'll try to get it mailed out as soon as I can, but since most of these are sent either media mail domestically please be patient. For questions about your order, please email me at wredfright AT yahoo.com.
Nonsigned copies of the novel are available from a variety of retail outlets including Amazon (World), Half.Com (USA), Mac's Backs (Cleveland Heights, Ohio USA), Freebird Books and Goods (New York City, New York USA), Webster's (State College, Pennsylvania, USA), and more. If your local store doesn't carry it, please tell them to contact me.
Two bloggers fall in love while the world falls apart in Blog Love Omega Glee, a comedic story set in 2012, with each chapter taking place on a different day counting down to the end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012, when the world either ends or continues on much the same as before. The two central characters are Jake Falls, a twenty-five-year-old unemployed man living with his parents who spends most of his time blogging about pro wrestling, and Francine Apple, a twenty-nine-year-old barely employed woman who has dropped out of the American Dream to blog about various conspiracy theories. Other characters abound as well, including Jake's cats, family, and friends, and Francine's coworkers, housemates, and neighbors. The story is set in Cleaveland, a decaying industrial city in the northern part of the USA, and its suburbs on the shores of Lake Eerie. It's year 12 of a fascist regime, and a severed head named Dick with a soft drink vending machine for a body is president/dictator, but no one much notices because they're too busy watching television and obsessing over their personal lives to worry about wars overseas, the government swindling taxpayers, and the rich stuffing their already-stuffed pockets further with rapidly-depreciating currency. Some people find this worrisome, but most people just change the channel. Regardless, even though in many ways for the average person life is still better than ever before in the history of human existence since Eden, most people feel a vague sense of unease, as if the delicate stitching of society is about to come undone at any moment, pouring forth a centuries long buildup of too many human beings, anarchy in the streets, environmental collapse, and lots and lots of really bad coffee. Between existential dread, economic worries, presidential electioneering, electronic domineering, and large sweaty men in tights touching one another as entertainment, there's Blog Love Omega Glee!
Blog Love Omega Glee was originally published right here on Wred Fright's Blog as a blognovel or a blovel! Unlike, most blognovels and blovels, this one actually was finished, instead of being abandoned. Since the story has four parts, depending on how you look at it, it's either one really long novel, or a series of four novels. Howeve you consider it, it's available as .epub and .pdf versions. You can download the files for free here. One fun way to read it is a chapter a day during the course of a year (especially 2012), or go for reading all 230,000 words or so in one lump! The files should work on most computers, ereaders, and tablets. If you like it, then please send me a donation at the PayPal link on the sidebar and below (or, in the zine tradition, trade books with me, or, if you live in a country that has such delicious candy bars as Topic, Big Turk, Lion, Fry's Turkish Delight, or Coffee Crisp, you can mail me one of those --email me for the current postal address). Enjoy! And please feel free to let me know what you think!
Blog Love Omega Glee is copyright 2008 Fred Wright. If you'd like to use an excerpt somewhere (like Go Metric did for their issue #22, and The Outsider Writers Collective did) or whatnot, then please get in touch. You can also find part of the novel serialized on Textnovel.Com where it was an editor's pick among those who like to read novels on their phones.
I have a column in the new Xerography Debt (#26). It's a republication of the "What Was the First Zine?" essay, which was originally published in an issue of .zap!!, the old school zine APA I'm involved in. If you want to keep up with zines more recent than the ones I discuss in the column, then please check out Xerography Debt, which is full of zine news and reviews!
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?
All contents of this website unless otherwise noted or attributed to another are copyright Fred Wright 2017. Warning--this website contains ideas and language. Please proceed with caution, or go elsewhere.