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Jonathan Franzen: “The whole culture of selling has become personalized”
Posted 23 September 2010 / By Caleb J. Ross / Events

Mr. Gordon Highland and I took in a Jonathan Franzen reading this evening at the Kansas City Unity Temple (presented by Rainy Day Books). Franzen read from the same stage on which I met (re: awkwardly shook hands with) Chuck Palahniuk a few years ago. I bring these two authors together here not just because of their temporal-turned-spacial bond, but because the association allowed me to ponder their very different approaches to the live author reading.

Via a video posted on August 14th, Franzen noted his “profound discomfort” in having to make promotional author videos, basically, to me, implying that any promotional discussion taken place off the page stands in contrast to the intimate nature of a novel…

I get that. In fact, I may even sometimes agree with that.  So I was glad when one of the audience members during the night’s reading asked a question that allowed Franzen to tangentially elaborate on his remarks (I post the abbreviated question below to show that Franzen wasn’t specifically addressing the above video, but instead a matter that relates to the video’s message):

Q: When the writer reaches a certain level of prominence, does the focus on the author’s personality threaten to overshadow the work or become an irrelevant distraction?

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Meta-fiction for babies.
Posted 19 September 2010 / By Caleb J. Ross / Study (the world/the craft)

Or is it meta-non-fiction? Is all non-fiction meta? Are there any examples of non-meta-non-fiction? If we were introduced to an author who wrote a historical account of Indian bread and Greek cheese that constantly pulled from the text to state bluntly, “I am no expert. This history is just my opinion,” would we have met a non-meta-feta-naan-non-fiction author? Okay, that last one was dumb.

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Undie Press relaunch
Posted 16 September 2010 / By Caleb J. Ross / General News

It has been a long time coming, but one well worth the wait. Tim Hall’s book press-turned-lit mag is now live and looking amazing.

I respect Tim Hall, both as a writer and a person, at a level that few others have been able to reach. Not that I’m picky about whom I worship, but of all the gods in my life, Tim is one of the platinums.

I met Tim through the Outsider Writers Collective a couple years ago. As a newbie to the site, I was embraced immediately by everyone there, but Tim seemed to reach out just a little further. He’s taught me so much about book promotion, relationship building, and being cool (though I’ve got a lot to learn about that last item).

Everyone should abandon this blog post right now and head over to the revamped Undie Press site.

I plan on spending some time digging more into the site tonight, but at first glance here’s what I see:

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I know the street value of authors
Posted 15 September 2010 / By Caleb J. Ross / General News

Quick, before they are outlawed. Inhale, inject, and/or read these recently-legalized vices el pronto:

  • A Mel Bosworth is worth a follow-up story chapbook called Grease Stains, Kismet, and Maternal Wisdom. Street date of NOW! Mine is on my way. Based on Mel’s previous work, I can expect some glorious toilet time in the near future.
  • 1 Ben Tanzer will run you 99 Problems (that was an easy conversion). This book is a collection of essays about running. I’m no runner. Write a book called 99 Pastries, and I’m all over it (though I am all over 99 Problems, too; I finally bought a copy today). Want a taste? Meet a guy named Jason Behrends over at the Orange Alert Podcast, episode 27. Tell him “Compulsions” sent you.
  • Word is Craig Wallwork will net a cool collection of recent blog posts. You ever tried Pela Via?
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Mind effed: Serpent Box says written poetry can suck it
Posted 13 September 2010 / By Caleb J. Ross / Mind Effed

Baxter once said that a man in the woods was about the purest thing there was in the world, and the closest he could come to knowing God. A man can never buy with money this thing that the Lord gave him for free, he said. That sense of awe and respect one derives from the trees and the earth and all things that dwell in between them. He told Jacob that poetry was all around him, in the grass and on the surface of the leaves, and that the Bible was full of good words designed to mimic what could never be written, but could sometimes be heard and always seen—the rising water, the falling rain, the rush of river and wind, the passage of cloud banks and great ruminant herds, buffalo and elk and the trailing packs of carnivores, both man and wild dog, wanderers all, in endless migration to the grasslands that feed them.

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EXCLUSIVE: Mix-a-Lot flip flops stance on badonkadonk
Posted 10 September 2010 / By Caleb J. Ross / Blame Caleb

I present part two of my however-many-it-takes part series to get a book deal based on my amazing, 100(ish)% true exploits as a hobbyist blame-taker.

However, instead of being only an instigator in big news, I want to report it. Below is my first official Blame Caleb Exclusive!

Sir Mix-a-Lot takes back his stance on big butts(BCE)–Gluteal aficionado reverses his long-held controversial stance on large asses. Says Mr. A-Lot: “They just aren’t exotic anymore.”

Sir Mix-A-Lot became famous after the 1992 release of his pro-butt cheek manifesto, “Baby Got Back,” currently in its 34th pressing. The release of this manifesto took both the intellectual and libidinal communities by storm.

“The problem is that too many white boys did in fact shout,” Mix-a-Lot says in reference to a particularly layered passage in which he implies the reluctance of Caucasian males to express sexual interest. “Once the mainstream embraced my philosophy, Rump-o’-smooth-skin’s no longer suffered insecurities about their shape.

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White covers and isolated imagery: Why the trend?
Posted 6 September 2010 / By Caleb J. Ross / Marketing/ Study (the world/the craft)

I have noticed that over the past decade readers have been subjected to a trend in non-fiction book cover design. I am referring to the use of a white background to frame a single, striking element. For example:


I understand the appeal from a marketing perspective. As online book buying grows in popularity, the book spine is becoming less important to shoppers. Instead, the idea with white-framed covers is to create as much visual distance and isolation with a book so as to set it apart from its surrounding mosaic. An added benefit for non-fiction books in particular is the sense of authority that comes with a single image. This says, “I am an expert on this topic. I am not going to stray into superfluous details. Prepare to learn.”

I like the look, but I dislike the trend. I am a grump, though, and dislike most trends. I refuse to tell my wife that I don’t mind listening to her Ingrid Michaelson music simply because it’s on the radio sometimes.

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AsAMachineAndParts-Re-issue-medium-175 Version 3 front cover-175 StrangerWill-reissue-175 CharacteredPieces_1stEdition-175 Version 2 front cover-175
Essays I’ve Written
In Lieu of Emo I Listened to the Metroid Theme
It Takes a Man to Get a Vasectomy: The History of the Vasectomy and 5 Things You Probably Didn't Consider Before Getting One
Tiny People in Your Semen: The Discovery of Sperm