Showing posts with label Kindle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kindle. Show all posts

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Novel About a Bizarre Plague

So I finally published my most recent novel via Kindle. It is called WITHOUT ONE, and it concerns a bizarre epidemic that strikes in the near future and that hits men where they live--but otherwise let's them live.  One tag-line, so to speak, is "Something is happening to men; their penises are falling off."

Mostly droll satire, I'd say, with some pathos and comedy.  The ensemble-cast includes first sufferers, researchers, doctors, media-folk, conspiracy-theorists, and of course politicians, including the POTUS.

The disease is soon known as RAPIDS--Rapid Penile Degeneration Syndrome.

My favorite anecdote from my adventures in trying to find an agent for the book: A male agent responded almost immediately to the email query and wrote, "I couldn't possibly represent this book because I have a fear of castration."  Which was funny.  And which, to me, suggested the book might have some appeal.  Technically, the disease doesn't castrate, but I got his drift.  I think I apologized for scaring him, too.

Anyway, if you're not scared, and in the unlikely event you have time to read, sigh, another novel, and you like somewhat bizarre fiction, here is a link:

Without One

Monday, December 17, 2007

Desultory Musings Concerning Kindling and Kindle, Reading and Grieving

When will the total ban on burning wood in fireplaces occur? Sooner rather than later, one suspects, especially with the news that the oceans are becoming much more acidic because of CO-2 introduced by humans. When will "the fireplace" finally seem as distant and quaint as jousting? What percentage of fireplaces are already "gas-inserts," which apparently burn much more cleanly than wood-burning hearths?

. . .Culture tends to consume itself: the automobile burns up the horse-and-buggy, and something else will burn up the automobile, which is already undergoing significant mutations. If culture is a fire, red coals of old products ignite newly obsolete products; the "family" sitting around the hearth is composed of economics (capital), science, governments, and . . . taste? Fashion? Expedience?

How to chop kindling is becoming or has already become a bit of consumed, arcane cultural knowledge, I suspect. Should you need to chop kindling, my advice is never to use a hatchet or even an ax. If you use either, you're likely to lose a finger or gash your leg. Use a splitting mall, which has a heavy "head" like a sledge-hammer and a relatively dull blade on the other side. Let the heavy head do the work; that is, just use the handle to lift the head a bit above your head, but there's really no need to drive the thing down, nor even to lift it directly over your head. Just let the wedge-shaped heavy iron head fall; it will work for you. Presumably you'll be chopping dry, soft wood--pin, fir, cedar: such make the best kindling. You'll be chopping in the direction of the grain, and the wood will "want" to split, as long as you don't try to split a knot in the wood or, literally, go against the grain. I think in the South they refer to such soft wood as "sapwood" because it's full of pitch. It's also less dense than hardwood, so the combination of pitch and soft fiber makes for a highly combustible wood--or kindling.

I used to chop heaps of kindling in the summer, loading up cardboard boxes for winter. In cold country, you want all your wood and kindling ready and under shelter well before Fall arrives. To be out in winter cutting wood is bad form and hard work. There is a kind of art to chopping relatively thin sticks of kindling, and it's fairly pleasant, rhythmic work. But with bans on wood-burning, such chopping is, as I noted, becoming arcane work.

My father chopped kindling to get his mind off worries. After his younger brother died of cancer, my father phoned me and said, "I go out and chop kindling, and even that won't take my mind off it [the death, the grieving]." In my father's universe, work was supposed to solve everything. A couple years later, my father suffered from congestive heart failure and died. After that, I often went into the garden to work and to try to get my mind off his death and my grieving. . . .

. . . . .And now a product called Kindle has arrived--a reading-machine onto or into which one downloads books. It comes from, and I assume the head honcho (Bezos?) did enough research to know that the machine will indeed catch on, so I also assume that the long-predicted demise of the book-as-paper has officially begun. I was about to write that the clock is ticking, but digital clocks don't tick, and one's phone tends to be one's clock. (Culture consumes itself.)

In Winter sometimes, I and other members of my family would occasionally sit in front of the fireplace and read books. Such basic human activity: using wood for heat; using wood for pulp, which becomes paper, which becomes books; sitting in wooden chairs in front of a wood-burning fire reading paper-books.

In the Newsweek article (paper-form, not online) I read about Kindle, the writer noted that "Kindle" allegedly refers to the ignition of ideas in the mind--an ignition triggered by reading. I harbored a more sinister interpretation. I think Kindle refers to the cultural, technological fire that will burn up paper books. It had to happen sometime, this fire, but we paper-book enthusiasts need not like it. Luddites, by the way, didn't so much hate technology as they did enjoy having a job. I don't hate the technology of Kindle, which I think will be grand for scholarship, but I still do love books as artifacts. I think I'm what's known as "torn.". . .

. . . .Poets traditionally--perhaps "customarily" is a better word-- have been amongst the most enthusiastic book-lovers, partly because they often printed their own books or were at least more closely involved in the process than other writers might be. William Blake is a shining example; he printed and illuminated his own books. William Everson (Brother Antoninus) was both an accomplished poet and a professional printer. Poets have often joined with other poets to form small publishing "houses"--meaning they bought an old used letter-press and produced chapbooks. City Lights Books in S.F. is a good example. I wonder to what extent old fashioned paper chapbooks will survive the arrival of Kindle and its cousins. . . .

. . . .I've just recently begun to catalog my books on LibraryThing, where old-fashioned book-lovers, compulsive readers, and book-collectors collide, as it were, with digital technology. So it's been a contradictory month for me, technologically. I think Kindle is "the real deal"-- the machine that will accelerate the demise of the paper-book, even as publishing has already been undergoing massive changes. I've been entranced by this digital beast, LibraryThing, which is built for lovers of paper books. I've been sent off on meditations about kindling and fires and such basic "technology" as the hearth and the iron splitting-mall attached to a polished hardwood handle. And now I'm writing an old-fashioned, desultory, meandering essay, a la Montaigne--except it's digital--about books and the death (or radical transformation) of books, about fire and wood, printing and paper, blogging and cataloging, reading and grieving, working and musing.