Treeplanting Novel Serialized on Myspace

This guy is writing a novel about treeplanting. And he’s serializing the writing on myspace. Why not?

(it seems to start here)

Apparently this guy is working on a novel too, although maybe non-fiction this time.

With Anxious Grapnels I Had Sounded My Pocket

Now having a night, a day, and still another night following before me in New Bedford, ere I could embark for my destined port, it became a matter of concernment where I was to eat and sleep meanwhile. It was a very dubious-looking, nay, a very dark and dismal night, bitingly cold and cheerless. I knew no one in the place. With anxious grapnels I had sounded my pocket, and only brought up a few pieces of silver,–So, wherever you go, Ishmael, said I to myself, as I stood in the middle of a dreary street shouldering my bag, and comparing the gloom towards the north with the darkness towards the south–wherever in your wisdom you may conclude to lodge for the night, my dear Ishmael, be sure to inquire the price, and don’t be too particular.

Moby Dick, Herman Melville

An Unpublished Hunter S. Thompson Novel

I was in Dawn Treader today, which may just be my favourite of many favourite used book stores. They didn’t have The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson. Nobody ever does. They didn’t have it in the place in Virginia either, and when I got home from looking I found out he had just shot himself. Swear to god.

So I’ve ordered it from the book cloud. I like buying from used book stores, but I like the sensation of having books in the incoming mail too.

Checking wikipedia, I discover that in addition to the Rum Diary, Thompson wrote one other novel, “Prince Jellyfish“. Like Rum Diary, it didn’t get published back in the gonzo era. Unlike Rum Diary, it still isn’t.

Books that Test the American Dream

This is great, really:

In a test of the American Dream, Adam Shepard started life from scratch with the clothes on his back and twenty-five dollars. Ten months later, he had an apartment, a car, and a small savings.

Cool. No really, I respect that.

But you’ll notice he’s white, male, healthy, has a college degree (even if he didn’t explicitly say it, those manners don’t go away and I hope the knowledge and skills doesn’t), and has no dependents. Also, it’s sample size = 1. Not to dismiss his accomplishment (as a healthy white male with a BSc. and no dependents, I can offer some stories about living out my last $50 bucks with no clear job in sight…) but if you’re interested in the state of the American Dream, I would go first to:

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America , by Barbara Ehrenreich

Some cheap places to buy it. A review. Mathew Sheppard says his own successful experiment was a direct response to Nickel and Dimed, which might give you a sense of how thought-provoking that simple book is.

Books that Make You Dumb

This is all over the internet today but it’s too good to be missed: Booksthatmakeyoudumb

This guy scraped the “favourite book” and university attended of a bunch of people on facebook, and then sorted out the books by the average admission SAT score of the universities. Very clever.

I was all smug about Vonnegut being the only repeat winner (that I saw anyway). Then I noticed

1) It’s about SAT scores, which are the ultimate dumbness and
2) Atlas Shrugged is near the top. Atlas Shrugged is the anti-book. It reminds me of this.

Looks like a preference for African American literature is correlated with low average SAT admission scores of the universities of the readers. I wonder how that plays out exactly.

Bid Dead Place is a Book

Big Dead Place is a book!

Now I wish there was going to be a gift exchange thing this year, so I could ask for this for christmas. Who has a used copy they want to sell me?

Jane Rule and British Columbia

Jane Rule died last week. I’ve only ever read one book of hers, I assume it was The Young in One Another’s Arms, although I can’t clearly remember the title. I read it in my early teen years. I don’t recall being shocked by the sexual content — I guess lesbianism wasn’t much in the light in 1977, but even in a rural white protestant town, it wasn’t so much of big deal by the late 80’s. But I was a bit rattled that there might be such a place as Vancouver, which sounded like a different place physically and socially than the Ontario and Toronto I knew a little of. I guess I figured Canada was Canada, and all of a sudden there was a hint that it might be more than one thing. And it would be fair to say that her description of Galianno island blew my young teen mind. I doubted her, but it had the ring of truth. How could such a physical and cultural realm exist in my straightforward and mostly flat homeland?

I wonder if having those half-doubted hopes confirmed by my eventual first visits to BC was part of why I fell in love with it so fast. I kind of think it might be.

I haven’t consciously though much about Jane Rule since reading that one book that one time, but now that she’s gone I’m very satisfied to hear that she lived out her time ensconced and active on Galianno. Maybe someday I’ll complete the trip to the island. I imagine it’s a different place now than when she wrote about it in ’77. Maybe, maybe not much.

A tour in the United States of America : containing an account of the present situation of that country, the population, agriculture, commerce, customs, and manners of the inhabitants, anecdotes of several members of the Congress, and general officers in the America army, and many other very singular and interesting occurrences : with a description of the Indian nations, the general face of the country, mountains, forests, rivers, and the most beautiful, grand, and picturesque views throughout that vast continent : likewise improvements in husbandry that may be adopted with great advantage in Europe

I was searching the UM library for a book called A Most Singular Country, and this was the entry that came back to me. I was having a hard time figuring out what the title was until I realized that was the title. Wacky wacky 1784.

Also note the publisher was G. Perrin, for Messrs. Price, Moncrieffe, Walker, Exshaw, Wilson, Burnet, Jenkin, White, Burton, Byrne, Whitestone, Colbert, Cashheery, and Marchbank. Those cats valued words man, and lots of them.

A Le Guinish Opera?

According to Ursula Le Guin’s website:

“October 12 and 13, 2007, in New York, American Opera Projects will be doing a staged version with piano of the Prologue and Act I Scene 3 of Stephen Andrew Taylor’s opera Paradises Lost. The entire opera will be performed at the University of Illinois in Spring 2009.

The libretto is by Stephen Andrew Taylor and Kate Gale, with input from me. It is based on my generation-ship novella “Paradises Lost,” in The Birthday of the World Excerpts were performed at the New York City Opera’s festival VOX this spring.”

I read Birthday of the World not that long ago, and remember Paradises Lost as a good short science fiction story, with unlikely and unassuming characters and Le Guin’s usual capacity to make the standard assumptions seem odd by presenting some more honest ones as normal. An opera? Weird.

Hobo Matters

“There had been hoboes in the United States since there had been trains and liquor, which is to say: always. But by 1930, an estimated two million broken souls had taken to the wandering life, hopping boxcars, picking up work where they could find it, and drinking, drinking, drinking. When prohibition reigned, the hoboes kew of secret stills and hidden lakes of moonshine. It made them strong and willful, and it made them blind and disfigured, and it spurred them to sing strange guttural songs in croaking voices that haunted the American night.”

From Areas of My Expertise, John Kellogg Hodgman.

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