Is silence golden?

To pervert a well-known phrase, ‘All that is required for bad books to prevail is that good critics say nothing’, and yet, increasingly, that is exactly what is happening in those realms which heft most influence. It may not be happening in the blogosphere, but we’ll come to that soon enough.
I recently cut into a twitter conversation, which went something like this:

Spkr 1. Modern moral dilemma: given much hyped novel by publisher. It’s a bit ‘meh’. Don’t feel should say so on Good Reads

Spkr 2. I wouldn’t review at all

Spkr 1. My view too.

Me. So no review=bad review? What happened to ‘if you want my opinion, I’ll give it to you, but be sure you want it’?

Spkr 1. I’m more ‘If you can’t say something nice, say nothing’ when it’s books published by friends, & given by friends

Spkr 2. I agree

Me. It’s a thorny problem, especially when said friend can only read the ensuing silence one way …

Spkr 1. I’m given so many books, publishers don’t expect feedback on them all, so silence is ok.

Me. nice get-out clause …

The rest was silence. Continue reading

In control?

I’ve already written this post three times this morning. In fact, I’ve written this post dozens of times over the past few years. What is it to be in control? This was one version:

As I sit, cross-legged on my bed, laptop atop my lap (as it ought to be), listening to the rain beat against the roof, waiting for the plumber to arrive, checking social media for, well, anything to distract me from the task at hand, I’m less concerned with being ‘in control’ than I am wondering what it means. Continue reading

When is an author

Publishing is changing.
Danuta Kean recently wrote a piece on the trend towards not paying writers which included this sentence:

Thanks to the rapid growth in blogging and self-publishing – neither of which provide much reward for practitioners (81% of bloggers earn less than $100 a year, while half of US self-published writers earn less than $500 from their books) – the professional status of writers has been eroded, lending credence to the idea that practitioners do it for love not money and that freelancers bring easily replicated skills (they do not, see Danuta’s Guides).

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On bands that aren’t quite …

Every so often you come across a band whose passion and simple joy in the act of creation render criticism of any technical deficiencies moot, whose internal coherence drives them forward as one. It’s one of those ironies of life when the band you’re sent to review really aren’t that band. Continue reading

A book in hand …

Ok, so I published another book – Black Box, a collection of short stories from the dark to the whimsical and back again. It’s available as an e-book and as a c-book (c for carboniferous), just like my last book, Slender Threads. I’m not so interested in their relative subject matter as I am in their formats, and how they’ve fared in the (relative) marketplace. Continue reading

Black Box

Black Box is a collection of stories that were written between 1998 and 2011. I’m not exactly prolific. They cover a wide range of topics while never straying far from ‘the’ question. From hangovers to Faustian bargains, the stories are often about stories. And some of them are true. Cover by Helen Masacz.

Available now on Amazon in e-book and c-book formats and in the US at the createspace store.

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One fine day in the year of the bush

Good god, the Guardian’s back to its old, reactionary, hairy old ways. Emer O’Toole is making money for old (if short) rope in today’s piece about bloody pubic hair. I thought this hoary old crap had been dealt with after Bidisha’s appalling piece on the same subject (with the same metaphor) back in whenever (see To shave or not to shave) but no. it’s back. And it’s stupider than ever. Continue reading