(Wednesday has come and gone, so Thursday will have to do.)
1. Last Sunday evening, my book club had the honor of Skyping with author Jamie Ford about his debut novel HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. (One of my 2010 faves!) I first met Jamie when he came to Cincinnati for a reading and signing. He was very approachable, and we chatted about his book, being halfies, and writing in general. I’ve kept in touch with him via Twitter and his blog, so I knew he sometimes did these Skype chats with readers, and I felt comfortable asking him to do one with us. And I am SO glad that I did. Even though the dumplings I made turned into a disaster (they wouldn’t cook all the way through! — thank goodness I bought sushi too) my fellow book clubbers pretty much thought I was the bomb dot com for “knowing” an author and getting him to chat with us. Jamie said lots of authors do it, so if you’re in a book club, don’t be afraid to ask!
Sadly I forgot to take photos of the chat, but this is more or less how it went down:
2. Jennifer Tomscha describes the singular pain of trying to make a life out of birthing watermelons. (Oh, just read it. It’s lovely, and it will make sense.)
Of course, figuring out how to live in this world is not only a writer’s affliction. Each person has to wake up every morning and determine how she is going to survive, how to manage the economies of life, how to create room within these economies for what she loves. But for the writer, this task is particularly difficult, in part because the choice to create a life of letters is a choice that has to be made every day, even on the days that don’t seem fruitful.
3. Last but not least, Onnesha Roychoudhuri (try saying that 3 times fast) gives a fascinating look at Amazon’s role in publishing, as well as a little history of the biz before-Amazon.
What happens when an industry concerned with the production of culture is beholden to a company with the sole goal of underselling competitors? Amazon is indisputably the king of books, but the issue remains … “what kind of king they’re going to be.” A vital publishing industry must be able take chances with new authors and with books that don’t have obvious mass-market appeal. When mega-retailers have all the power in the industry, consumers benefit from low prices, but the effect on the future of literature—on what books can be published successfully—is far more in doubt.