“Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere, for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moon-driven seas. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it entrusted its being, its going, and its will.”
—first lines, The Lathe of Heaven
Is there any better advertisement for this NYT article, “Parents Urged Again to Limit TV for Youngest,” than this picture?
Subtext: Try reading!
(Picture credit: Daniel Lai/Aurora Photos)
They don’t mean anything to me. They’re useful for bookstores, obviously. They’re useful for fans. You can figure out what’s coming out in the same style of other books you like. But as a writer they have no use for me in my day-to-day work experience.
I was inspired to become a writer by horror movies and science fiction. The fantastic effects of magic realism, Garcia Marquez, the crazy, absurd landscapes of Beckett—to me, they’re just variations on the fantasy books I grew up on. Waiting for Godot takes place on a weird asteroid heading towards the sun, that’s how I see it. It’s not a real place—it’s a fantastic place. So what makes it different from a small planet in outer space? What makes it different from a post-apocalyptic landscape? Not much in my mind.” —
Right on. Ursula K. Le Guin has been preaching about this for decades. To whit:
The problems come with books that are cross-genre — and with the critical assumptions that anything they call “genre” is going to be automatically inferior and they don’t have to review it or learn how to read it. That’s where I get cross and run around orating about it.
The NYT has, surprisingly, published a trenchant article on the book business, while short on any kind of analysis, does provide a good overview of Amazon’s entry into the world of publishing.
Didn’t know that?
Yes, kids. Now Amazon does it all - acquire, publish, distribute, and sell books! Someone page Teddy Roosevelt…
Amazon’s philosphy, besides making money, seems to be summed up nicely in this statement:
“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”
Traditional publishing certainly has many areas in need of improvement, but to ignore the industry of people who work hard, and well, at crafting a thoughtful, entertaining, well-written, beautifully designed book is telling of their view of a writer’s work as simply content, commoditized. Ask any of our authors if the only necessary figure in the process is the reader and you will most likely get a passionate defense of their copyeditor.
“I have a slightly perverse fondness for these sub-par emporia, because they have often been the places where I have been forced to stray furthest outside of my usual buying patterns. Sometimes the situation in which our options are most narrowed is the one which ends up most widening our horizons. As great as it is to be able to choose whatever you want on Amazon, sometimes what you really want is to have no choice at all. Which is another way of saying, perhaps, that maybe there is really no such thing as a bad bookshop.”
We appreciate this tribute to the advantages of lack-of-choice and to the increasingly rare art of browsing in an online world.