July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
I recently received an iPad as a graduation gift. It’s awesome. I kind of hate that I think that it is awesome because, you know, precious earth metals, sweatshops, it’s made to expire quickly to feed the capitalist machine, and stuff. But, I think my consumption of books will increase, as with many other ebook readers who read both print and digital books.
At the same time, I’m trying to minimize my consumption and simplify my life. ‘Leave no trace,’ a camping principal I learned from my dad, has become kind of a mantra, or at least a goal statement for my consumption, but the sheer fact that I am alive means that I will consume some goods that will in some way affect my local & global community. So, I am always looking for I aim to do good, even if ‘good’ sometimes means just not making the world a worse place. I am not so radically ambitious and DIY savvy that I can operate outside our culture of consumption. I don’t have a yard to turn into a garden large enough to feed me, Richard and the cat*; I don’t have the equipment or training to make my own clothes; I haven’t learned how to repair mechanical things. So, one of my ongoing projects is to figure out how to live within the political/consumer construct I am bound to while also staying true to my personal ethics (Thank you, Jesuit education).
Consumption patterns are a political statement. I want to make sure my money is going toward companies who are doing good for readers and writers. So, before I fired up my iPad for the first time, I made these rules for myself:
- I am not going to buy an ebook from an aggregator like Amazon until business practices and ethics are improved. (I am defining improved as: no longer unfairly targeting local booksellers, no longer unfairly fixing ebook prices to create a monopoly, and no longer tracks reading habits in order to find new ways to write more generic, commercial tripe.)
- I will use it primarily to read library ebooks, newspapers and magazines. I spent the last four years at a university that didn’t have a great on-campus selection of books but was part of a region-wide network that allowed interlibrary lending, so my Seattle Public Library card didn’t get much use. Since I got my iPad in mid-June, I have checked out six ebooks and an audiobook from the SPL. And, when possible (this has only been not possible once), I get the Epub version of the book, not the Kindle version because Amazon tracks reading in library books too.
- Any e-books I purchase must be bought directly from the publisher or an independent third party that isn’t Amazon. Direct-from-publisher sales were up last year and that is incredibly encouraging. Publishing companies like Melville House, Dzanc, and others allow you to purchase ebooks directly from them. Most ebooks can also be purchased through more ethical third parties like Weightless Books and Ebooks.com.
- I will use it until it is really, truly broken and irreparable, and then find a recycling company that doesn’t just ship trash to developing nations to be burned. And if it proves not to have the longevity I require, I won’t be purchasing a replacement.
Some of these things might seem totally obvious for the consumption minded, but it’s helpful to put things in writing.
*Though I am working on an in-apartment garden to at least provide some produce.
July 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
At NCUR earlier this year, I presented a paper on the importance of small press in the age of audience fragmentation with the goal of introducing non-small press readers to a new literary culture. In preparation for that, I interviewed small-press culture-makers like Molly Gaudry of the Lit Pub and Laura Moriarty of Small Press Distribution. One interview that didn’t make it into the presentation because of time constraints was an email interview Blake Butler was gracious enough to participate in. Thanks again, Blake!
Frances E. Dinger: As a writer and reader of small press books, do you feel small press titles are ignored by contests, academia, etc.? Why?
Blake Butler: Certainly, in regards to the major contests. I feel like a lot of the circuits are made of people who are underread. The selections are usually made up of a very limited and safe range of work. Work that happens to be small press or unusual usually reads like something that could have been on a big press and just wasn’t. At the same time, awards are boring. People who compete for them and are worried about them and value them are boring. Write because you write. If someone wants to hand you a prize, take it if you want it. I wish the worship of these prizes, which really only are valuable for the money attached to them, and perhaps a small flare of booksales, and maybe a small wave of press, would disappear. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
Hey! It’s been awhile.
These are some things that happened while I was absent from blogging:
- Presented my senior thesis on the importance of small press publishing in the age of audience fragmentation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research
- Co-curated my first public-art exhibition as part of my internship with Urban Art Concept
- Finally graduated from Seattle University with a double major in strategic communications and creative writing
- Temporarily ‘expatriated’ to Italy, where I will be writing from until late-ish August
Here’s some photo evidence:
December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Bellow are my nominations for the Alt Lit Awards which happened last night while I was in transit from ruralish Eastern Washington to Seattle. I did not nominate an Alt Lit Prom King and Queen because I was not aware that was a category when Frank sent me the ballot a couple weeks ago. I am more than flattered to share the title with Richard Chiem. Richard texted me about the award while I was eating dinner with my family before they took me to the airport. Following the announcement, my mom tried to explain internet lit to my grandparents.
All the people/journals/poems/stories/books that were recognized last night deserve that recognition, but I wanted to give a shout out to some of my favorite pieces/entities/people from this year. Also, I will admit that my list blatantly favors the Pacific Northwest. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 9, 2011 § 4 Comments
I read a post on Trick With a Knife (it has since been removed by the author) awhile back that, among other things, made a disparaging comment about another writer’s remark about the number of writers she considers to be friends. The comment was something to the affect of, “I feel sorry for you because all your friends are writers,” as if it was a bad thing. This was the primary thing that stuck with me from the piece.
Mostly, it stuck with me because all* of my friends are writers and this has never seemed like a bad thing. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 13, 2011 § 3 Comments
When they first hear of Frank Hinton, many people immediately assume she is a man. My mother, who recently joined Facebook and apparently occasionally views the profiles of my friends, said to me over the phone, “I had no idea Frank Hinton was a girl.” I once read Frank’s piece “How to be Me, an Instructional Video narrated by Frank Hinton,” at Pilot Books’ Other People’s Prose or Poetry night and was met with somewhat confused stares when I introduced Frank as a “woman living in Nova Scotia.”
This element of presumption is one of the reasons why I think Frank’s debut chapbook I Don’t Respect Female Expression works so well. The title likely sounds entirely offensive to anyone unfamiliar with Frank’s work. The chapbook doesn’t actively disprove its title, but instead almost seems to be championing a kind of genderless experience. Often, the gender of narrators is not specified, and when the gender of characters is specific, Frank is fair to both men and women, avoiding cliches of misogyny or whiney and disillusioned women. This is all achieved without being didactic. « Read the rest of this entry »