Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I had two fabulous and different interviews over the past month that have brought me full circle to my graduate school days. Jody Seay of "Back Page" and Ed Goldberg of "Author, Author" at www.allclassical.org brought to mind the ongoing push-pull between reader and writer where we tumble into Alice's rabbit hole in which what we mean may not be what we say. Or, what we say may mean something entirely different. My dissertation "Mediation of Knowledge through Artistic Discourse" pondered this problem decades ago. It came to mind last week. Literature in all its beauty mediates knowledge, it gives us windmills to tilt at, madeleines to munch upon, gardeners to love. All of these greats--Cervantes, Proust, Flaubert--their words exist apart from them and distinct from them. Don Quixote, A la Recherche and Madame Bovary are a commentary that reports and delights of eras, events and in words both in word placement and story structure. But what of the authors? Do they really matter?
I ponder this as I think of my past work "A Dream of Good and Evil" where architecture is the lattice-work for social change; I think of Susan Stoner's books on Sage Adair which elucidate the complexities of union life; I wonder, as I finish Julian Barnes "Sense of Being" if I need to know any more about him than that his words transfer knowledge--an incredible sense of loneliness as time goes by? And yet, and yet, and yet. Would the author help us out if we were to know her? Jody points out she looks on the back of a book first to discover where the author is; Ed goes into the text, de-constructs the characters and wonders if the author lurks somewhere behind them. In this mystifying frustrating journey of life, maybe the author will guide us? But should they? And how?
When I was a student, semiotics were in, the author was out. We were taught that the author was dead; that we, as readers inspire the "dead" words on the page with life. I used a similar metaphor as a teacher. I told students that a book is like a crystal ball which when thrown on the ground smashes into a million pieces. This, I would say, is the writer's self. Once liberated, the soul of the writer passes out of the book. However you, as readers, paste the pieces together, using your own tools of thought, is what the book will be--is what it means. And if we, as writers, have done our work, you will ponder, turn back a page or two, question some values, change the world---make a difference. Because each piece of crystal carries a portion of the soul...a resonance from the author.
So tell me, where is the author? What is the author? Where behind all those words does she lurk? Or are we, as readers, the ones that write and create....each time we read?
Saturday, February 2, 2013
From January, 24 2013
Well, it was as I thought. Real people, with expressions, not emoticons, are out there and they want to hear about books. Three bookstores--Marysville, "the gateway to the goldfields and a town full of readers; Davis--a university town filled with interested intellectuals; Sacramento--a town full of government officials and politicos. All these audiences had a chance to share in my "Dream of Good and Evil"....to contribute to my speaking...to turn my twenty-minute slot into a two hour conversation. Interactive audiences are magic...I look forward to hearing noise from you all when my IT specialists turn this into a comment blog. Whether you've read the book or done readings yourself or you just want to spout off, speaking face to face, blog to commentator adds considerable spirit to a dialogue. Soliloquies....that's for playwrights; conversation that's for authors, their audiences and words on the page. As Barthes told us years ago "The author is dead"; it's for the reader to inspire--breathe in--life to the dead words on the page. And people will. They do!
But enough of me. Back to the amazing Northwest authors. Susan Stoner's second Sage Adair mystery, "Land Sharks", brings us into another aspect of union building, death, mystery and destruction. What do we do without the bumbling Adair's adept Sancho Panzo, his emaneuensis and teacher Fong who is lost in a mysterious fog of his own. Further his Dulcinea--to extend the metaphor of this 20th century Don Quixote peopled with your neighbors, your lovers, your best friends--has abandoned him. Only his mother stays by his side. Please pick up "Land Sharks" when you want a good read. I'm salivating for the next book which I'm told is on its way to publication....
Speaking of family, let me shout out to the children of Mary Coulter, that having activism stream through your blood certainly makes acquiring a following easier. There's something to be said for leafletting....placing your bookmarks in bookstores....insinuating yourself where you otherwise might not be welcomed.
Let's hear it for internet support....all those friends on facebook, for families and for the next good book.
Check in next week....more on interactive support!
From January 16, 2013
Another, blog, you groan. And from an author. More words....More madness. No, I promise you, not just drivel. Drop by once or twice a week when I refresh the news on this side of the internet (Proust is my hero....and Swann was a cool guy...hence the title above) what you read will be short informative and intriguing.
This week, think about the Northwest. A hotbed for creativity. I've had the pleasure this week of reading three very different and excellent books, all by Northwestern authors: Anna Brentwood's "A Songbird with Sapphire Eyes" which makes one scream for Eliot Ness to save this woman from the mob;
Nancy Rommelmann's "Transportation Stories" are a collection of 21st Century Allegories and, believe me, I thought the skill of writing allegories died centuries ago. Refreshing our look at multi-layered stories, Rommelmann reminds us of society's ills.
Finally, the finest of textbooks William Hertling's "Indie and Small Press Book Marketing teaches creatives--artists, authors, anyone--how to sell their widget effectively using all of the resources out there on the net and inside the mind.
Hence the blog! Certainly there are others of you who like a good read; need some fine lessons on marketing and long for the literature of days gone by. If the fun of reading and learning is not enough reason to walk toward "Anne's Way" have a look at this TED video that my physician recommended to me after I told her, that like most right-brained people, I got lost driving around the parking lot. Listen to "Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, and feel better about being lost...
Do come back. I'm headed to California to read and sign my new book "A Dream of Good and Evil" I hope to have you visit after I return.