Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Shadow Government

I meant to be able to post some kind of list of bet of last year, but cannot. Time is so odd to me now, since the children are born. The days seem to move so slowly and you just try to make it to bed time alive, but the weeks and months just speed by somehow.

However, back to work again after parental leave and there are many things to be excited about. Rediscovering the work of Judith Pond and Chris Levenson, discovering the work of Shane Nielson, through a submission to Ryga then reading his memoir Gunmetal Blue, and beginning to read his poetry. We're really excited to be publishing a chapbook by him as well. David Harsent's book, Night, is also something I'm reading a lot.

For fiction, I just started Les Plasko's novel No Stopping Train. What a horribly sad story his is, at least at the end. From the intro to the book, published posthumously after his suicide, it seems his life was good as he lived it -- committed to his art and within a community of like-minded people.

The story touches me for many reasons, because he was human, but one of the main reasons is that his case is not a solitary one. There is great work out there being ignored in favour of the latest historical romance or zombie novel, or whatever agents and publishers think may make a good movie or book club selection. Instead of elevating tastes and championing good writing, it seems easier to pander to the lowest level of reading sophistication and then try to elevate the poor writing that copies the last season's bestsellers, or genre writing, to the level of literature in the minds of arts commentators and prize juries. It's working, and I suppose there is nothing to be done about it, in a negative sense -- I mean I understand Grisham writes good stories, but I can't get through 3 pages in a row of that horrible writing.

So instead I have decided to start writing reviews and trying to bring attention to books I think deserve it. When I talk about writing with friends whose opinions matter to me, we are never talking about the books in the newspapers, when talking about writing that changes us, hurts us, or shakes us. It is always about other writers, whose texts live in some other space, forming a kind of shadow government, working against the sloganeering establishment that lives in the sunshine. Anyway, I will try it. That's why no real comments about these texts right now.

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