Experimental Literature

Caught this at The Millions, sounds fascinating.

The Facebook Book | The Outlet: the Blog of Electric Literature.

My new book, For My Next Illusion I Will Use Wings, will be published in print in Hebrew in a couple of months. But at the beginning of January 2012 I decided to try something new, and published a free digital copy of it on… Facebook.

The idea of publishing an entire new collection of very short stories on Facebook was, in part, an experiment to see how literature can become more social. The digital format has enormous advantages for the reader; but most of the time digital formats still try to imitate the experience of reading a book in print (paging, bookmarks, virtual bookshelf, etc). I wanted to see if it could be different: how literature could evolve if the reader can see who of his friends likes the same stories, who is sharing the stories he shared with others, how does the book endure with readers’ comments on every page, visible to all.


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Weirdness From The Sidebar

Take a look at the right side of this page. Scroll down a bit. See the section called “Author Blogs”, the one with only two links? You should check out both of them.

China Mieville posted on his blog for the first time in over two months. I’m glad he’s back.

M. John Harrison’s blog led me to the page below. After reading it, I ended up ordering a printed book (no digital copy being available) for the first time in at least a year.

Stories in the Key of Strange | Matthew Cheney | Weird Fiction Review.

More and more, I find myself attracted to innovative writing that isn’t afraid to leave great gaps within itself, that doesn’t try to stick the world onto a postage stamp, but rather puts a postage stamp in the middle of the world’s unfathomable complexities. There was Leena Krohn’s short “sort-of novel” Tainaron, a book that I preferred to various massive novelistic tomes of erudition and insight that I have abandoned, a book that felt like it expanded within my mind rather than a book I had to squeeze into the cluttered space of my cranium. I feel the same way about Mac Wellman’s script “The Sandalwood Box” — I would happily go to see a production of this play, while I tend to dread going to the theatre much anymore, because the time is so often fizzled away with banalities, stock language, clunky character arcs, and desperate attempts to use whizzbangs to take hostage the attentions of an ever-more-distracted audience of tourists seeking live movies, the simulacrum dreams of imaginations colonized by Hollywood.

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Honest Abe Sharpens His Stakes

This is actually happening.


The book:

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


The book trailer:

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“List of Lists”

Interesting read:

Umberto Eco: master of the list – The Art Newspaper
The author discusses his turn as guest curator at the Louvre

By Cristina Carrillo De Albornoz. Web only
Published online: 11 November 2009

After Robert Badinter, Toni Morrison, Anselm Kiefer and Pierre Boulez, Umberto Eco is the next special guest curator of the Louvre. A noted historian and semiotician before he brought these sensibilities to bear on major novels such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, Eco has spent almost two years in residence at the Louvre. His chosen subject is “The Infinity of Lists”, a tour through art, literature and music based on the theme of lists and motivated by his fascination with numbers (until 13 December). “The subject of lists has been a theme of many writers from Homer onwards. My great challenge was to transfer it to painting and music and to see whether I could find equivalents in the Louvre, because frankly when I suggested the subject I had no idea how I would write about visual lists,” says Eco.

“The starting point for my ‘list of lists’ was Homer’s Iliad: firstly the creation of Achilles’ shield by Hephaestus, which not only symbolises perfect form but is in itself a work of art on which is engraved what is considered an allegory of the creation of the universe, an overall vision of Homer’s world. And secondly, the part where he lists all the ships leaving for the Trojan war.” Eco plays with these two opposing dimensions—perfect form and the list—in an attempt to rationalise the world. “The shield of Achilles is the epiphany of form, and every picture in an artist’s search for that form is a shield of Achilles,” concludes Eco. “Behind each list is the sense of ineffability.”


I’ve always loved lists of things (names not so much). As a kid, one of the things I liked most about Robinson Crusoe was the list of goods he accumulated from the wrecked ship:

My raft was now strong enough to bear any reasonable weight. My next care was what to load it with, and how to preserve what I laid upon it from the surf of the sea; but I was not long considering this. I first laid all the planks or boards upon it that I could get, and having considered well what I most wanted, I got three of the seamen’s chests, which I had broken open, and emptied, and lowered them down upon my raft; the first of these I filled with provisions-viz. bread, rice, three Dutch cheeses, five pieces of dried goat’s flesh (which we lived much upon), and a little remainder of European corn, which had been laid by for some fowls which we brought to sea with us, but the fowls were killed. There had been some barley and wheat together; but, to my great disappointment, I found afterwards that the rats had eaten or spoiled it all. As for liquors, I found several, cases of bottles belonging to our skipper, in which were some cordial waters; and, in all, about five or six gallons of rack.

I felt the same way about the lists in Walden.

I have thus a tight shingled and plastered house, ten feet wide by fifteen long, and eight-feet posts, with a garret and a closet, a large window on each side, two trap doors, one door at the end, and a brick fireplace opposite. The exact cost of my house, paying the usual price for such materials as I used, but not counting the work, all of which was done by myself, was as follows; and I give the details because very few are able to tell exactly what their houses cost, and fewer still, if any, the separate cost of the various materials which compose them: —

  Boards, .............................. $8.03½, mostly shanty boards.
  Refuse shingles for roof and sides, ... 4.00
  Laths, ................................ 1.25
  Two second-hand windows with glass, ... 2.43
  One thousand old brick, ............... 4.00
  Two casks of lime, .................... 2.40   That was high.(4)
  Hair, ................................. 0.31   More than I needed.
  Mantle-tree iron, ..................... 0.15
  Nails, ................................ 3.90
  Hinges and screws, .................... 0.14
  Latch, ................................ 0.10
  Chalk, ................................ 0.01
  Transportation, ....................... 1.40   I carried good
                                                 part on my back.
       In all, ........................ $28.12½  (5)

[5]    These are all the materials, excepting the timber, stones, and sand, which I claimed by squatter’s right.

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Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

– Walt Whitman
Song of Myself

Still prefer digital, but sometimes there is no substitute for the analog.


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More on Technology, Reading, and Writing

Ebooks vs. print is not a zero sum game? The article makes a persuasive argument, but my own experience has been quite different; if a book isn’t available in digital format, I don’t buy it.

Are We Suffering from E-Reader Fatigue? – IndieReader.

By Holly Robinson

Jocelyn Kelley loves the heft of a book in her hands and the physical act of turning pages.  “Flipping the pages of a book can transport me anywhere.”

In the very next breath, however, Kelley—a book publicist with Kelley & Hall Book Publicity—admits that she also reads on a Kindle and an iPad, and that e-books have distinct advantages, too.

“The immediacy of being able to look at a book, read the description, and in mere moments be reading the first chapter is very attractive,” says Kelley.  She doesn’t see the trend toward digital books stopping any time soon, if only because of the number of people who “like the ease and comfort of carrying multiple books in one device.”

The national media loves to buzz, ping and tweet about how e-readers are revolutionizing the way the world reads, brazenly sounding the death knell for books in print–and, while they’re at it, book stores and traditional publishers, too.  Yet statistics show that the physical book is still very much in demand—and isn’t going away any time soon.


Another signpost on the road ahead.

Self-published ebook author becomes Amazon’s top seller | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Kerry Wilkinson’s Jessica Daniel detective novels sell more than 250,000 copies on Kindle

Kerry Wilkinson ebooks

A self-published author has beaten names including Lee Child, James Patterson and Stieg Larsson to become the bestselling ebook author on Amazon.co.uk for the last three months of 2011, the online retailer said on Wednesday.

Kerry Wilkinson, 31, self-published Locked In, the first book in his Jessica Daniel series of detective novels, last year, only to find it shoot up the UK’s Kindle charts. The three-book series has now sold more than a quarter of a million copies, with Locked In selling its 100,000th copy on Christmas Eve and becoming the top seller on Amazon’s UK Kindle store for the last quarter of 2011. Kindle EU director Gordon Willoughby said the news was a “significant milestone” for independent publishing in the UK. Self-published author Katie Stephens also took the fifth slot over the same period with her debut novel Candles on the Sand.

“This time last year, I hadn’t even started writing Locked In and now I have a No 1 bestselling book in the Kindle Store, outselling many authors that I have grown up reading,” said Wilkinson. The author told the Guardian that he was only prompted to start writing fiction when he turned 30 in November 2010 and “decided I should probably do something with my life”.

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Could Make for Some Awkward Moments

SCENE: A library basement. Men and women of various ages participating in a “Read-dating” event.

(holding a copy of Northern Lights)
Hi, I’m Lyra Belacqua.

(holding a copy of Lolita)
Hi. Um… I’m Humbert Humbert.

Long pause.


Speed dating goes literary – The Globe and Mail.

Picture yourself in a basement room at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library the night before (or after) Valentine’s Day, tables covered with tablecloths, soft rock playing in the background. You are carrying a book, one that says something about you. You’re going from table to table, looking for a literary connection or, in the best case scenario, a love match.

You are Read Dating.

The VPL tried this out for the first time this winter: a book-club/speed-dating hybrid, where singles rotate around the room, spending four minutes each with about 20 others, all armed with a favourite book (or DVD or CD) to break the ice; something to help fill in those awkward pre-first-date gaps.

To protect privacy and add another layer to the literary high jinks, each single is provided with a bookish pseudonym: Scarlett O’Hara, Jay Gatsby, David Copperfield. Imagine the fun when Yuri Zhivago meets up with Lara!

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Stay Awake: Stories”

Really looking forward to getting this book. Dan Chaon is one of the finest writers working today.

‘Stay Awake’: Stories On Grief And Everything After : NPR.

Stay Awake

Grieving is a series of a million heartbreaks. Every morning, you wake, temporarily freed of the memory of what you’ve lost, only to have the memory rush in and crush you all over again. Mourning meddles with sleep and thought; it makes an hour feel like a month, and a year seem like a lifetime. Most people survive it, but not without a sense of lost time — and that they have lost something of themselves along the way.

It’s that uneasy feeling, that sometimes blurry line between the dreaming and waking lives, that is the theme of Dan Chaon’s darkly beautiful short story collection Stay Awake. It almost reads like a novel in fragments. Although each story contains different characters, there’s an unsettling thematic commonality among them. People are lost — to car accidents, suicides or diseases — and their loved ones do their best to get by. Often unsuccessfully.

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“Downmarket genre fiction”

Read the comments that follow. My favorite:

Apart from being hideously snobbish, she doesn’t seem to realise that reading a kindle could just be a lot easier for the Mills and Boon readers who may have arthritic fingers/hands.


Ebook sales are being driven by downmarket genre fiction | Media | The Guardian.

Reading an ebook

Kindle-owning bibliophiles are furtive beasts. Their shelves still boast classics and Booker winners. But inside that plastic case, other things lurk. Sci-fi and self-help. Even paranormal romance, where vampires seduce virgins and elves bonk trolls.


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Tips From Them That Do

Gaiman’s Rule #8:

8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.


Writing Tips by Henry Miller, Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman & George Orwell | Open Culture.

Here’s one way to become a better writer. Listen to the advice of writers who earn their daily bread with their pens. During the past week, lists of writing commandments by Henry Miller, Elmore Leonard (above) and William Safire have buzzed around Twitter. (Find our Twitter stream here.) So we decided to collect them and add tips from a few other veterans — namely, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman.

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