Tardiness in Approving New Comments

PG apologizes for not tending the store as usual. The post that immediately precedes this one (chronologically) is his only excuse.

PG especially apologizes to those who posted their first comments during the past couple of days. PG has TPV set to require that the first comment from a visitor be held for moderation to help cut down on comment spam.

Once PG has approved the first comment, subsequent comments should appear nearly immediately (you may have to hit the reload button on your browser) provided that you are not bitten by a werewolf and converted into a comment spammer.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny Teaming up on New Political Mystery Novel

From BookRiot:

If you love political mysteries, you’re in for a treat this October when a novel hits shelves written from an interesting new perspective: that of former Secretary of State and presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton is teaming up with award-winning Canadian mystery writer Louise Penny to co-write State of Terror, which tells the story of a newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State who must solve a series of terrorist attacks. The book will hit shelves on October 12, and is being jointly published by Clinton and Penny’s publishers, Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s Press respectively.

State of Terror takes place just after a four-year presidential term that pulled America away from the world stage. A novice Secretary of State is appointed by her political rival, and shortly after, the country is rocked by multiple terrorist attacks. The Secretary must put together a team capable of finding the source of the attacks while also preventing the American government from crumbling.

Clinton’s political experience influences several aspects of the new novel. After losing to former President Barack Obama in the 2008 election, Clinton was appointed by Obama to serve as Secretary of State for four years. The novel is also influenced by the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy tactics.

. . . .

Penny shared that she “couldn’t say yes fast enough” to writing a book with Clinton. “Before we started, we talked about her time as Secretary of State. What was her worst nightmare? ‘State of Terror’ is the answer.”

Link to the rest at BookRiot

PG felt an impulse to be snide, but perhaps recent intensive grandchild therapy has mellowed him out.

For the time being.

Curators of our culture are hard at work, even under present circumstances. Where would our culture be without them?

Offspring

The reason that posting has been a bit irregular in recent days is that, after their Covid vaccines kicked in, PG and Mrs. PG entered one of the vehicles that has spent most of its time in the garage of Casa PG and turned on the cruise control.

After a period of time, they arrived at the home of one of their offspring who, in turn, has several offspring of her home.

PG will attest that grandchild therapy is an excellent treatment for a condition PG’s father used to call, “Barn Sour.” When an animal, generally a cow/bull/steer or a horse, is kept in a pen in the barn for too long, that animal will become listless and fail to thrive.

The treatment for barn sourness is to let the animal out of the barn into a corral or other space where it has the opportunity to move and interact with a variety of other animals. Even an older large animal will sometimes kick its back legs in the air and trot around a bit before settling down to the serious business of sniffing as many other animals which will hold still for that greeting/examination.

Like an old barn sour bull, PG has rejoiced in being freed from his Covid barn to kick his back feet in the air. He has not noticeably spent a lot of time sniffing his grandchildren (grandsons who have been permitted to roam about generate a sort of sweaty boy smell, particularly if they have been able to somehow avoid a bath the night before), but he has enjoyed interacting with grandchildren of both genders.

The image at the top of this post is a photo of a group of guard animals arrayed across the entrance to PG’s and Mrs. PG’s bedroom. PG was unable to ascertain exactly what threats they’re guarding us from, but since only pleasant experience have occurred since their first appearance, PG expects that is an indication of their efficacy.

The Future Will Be Monthly: Subscription Models for Authors

From Indies Unlimited:

Netflix. Lootcrate. Amazon Prime. Everyone has at least heard of most of these, and you probably subscribe to one or two of them. From TV to men’s razors, the subscription model is catching on with consumers.

According to Deloitte, 69% of households now subscribe to one or more video streaming subscription services. A survey conducted by Global Banking and Finance Review reported that 70% of business leaders say subscription business models will be key to their prospects in the years ahead.

How can publishing get in on this thriving new trend? Let me count the ways.

Publishers have a big hurdle to jumping into a subscription model: no reader buys every book they publish. But authors don’t have that problem. They can cultivate readers who will read everything they put out, and it is these authors who can benefit greatly from implementing a subscription model of their own.

How do we know this? Because they are already doing it.

Services like Patreon allow authors and artists to cultivate patrons either on a monthly basis, to per creation, while services such as Shopify and Payhip let you sell digital downloads and memberships. Another site, Gumroad, gets you set up to sell everything from ebooks to physical products and create a membership site. Want to keep things simple? Add a subscription payment button to your website with PayPal.

Paypal is what author Dean Wesley Smith uses to process subscriptions to his very own magazine, Smith’s Monthly. Each month, Smith publishes a print and electronic magazine containing several short stories a full novel, and serialized fiction (and he sells the individual issues on Amazon and other sites as well).

. . . .

Indie author and small press publisher John G. Hartness uses Gumroad and Patreon as a subscription service for $5 monthly short stories. Hartness also sells ebooks and audio downloads via Gumroad, and these are often cheaper than Amazon and the other ebook sites because Gumroad takes a smaller cut, so it’s a win-win for both the author and his readers.

You’ll need to have at least some of your books wide on Amazon, and you likely won’t get the traffic that the world’s largest search engine for books does, but over time it can be a nice chunk of change. It works for print books as well. For $25 a month, my patrons on Patreon get signed print copies of my books, with free U.S. shipping, as well as free stories and snippets. And it’s another fun way to interact with your readers.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited

PG is old enough to remember various book-of-the-month clubs, so subscriptions are definitely not a new thing in the book world.

That said, indie authors come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. PG knows some that are organizing book projects in which several authors contribute a short story to a collected stories ebook and it is widely-believed that a regular email newsletter from an author to readers who opt-in to receive it is a good way of keeping readers engaged between book releases.

For other authors, writing books is what gets them up and in front of the computer each morning. As much as they appreciate those who buy their books, writing a chatty newsletter instead of the latest chapter in their noir novel is a burden.

Others have day jobs, some in offices, others on assembly lines and others who are shuffling children hither and yon to school, sports, music lessons, doctors, and dentists. These authors may need to spend their writing time focused hard on their first or next book.

A subscription model is fine if you have the inclination, time and energy to pursue it, but, in PG’s HO, getting good books out the door for readers to buy is Job #1.

Can Brotherly Love Produce a Book?

From Publishers Weekly:

I began pondering how to describe what it’s like writing with my brother with the metaphor of a river flowing into a sea in mind. It provokes the notion of something vast and abstract, like cognition, that is then contextualized as a specific memory. I next found myself staring at my morning coffee, wondering just how grandiose our ideas tend to be. A French press stood not far behind with more “liquid gold.” The aha moment during my routine will be found herein. This sort of pivoting is a hallmark of our creative endeavors.

Anyone with a sibling can imagine how uncompromising writing with one could become. And yet one could also likely imagine how rich the experience could be because of an inextricable common bond. Ehsan and I are not “classically” trained writers, and that was a major challenge for us as first-time authors. Writing in the service of story can take on a life of its own. Going into writing the Wild Sun series with procedural naiveties—unencumbered by knowledge about the “right” way to craft a story—was arguably the greatest benefit to our collaboration. We gave each other the confidence to create whatever was boiling to the surface. There were no expectations.

Well, that is not totally true. We expected to find our taste translated onto the page. That is something that we have found to be immensely satisfying. Taste is subjective—for the most part. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” At the same time, it becomes objective within context.

We overcame initial collaborative hurdles with a tremendous amount of preproduction planning… and bourbon… and edibles. The one thing I can say about Ehsan and me is that we are dreamers. Not necessarily fantastical or ideological—more so in regard to the depth of a singular idea. Imagine worldbuilding as breadth and narrative as depth. We relish being 15,000 feet up in the air. High, if you will. This is where the abstract and tectonic elements of a story often dwell. The “river flowing into a sea” stuff. Spending so much time in the clouds growing up together allowed us to envision how the coffee would (should) taste when back on the ground.

This process has also been a look into how meandering thoughts eventually find a way back home. And how I need to explain writing with Ehsan through a French press metaphor.

It begins with a trip to the café for coffee beans. They are whole and require a good deal of grinding before they reach their grittier final form. Emphasis on grinding. This would essentially be our preproduction stage. (Ehsan and I began cutting our teeth on writing with a screenplay concept we had been tinkering with. Wild Sun is actually a fully realized backstory to one of the characters from this movie idea.) I personally have a proclivity to visualize story, and fortunately, while Ehsan also does so, he is more into studying plot and structure. We would take our burgeoning formal understanding of writing and apply it to works we love, film or novels. It is how we began to formulate our concept of taste and what we could actually do with what was in our heads.

Once we take the grounds and add them to a French press, it requires boiling water as the vehicle for creating the coffee. Consider this element of heat as one of the more challenging parts of us writing in tandem. It is often grueling at first. We would both take shots at opening the novel, and once combined it would feel dense, slow. We were too mechanical in the initial goings, and pacing suffered. This caused a good deal of frustration for us, because our taste was completely unmoored from what was landing on the page.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

More Apologies

PG apologizes for another light blogging day today.

He realizes that he has had too many of those in recent days, but this one is unavoidable.

Nothing’s wrong, nobody’s sick, the World ‘O PG is looking good.

Back soon.

It is easier to forgive

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.

William Blake

Let me tell you this

Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.

Jodi Picoult

But love is always new

But love is always new. Regardless of whether we love once, twice, or a dozen times in our life, we always face a brand-new situation. Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere. We simply have to accept it, because it is what nourishes our existence. We have to take love where we find it, even if that means hours, days, weeks of disappointment and sadness.

Paulo Coelho

The Garden

From The Paris Review:

Ma thought it was a good idea. That we work together in the garden. But it wasn’t a garden then, just a long rectangle of funky-smelling earth behind a two-story apartment house in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. An elderly couple named Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz owned the house and backyard. This was in the early seventies, and already the Jews were moving out. I was ten or twelve the summer we worked in the earth. The Schwartzes lived downstairs from us in that house, and on Fridays their apartment went semidark because of the Sabbath. What a beautiful word for something I didn’t know anything about. Then, one day, I saw the tattooed numbers on Mrs. Schwartz’s arm and in a flash everything I’d learned in school flooded my mind and heart: all those bodies laid to waste, gold teeth extracted and made into something else, the gas chambers and the musicians who played as the walking dead stood naked, hoping for water, hoping to be cleaned.

And there was more. There is always more pain and beauty. Recently, a friend told me about the gardens Jews kept for Nazi families who wanted something beautiful to look at while they smelled death at work, had schnapps and what all outside, the condemned Jews not lifting their heads as they worked the earth and tended flowers, such beautiful living organisms thriving on a plantation where murder was grown and harvested. And I think of Mrs. Schwartz now as I think about the earth behind our house—her house—and the numbers blooming on her arm like flowers. I never got to ask her how old she was when she was marked like that, and did she remember or see barbed wire fencing the condemned in like the wiring around flower beds and vegetable beds our innocent neighbors used to keep predators out? Nor did I get to say to her, even as those numbers on her arm blossom and die in my memory, What is it about flowers that no matter where they’re grown—in death camps or by the sea, in private homes or on the border of war zones—why is it they keep on flowering while insisting on their right to inspire feelings in us that we can barely know, or articulate in all our truth and terribleness?

When I think about the Schwartzes, I think about their building, our home, and I think about the steep staircase leading up from the street to our apartment, and the long shape of our apartment itself, and the fact that we lived next door to a gas station where fumes bloomed. This is the only apartment I have vivid memories of—we moved a fair amount when I was a kid—and part of what I remember about it is the garden or, more accurately, how the garden came to be.

It wasn’t anything but overly fertilized rust-colored dirt when Ma said she thought something could grow there. She was always trying to make a family, and to make that family grow. But there was so much bad earth. Our father didn’t live with us; for most of the time I knew him, he lived with his mother, in Crown Heights, a bus ride away. It had always been this way. My parents visited, and on weekends out my father took me and my little brother on long walks around the city. We saw the beautiful consumerist goods on Madison Avenue, and, in the Village, heard women catcalling to passersby from the Women’s House of Detention. Rainy days in Chinatown, and some snowy days at the Guggenheim Museum, or looking at the precipitation falling on the stone lions at the New York Public Library. And then there was my father’s hand, or, more accurately, certainly from an emotional point of view, my hand in his tougher rougher bigger hand and it was the best foreign feeling in the world: I knew his hand but not him, and even now that feels like defeat, my remembering the pleasure of my hand in his, and all that I wanted from him that wasn’t forthcoming. My dreams of him were always tied up with things ending—at the end of our Saturdays together, he took a gypsy cab home—and so with a kind of death. On some level I must have wanted him to stay even though I couldn’t stand him, or stand him leaving. In any case, I can’t believe these memories continue to make me vulnerable to him, the way flowers are to our human hands—cut them or leave them alone? Water them or let nature take care of them? The flowers are vulnerable to us!—and remind me that all I want to do is find my father again, but in a better person, a he who will protect me from the original father who maybe taught us how to cultivate flowers, but certainly not how to find soul-nourishing love when it’s needed, which is always.

I don’t remember when my mother suggested growing flowers. But for sure her impulse was in part inspired by her desire to keep looking for activities that prompted and encouraged our father to be a father to his sons. That was part of what mediocre therapists might call their dynamic—her hope and his pulling back, her cajoling him and telling him what he must do, and him doing it sometimes, but always grudgingly. Daddy was Ma’s only real baby, or the only one who was allowed to be a baby. I remember her saying she would ask the Schwartzes about the land, and I remember my father standing with me at the Schwartzes’ door soon thereafter, and the deeply kind Mr. Schwartz telling my father that the dirt back there had been overly fertilized by someone a long time before, and it had been left untended after that. In my memory or my imagination, which is usually the same thing, my father says to Mr. Schwartz, I’ll take care of it. Or perhaps it was my mother who asked the Schwartzes about the ground, then decided we would make the best of it. Because that’s what she always did. And maybe what I wanted my father to do.

Link to the rest at The Paris Review

PG remembers the nice guy who always wore a yarmulke in the shop where he took his dress shirts and dry-cleaning in Chicago a long time ago who also had blue numbers tattooed on his forearm that showed on warm days when he had his shirtsleeves rolled up.

PG never commented on the numbers since he knew what they represented and thought the nice guy might not want to talk about the experience. The nice guy never made any attempt to hide the blue numbers and had certainly earned the right to show them or cover them a million times over without anyone questioning his choice.

Some other guys who had fought in World War II or Korea also had tattoos that identified them with their experiences as well and some of them were detailed and colorful and said things like “Iwo” or “Chosin” but seeing those tattoos never effected PG as much as the tattoo that the nice guy in the yarmulke showed on warm days. That’s the one PG remembers vividly.

Arrogant people

Arrogant people are non-learners. They invest their energies in maintaining a cozy feeling of complacency, and complacency is the biggest single enemy to the process of continuously learning from experience. Arrogant people are exactly the sort of people who are destined to have one year’s experience 20 times rather than 20 years’ worth of experience.

Peter Honey

Strange Behavior with the Comments

PG has received a couple of messages that describe something he’s observed himself.

Sometimes when PG pulls up TPV and examines a post for which he knows there are comments, when he gets to the bottom of the post, there is no indication that there are a number of comments, only the “Leave a Comment” link that has, in the past, meant that if you click on the link, you’ll be the first to comment on that post.

On other posts which have comments, at the end of the post, the number of comments that have been made is shown in the manner PG expects them to appear.

He has only noticed this behavior over the past few weeks and doesn’t recall seeing it before. In some cases, it seems to come and go, 10 comments listed for a post now and nothing shown a couple of hours later.

PG hasn’t made any changes to the site, theme, etc., to which he can attribute this behavior.

PG has archived about the oldest 20% of the posts on TPV (quite old ones) over the past few weeks simply to reduce the size of the TPV database, but has noticed that the number of comments (over 300,000) have not diminished on the TPV admin dashboard although he would have expected that archiving the posts might do something similar with the related comments.

Clearing his browser cache, opening TPV in a different browser, etc., haven’t yielded any useful information about this odd behavior.

Since PG’s plate has been full lately, he hasn’t had a chance to research the problem, but hopes to find time to do so soon.

For those who have left comments, but haven’t seen them show up in the “XX comments” line below the posts, PG has discovered that, if he clicks on the “Leave a Comment” link below a post that doesn’t indicate that there are any comments, he sometimes finds comments that have been made relative to that post.

That’s not a very efficient solution to this problem, however.

If anyone knows what’s causing this behavior or can point PG to potential causes or solutions, PG would appreciate you leaving a comment to this post. It would save him time spent looking for information online and get things running right around this joint again.

Update on Light Blogging

On the second day following their Covid vaccination, PG and Mrs. PG are feeling better, but still very tired.

Light Blogging – Covid Vaccination Edition

As mentioned earlier, Mrs. PG and PG received their second of two Covid vaccinations yesterday.

Each felt fine yesterday, but both woke up with a lot of aches and pains throughout their bodies today.

PG has been assured that these are among the common after-effects of vaccination #2 and they will subside, likely by the end of the day today.

In the meantime, PG is feeling a few decades older than his chronological age and about the only thing he feels capable of doing is sitting in a very comfortable chair and reading a book.

He has a book he hasn’t yet read yet about the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, which infected an estimated 1/3 of the world’s population and caused the death of between 50-100 million people at a time when the world’s population was much smaller than it is today.

He expects that reading about the Spanish Flu may help him put his temporary condition into proper perspective and expects to be hale, hardy and skeptical by tomorrow.

Science knows no country

Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence.

Louis Pasteur

Covid Update

PG and Mrs. PG each received their second Covid vaccination today (Pfizer for Covid aficionados).

The talking Covid drums have been saying that side effects from the second vaccination can be more difficult than the first. For PG, the only side effects he has experienced from the second is feeling a bit tired, hence, he will do a little blogging after lying down for an extended (and atypical) nap after receiving his vaccination and may take another nap thereafter.

Mrs. PG is still snoozing after watching an episode of Virgin River, based upon a 19-book series of the same title.

What We See When We Read

From The Paris Review:

If I said to you, “Describe Anna Karenina,” perhaps you’d mention her beauty. If you were reading closely you’d mention her “thick lashes,” her weight, or maybe even her little downy mustache (yes—it’s there). Matthew Arnold remarks upon “Anna’s shoulders, and masses of hair, and half-shut eyes … ”

But what does Anna Karenina look like? You may feel intimately acquainted with a character (people like to say, of a brilliantly described character, It’s like I know her), but this doesn’t mean you are actually picturing a person. Nothing so fixed—nothing so choate.

*

Most authors (wittingly, unwittingly) provide their fictional characters with more behavioral than physical description. Even if an author excels at physical description, we are left with shambling concoctions of stray body parts and random detail (authors can’t tell us everything). We fill in gaps. We shade them in. We gloss over them. We elide. Anna: her hair, her weight—these are only facets, and do not make up a true image of a person. They make up a body type, a hair color … What does Anna look like? We don’t know—our mental sketches of characters are worse than police composites.

Visualizing seems to require will …

… though at times it may also seem as though an image of a sort appears to us unbidden.

(It is tenuous, and withdraws shyly upon scrutiny.)

*

I canvass readers. I ask them if they can clearly imagine their favorite characters. To these readers, a beloved character is, to borrow William Shakespeare’s phrase, “bodied forth.”

These readers contend that the success of a work of fiction hinges on the putative authenticity of the characters. Some readers go further and suggest that the only way they can enjoy a novel is if the main characters are easily visible:

“Can you picture, in your mind, what Anna Karenina looks like?” I ask.

“Yes,” they say, “as if she were standing here in front of me.”

“What does her nose look like?”


“I hadn’t thought it out; but now that I think of it, she would be the kind of person who would have a nose like … ”

“But wait—How did you picture her before I asked? Noseless?”


“Well … ”

“Does she have a heavy brow? Bangs? Where does she hold her weight? Does she slouch? Does she have laugh lines?”

(Only a very tedious writer would tell you this much about a character. Though Tolstoy never tires of mentioning Anna’s slender hands. What does this emblematic description signify for Tolstoy?)

Some readers swear they can picture these characters perfectly, but only while they are reading. I doubt this, but I wonder now if our images of characters are vague because our visual memories are vague in general.

* * *

A thought experiment: Picture your mother. Now picture your favorite literary character. (Or: Picture your home. Then picture Howards End.) The difference between your mother’s afterimage and that of a literary character you love is that the more you concentrate, the more your mother might come into focus. A character will not reveal herself so easily. (The closer you look, the farther away she gets.)

(Actually, this is a relief. When I impose a face on a fictional character, the effect isn’t one of recognition, but dissonance. I end up imagining someone I know.* And then I think, That isn’t Anna!)

Link to the rest at The Paris Review

There are a number of additional images in the OP.

Banned Books

From The American Civil Liberties Union:

Ideas are powerful. That’s why intellectual freedom is protected by the First Amendments — and it’s also why sometimes governments try to suppress them.

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has fought to make sure Americans have the right to read what they want. Despite our many victories, there are still misguided attempt to ban books. The American Library Association keeps track — some of the most frequently challenged books from 2015 include the best seller Fifty Shades of Grey along with Fun Home and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (both of which were turned into Tony Award-winning Broadway shows, by the way).

But you can’t keep a good book down. See the menu below for more on those “dangerous” collections of words.

Link to the rest at The American Civil Liberties Union

PG acknowledges that there are meaningful distinctions between a government agency attempting to prevent people from reading books about certain subjects and a private publisher acting in the same way.

However, he suggests the human impulse of someone with a bit of power to ban the dissemination of ideas that don’t fit in with their opinions or prejudices is at the root of both actions.

Betsy and George

PG isn’t being a slacker, but he thought of this song out of the blue.

Stan Freberg worked for a variety of New York City advertising agencies and was named as one of Advertising Age’s Top 100 People in Advertising at one point in his career.

However, the general public knew him best as a creator and performer of slightly-strange satirical television skits and songs, including the following.

Suite bergamasque

PG will stray far from his normal subjects for a moment.

Sometimes PG has a college radio station that plays classical music playing in the background while he works in his office.

A bit earlier this morning, that station played Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy.

Debussy began composing this piece around 1890, at the age of 28, but significantly revised it just before its 1905 publication.

The composer had resisted the publication of his earlier piano works because they were much different than (and he thought, inferior to) his mature style. However, a French music publisher persuaded Debussy to allow the publication after Debussy spiffed it up a bit. (PG thinks “spiff” is a musical term. Debussy would have said, “les sous-vêtements de ma mère“)

PG has queued up the best-known portion of this piece, often known as Clair de Lune, which PG seems to recall means moonlight in French.

Or perhaps, eating snails by moonlight. (He barely passed the only French class he attempted in college.)

.

Only the mediocre

Only the mediocre are always at their best.

Jean Giraudoux

Letter to the Editor: We Need to Define ‘Conservative Publishing’

From Publishers Weekly:

In response to your January 25 story “Houses Divided,” which asks, “In the wake of the events of January 6, will the Big Five think twice about publishing conservative authors?,” it’s important to clarify what publishers mean when they say conservative and why it is that your article and the phrase “conservative publishing” misrepresents exactly what critics take issue with. The fact is, while it may have taken Simon & Schuster a little over 24 hours to change course on its publication of Josh Hawley’s forthcoming book The Tyranny of Big Tech, it took exactly seven business days for Regnery Publishing, which coincidentally is distributed by Simon & Schuster, to acquire it.

Hawley’s response to his contract cancellation included an accusation of the violation of his First Amendment rights. This is a sentiment echoed by some in the industry, who view the responsibility to publish a wide range of viewpoints as a First Amendment issue. S&S is not the American government or a public institution and therefore does not fall under the protection of the First Amendment.

As cultural institutions, publishing houses certainly have a responsibility to document the many faces of society, including the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump. However, the framing of these viewpoints is an even more daunting task. From an innocent pat on the former president’s head by a late-night television host to the publication of a noted transphobic professor, the output of cultural institutions has an impact on the collective consciousness of American society. When the messenger upholds the dehumanization of Black, Indigenous, racialized, LGBT+, and disability communities, their message can and has led to violence against these communities.

For many years, publishers have been quietly profiting off of this violence and vitriol, all the while systematically excluding those on the receiving end from the publishing world. And even in the last decade when strides have been made, largely led by a “new generation” of publishing professionals and smaller indie publishers, to be more inclusive of minority communities both in books and offices, these “controversial” authors have continued to be published under the cloak of “conservative” presses.

The demise of “conservative” publishing is being framed as an issue of liberalism v. conservatism or left v. right. This is not only wrong but dangerous rhetoric. Younger industry members are not calling for the halt to reprints of Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman or the muzzling of Grover Norquist, for a more contemporary example. Conservative houses and imprints like Regnery are responsible for publishing and giving a platform to a particular brand of conservative: far right and inflammatory.

Grouping the Norquists of conservatism with Josh Hawley, Jordan Peterson, and former president Trump and his administration normalizes the spread of misinformation and harmful stereotypes. It continues to frame the discontent of the critics of these titles as “silencing opinions” rather than forcing publishers to contend with the actual harm that is done when they give a platform to these writers. Finally, it also builds a readership that publishers are profiting from while turning a blind eye to the culture they have chosen to curate.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG hesitated before deciding to excerpt from the OP.

For those outside of the United States, in PG’s observation and experience, the nation is more riven now than at any time since those who objected to the United States’ participation in the Vietnam War and the accompanying drafting of young men who strongly opposed the war into the Army to go fight it were demonstrating and rioting in a variety of places across the country.

Many demonstrations were peaceful while others either transitioned from peaceful to violent or included a violent component in them from the start. The extent and vitriol of the protests caused one American president to decline to run for reelection due to the virulent hatred of him manifested by a large number of Americans, particularly those who were fighting in Vietnam or were concerned about being drafted into fighting that war.

Among PG’s age cohort during that time period, it seemed that almost everyone knew someone who had died in Vietnam. For PG, it was an acquaintance who was a hear behind him in high school, a pretty ordinary and low-key guy who started working on his father’s farm after graduation, then was drafted and went to Vietnam.

The army assigned him to carry a flame-thrower into combat. PG understands that it was a terrifying weapon for the enemy, throwing out tongues of flame a hundred feet or more long that incinerated almost anything they they touched.

Unfortunately for PG’s high school acquaintance, carrying a flame-thrower entailed strapping on a pair of tanks that contained highly-flammable gelled liquid that provided fuel for the flames. The word that came back from Vietnam was that PG’s acquaintance had probably died when a heavy bullet hit his tanks, causing a massive fireball than instantly incinerated him. The coffin sent back to his family was firmly sealed.

It took a long time for traditional publishers to begin publishing books by angry former soldiers about their experience in Vietnam in part because the political establishment in the United States had supported Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in their Vietnam policies. That establishment included traditional publishing and a lot of others in positions of cultural power in New York City, Washington DC, etc.

The control of traditional publishing in the United States is still held by the same class and type of people who have controlled it for a long time. As happens with many people who live within a limited geographical space, a relatively narrow sphere of acquaintance and experience, people who work in publishing seldom hang around with those whose political and/or cultural opinion differs from their own.

People who are like those who work in publishing and their social associates tend to publish books reflecting the values of that slice of the United States. These days, they may be willing to publish books by angry racial minorities who excoriate those who are perceived to be oppressing them directly, indirectly or by simply existing. These would be the right kind of radicals or protesters.

However, traditional publishing is highly intolerant of anyone like “the Norquists of conservatism with Josh Hawley, Jordan Peterson, and former president Trump and his administration” and believe that such persons should not be permitted to spread their ideas among those the publishers think of as the sort of people who will purchase the right kind of books and keep traditional publishers from sinking for a bit longer.

It’s a cultural decision, not a monetary one. After all, a significant number among the despicables have money and read and will buy books they think they will enjoy.

Light Blogging Today

PG needs a bit of a break from his usual daily activities and won’t be posting as much as usual today.

He expects the break will help him recharge his pandemically-drained batteries a bit and will return to blogging with somewhat enhanced zest and verve.

Although he doesn’t usually talk much about personal matters here, he will mention that he is scheduled for his second of two doses of anti-Covid vaccine this coming Friday and is very much looking forward to being released from house arrest a few days thereafter.

Although he has been cooped up with Mrs. PG, his favorite person in the world, PG is looking forward to re-engaging with the larger meat-space world on a more frequent basis. He probably knew this before, but he will appreciate his interactions with friends, neighbors and the local physical society to a greater extent than he has in the past as a result of his isolation from them for an extended period of time.

That said, he must also acknowledge that the technology-supported interactions with those who comment on TPV and occasionally interact with him via email have been and will continue to be appreciated to a greater extent than they were before this enforced isolation from the larger physical world.

Thanks to all those who contribute to the conversations here.

11 Fictional Hotels for Your Fictional Vacation

From Electric Lit:

In the epic words of Phoebe Bridgers: “I want to live at the Holiday Inn, where somebody else makes the bed.” Don’t we all, Phoebe—especially after months of various travel restrictions and working from home on top of crumpled sheets that need to be washed. But if it’s looking tricky to stay in a real-life hotel anytime in your near future, there’s fortunately an overwhelming number of books suitable for your fictional getaway.

It’s not surprising that the hotel novel has become a literary genre in its own right—hotels have proven to be fascinating settings for fiction: a mixture of the intimately private and corporate conglomerate, the foreign and the mundane. Going beyond well-known classics like The Shining and Grand Hotel, here are 11 novels to immerse yourself in the world of hotels, hospitality work, and bed-making. And you won’t need to check out of these fictional hotels by 11 a.m.

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

What does it cost to craft a pristine hotel experience at an “exotic” location? Here Comes the Sun takes place at a luxury resort in River Bank, a fictional Jamaican town. 30-year-old Margot is a worker there, trying her best to support and protect her artistic younger sister. Although she has sex with the wealthy white guests for extra income, Margot is forced to keep her love for Verdene, the village’s ostracized lesbian, undercover. However, Margot and her community must reckon with imminent destruction when developers plan to build another resort that will put many villagers out of work. Dennis-Benn’s unflinching yet compassionate debut is a searing look into the tourism industry and its effects on women’s communities. 

. . . .

I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita

The I Hotel (short for “International Hotel”), a Bay Area landmark in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is the centerpiece of Yamashita’s kaleidoscopic novel. Separated into ten novellas on different groups of Asian American activists from 1968 to 1977 (one novella for each year), I Hotel is an ambitious exploration of the Yellow Power Movement, when Asian Americans fought for representation and economic equality. Yamashita uses a diverse array of narrative and structural choices, including forms such as graphic art, stage dialogue, and philosophy; her cast of characters is as equally diverse, including a whole range of hyphenated Asian identities. (And for another book that connects hotels with historical Asian American events, check out Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, which addresses Japanese internment camps during WWII.)

Link to the rest at Electric Lit

The Joy of Trollope

Equestrian statue of Charles I, Charing Cross looking down Whitehall, via Wikimedia Commons

From The Wall Street Journal:

Fans of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) can take comfort in his inexhaustibility. My case is probably typical. I began reading him in my 20s, some 40 years ago, and have turned to him regularly, if in spurts, ever since. In a recent tallying-up I discovered I’d read 18 of his novels, or roughly one every two years. But there are 47 novels in all, leaving me with nearly 30 to go—some 60 years of Trollope to unfold. I find the image heartening: myself as an advanced centenarian, still with a few unread novels before me.

Trollope occupies a peculiar—a distorted—place in the American imagination. Fate has conspired, with the able assistance of the BBC, to portray him as a creator of landscapes so English that, under his spell, the rest of the planet falls under a distant haze. Trollope once remarked, “Visitors to England who have not sojourned at a country-house, whether it be the squire’s, parson’s, or farmer’s, have not seen the most English phase of the country.” Those country houses loom large in the BBC’s fetching Trollope adaptations, emerging in the 1970s with the vast 26-episode “The Pallisers,” continuing in the ’80s with the seven-episode “Barchester Chronicles” and extending into our century with “He Knew He Was Right” and “The Way We Live Now.”

Readers who first meet Trollope via television may be surprised to discover that in his time he was a footloose cosmopolite. Most of his early wanderings were business travel. Trollope worked for 33 years as a civil servant in the British post-office system, 20 of these years in Ireland, where the ghost of his disastrous childhood (“I was ill-dressed and dirty” and “despised by all my companions”) was successfully laid to rest. (“But from the day on which I set my foot in Ireland all these evils went away from me.”) He was later dispatched on post-office business to Egypt and Malta and Cuba. Still later, as a full-time author, he kept journeying abroad and wound up claiming five different continents as backdrops for his books: Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It would be hard to name another 19th-century European novelist whose work was so far-flung.

Trollope’s six Palliser novels are often regarded as the crowning summit of his ranging, mountainous output. They make up a loosely bound set. Conceived singly rather than collectively, they were published over 16 years, in the midst of other projects. What chiefly unifies them are their overlapping characters and their ongoing, clamorous obsession with parliamentary politics, especially the seesawing battle between Conservatives and Trollope’s own beloved Liberals. Pursuing a lifelong dream (“to sit in the British Parliament should be the highest object of ambition to every educated Englishman”), Trollope once stood unsuccessfully for the House of Commons, and the Palliser sextet might be viewed as a benevolent revenge upon an unobliging electorate.

The final—and to my eyes the finest—volume in the series, The Duke’s Children,” has a curious publication history. In 1878, when he submitted the novel, Trollope was in a slough, commercially and critically, and his publisher convinced him to excise 65,000 words from the outsized manuscript. For more than a century, this was the “Duke’s Children” known to the world. But in 2015, on the occasion of Trollope’s bicentennial, the Folio Society published a deluxe limited edition of the restored text in England, and Everyman offered a hardcover in the States. The book, edited by the American scholar Steven Amarnick, now appears in paperback, as an Oxford World’s Classic (678 pages, $16.95). At long last, all the children of “The Duke’s Children” are fully born.

The duke of the title is Plantagenet Palliser, probably the most memorable and certainly the noblest of Trollope’s creations. When we meet Plantagenet, in “Can You Forgive Her?,” he’s a commoner, but life has soaring grandeurs in store for him. With the death of a titled uncle, Plantagenet becomes the Duke of Omnium. And as a shyly reluctant but ever-dutiful politician, his rise is meteoric: initially, Chancellor of the Exchequer; eventually, Prime Minister.

In addition to unrivaled power (“the leading man in the greatest kingdom in the world”), Plantagenet represents something else no less notable: the near-mystical blending of traits that constitute the ideal “English gentleman.” For Trollope, as for his contemporary Gerard Manley Hopkins, the concept subsumed the personal within the national. As Hopkins put it: “If the English race had done nothing else, yet if they left the world the notion of a gentleman, they would have done a great service to mankind.” Trollope in his posthumous autobiography observed, “I think that Plantagenet Palliser, Duke of Omnium, is a perfect gentleman.” He added, acknowledging the daunting ambition of his task, “If he be not, then I am unable to describe a gentleman.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (PG apologizes for the paywall, but hasn’t figured out a way around it.)

Entry to the Strand from Charing Cross, 1841