Tag Archives: McSweeney’s

Good Timing Is Not My Forte: A 34 Day Recap

Punctuality and good timing are not the same thing. I’m fantastic at the former. But the latter? … Not so much.

For example: This is my first actual blog post in a month–a month in which my first book was published (Shenanigans!, Grey Sparrow Press, 2012) and another edition of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference came and went in Chicago. The word from Category Thirteen? Nothing.

Radio Silence.

To call my timing “bad” is perhaps an understatement.

However, all is not lost! The book is 100% available and in-stock, and can be purchased from Amazon for $9.99 by clicking here. Initial reviews and word of mouth feedback are good, so we’ll see how that trend holds up… ( :: drums fingers nervously :: )

My AWP 2012 experience can probably best be summed up as “minimalist.” By that I mean, I spent something approximating 90% of my time laid up in my hotel room with 7th-Level-of-Hell back pain. Which, i should mention, stemmed from tripping–and subsequently rolling my ankle–over a curb while walking to my hotel, before I even ventured to pick up my customary AWP registration swag(!!). The clumsy trip/stumble/ankle-roll maneuver was enough to *tweak* my back in such a way that carrying a heavy backpack over the next couple days would exacerbate the pain to the point of incapacitation.

In other words, instead of doing fun conference-y stuff, I spent almost 24 hours just laying in my hotel bed the day before I flew back to Omaha.

The upside is that, in the small amount of time I got to spend at AWP actually conferencing, I “met” a shitload of rad people! I put ‘met’ in quotes because they were people I’d spent a great deal of time chatting with on Twitter and Facebook, but had never met in real life (a phrase quickly losing its concrete meaning).

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The sophomore slump explained, maybe

I’ve got an idea—a theory—and it pertains to both music and books. And I suppose, really, it pertains to anything creative where there are ultimately followup efforts. It might seem kind of obvious, but if so, it begs the question: why is it still unexpected?

For starters, the “sophomore slump”: why are people so surprised by this phenomenon? Books, music, movies—no media is safe from this label. It’s ostensibly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “This album/book/film is totally not as good as his/her first one.” To me, that is what should be obvious.

Writers, like all artists, [typically] spend years practicing their art before they are discovered; years working on that first big project—honing his or her style, finding his or her voice, sentence cadence, sense of humor. That first project is the author’s culmination of everything they’ve learned. If he or she gets discovered for that work, readers will automatically and inherently have a set of expectations for a followup work by that writer (or musician or film director/actor).

However, herein lies the proverbial rub:

When artists are signed to contracts, there is typically a timeline—an expectation that a sophomore followup will be produced within a year, maybe two. Even though the writer (artist) has found and honed their style, is it not ridiculous to expect a product as complete and revised and polished as the artist’s first effort? Even with a better idea of where to start and less of a need for revising (though, of course, not an absent need for), I would think—just quickly, off the top of my head—the artist would still need at least half as much time as they spent previously to create a work on par with his or her debut effort. [N.B. no actual statistical or mathematical formula or equation was used to come up with this estimate.]

But indeed, this is not the way art-as-a-profession works. Writers (and musicians, directors, et al.) have a contract and a deadline. If you are, say, Adam Levin, author of the astonishing and epic 1,030 page (debut) novel The Instructions, you would be hard pressed to recreate that success in only a year or two. Fortunately, Levin is a McSweeney’s author, so he’s probably got a more lenient timeline written into his contract. Plus both Levin and McSweeney’s are smart: his sophomore effort is Hot Pink, a collection of stories (collected over the period of time he was writing The Instructions), so the expectations will, of course, be different, and the quality will match the expectations, thus (in all likelihood) avoiding the “sophomore slump,” e.g.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

How big is it REALLY?? Adam Levin’s ‘The Instructions’

With the release of Adam Levin’s new tome-sized debut novel, The Instructions, I wanted to compare it visually to the relative size of other longish books. However, one thing lead to another and…

Here, I compared it to some other long[ish] books…

…to Infinite Jest solo…

…to the Norton Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism

…to some Chicago Cutlery…

…to a sweet-ass sticker’d-up MacBook Pro…

…to a sleepy Greyhound…

…to a Playstation 3 and HD DVR cable box…

…to a fkn’ awesome Technics SL-1200 Turntable…

…to a 2008 Volvo C-30 [V.2]…

…to a burly snowblower and miscellaneous garage junk…

…and finally, to an ultra-pimptastic early 1990s GT BMX bicycle.

Needless to say, the book. is. HUGE! (and from the first ~50 pages I’ve read, it’s also fan-fucken-tastic!!)

In fact, Levin’s book is even tall enough to ride this ride:

Word.

—————

And, click here for a story that maybe could have been written by Adam Levin if Adam Levin was less talented and was 29, living in Omaha, NE and was named Joseph M. Owens.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“The Instructions.” October 22nd. BUY this book!

New York Magazine‘s “20 Most Anticipated Books for the Fall” — pay close attention to #16, Adam Levin’s “The Instructions”; it’s going to kick exponentially large quantities of ass and not worry at all about taking names (though I could be biased do to its early comparisons to David Foster Wallace and my ineluctable Pavlovian response to the mere mention of DFW):
http://nymag.com/guides/fallpreview/2010/books/67623/#

Need more buzz?  No problem!

The Rumpus[.net]
http://therumpus.net/2010/08/forthcoming-from-the-rumpus-book-club/
http://therumpus.net/2010/08/rumpus-exclusive-new-mcsweeneys-cover-art/

[a note from] McSweeney’s (who are also publishing the book):
http://bookpeopleblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/top-5-reasons-book-wise-to-be-excited-for-fall/

Time Out Chicago:
http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/books/88476/adam-levins-debut-book-the-instructions

Alibris:
http://www.adlibris.com/se/product.aspx?isbn=1934781827

Book People:
http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781934781821

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: