Friday, June 19, 2009

Answering Jessica's Questions

All day Lobster & Canary wrestled with Jessica's questions-- Lobster favored the one, and Canary the other, so of course in the end, we decided to answer both.

Jessica: 1) Someone suggested recently that literary bloggers would make great facilitators for author interviews, book clubs, or other events that could bring the virtual and physical book community together in a bookstore. Do you have any ideas or thoughts on ways that bloggers and bookstores could work together?

Lobster & C: Bloggers and bookstores are natural partners. Bookstores will, of course, blog on their own behalf, but third-party endorsement is always best. In practical terms, I think bloggers can provide the prep and the follow-up for live events at the store itself. Obviously I think the Web is wonderful...but ultimately nothing replaces an in-person reading, an in-person roundtable. We are primates: we need all the body language, the facial cues, the heat and the rhythm and intonations that only comes through in person.

Let's say that Colson Whitehead and Jhumpa Lahiri are scheduled to interview each other one evening at the Greenlight. Imagine if several bloggers were given the opportunity/right to help the two discussants prepare in advance, with input from blog readers. Imagine if the conversation then continues in cyberspace after the live event.

At the end of a year's worth of interviews, Greenlight and the bloggers could publish a book (paper and digital) of the series highlights...which could then be sold at Greenlight and other stores...which could itself become the object of blogging discussion, and so on. Literature is, after all, one endless conversation with infinite digressions.

Jessica: 2) CLOUD ATLAS is literally my favorite book, and I love all of the others you mention in question #3 [see yesterday's 6 + 1 post] -- so what have you read recently in that vein, and can you give me some reading suggestion?!?

L & Canary: Ah, why am I not surprised about your fondness for Cloud Atlas? Let me start by hoping that Greenlight will stock titles from the small presses that specialize in books that toy with, subvert, and straddle traditional genre boundries: Overlook, Coffee House, Small Beer, Archipelago, Chizine Publications, Senses Five, McPherson to name just a few. As for specific authors (some of whom I have not read recently but am prompted to re-read now that you ask): Wole Soyinka, Manohar Malgonkar, Cees Notteboom, Aminata Forna, Nalo Hopkinson, Harry Mulisch, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Nnedi Okarafor-Mbachu, Julio Cortazar, Emily Barton, Giorgio Manganelli, Jeanette Winterson, Alice Hoffman, John Crowley, Gregory Feeley, Jeffrey Ford, Jeff VanderMeer, and Kelly Link. Reaching back, I would include Angela Carter, G.K. Chesterton, Leonora Carrington, Oskar Kokoschka, Tristan Tzara. Oh, and let's make sure Ursula K. Le Guin is just about everywhere on the shelves!

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