Hey, You Kids…!

Apparently the reading-tour diary is a thing, at least over at the mysteriously respected HTML GIANT. Why these young authors thought recording every banal detail of a reading tour would interest people in their literary works is beyond me. Personally, I have filed all parties involved under NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY as a result. Here’s a sample passage:

Brooklyn: We stayed with my sister, Bridget, who showed us around Bed-Sty. We went day drinking at a place called Pearl’s because I told her that I wanted to do whatever she would normally do on a day off. I had two greyhounds and got a little tipsy, wanting to rap Plastic Little songs, so Bridget made me a chicken sandwich before we headed over to Mellow Pages, which is a really cute space. Eric Nelson, our host, wore a Tupac durag, and played ‘We Fly High’ by Jim Jones, and then I asked him to play the remix with Juelz Santana. I was super happy to read again with Jess Dutschmann, and to meet Laura Marie Marciano. Beach Sloth phoned-in on Laura’s phone a set about snowballs and the solar system. Got to meet Elizabeth Foster, Tiffany Wines, Alice Atlas, and Stephen Tully Dierks and they are all really rad. We went out after the show because we wanted to dance and Bridget took us to a noisy, crowded club where every song sounded like 2 Chainz. Elizabeth told me he wanted to come down to Philly and I told him bus tickets were cheap so he bought a cheap bus ticket.

If that’s not torturous (or “rad”) enough you can watch the author (Alexandra Naughton) roll her eyes in world-weariness while she inflects every other sentence like it’s a question here. Have fun?

In other news, here are two writer bios that I came across recently at another online publication (I left the names out, but otherwise they are verbatim):

[writer x] is a mestíza born and raised in the California Central Valley.

[writer Y] is a Pinay poet, writer and educator born and raised in San Jose, CA.

Question: When did we convince a younger generation of writers that their race/gender was their most valuable asset, so much so that it’s the first detail offered in their bios? I try to keep my posts here in the realm of the literary rather than the political (yeah yeah all art is politics, etc. — yawn), so I’ll spare you my rant about how I think this sort of thing is emblematic of a broader political failure. But I’m curious to know if others have noticed this trend and what you think of it.










Hey, You Kids…!

2 thoughts on “Hey, You Kids…!

  1. It’s too bad the reading-tour diary has devolved so. It seems the author you cite has forgotten that she has an audience, and that her audience might be seeking something of value.

    When the reading tour diary was in print magazines I thought it had great value. I still use Ron Tanner’s article from Poets & Writers (http://www.pw.org/content/the_diy_author_tour_how_to_sell_a_book_in_america) to break the news to authors at UPM that the magic of people showing up in a bookstore will not just happen in a town where the author is a stranger. In 1997 at University of Arkansas Press, after helping the awesome William Trowbridge take an insanely long tour from Maryville, Missouri, to New Orleans and back, I then convinced him to write this wondrous article (http://www.pw.org/content/%5Btitle%5D_1340) then pitched it and—jaw-droppingly—we landed the thing, with a map by our book designer, Liz Lester, in Poets & Writers. It might (1997), just might have been the first in-print road diary of its kind. Both of these articles have content value. Another writer can read the article and make a tour better (or avoid the tour altogether and scowl in a corner, I guess).

    I, too, am guilty of exclaiming about the miracle of readers from the road http://fictionandhistory.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/the-miracle-of-readers/ and http://fictionandhistory.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/more-on-the-miracle-of-readers/

    And this very well could be a devolution of the good value Trowbridge may have inaugurated. The writer you cite may have had the instinct to write about the miracle of anyone showing up to listen. But… things seem pretty focused on what the writer is most interested in, her exciting self. I do wish the book tour diary would focus more consistently not on the writer but on the two things of greater value: 1) the reader at the signing; 2) the reader at the blog, that reader who want something of value after ingesting the content.


  2. Dan Tessitore says:

    Thanks for this, Steve. I have read a few (very few) writers’ accounts of events on the road, but none that I recall were diary-like, so I was unaware this genre even existed. Looking forward to those articles.


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