Tuesday, March 31, 2009

illuminate, explain

Last night I went to a Salon at the Ink Spot. The Salon was a conversation with Arthur Salm, former books editor the San Diego Union-Tribune. Salm so longer works for the U-T and is now at columnist at the brand spanking new San Diego News Network.

Salm was soft-spoken and entertaining. His passion for his former job was clear and I learned things I don't know if I wanted to learn. The discussion was fascinating to me. He said agreeing or disagreeing with a critic is irrelevant, the job of critic is to illuminate, explain. I agree. I read book reviews to read good writing about writing. He doesn't know where the future of criticism lies, that most major newspapers have gotten rid of their books sections. He compared it to knowing how to sew spats. It is becoming an obsolete art. Scary, nay terrifying. Without critics who will define what is good art? How can we package it and sell it? (Then my bohemian monster comes out roaring to say me "if it is true art then why package/sell it, it will stand alone as greatness blah blah?" Hush bohemian monster, we don't want to work construction forever. . .)

Listening to him made my heart a little bit sad wondering how we aspiring writers will fare in the next few years, decades. The publishing industry is haywire, people are reading books on hand-held devices, authors are battling superstars for advances and getting slashed and destroyed like an army of Orcs. I won't think of it. I'll work on my book and march on towards whatever awaits me.

I started the new Charles de Lint book, Mystery of Grace last night and stayed up way too late reading. Mr. De Lint has swung back to my culture, writing about a Latina women living (and dying) somewhere in the irrigated desert. One of my other favorite books of his, Forests of the Heart also took place in the Southwest. This new book is taking a little longer to grow in me in terms of plot and I am still getting to know the characters, but the setting is intimate and familiar. He describes a local Mexican grocery store and I swear he must have spent time in as many as I have, he got it down pat. The main character Grace reminds me physically of a local waitress I can't stand, I must get over that to fall in love with her and give myself over to the story. He will deliver, he always does.

I started reading another book I may or may not admit to reading. I've been reading several books on this subject with the half-assed idea of writing an essay discussing the topic and how easily it sells books. But I hide the books in my closet under my camping gear so no one looking at the bookshelf will get the wrong idea. I wonder how many of us edit our bookshelves for company, especially potential romantic possibilities. I have no shame to my game about all the young adult fiction and fantasy I read but I've quite the collection of crap that I secretly read then hide.

I need to get out of town. No such luck as La Creep will be down this weekend with Baby D. Yay Creep time!

The desert is calling. Soon, soon.

Breaking the Girl
Red Hot Chili Peppers

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