I'm a huge David Mitchell fan, and I was delighted to read his short story for The Guardian . It made me happy, reminding me of what a great writer he is; he can be funny, profound, complex, experimental, and simply direct. Some samples:
"When you're a guy, and a dad," I told Freddy's scarecrow, "and you have to ask your wife to put £5,000 of her bonus into the joint account so that the garage won't refuse your card, and all the jokes about being a Kept Man are worn away, the word is 'vasectomising'..."
We agreed, but the stove, when it arrived, had only half the depth of the fireplace. This would create a gap between the back of the stove and the bricks of the hearth, but with Rumsfeldian [bold italics, mine] clarity our builder assured us, If a thing can get in, a thing can get out.
I paid, put my purchases in a box, and left 1-Stop taking a last backward glance, which is why I failed to notice the BlackBerry-wielding meteor hurtling down the pavement until it was too late.
The other news was the immanent release of Mitchell's next book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet in June. Such a fine start to the year...
In the January 4, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, there was a profile of the band Vampire Weekend. It was a sunny, entertaining profile, following them on their tour of California for their new album. What I found interesting was the following scene, wherein they are talking to Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 at his rehearsal studio (hand transcribing due to the Subscription wall):
After the interview, he led the band into a conference room with a flat-screen TV and launched into a long pitch for an Internet project he was working on--"a prepackaged Web site" for bands, called Modlife."I term it an 'operating system,'" DeLonge said. "You could sell advance tickets, you could do advertising, you could do authomate V.I.P. parties. We're gonna be putting live auctions, e-commerce." he continued, "We're doing it with the White Stripes." He said Vampire Weekend could do all of its business through Modlife, with the Web site taking twenty-five per cent of the profits. He demonstrated a video chat-room function by talking to a group of his fans: "Hey, everybody, I'm doing a demonstration with Vampire Weekend. If you want Vampire Weekend to join Modlife, say 'Yes!'" The Chat-room users started responding "Yes!" "Yes!" "Yes!" One wrote "No!"A bit later:
DeLonge shook his head. "I don't want to be freaking on the money part," he said "But you guys know and I know that you're trying to live in an industry that's dying. And so Modlife is trying to give you the chance to survive."
The Band members seemed rattled. "I started thinking about all kinds of things while he was talking," Batmangli said. "Like what it means to be in a band. Tom DeLonge is not that old. He's thirty-three. Seven years older than me--that's crazy." Tomson said, "You gotta hustle." No one spoke for a while.
(all copyright is The New Yorker and Lizzie Widdicombe. And if you don't have a subscription to the magazine, you really should. It's amazing.)
The reason I quoted this article is that it speaks volumes about how the music industry is reinventing itself, so fast and varied, like an evolutionary spike, a pre-Cambrian explosion. Who's to say that Modlife won't be a hit? There are so many variables and serendipities that go into the success of businesses, especially on the Internet.
I feel the same thing is happening in the book industry, with the whole Google rights issues, the e-book debacle with Amazon, and beneath it all-- the Espresso Book Machine model. Another time I'll devote a post that solely adresses those ideas, but for now it's fascinating to see how everyone's hustling.
Finally: It's been a quiet few days with Ginger. not that many books, most of them Google editions; I've been emailing with several people about projects and obscure book queries. I've taken the slower pace to work on one of the two author projects I mentioned before; it's nice, book layout and design is oddly calming, very zen for me.
And so it goes...