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I would like my Rimbaud on 10% Hemp Paper, Please

Finally a reason to go to a bookstore, becuase when this thing rolls out, the bookstore will always have the book you want, they’ll have the book you’ve written in stock, and if you are curious about the book written by your cubicle mate, they’ll have it, too.

Another way of looking at this, is that the race is on betwen a beatiful handheld book reader using digital ink and a books-on-demand machine capable of producing beatiful handheld books.

In all of this racing though, it doesn’t look look good for the old fashioned bookstore. I doubt though that the chains, large businesses, will be able to deal with the transformation of the bookstore. What will a bookstore look like when you can buy/download any book? Will it just be a box to choose paper, see a writer read, and meet with fellow readers? Will it be more like Cold Stone Creamery than a Baskin n’ Robbins?

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Prose Pose

Strike a ProseWhy is it that one of the US’s most visible literary critics feigns such a mumbling degree of articulation about books and the basic figures of literary discourse (the difference between fact and fiction)? In the current New York Times Sunday Book Review, sometimes People magazine reviewer Francine Prose spends more than a hundred words alluding to her easily more-than-a-hundred word mumbley exegesis on the difference between fact and fiction. Presumably this is the topic of one her seminars or classes. This does not bode well for her book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them.

Here’s my stab at it. Fact is true. Fiction is make-believe. Seven words.

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The Stranger Luvs The New Yorker

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I don’t know what this means, but playing with Google’s search, it makes me wonder if someone at The Stranger holds shares in Conde Naste or at the very least is earning extra money selling subscriptions to The New Yorker? The only problem in terms of this scheme is that the coverage for The New Yorkeris so pervasive in The Stranger, I feel as if The Stranger is a kind of New Yorker digest. I even let my subscription lapse because it felt kind of redundant to read the same thing in two places.

Here’s what I came up in Google:

869 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “The New Yorker”.
640 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “local band”.
500 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “Seattle band”.
249 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “Seattle artist”.
105 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “local artist”
56 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “local writer”
41 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “Seattle writer”.
31 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “Seattle painter”.
31 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “Seattle poet”
28 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “Seattle musician”.
3 from www.thestranger.com over the past year for “Seattle novelist”.

To be fair, The Seattle Weekly

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The Night I Dropped Shakespeare on the Cat

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John Olson has a new book? Who knew? Well aside from John Olson and Calamari Press. I just noticed that a new title had appeared in the list of his books on his bio and then looking at The Sleeping Fish magazine’s web site, I found they had a press and that one of their books is this book by John Olson, The Night I Dropped Shakespeare on the Cat. I hope the cat survived or that it wasn’t the The Riverside Shakespeare dropped on the cat.

Olson writes, “The night I thought I dropped Shakespeare on the cat I felt the reprieve of the man who accidentally goes through a red light without getting hit, the relief of the man who falls from a high cliff only to discover he’s been dreaming. But the relief isn’t immediate. It takes a little time.”

I will purchase the book from their web site.

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About Penny Ante Book 1

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The Penny-Ante press of Los Angeles has just released an artistic labor of love in their 300-page Book #1, peppered with alternative musicians dabbling in a brainy collage of poetry, interviews, drawings and photographs. With artwork by Devendra Banhart, Josephine Foster, Tarantula AD, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu and Don Bolles of The Germs, this outsider journal of creativity features short stories from Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Michael Cormier of The Volta Sound. Mysterious and full of a hundred “huh?” moments, this one’s worth looking seeking out. — John M. James (Positively Yeah Yeah Yeah)

This issue also contains selections from Shoot the Buffalo and Frances Johnson from Clear Cut Press.

Penny-Ante can be found online, here.

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A Tactful Answer to A Non-Question

Christopher Frizzelle just published an opinion piece in The Stranger about Seattle’s lack of a great literary magazine like McSweeney’s. The gist of his piece, as I could make it out, was that McSweeney’s is not published in Seattle. An odd assertion, actually, since McSweeney’s is published where McSweeney’s is published and in fact their web page coder, Ed Paige, lives in Seattle. There are other magazines besides McSweeney’s and N + 1.

However, I actually agree with the gist of the opinion that a zeitgeist-type literary magazine has never been nor is currently being published in Seattle (except McSweeney’s). Close contenders have existed: Skyviews from the 1980s for local lit and in the late 80s/early 90s Zero Hour. Even the mid-1990s The Stranger might fit the bill. The Stranger once published a spread of Willie Smith stories. I doubt Frizzelle appreciates Willie Smith (an amazing spectacle when he reads) if he even knows who he is. My immediate reaction to Frizzelle’s article was, “yeah!” Seattle should have a McSweeney’s style magazine that isn’t McSweeney’s. And then on thinking about it, I thought, well, there are a lot of very good magazines in Seattle and there must be some reason that a world conquering literary magazine hasn’t been published here? For sure, magazines and small presses have a very hard time in Seattle. But, why doesn’t Frizzelle spend his three hundred odd words talking about the difficulties of publishing a literary magazine, or what actually manages to get made here instead of what is not here? Why doesn’t he figure out why Seattle fails to please his hankering for a particular kind of literary magazine? Why? Because, yet again The Stranger (and Frizzelle in particular) continues (albeit in a backhanded way) to dis local lit. This has become such a sustained assault on the part of Frizzelle that it makes me wonder what he really wants?

I would like to turn your attention to some really good literary magazine in Seattle:

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WordStock – Portland Lit vs Seattle Lit

I’m reading tomorrow morning at Wordstock at 11 a.m. Jim Bertolino is reading at 10 a.m. Charlie D’Ambrosio’s new book The Fish Museum has been published, and he’s reading (on Sunday). Hathwthorne Publishing will have a reading. Gina Oschner is reading multiple times. Spork will release the print edition of their magazine. There are more things going on in three days then occur in Seattle in an entire season. Now, there are too many things going on Seattle, which is good, I think, to have too many things because then everyone can do something. But in Portland there is an orgy of literary activity that does not end. Mid-week before Wordstock, the mayor declared Portland, Poetland for a day.

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The Two Dollar Book Bin

On the somewhat damp sidewalk in front of a Twice Sold Tales, a local chain used bookstore outlet in Seattle on lower Queen Ann, a store front that used to house Titlewave Books and a reading series named The New Reading Series at Titlewave where I used to sit mum in the small regularly attending Sunday audience in the mid-1990s and listen to great local writers such as Stacey Levine, Dan Raphael, Willie Smith, Anna Mockler, Ron Dakron, Belle Randall, I found a copy of my first book, The Remains of River Names, in the $2.00 bin filed next to a thick guide to Microsoft Access 97. It does not bode well to be filed next to a guide to a nearly ten year old edition of computer software.

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Willie Smith at Red Sky

I enjoy The Red Sky Poetry Theater, the long standing open mike currently running at The Globe Cafe on Capitol Hill, because of the democracy of the readings; just about everyone in the audience ends up at the mike sometime in the evening.

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