The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

My Latest Chartbuster

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Inspired by a discussion on Making Light

As an agent phones
On a blue and white computer screen
A book completes its final scene
In the ghetto
And it’s author moans
Cause if there’s one thing he knows for sure
It’ll never win the Pulitzer
In the ghetto.

Poeple do I have to plead?
He wrote it to be fun to read
And there’s even subtext ‘tween the lines.
But no matter how profound
No mention of it will be found
In the the literary supplement
Of the New York Times.

And the sellers try
And the little book that the critics missed
Starts to climb the Locus list
In the ghetto.

As the readers buy
It scorns the critics it can’t please
And just starts earning royalties
In the ghetto.

Then one day in jubilation
The young book breaks away
It goes all in for mass appeal
While it’s author signs a three-book deal
In the ghetto.

And the eager fans form in a line
For the paperback book with the price on the spine
In the ghetto.

And as the book reprints
On a blue and white computer screen
Another book completes its final scene
In the ghetto
And its author moans

corwin

Author: corwin

Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 Comments

  1. I really think that writers … tend, over-all, to aim their writing at their own tastes. At least, the good ones do, no matter what part of the bookstore the book ends up in.

    I don’t read that site but browsed the responses till I got to this. I definitely agree. There is certainly a difference between those who write for the market’s tastes and those who write for their own. Stilted observations, cut-n-paste stereotypes and pedantic description as they try to make a point that a writer passionate about the story could have seamlessly fit almost anywhere mars the work of these hacks. And the insistence of some of them that “today’s fiction” requires a certain prose style or standardized pacing of action or a single viewpoint character, sheesh. That may be a good way to enforce medocrity, but I don’t know of any other use for such sales oriented rules.

  2. Selling candy is easier than selling four course meals.

  3. I recall another author who made this very observation the very focal point of a central character (except the art form was music and the world made up)….the difference between the scholars’ view of what is ‘proper’ art, and the population’s tendency toward the more true-to-heart, simplified, and easily understood….(in this case complicted symphonies vs. memorable ditties).

    I suspect the debate has gone on since the beginning of artistic expression and will continue until there is nothing left to express.

    By the way, I like the poem/song.

  4. LRaymond, that quotation strikes me as a decent paraphrase of the Cool Theory of Literature.

    The poen itself kinda reminded me of the song “Death of an Unpopular Poet.”

  5. Um, if you guys really don’t know what tune that goes to, man, you are SO lucky.

  6. @3 You seem to be saying that it’s only popular art that’s “true to heart”, but I disagree. Simply because someone chooses a more complex way to express herself, such as composing a full symphony rather than a folk tune, or writing Pride and Prejudice rather than a comic book, doesn’t mean she feels less intensely at all.

    @4 I’ve never seen a phrasing of the theory, much less a paraphrasing, but I think anyone who often reads for fun is familiar with the author who’s just following a formula, and the difference between those stories and ones written by the same person for her own pleasure.

    I have a number of books here writen by authors I’m not particularly fond of, but they just happened to have abandoned their official Plot Point Checklist and written a book that doesn’t involve the same characters as a popular series, and the difference is obvious.

    @5 More Joel?

  7. @5 I blame it all on Nick Cave.

  8. L. Raymond: No, it is an appalling song by Elvis Presley called, of course, “In the Ghetto.” I can’t begin to describe the reasons I hate it.

  9. You hate it because it’s stupid, it’s self-congratulatory, and it just plain sucks. All else is commentary.

  10. TNH: Okay, so, yeah. I can begin to describe the reasons I hate it.

  11. We ARE talking Elvis here, not exactly the deepest of singers. That said, for the time period it was written and recorded in, it’s not really that bad. If it has a fault, it’s that people could listen, nod their heads and say “Yeah, I’m AWARE, I’m with it!” and then go on about their lives doing nothing to change things.

    Or maybe that’s what Teresa meant by “self congratulatory”, but that trait belongs to the listeners, not to the song itself.

    Since then we’ve come full circle to glorifying ghetto life and making “gangsta” cool. I’m not sure that’s any healthier than the “white man’s burden” approach of a few decades earlier that Elvis’ song represents.

    None of which has anything to do with Steve’s song, except that it doesn’t quite deliver the full desolation of the author’s selling out to make a buck. Ha ha ha!

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