Monday, July 27, 2009

In Which I Hawk My Book (Half of It, Anyway)

Self-promotion is vulgar, but no one else seems to be announcing or covering the release, so I feel the urge to make a gesture of doing so myself. Anyway I have put out the first half of my novel, available either in hardcover book or downloadable form. Of course I would have liked to publish the whole thing together in one volume but the final draft came to 765 pages and the press had a limit of 700 pages to make me a book. Here it is.
I am very happy with the product as a physical object. It looks like a serious, real book, it is bound nicely, has good-quality paper. In these it is really almost indistinguishable from a new hardcover release by a real author from a major house.

The cover and spine. It reminds me of library binding, but that is not a negative, because I love library binding. It makes for a very solid volume. I own many copies of Great Books that have library binding, such as Thucydides and William James's Psychology, that actually seem more substantial when read this way.

I don't expect anyone to pay the listed price for the hardcover book, which is absurd (and especially as there will be another volume coming as soon as I can format it and get it together), though I suppose I could try to promote it as an opportunity to get a rare first edition of a future classic. As I didn't anticipate huge sales in any event, and having worked on the book for eight years and had it sitting in various places in my house with the possibility either of fire or my premature death weighing on my mind for six more, I decided to indulge in satisyfing my own longstanding dream by getting the hardcover. I am happy I did. If you would like a copy, and your request is reasonable (I'm not sending 100 copies to somebody I don't know with a mailing address in Russia or anything like that), e-mail me and I will send you one (gratis, of course).

My decision to print this was because I was finding that having it exist nowhere in a book form even though I was finished with it was preventing me from being able to devote my full concentration on other literary projects, which I really want to do, because that is what I devoted my youth to the study and practice of, and it is sort of the only, if not skill, serious discipline that I have. Seeing the book exist and on the shelf is exciting, and does make me enthusiastic to write and have printed up other things. I know that I am not an English or French gentleman to be indulging in these personal eccentricities and pleasures by having my writings bound as if I am in any way descended from that tradition of competent and interesting amateurism, but it is a tradition that I like.

Obviously I am printing the book also because I do feel that it is worthy of publication. It probably could have benefited from a certain amount of professional editing, but doing it all myself I was unable to determine what more absolutely had to or ought to go, and so left it as it was. I still need a lot of work with naturalistic dialogue. There is dialogue that I think is good, but it is not naturalistic, and vice versa. As the main frame of the book's action was constructed in 1995-1996, a lot of it will seem dated now; people do not have cell phones or the internet in it on one hand, and on another hand, the level of interaction between social "winners" and "losers", people who are quite wealthy and people who are middle class, the comparatively humble lifestyles even of the better off young people compared to the extreme character of these things we have become accustomed to in the years since may not ring true from a contemporary viewpoint. However the way they are written about in the book is the way I perceived them at that time. I think if the book had come out in 1999, which was the original goal, one could have said it was a promising debut. That promise has probably dissipated--there is a lot of stuff in this book, especially the humor, that I just couldn't do now. I've lost it. I'm also not sure that I am smarter now than I was then. I know more, and understand more, I suppose, but I find that this knowledge tends to paralyze my thought and capacity for experience, because of all the doubt and conflicting ideas that it produces on every occasion, so that I do not really have anything even nominally to offer most of the time.

You can enjoy a preview of the book here. My back cover blurb is a little over the top. It was not quite real to me when I was doing it, and I figured no one was likely to ever read it anyway, which so far has been true. Here is if you want to buy it. I guess you can get the preview by going here too.

Referencing an earlier post in which I confessed my lack of acquaintance with most the oeuvre of Walt Whitman, I was reminded of it again when I was in Philadelphia recently and was confronted with the product listed below at a barbeque I attended (the host, knowing of my literary interests, had very thoughtfully purchased this beer just for me). Walt Whitman ale is, for reasons that I think are explained on the bottle but which are forgotten, a kind of blond hefeweizen type drink. It was good, I'd give it a 7.5-8 rating. I wanted to pour it into a glass and show my audience its beautiful color but my wife drank the last remaining bottle (I brought some home with me) before I could do this.

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