Saturday, September 26, 2009

Like Pulling Teeth

Halloween 2 by Jack Martin. I bought the book at the mall. I had the first book. Was fucking thrilled to get this one. Yes, I was still a kid, but my parents didn't have any hesitation when it came to the books I read. I could read anything I wanted, and I wanted this. The cover alone was worth any price I had to pay.

So I sat on the couch and dived into it, and it was tense. Very tense. I started playing with my tooth out of nervousness. I had just started to come loose. By the time I was done with the book my tooth would be gone and my mouth would be bleeding horribly. Yes, I tore my own tooth out while reading this because I was so into the story that tore out my own tooth and didn't feel a damn thing. I remember not only pulling on it, but twisting it. Back and forth. Forwards and back. I was doing my best to tear the thing from its housing in my gums, and I didn't taste a drop of blood.

It's amazing that a book can so thoroughly transfer to some world where you don't even feel pain. Looking back now, I doubt the story was all that great, but to my young mind it was the exact thing I wanted to read. I loved the movie, but the book took me into Haddonfield far more deeply than the film ever could.

My copy of the book is back East somewhere. I doubt I'll ever see it again. I'll never forget, though, looking down at the tooth in my blood-slick fingers (I was careful not to get any of the red love on the pages) and thinking, "Wow. How did I do this?"

Maybe I should go find a used copy somewhere ...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Electric Frankenstein

I finished Electric Frankenstein! High Energy Punk Rock & Roll Poster Art and have to say I came away impressed. Besides being an art and punk fan, I'm also a fan of Electric Frankenstein, so buying the book was a given. Getting such great art inside by the likes of Coop, Dirty Donny and others was icing on the cake. Bookending that art was an introduction on how artwork fits into the music scene and a history of the band. Again -- a must buy book.

Books like this are my decadent reads. Stuff that is there only to enrich me culturally. No heavy thinking or lots of introspection. I use them to get inspired and become exposed to new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When I want the heavy reading, out comes Chomsky. When I want something light, any novel will do really. When I want to indulge, though, I pick up a book like this.

I bought this book when it first came out, but it has sat on my shelf waiting for the right time, which was just a few weeks ago. I cracked it open, sniffed the pages. They were still fresh. I took in the colors, the bands (Electric Frankenstein has had some incredible stage partners like Nashville Pussy and the Misfits) and the story. It was a short read, but highly satisfying.

I do that sort of thing a lot ... leave books on the shelf like trophies to be read when the time is right. I'm sure I'm not the only one, either. Some people, like those rabid Dan Brown fans, get a book and read it right away before the cancer claims them. I can understand that, but to me a book is something to be savored. Just glancing at my shelf now I can see Born Under a Bad Sky. Have had it a few months. Have yet to read it. I'll read it when the mood strikes. I won't rush it. Like wine, it should be sipped slowly.

It seems strange to write about something like this when it comes to a band known for playing fast, short songs. That's the nature of the written word, though. It can be about the most fast-paced subject, but is most enjoyed when you take your time with it.

And in a few more years I'll look at it again. For now, though, I'm wading through Essential Silver Surfer Vol. 1.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Asus to Enter E-Reader Market

Asus is set to introduce an Eee-reader this year to compete with Amazon and Sony's e-readers. For people like myself, who think e-readers are less romantic ways to read a book (changing it from art to mere product, much like MP3s and CDs did to music), this is just another annoyance in the constant stream of publishing woes. To others, this is a significant sign that the e-book is nowhere near dead.

I don't like reading anything but short pieces and news on my computer. I enjoy the feel of a book. The paper pages, the way a new book smells, what it looks like on my shelf. I have a library. Over 900 books. Yes, it takes up space. I don't care. Readers know that the first thing they look at in someone else's home are their bookshelves. A shelf with four lonely paperbacks on it can tell you a lot about someone. So can multiple shelves with books of every ilk resting upon them. The e-reader doesn't exactly do away with such things, but it is one step in that direction. Yes, it's easier to carry one e-reader containing dozens of books if you are going on a trip, but how many people take more than one or two books on a trip? (And if they run out of reading material they often buy another.)

When you can just download things with a push of a button it takes away some of the magic. The thrill of the hunt changes. No longer are you intrigued by a book's cover or spine, but instead by a small picture on a computer screen. It turns what should be an artistic quest into something more like shopping for school supplies.

Asus is not a bad company, and nor is Amazon or Sony. In the end, this will help publishers and authors ... most likely. (I have my doubts that people who don't read books now will pick these products up. Why would they?) Any way to get these two groups more revenue is good in my mind. I just wish the consumer journalists would question the necessity more. I wish they would challenge the veracity of such a thing. I also wish the people covering these stories would stop saying this will change/save publishing. It won't. What will save it is more readers, plain and simple. These products will not produce that.

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Holding a piece of plastic is not the same as holding a book. It's not even close. I don't think I'll see a day when books aren't published, but I do think I'll see a day when the big publishers have vastly changed what they are and smaller publishers dominate the shelves. That will actually be nice, but it won't be brought about by these machines. No. It will be brought about by the major publishing houses being unable or unwilling to figure out how to get new readers.

That, my friends, is also our job. Readers and small publishers are essential to this goal. Small publishers offer niche products that appeal to a small but adamant group of people. Current readers can turn non-readers unto these things.

A machine can't do that. Can't even come close.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Book Review Up On My Other Blog

My other blog, Published and Unpublished Works, is where I reprint or link a lot of my (duh) published and unpublished pieces. It's obviously a work in progress.

Today a posted a piss-poor book review I did back in 1995 for Da Qiang Ji. You can read the review here, if so inclined. The book was published by Paladin Press (link in my links section of this blog). Here's an interesting footnote to all this.

I published this review in a 'zine I was doing at the time, Married Punks. Paladin was happy to supply us with books to review (and I welcome any publisher that wants to see its books reviewed here to contact me) until one day they cut us off. The reason? We were too extreme politically. Go figure.