A World of Digital Books, Envisioned


by JK Evanczuk




The press is declaring that digital will overtake print within the decade. The visions that this news inspires are numerous and, occasionally, bizarre: a subway full of commuters with heads bowed over e-readers instead of morning newspapers, libraries with dozens of empty bookshelves hovering ghostlike behind radiating computers, multimedia diginovels with holograms jumping off every page. And that may only be the beginning.

So let’s engage in a thought experiment. Here is a world I have envisioned, wherein society has wholly purged itself of paperbound books, and digital readers have become the norm. Some of the events I will describe sound a little outrageous, but then again, some events have already come to pass. It’s a brave new (digital) world:

Libraries will shed themselves of books and replace the shelves with computer stations, with which library patrons can rent their favorite digital books for a limited amount of time. Although each library-provided digital book will come equipped with the latest in anti-piracy technology, intelligent college students will nonetheless find a way to defeat it.





Book piracy will soar. Key authors will give interviews on how book piracy is ruining the publishing industry. Symposiums will be held. A select group of authors will register all their works with Creative Commons and release their material for free as a preemptive move against piracy.

Many brick-and-mortar bookstores will become obsolete, as hoards of booksellers choose instead to operate purely over the Internet. The physical bookstores that remain will be condensed into one-stop electronic shops, wherein customers can simply browse a digital collection on a computer screen and download their purchases directly to their digital readers.

Booksellers will gape at all the empty space once occupied by bookshelves. They will fill the floor with plentiful seating space for customers to use while they enjoy their new purchases. Every bookstore will have a coffee shop. Coffee sales will go through the roof. Bookstores will find that coffee sales dramatically exceed those of books, and so to sustain their business booksellers will demand publishers provide them higher profit margins.

Publishers will seek additional sources of revenue to compensate for this. They will insert advertisements in between book chapters, a move that will prove wildly controversial at first, especially with book bloggers, but eventually these pundits will concede that it is a necessary move for the good of the publishing industry. After a few years hardly anyone will mind the advertisements, with the exception of a few grumbling old-timers who still vividly recall “the good old days of ad-free digital books.”

A bevy of new independent publishers, as well as self-publishers, will flood the market, seizing upon reduced start-up costs. They will sell their digital books everywhere from Etsy to iTunes. Big publishers will find that increasing numbers of consumers are purchasing their fiction from these new independent publishers. In response, they will pump their money into marketing. Book trailers will begin airing on TV and in movie theaters. The publishing companies will tout their authors like rock stars. The entertainment media will notice the increased attention paid to writers, and so authors will begin appearing in tabloids, beauty magazines, and on E!. The most photogenic authors will find their sales skyrocketing.

Readers will revel in the blossoming selection of literature available to them. Trendsetters will snub the material published by the big publishing houses, opting instead for fiction provided by trendy independent publishers. However, these trendsetters will realize too late that, given that the digital reader does not display a book cover, their lit-snobbery is ill-conceived. No one but them will actually know what they are reading. Inspired by popular demand, a new generation of digital readers will eventually be produced. These new models display a book cover on the back of the reader.

Short stories will increase in popularity, especially among those who use public transit, due to lengths that can be conveniently read during the average work commute. The typical reader will hold entire libraries on their digital readers, swapping story collections with their friends like people swap mixtapes.

The story format will continue to evolve. Novels without pictures, video, or music will remain in demand, but many new authors will turn to multimedia formats. Choose-your-own-adventure interactive novels will see a resurgence. Holographic novels become less of an abstract concept and more of a legitimate possibility as new technologies are developed. Book sales threaten to overtake movie ticket sales. The publishing industry, having completely forgotten their supposed near-failure only years before, will declare that this is “the golden age of literature.”




JK Evanczuk is the founder of Lit Drift (http://www.litdrift.com), an online
resource dedicated to the art & craft of fiction in the 21st century. 



Photo credit top: Nicolas Chang

The BIG book list of 2009


Every day up to December 25th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years told us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. Now we've pulled them all together into our BIG book list of 2009.
Just print off this list and take it to your local bookshop and ask them to send you them - tell them we sent you!

Kate Thompson: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally
Pietro Grossi: What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg
Stephen Clayton: Repetition by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Shanta Everington: The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
John Baker:  Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates
Anne Brooke: The Winding Stick by Elise Valmorbida
Gary Murning:  Engleby by Sebastian Faulks
Marina Lewycka: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot 
Michael Kimball:  Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler
Mark Piggott: 2666 by Roberto Bolano 
Mari Strachan: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Jon Haylett:  Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire by Alex von Tunzelmann
Rosy Thornton: The Chateau by William Maxwell
Eliezer Sobel: The Angel of Forgetfulness by Steve Stern
Paul Torday:  Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
Gary Davison:  Kill Your Friends by John Niven
Gayle Forman:  The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Patrick Gale:  Dancing Backwards by Salley Vickers
Patricia Wood: The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
Markus Zusak: All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Julian Barnes:  The Broken Word by Adam Foulds
Jenn Ashworth:  The Night Train by Martin Amis
R.N. Morris: Being Dead by Jim Crace 
Deborah Lawrenson: The Vanishing Act of Esme by Maggie O'Farrell
Antony Moore: Falling Palace by Dan Hofstadter


Those sharp eyed of you may have noticed an extra one in there by Antony Moore, author of The Swap, who dropped in late for a mince pie.  Here's what he said ...


"I hope I'm not too late... The book I enjoyed most this year was published in a previous year and was Falling Palace by Dan Hofstadter. This is subtitled 'A Romance of Naples' and I was suitably romanced. I visited Naples when I was a very young man in company with a girl frankly too pretty for me. It inevitably ended in bitter recrimination (me) and polite indifference (her) but during a brief spell I was heady with Italy and with a buxom blonde (a cultural mismatch I grant you, but one I was happy to overlook). This beautifully written book brought back a much younger self and reminded me that relationships with people can sometimes end in tears but romance with places (cities in particular for me) seems to go on forever. I'm already planning a return to Naples with my much lovelier wife."

Antony Moore
The Swap




Top photo credit: Loozrboy

Interview with Fiona Robyn



Fiona Robyn
Interview by Kerrie-Anne





I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it.  Thaw by Fiona Robyn


From this moment I was captivated. My first thoughts, "oh what have I gotten myself into" disappeared by the end of page one and by the end of the second I was hooked.

Thaw chronicles the life of Ruth. A thirty-two-year single woman living in London, wondering if it's worth living. From everyday meanderings, to thoughtful contemplations, Thaw is an open, honest and frank account of a woman's struggle with circumstances which can and often do effect each one of us at one time or another throughout our lives.

Far from being depressing, Thaw is a remarkably uplifting story. Written in a diarised style, it allows the reader to watch as Ruth's life takes on its unwitting journey, moving in directions not even Ruth could imagine as she attempts to reconcile with estranged relatives, casual friends. As she develops relationships, she learns not all is what is seems in the perfect lives of those around her.

I came, I saw, I conquered! Aptly describes what should be Ruth's motto in life. A thoroughly enjoyable journey for all.

"I couldn't put this one down. Ruth is so real and tragic she made my heart hurt. Some books stay in your head and heart forever, and this is one of them. Profound."
Sharon on Goodreads

Fiona welcome to The View From Here

About Fiona
As I researched you for this interview I found the same thing, ‘Fiona Robyn is a writer and blogger living in Hampshire with her partner, cats and vegetable patch.’ There is not much more about Fiona the Person. So can you tell us a little about who is Fiona Robyn?

Hmm. Where to start with that question? I could write a list of things-that-I-am – therapist, sister, friend, gardener – or I could tell you what I’m interested in – Buddhism, words, cats, chocolate. But the best way to get to know me is probably to read my novels.

How important is it to keep your Author and person separate?

I do feel that some things are appropriate to write on my blog or in my books, and some things aren’t. In that way I keep some of my ‘person’ secret. But in other ways it would be very difficult to separate us.

As I look around the web I see your writing everywhere Facebook, A Small Stone, Fionarobyn.com, and one of my favourite Planting Words just to name a few. What is it that motivates you too write?

I write to help myself pay attention to the world, to help me engage with the world.

When did you first know you were a writer?

I knew I was a reader before I knew I was a writer. I used to copy quotes into a notebook, and I loved the power of stories. I started writing poetry when I was in my early twenties, and then nothing could stop me.

How important is research when writing?

My personal view is that the authenticity of the characters, the shape of the story and the quality of the writing are more important than the research, but it’s important not to make any glaring errors which would distract the educated reader. I like broad research (e.g. finding out more about gardeners) but I’m not very good with detail. I find it a bit boring.

About Thaw

This novel is captivating. How did you come across Ruth?

Thank you. Ruth was the first character to appear in my head – I wrote Thaw before the other novels. She just turned up one day and asked me to write her story.

So much of Ruth's story touched me. I took away the sense that bad things happen to good people, that we all have ghosts but it's how we deal with them that matters. That to me was something truly inspiring. It brought you in to Ruth and her circle. It also gives the reader closeness to her. How did you approach writing Ruth’s character with such honesty?

I’m glad you thought so. I think different people might have different ‘readings’ of the book, but we’ll see. Ruth is fictional, but I believe that we all have the capacity to be anything/anyone, and I hope I’ve tapped into those parts of my personality that KNOW what it’s like to be her.

The emotional roller coaster Ruth takes us on gives the reader plenty to think about.
Where did you look for inspiration and insight into her?


I read a lot about suicide and self-harm, but mostly I looked inside myself. I don’t have personal experience of these issues, but I can imagine how someone might get to a place where they would seem like valid options.

Writing as a diarised novel must have its mountains to climb. How different was it to write as opposed to a straight through story?

I’m a pretty intuitive writer, so I just sat down and wrote a first draft without trying to think about the structure, characterisation etc. It’s only when I do later drafts that I start to fiddle about with the structure and polish up the sentences.

What was the biggest change in Ruth’s life with the greatest effect on her attitude?


I would say that Red, her portrait painter, is the crucial element to her transformation, but the reader will have to decide!

My favourite character next to Ruth would have to have been Julie. Which was the hardest to write and where do you look for them?

That’s surprising! All my characters appear from the ether…

What do you hope readers of Thaw take away from it?


I hope my readers will understand what it is like to be Ruth, and that it will help them to ask themselves questions about their own lives.

How have you found the reaction to Thaw since its recent release?


The paperback isn’t out until February 2010, so not many people have read it yet. The people who have read it seem to say it affects them deeply, which is a wonderful thing for a writer to hear.

About Writing

How do you approach writing?

I see writing as a ‘way of being’ – it’s about documenting the world, and making sense of it and myself.

What is the most important attribute for a writer/author to have?


Perseverance is essential if you want to have a career and be published, but the only requirement to be a writer is a love of words.

What advice can you give anyone embarking on a career as an author?


Don’t give up. Get lots of support. And try to enjoy the process. If you’re meant to be a writer, the stories will nag at you until you write them down.

Thanks Fiona.



If you enjoyed reading Thaw as much as I did, why not participate in Blogsplash.
I'd like as many people as possible to hear about the opportunity to read Thaw for free. I'm asking bloggers to participate in a Blogsplash on the 1st of March 2010. They'll publish the first page of Ruth's diary on their blogs, with a link on the bottom to my blog so people can continue reading.










Author Advent 25: Deborah Lawrenson


"Just one? Such a hard question! For perfectly-judged prose and sinuous plot beautifully controlled, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell. The spare but incisive narrative pulls you in until you ache for the main characters."

Deborah Lawrenson
Songs of Blue and Gold














Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edward

Author Advent 24: R.N. Morris


"I would pick Jim Crace's BEING DEAD. It's actually been out for ten years but I've only just got round to reading it! (It is a bit more up to date than my usual reading, which is Victorian era!) The writing is simply superb. The structure is very intriguing. And the subject matter highly original. Despite the almost scientific focus of the observations of what happens to the two central (dead) characters, there is an amazing lyricism to the writing. It's also a book with great heart. Everything is in the backstory, as Joseph and Celice begin the book dead. But as we learn about how they met and their subsequent marriage, and more directly the days leading up to their murder, they truly come alive in Crace's brilliantly imagined portrayal. It's part crime story, part poetic reflection on life and death, and I don't think I've ever read another book quite like it."

R.N. Morris
A Vengeful Longing





Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edward

Author Advent 23: Jenn Ashworth


"My favourite book this year was The Night Train by Martin Amis - I've only read The Rachael Papers (loved it) and Yellow Dog (hated it) so wasn't sure what to expect - but really enjoyed his main character and the detective-story-with-a-twist approach."

Jenn Ashworth
A Kind of Intimacy

 










Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edward

Author Advent 22: Julian Barnes


"Adam Foulds's The Broken Word (Cape 2008), about the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya in the 1950s, is the best long poem I've read in years. And I'm looking forward to his Booker-listed novel The Quickening Maze."

Julian Barnes
Nothing to be Frightened Of

 







 


Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edward

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Reader Logo
by Grace



Her Fearful Symmetry
by Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd

Looking back on it now, the haunting in this novel starts from the first chapter title and the very first sentences. And the haunting pervades everything else from this point onwards.

The layers of haunting are woven together, from the subtle to the obvious, becoming increasingly complex (but fascinating) as the novel progresses. Here are some examples of the layers of haunting:

There is the actual haunting of the deceased characters to the living characters, which is not in the slightest bit scary. It is gentle and emotional, and full of funny and frustrating insights into what an afterlife without a body, voice or power may be like.


There is the omniscient narration, which floats seamlessly between characters, expertly conveying each one's passions, fears, desires and dreams.


There is the threat of history repeating itself. The characters are living in the consequences of, or are haunted by, decisions made in the past and/or past events. They are living in shadows and are trying to shake them off. Equally, the characters are haunted by memories, and these memories either inspire action and change, or they inhibit the ability for the character to fully embrace life. The past seems to have an invisible, ghostly hold over the present.


The characters are haunted by death – the death of friends; death of a relationships; death of pets. The way the characters respond to these deaths (the way they grieve) provides the reader with an insightful exploration of human behaviour; inexplicable and unique.


Some of the characters also haunt each other by obsessing over each other and stalking each other. This layer of haunting is creepier than the actual haunting!


The novel's setting, Highgate Cemetery, which, although a clich̩d setting for a ghost story, is described with such beauty and detail that it almost becomes its own character Рan unavoidable presence.


Niffenegger's haunting narration tugged, squeezed and wrenched my heart strings from the very first page. The narration evoked real feelings of pain, longing, revulsion, distress and laughter.

Niffenegger has chosen a wonderfully odd combination of about 10 characters who develop even odder relationships with each other. Although Niffenegger gives the reader access to each character's words and thoughts, I was not fully convinced behind some of their actions. For example, why would a 21 year old American girl feel compelled to kiss a middle-aged, married, obsessive/compulsive recluse?

I'm not sure I could believe some of the nuances in the relationships between the characters, but this does not detract from the enjoyment of reading the novel. In fact, it added a quirk. It added the reality of unpredictable, illogical human behaviour. The actions of the characters made me feel sick at times, so rather than ascribing this to Niffenegger's weak creation of convincing relationships, I instead would ascribe the 'sick feeling' to Niffenegger's incredible ability to shock the reader.

The novel takes many turns into the unexpected, pushing the boundaries of acceptability (and believability), until a gentle tale of American twins moving to London becomes a disturbing macabre spectacle of deceit and murder. At points when I decided that 'this plot is too ridiculous and unbelievable', I rationed with myself that this is a ghost story and so by nature is not intended to be believable. And yet I was still shocked and horrified by the bizarre ending.

Her fearful Symmetry is a thrill to read. Niffenegger creates tension and suspense that make the pages turn themselves.

Author Advent 21: Iain Banks

"I really ought to keep a note of what I've read each year..."

Iain Banks
Transition






Editors Note:
er ...

Well in March he told us he was reading The Gods That Failed by Larry Eliot & Dan Atkinson.if that's any help.

Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edward

Author Advent 20 : Markus Zusak


"This year I finally read Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. I originally got into it by listening to the Brad Pitt narrated audio version, and I soon found myself in the book itself. It’s a great book for feeling like you’re truly there, and when McCarthy says something like ‘He could see so clearly that all his life had led only to this moment, and that all after it led nowhere at all’, you’re hit with beauty and devastation simultaneously, and what more can you ask for from a writer?"
Markus Zusak
The Book Thief













Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.

Photo credit boxes: Ali Edwards

Author Advent 19: Patricia Wood


"The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak- I loved it - A truly unique narrator. The language just slayed me...PLUS I did a literary festival with Markus on Kauai and we had an opportunity to chat on the airplane about writing and creating a great story. The connection between the writer and the work is really important to me. PLUS our respective interviews were in your magazine at the same time!"

Patricia Wood
Lottery










Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edward

Author Advent 18: Patrick Gale


"One of my favourite books this year was definitely Dancing Backwards, the latest novel by Salley Vickers. In summary this doesn’t sound especially promising – middle aged widowed poet catches transatlantic liner for New York and takes some flirtatious ballroom dancing classes en route – but there’s a terrific pungency to the scenes in which the reasons for the heroine’s impulsive cruise, a long ago marriage to a control freak and an unrequited affair with his best friend, are slowly revealed. The other novel that will continue to haunt me for much of 2010 was Colm Toibin’s masterly minor key romance, Brooklyn, where he once again demonstrates the fine art of portraying passionate emotions in quiet language."

Patrick Gale
The Whole Day Through

 




Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edwards

Interview with Todd Heldt & A Wave To The World


Reader Logo
by Sydney Nash


Four times a year I will hunt down a poet and demand answers. The Hiss Quarterly asked the "same seven questions" - - I've decided to ask those same seven at the Rear View and then throw in a few more.

I caught up with Todd recently at a gallery opening in Chicago, plied him with the free booze then pulled him away from his adoring public to ask him a few questions. He gazed at me through crossed eyes and shook his head a few times, handed me his business card and told me to call his agent ... (read the interview over at the Rear View)


When people ask me what qualifies me to be the poetry editor for a relatively well known literary magazine they must truly expect an answer quite different from the one I give them. I know this because of the stunned silence that occasionally follows my commentary.

I don't hold a degree. I don't teach writing workshops based on years of personal publishing experience and I'm not related to anyone famous that I know of.

Oh stop rolling your eyes. The literary world is overflowing in some places with more nepotism than talent.

What qualifies me above a great deal others is simple. Passion.
I love words. I love how words can be arranged to create patterns similar to the way we can arrange musical notes to create symphonies. I've been studying this concept for as long as I could hold a book and turn pages. I'm passionate about it.

The summer I turned nine my mother was unable to afford a baby sitter and so she would pack me a lunch and drop me off each morning at the Glendale Public Library in California. I quickly became bored with the new children's section and moved downstairs to the adult section. It was quieter, and oddly enough the perverts who seemed to run rampant upstairs were found nowhere downstairs. Let's keep in mind that this was the mid 70's and people were not quite as tuned in to the hell some children experience because of neglect, abuse and more. The Glendale Public library had just been renovated, it was modern and huge.

As I became acquainted with the world of "real" books -- this is what I called the downstairs section of the library -- I would wait with deep anticipation for the weekly displays of literary greatness the library would showcase. I think they called it "A Summer Of Poetry." Or maybe, "A Season of Poetry." I don't know. What I do know is that I first read Walt Whitman (now becoming more famous thanks to Levi commercials) and Browning and Tennyson and Eliot with an uncommon joy for a "child my age."

I was nine and I understood Walt when he said in "Poets To Come":

"I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you."


I would escape to the auditorium (they never locked the doors anywhere in that place) and stare at my reflection in the highly polished golden wall sections while I softly recited The Wasteland because of the way the words rolled and danced out of my throat on to my tongue and out, out ...
"Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd.
Tereu."

I find myself repeating it still, today. Especially in a moment where I am trying to make sense of senselessness. It might be my mantra? Never the less, I desired to know more of the world because of poets. Why did they write what they did? Who were they? What was the world like when they put pen to paper? What compelled them? Poetry led me to my second love, history.

It would be three years later before I wrote my first poem. Prompted by the 16th century painting of a man I saw on exhibit at the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena. His eyes spoke to me in a way that still remains ineffable in spite of years of words. Not knowing what to do with my feeling I had no choice but to try explaining it because Elizabeth Barrett Browning was pounding at my reality with, "How do I love thee?"

By God, if she could do it, so could I.

Impossible to turn back. Futile. The ache of words inside me begging to be arranged just so was a choiceless choice. I was filling notebooks with this nonsense.

In time, the nonsense became less nonsense and much better. I went to college on a full ride scholarship for my ability to interpret Poetry. My goal was to teach it. Of course, I was an idiot and did not realize what a glorious gift a full ride scholarship was and wasted my good fortune.

In spite of the history that follows my drop out college years I did manage to continue to write, win awards, and publish. For five years I produced The Hiss Quarterly with excellent and knowledgeable people who truly knew their craft. When Mike French approached me with the idea of a merge, I agonized over it for some time. I'd lost two of my best editors, and just brought two more on board. They were going to assist me because they loved words as much as I did and it was becoming more of a labor and less of a love. I finally agreed to shut down the Hiss Quarterly and became the managing editor for The View From Here. Your excellent (and sometimes weird) fiction selections this year can be blamed on me.

I'll be honest, fiction is not my first love. In order for me to sparkle and glow I need poetry. When I came to Mike with my idea to resurrect the "Rear View" and hand over the "Front View" to someone else, we pow wowed and so it was.

I know it is frustrating and soul crushing, this business of writing poetry, let alone submitting it. Sitting on this side of the desk is equally soul wrenching. Sending out rejections is not a favorite past time, However, I'm occasionally shocked at the grammar in cover letters and introductions from people who claim to have degrees and pedigrees. The internet is a glorious playground. Sadly, what I've experienced in recent years is that nearly anyone can call themselves a writer, create a website, and self publish. As Hemingway said, "The question is, can you write?"

So you have a degree? In what? Underwater basket weaving? Please don't tell me you received your MA in Literature and attach your work with an introduction that says, "hi. i like ur zine. Plz look at my work. Thanx." Honor what you've learned and who you are!

Now we come full circle. If you Love this thing called Poetry as much as I do, then you are qualified to send it to me and I am qualified to read it and decide if we should feature it at the Rear View.

At the risk of being redundant, I'll close with the beginning of my interview with Todd,

"Make me angry with your first line. Make me laugh with your first line. Make me cry with your first line. Make me feel something solid beyond a wrist cutting desire with your first line. Please. Do not puzzle me. Do not cause my face to wince or my eyes to roll. Make your first, second and following stanzas grab me by my gut and then throw me across the room. For the love of God, let your words be words that can be read out loud."

Now send me your words, and please edit the cover letter. It shows that you care. If you don't, why should I?


Author Advent 17: Gayle Forman


"One of the perks of being in publishing is getting to read advance copies of books months before they come out. Of course, the downside to this is that sometimes you wind up falling in love with a book long before anyone else you know has read it. Such was the case with my favorite book of 2009, which, for the most of the world, won't come out until 2010: The Sky Is Everywhere by debut author Jandy Nelson grabbed me by the throat from the opening pages and kept me breathless until the last sentence. It's a story about Lennie, a teenage girl who's grappling with the sudden death of her sister, and of the things that grow out of the vacuum of loss. In Lennie's case, her own identity freed of her sister's shadow, as well as her the emergence of herself as a sexual being. That makes it sound a little cheesy and pat coming-of-age, but it's anything but. This book was so gorgeously written, so bursting with love, so romantic, it was riveting. It's officially a teen book, but like so much of the fantastic teen fiction coming out these days, it's meant for all ages. It is being released in the UK in June of 2010 from Walker Books. Keep an eye out for it."

Gayle Forman
If I Stay

 



Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edwards

Author Advent 16: Gary Davison


"Right then, best book read this year (no, not mine, i've still a way to go before I get that far up - hopefully never!), the best book has to be Kill Your Friends by John Niven. This book is extremely offensive, abusive, sexist, degrading and an absolute scream. I loved it. Just edges out Atomised."

Gary Davison
Streakers

 








Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edwards

Author Advent 15: Paul Torday


"This year I re-read, for the umpteenth time, Nancy Mitford's 'Love in a Cold Climate'. It is cheerful, romantic, unsentimental, and very, very funny. One of the great classics of the English comic novel."

Paul Torday
The Girl on the Landing

 










Each day until December 24th an author featured at TVFH over the last few years tells us of their favourite read of 2009 in our Author Advent. You'll have to provide your own chocolates and there's no little door to open, but you could try placing your hand over your eyes and then removing it again. Authors include the likes of Julian Barnes, Iain Banks, Paul Torday, Patrick Gale and Marina Lewycka. And for those of you who like lists, we'll list them all on December 29th.


Photo credit boxes: Ali Edwards