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the book of dog Posts

$3.48

That’s how much it costs to print a 228-page book with Ingramspark, the POD part of Ingram, the largest book printer & distributor in the world.  And it costs a little less than that at Amazon’s Create Space.

So the cost for anyone to publish a physical book–a bound trade paperback, that is–is about the same as buying a large coffee at a drive-up espresso bar.

I’ve been mulling that over tonight, because I spent a couple of hours reformatting my book to be in very large print for my friend with poor eyesight. It really did just take a couple of hours. While I was at it, I revised the dedication, to dedicate it to my friend who needs the very large print. And then I uploaded the file, and ordered a copy, and in a day or so I’ll be able to give my friend a unique edition to my new novel.

It gave me all kinds of ideas about individualized books, and what purpose they might serve. Each book published could be made unique, designed for just one reader. Changes are ridiculously simple to do with ebooks, which are ephemeral to begin with–you just upload a new file, and within a few hours the old version is gone and the new version is there instead. (The ease of changing an ebook leads to all kinds of questions about when it becomes a “new work” requiring a new ISBN or new copyright application…it seems people have different opinions, and I’m not sure who would be checking, or how they would know that what was there now is not what was there yesterday).

But I hadn’t really thought about how easy it has become to also print unique, one-off physical books, which would be lasting and could be all different from one another. The entire market for books is still predicated on the belief that the more of a book you sell the better. But maybe one day it’s going to be more about selling one at a time–and each in some way unique. A famous author might do limited editions, like silk screen artists do, where each copy is numbered. Or a thriller writer could change the name of the hero to be the name of the reader who ordered the book.

I don’t think we have begun much more than baby steps toward understanding how POD and digital publishing is going to change what we read, not only online but in the physical book world as well.

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Getting Closer to Publication Date

Hi everybody. It’s time to say good-bye to the early preview I posted of The Book of Dog, complete with its cover I made with post-it notes. I will always love this cover….

…but the book has evolved, hopefully for the better, from the barbaric yawp of a preview I posted at first. So it’s time for now to retire this bootleg preview and to make way for the spanking-new novel to be published by Vegetablian Books this fall. Wow. What a journey. More later but in the meantime here is the latest cover design for THE BOOK OF DOG, Vegetablian Books Edition:

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“Feminist Satire”

At first whenever someone asked me to describe my new book I said it was “feminist satire,” until I realized that to everyone else “feminist satire” means “writing that satirizes feminists,” and not “feminist who is writing satire.” So now I’m on the hunt for more “feminists who are writing satire” and would welcome your suggestions.

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best memoir, 2017

I read over a hundred books this year and now that I’ve come to the end of it I find that Hunger by Roxane Gay is the one book that has stuck with me the longest, and has changed me the most. It’s the one book I want to write about tonight, as my last post in 2017.

I was lucky enough to hear Roxane Gay speak this year when she came to my hometown for a reading. She was warm, empowered, strong, confident, and most of all she felt aware of all these things about herself.  She had a supreme graciousness toward others, and a patience, especially with those readers and fans and people in the crowd that night, some of whom seemed overpowered by their own hurt and in need of someone who would listen to their stories and understand. Roxane Gay was able to listen. She was able to say exactly the right thing.  Her strength and presence were extraordinary.

And then there is this book. As I read it, the strong confident voice I listened to at the reading seemed to completely shrink into a hesitant and cautious voice, one that was afraid of its own conclusions. I believe Roxane Gay when she writes that this book the hardest thing she has ever tried to write. Because what I experienced, while reading the book, is that it was nearly too hard for Roxane Gay to write her story. The writing felt guarded and circuitous and almost stuttering. The strength and confidence I felt from her when I heard her speak fell away toward silence and hurt. And I thought as I read: Where is the strong confident person I saw on stage?

But here’s the thing: Now I’ve come to realize just how strong it was for Gay to write exactly this way about her past.  Maybe she had no choice. Extreme honesty seems to be the core of who she is. The book demands faith and acceptance from the reader at all times. It doesn’t take care of the reader. Indeed it forces the reader to take on the role of patient loving listener. The reader is asked to take care of the writer, rather than the other way around. It’s as if, through the act of reading this book, you’re being patiently guided to become the kind of person who can listen to another person’s trauma, and understand.

The novel feels like a watershed of sorts, written before #metoo, and apart from it, but pointing toward this extraordinary change in our culture, where women in future might begin to get angry and speak out against those who abuse them, rather than feeling shame and punishing themselves and their bodies for what happened to them. So quite unexpectedly and for all the reasons above I find myself tonight realizing that Hunger by Roxane Gay was my personal Book of the Year.

-lark benobi

 

 

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the politics of art: fiction

With Trump in the White House,  journalists are battling to keep words attached to facts, to the point where CNN runs adds explaining why an apple isn’t a banana.

But fiction is immune to Trumpism. It’s a language apart.  And just now fiction can tell truths that non-fiction can’t.

Here are some of the most truthful, most political novels I’ve read–the links will take you to three independent bookstores who deserve your business:

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish should replace The Grapes of Wrath on every high school reading list. A novel about New York from the point of view of the most disenfranchised. A book that is never sentimental, never condescending. One of the best books I’ve ever read.

 

 

 

The Sarah Book by Scott McLachlan taught me more about despair in West Virginia than sixteen billion profiles on Trump voters.

 

 

 

 

Blood of the Dawn by  Claudia Salazar Jiménez– I’ve read of political violence and state terrorism before, but not from within such a female perspective. A woman leaves her family to become a resistance fighter and it occurred to me while reading it that I had read so many times of a man going off to war while the woman stays home with the children, a trope so often repeated that it feels natural, and yet here the woman goes, and she is so much a mother, and her choice feels wrenching and unnatural, part of the terror of the times.

Blood of the Dawn is published by Deep Vellum. The Sarah Book and Preparation for the Next Life are both published by Tyrant.

 


(Pre-Order The Book of Dog)

 

 

 

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drawing my characters

I hadn’t started out with the intention of making an illustrated book. It just happened. Thanks for the feedback on the pictures–I sure enjoyed drawing them.

As I prepare the print version I find myself with new ideas for pictures, or going back to re-draw some of the ones I wasn’t so happy with–like this new one, a new look at the heroes of this story:

 

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THANK YOU!!

Thank you early readers for your feedback! It makes me wildly happy that some of you noticed that a couple of the names listed for Satan are of hazardous industrial products, and that some of the things that characters in my story hear from the radio come from real-life sources, including Info Wars and our very own President. I, too, was surprised at how easily these actual words that human beings have spoken lately fit into an absurd story about the End of the World.

 

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