A New Chapter

It’s been two years since I started this blog—two years and a novel, half a dozen book fairs and a heck of a lot of WordPress themes.

And the first thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you all who have supported me so much through all of the ups and downs of trying to find my niche in the writing world. Without you, this would not have been possible.

Which brings me to both good news and bad news.

I will be officially abandoning this blog. It makes me sad to say it, but I think a number of things have changed since I started here, and it’s time that I address those changes in the public face of my writing.  This is my last post on asotherswere.

The good news is that I have started a new blog over at www.gnboorse.com (or blog.gnboor.se, which is the proper URL). There I’ll be posting (as I have already begun to do) a number of opinion essays, articles, and reviews. From now on, this will be the face of my presence online as well as a portfolio, a bio, and a site where people can discuss literature and ideas. One of my goals has always been to consolidate my internet presence: thus the new Twitter username (@gnboorse) and the new site. I know it’s going to be great.

I will continue to maintain asotherswere in order to preserve the substantial amount of content I’ve left here, but in the future, all posts will appear on the new blog. If you want to keep in touch or read things similar to what I’ve posted in the Thoughts category here, please put in your email address to subscribe.

Again, thank you all so much.

Here’s to the future,

G.

 

Void Press is Closing

I know that’s a very dramatic way to put it, but that’s the most important thing you’re going to get out of this post, so there it is.

Void Press is closing.

I know I didn’t want it to come to this, and I’m fairly certain that you all didn’t either, but that’s just how it’s going to go. There were a number of complicated factors that led up to this point: business partners, financing, and convoluted New Jersey business laws, mostly, and I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that we’ve reached the point at which continued operation of Void Press would not be beneficial to any of those involved in its operation.

The official date of closure will be December 12, 2015.

It’s not a failure though. At least, I don’t think so. We’ve managed to accomplish so much since we started back in July. We republished a book, printed some cool T-shirts and mugs, and got so, so many people involved in funding the first issue of Void Magazine. We received hundreds of wonderful submissions  and produced two issues of a gorgeous, high-quality magazine that shipped out to five different countries! (US, UK, Mexico, South Africa, and Estonia)

I feel like I did with Void Press what I came to do. It disappoints me to be in the position of letting so many people down like this, but I can do so knowing that I did nothing badly. Once the taxes are paid for the year and the appropriate notices are filed, I’ll feel a mixture of good and bad. Bad because it’s over; good because it happened.

The closure is not necessarily permanent. We are closing indefinitely, but depending on funds I may choose to restart Void under a new name in the summer of next year. But for now, the store is closed, and the website will be shutting down by the end of the year. If you’d like to purchase one of the magazines, get in touch with me, and I’m sure we can figure something out. My book, Don’t Touch the Glass, will continue to be listed on Amazon.

Again, thanks so much to all of those who have contributed to the project and supported us. It meant a lot. It means a lot. Really. It does, and always will, for my part.

Until next time,

G.

 

P. S. I’m sorry for not posting on here much lately. Life has been throwing curveballs (least of all the Void Press ones). Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more, since that is my love and my passion. Thanks for sticking around.

The Martian Killed Me

THE MARTIANKILLED ME

It’s been all over the place lately, this blockbuster film called The Martian that everyone’s been raving about because it was non-stop action, edge of your seat thrills, et cetera, and all of those other things reviewers are paid to say. But since I’m forever curious and (usually) somewhat open to giving everyone a chance, I picked up the book (by Andy Weir) last week and read through it at a leisurely pace.

And the first thing I can say is wow! That was a great book.

But I have some concerns.

The science throughout was, as far as I know, excellent. The storytelling was gritty, humorous, and raw. I understood and processed the book at a rapid pace. It was engaging, suspenseful, everything that you want from a heavy-hitting bestseller novel that gets made into “a motion picture starring Matt Damon” (as the front cover of my paperback would have me know).

The problem was this: I couldn’t identify with Mark Watney.

For those who are unfamiliar with the narrative, I’ll tell you that the story follows a man named Mark Watney who is left behind, alone on the surface of Mars when an emergency dust storm forces his fellow astronauts to leave the planet. His is a journey of survival, loneliness, and endurance: after about a year and a half on Mars, he is finally rescued, and he returns to Earth. Normally, I’d call that a spoiler, but it’s not. It’s expected. Of course he gets back home! Of course he gets rescued! We know that already. We just want to know how. We want to experience the journey from point A to point B by ourselves. That’s fine. I don’t mind the ending.

It’s Watney’s reactions to his experiences that I have a bone to pick with. He’s in quite a number of frustrating and terrifying situations, and when those occur, of course he swears profusely and kicks things around, but then he finds a way to fix the problem and keep moving forward. I get that Watney is an engineer (and also a botanist, somehow?) and an all around fix-it guy, but fix-it guys have feelings too. I know: I work part-time as a computer programmer! But Watney never breaks down completely, not even once. He never lets go of his hopeless technical optimism. Sure, he has some dark humor here and there, but the book completely glosses over any discussion of how he feels to be freaking alone on the face of Mars! The man is going to die here! He is almost certainly a dead man walking! There is no hope! Please, Mark Watney, cry already! But no. He never lets up the facade. And, on top of that, we learn next to nothing about his back story (except for that he’s single and apparently lived in Chicago for some period of time). He doesn’t seem to have any connections or relationships. Nobody to look back down at and think, “Oh yeah, I really miss him/her.”

See what I’m saying? In The Martian we have a man who is in literally the worst situation imaginable, and yet he meets it with a matter-of-fact, Vulcan determinism that was to me, frankly, off-putting. Now maybe that’s just my personality: I tend to feel things very deeply. Were I in his place, I’d panic a heck of a lot more, probably cry any number of times during that year and a half (real men cry, you know it!), and have tons and tons of people that I’d be missing, thinking about, longing for—even mere acquaintances that I haven’t kept up with. I’d still miss them.

Don’t get me wrong here; I loved the book. But I needed a little more depth from Watney. I wanted him to feel something. I can only imagine him now returning to Earth as either an unfeeling robot or an emotional trainwreck who bottles it all up inside. And ending the book like that killed me, Andy Weir. It killed me.

I’ll (hopefully) be seeing the movie sooner or later. Not sure how it measures up to the book, but I hope that Damon does a few things with Watney’s emotions. Can’t really add to the back story, though. But who knows? Maybe it’ll be great.

Well, this is cool.

As you may or may not have seen on the official Void Press blog today, I am going to have the esteemed privilege of publishing a new novel by author R. K. Gold this March 3, 2016 through Void Press!

You can probably tell that I’m excited.

I first met Gold through the cowrite project (I interviewed the founder a couple of months ago), and he was one of the very first people I connected with on Twitter. Without his support, I might not have released my first book, Don’t Touch the Glass, and I don’t think I would have ever considered starting a small press. Through him and others on the cowrite project, I realized that yes, indeed, there is a huge community of other literary types out there to enjoy words with. Very much on a whim, I decided to pick up a copy of his latest work at the time, The Little Black Book, and I’ve been a fan of his writing ever since.

It’s not every day that someone entrusts you with such a large work as a novel. It’s their baby, you know? I’ve written books before; I know how it feels, how protective you get. But I’m confident that publishing through Void Press will exceed his (and your!) expectations. We’ve got a lot planned and a lot of enthusiasm to throw at this project. And we’d like you all to throw your enthusiasm at it as well!

More updates regarding his book, entitled Lost Boys, and mine (as I mentioned in my post yesterday) will be forthcoming.

Until next time,

G.

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

Hello there! (If you’re still there)

Yes, yes I know. It’s been a while.

This month has been insane. Between managing inventory, shipping out orders, sending donation rewards to Kickstarter donors, and reading your submissions, I’ve just been swamped! Oh, and did I mention that I’ve got a new book coming out?

Yeah, let’s talk about that.

The official, final, set-in-stone release date is January 3, 2016. Why that date? Well, originally I’d hoped for November 3rd. Then December 3rd. Then things happened and I finally put together a timeline and it looks like we are okay to fly in January. But also, that specific date is pretty important to me. Why? Oh, right. Two years ago on that date I started this blog. It’s been a while. What better way than to celebrate with a new book?

The title will be “Men Looked for God in Graveyards“, but that’s all I can say at the moment. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.

Another thing I’m working on putting together is, of course, the second issue of Void Magazine! The release date for that is November 17, 2015, and submissions for it will be open until this Saturday, October 31, 2015, after which time submissions received will be considered for the January issue.

And finally, there’s another really cool project I’ve been working on lately that I want to save a whole ‘nother blog post for. You’ll see that one tomorrow.

So, the short answer is this: I’ve been busy doing writerly things. As usual. I know I’m terrible about keeping this thing updated, but I love you all, and your support for the things I do is just fantastic. Thank you so much.

Until next time,

G.

Reading Lists and YA: Do We Need a Literary Canon?

I recently read a great article on BookRiot about which books ought to be considered canonical in the young adult genre—books so influential or important that we need to list them up front as suggested reading. The consensus of the article was that there doesn’t seem to be a way to determine the canon at this point (thanks to the recent appearance of this genre), but we do need to open the discussion about which are the best books in YA, the ones that affected us, changed us, made us feel something.

And to a point, I would probably agree—but at the same time, I think there’s room to go further. Let me explain.

I personally think that the very existence of the YA genre sets people up for failure. Primarily targeted at teenagers (as opposed to middle grade fiction, which targets readers of the junior high age), young adult fiction advertises itself as “the cool thing people your age are reading now,” and as such, readers who get started with this YA stuff tend to never grow out of it. They assume that those are the books that they can read, the books with the red label on the spine, the ones on the special table right out front. YA markets itself to a group of readers that could very well be reading books beyond those which are intentionally handed to them. Why not read Dracula instead of Twilight, or Death Be Not Proud instead of The Fault in Our Stars?

“Well, because Twilight was marketed to me, obviously.”

The same point can be made about literary canons in general, actually. Traditionally a canon is group of books or documents or lore that describe a certain topic, ideal, or movement. Today, the most common usage refers to fandoms and the “real” story of a particular universe (as opposed to fanfiction).

Canons, however, are also found in literary genres: the canon of American literature would probably include greats like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Stephen Crane, and John Steinbeck. English literature: John Milton, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope. But are these lists perfect? Are they exact? I don’t know that we can be sure.

I’ll concede that, to a point, the definition of a “good” versus “bad” in literature is an absolute one. There is good writing, and there is bad writing—and there are quantifiable differences between the two. But at the same time, perhaps some subsets of “good” literature may be more important to some than to others. Personally, I find Virginia Woolf’s The Waves more moving than any of her other works, but no one seems to remember it in light of the popularity of To the Lighthouse. Yes, the purpose of a canon is to showcase the culturally influential works of a particular genre, author, country, or time period, but how can we be sure that history has remembered these things exactly? How can we be sure that these were not just the particular favorite pieces of the British lit professor on staff?

My point is this: in the literary community, we should let people define on their own canons.

Sure, there are books that are historically important. Sure, there are books that are certainly good. Read those! No one is stopping you.

We cannot run the risk, however, of limiting the reading options. We cannot run the risk of telling someone that “these are the only things to read.” Good books can be found in a number of different nooks and crannies. Beautiful writing can be found in dark corners and out of the way places. Sometimes, brilliance doesn’t get recognized. Sometimes, the words that will be recognized are not the greatest; they will not ring as truly with all those who read.

Good writing is not always popular; good writing is not always canon.

So we cannot limit the reading choices. It should be perfectly okay for an adult to devour a poignant YA novel. It should be perfectly okay for a young adult to take in heavy stuff like Dostoevsky—even though we don’t market classics to kids.

And there shouldn’t be a canon for the YA genre.

Read what you want; read what makes you grow. That is all.

Until next time,

G.

Poetry Tuesday: The Man You’ll Never See

Behind these pages there’s a man you’ll never see.
Behind the wall there lives a life you’ll never lead.
Behind this mask of ink and gore,
There’s a face that’s peeping through the door.
He wonders what the hungry people think
When they read the things he coughs up in the sink.
And if they tell him that he’s good,
He wonders if they’ve truly understood.

Sometimes he sits and ponders life
And wonders if he stopped one night,
Stopped writing things and never typed,
Whether or not the people would come
With their pens and pencils and their lungs.
Would they hammer on the door,
Calling, “Why? and How? and thus, wherefore?”
Or would they simply shrug and say:
“He did not think to write today.”
These things he ponders—that, and more.

But he doesn’t think he’ll ever drop
The pencil or the pen.
His heart would stop;
He would be dead, then.