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Turning writers into rock stars
July 30, 2011 8:55 AM   Subscribe

"You never hear, “Famous author Neil Gaiman caught with seven stewardesses in a Wichita bus depot.” Chuck Wendig says, "We need literary rock star heroes to swoop in and save publishing." Well, perhaps... But can you picture this? "The authorial world demands this. And we’re not talking about some little Twitter snit, some online battle oozing across a handful of Livejournal comments. It’s not enough for Stephen King to talk to Entertainment Weekly and be all like, “Well, Stephenie Meyer is no J.K. Rowling, pfft.” I’m talking, Terry Pratchett needs to go and take a shit in Dan Brown’s mailbox."
posted by jenfullmoon (144 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Everybody needs to take a shit in Dan Brown's mailbox.
posted by adamrice at 8:59 AM on July 30, 2011 [129 favorites]


Okay, so we're pretty much done having art forms survive on their own merits, the artist has to be performance art themselves in order to sell?
posted by weston at 9:02 AM on July 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


MAybe Dan Brown will take a shit in my mailbox?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:04 AM on July 30, 2011


Perhaps once the bottom 98% of published writers start making a livable wage we can talk.
posted by Ardiril at 9:07 AM on July 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Have you *been* to the Wichita (ks) bus depot? I've been to the airport, and that place is nasty, I can't imagine what the bus depot looks like.

(Best part of the airport is that it's decorated like a late 80;s mall and they never bothered to remodel, and there's large signs telling de-boarding passengers where they can go pick up the guns the checked with their baggage)
posted by hellojed at 9:07 AM on July 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


MAybe Dan Brown will take a shit in my mailbox?

Order The Lost Symbol off Amazon.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2011 [147 favorites]


For seven million dollars, I'll sign my name to your manuscript and take a dump in JK's mailbox.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:09 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bestselling author Dan Brown could smell a mailbox, and he knew it was his own.
posted by rollick at 9:09 AM on July 30, 2011 [30 favorites]


If their writing is great and touches something in me they are already a rock star to me. There are quite a few authors I already would be a groupie to.
posted by kanata at 9:09 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


hellojed: As far as I'm aware, you can still check firearms at any airport in the US. They have to be unloaded and stored in a hard-sided case, but otherwise, sure.
posted by pts at 9:11 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are selling tons of books without the publishing industry, so maybe we can just let it die quietly.
posted by Huck500 at 9:11 AM on July 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I nominate myself to be the next writing world bad boy.
posted by The Whelk at 9:12 AM on July 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that Dan Brown shits gold bricks.
posted by box at 9:13 AM on July 30, 2011


It wasn't the fact that it could/couldn't be done, pts, it was the amount of permanent signage indicating such information that I found amusing.
posted by hellojed at 9:13 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a bit old now, but I'm willing to hit Augustin Burroughs with a brick until he stops moving.
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on July 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


Dan Brown shits all the way to the bank.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 AM on July 30, 2011


I just came to say shit, and mailbox.
posted by found missing at 9:16 AM on July 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


And scrawled beside the corpse, a cryptic message...

L O ,   S O N,   A   B I R D B A T H   M I N X   W I N S
posted by condour75 at 9:17 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think Wendig has this backwards - literary "superstars" don't carry the same mystique or clout as music superstars. No one throws their lacy undergarments at authors during their book signings, no one faints at extravagant book readings (which don't fill stadiums full of screaming fans).

There have been some great slinging of words between authors, but author groupies are a quieter bunch. They're more likely to ask the author about the inspiration for a character or if a literary location exists in the real world, rather than fling feces at Walt Whitman on behalf of Robert Louis Stevenson.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:17 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Memail me Chuck. I got a pantry full of pasta, a pen and few dozen legal pads. I will shit in Dan Brown's mailbox for a book deal.
posted by humanfont at 9:17 AM on July 30, 2011


Dan Brown [something] shit[s] [something else] mailbox.
posted by i_cola at 9:18 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


No one throws their lacy undergarments at authors during their book signings

You know so much about book culture is staid and boring. I turned all my book releases and signings into huge parties with performers and flavored mashmellows and dancing - throwing of lacy underthings would not be out of place. Marketing departments just need a little more imagination.
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2011


no one faints at extravagant book readings

actually...
posted by b1tr0t at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2011


(I even got to direct a short stage adaptation of the book that was being released, that was neat and also fun)
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on July 30, 2011


no one faints at extravagant book readings

Tell that to Chuck Palahniuk.
posted by Sailormom at 9:22 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


wait, by this logic, I can kick James Frey in the shins so hard he can't stand? Is that right? Cause I want to
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 AM on July 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


"MAybe Dan Brown will take a shit in my mailbox?", you would be the lucky one, he apparently sh*ts gold.

Are you people forgetting Hunter S Thompson? I think there are plenty of rock star writers. Just being as smart as Norman Mailer and thinking of the things he does, indicates he surely must do some of them. Then again, there is David Brooks, if he does something, I don't want to know. There is no fool like an old fool, but they are the most experienced writers, posturing and profligate social activity, those are for the up and "coming."
posted by Oyéah at 9:23 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tell that to Chuck Palahniuk.

I'll pin a note to the turd I mail him.
posted by TheRedArmy at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Next Up: Michael Chabon takes on Don DeLillo in So You Think You Can Fight the final round. This one decides who takes home the Pulitzer.

At Nine: It's Big Brother Literary House, James Ellroy just won't take no for an answer but Stephenie Meyer only has eyes William Gibson.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:25 AM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just try pinning something to a turd.
posted by found missing at 9:31 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


actually...

Oh, god, guts it's like the literary equivalent of goatse except 100x worse. *shudder*
posted by delmoi at 9:31 AM on July 30, 2011


I'll distract Gibson with limited edition augmented reality hand-made ruby sunglasses and Meyer with something, like super sparkly and Ellroy will be easy - just ask him to explain his Dhalia conspiracy and you'll have like, hours free.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on July 30, 2011


>...shit in my mailbox?

Ah, Trystero's silent empire!
posted by Catblack at 9:34 AM on July 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'ma gonna challenge T.C Boyle to a pie-eating contest.
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 AM on July 30, 2011


Everybody needs to take a shit in Dan Brown's mailbox.

Sadly, the aptly-named Dan Brown would then publish that shit and millions would never notice from whence it came.
posted by tommasz at 9:37 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just once I want to read "Donna Tartt in barroom brawl, several major themes injured"
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on July 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


George R. R. Martin writes a 10-book epic fantasy cycle where the central antagonist is a gassy pegasus named after HUNGER GAMES author Suzanne Collins.

Yea, no. Michael Crichton did this all the time and all it got us was Michael Crowley raping a baby.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:40 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still, I kinda love this article anyway.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:41 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]



"Live like a bourgeois that you may write like a demon." -- Flaubert
posted by jason's_planet at 9:45 AM on July 30, 2011


So, basically the first chapter of Lunar Park, for reals?
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:45 AM on July 30, 2011


Not sure that publishing needs or deserves saving.
posted by clockzero at 9:49 AM on July 30, 2011


People don't seem to know what they have an appetite for anymore. But stories and good writing don't seem to cut it. People have too short of attention spans for that. So Hey! Yeah, throw shit around.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:56 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bukowski was sort of a literary rock star, but I don't believe that he was having a good time.

Btw, I think the author of this piece is trollin'.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 9:56 AM on July 30, 2011


This stuff happens, you just have to be close enough to the tiny tiny circle of people who know about it. When I was in an MFA program 20 years ago, two famous poets had an affair while in residence at the arts colony Yaddo. I think one was married to somebody else. They had a bad break-up, and now the details are fuzzy to me but one of them left a thing full of dead bees outside the other one's door. And then somebody else who was also there at the time wrote and published a poem about it. It was scandalous in six different ways.
posted by not that girl at 9:57 AM on July 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm pretty sure writers do all of that stuff, they just do it alone in a dim room by the glow of their laptop screens.
posted by Nixy at 9:59 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got it backwards, because I've been running a giant clock tower, riding around the city on a scooter while dressed as a nun, inadvertently drinking Placido Domingo's sweat, and working as a novelty stripper, among other atrocities, all while my manuscript is languishing because I'm a shitty, shitty unmotivated editor. These days, life is increasingly sedate and monastic, which won't sound cool if I'm ever discussing my book with Terry Gross. Maybe I'll have to ask her to greet me with open legs or something like that, so my interview will enter the realm of notable disasters.

Sigh..
posted by sonascope at 9:59 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mitch Albom’s next book will be THE 7000 MACHINE ELVES YOU MEET IN PARAMUS NEW JERSEY after he goes on a DMT bender and drives his El Camino through an abandoned Borders Books and Music.

The author has obviously never done DMT. If he had, he'd have known that you can't drive on DMT. Not 'you drive very poorly on DMT', but you literally are unable to make your body do the actions required to interact with a car in any fashion.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:00 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not so far off, really, except far too tame.

Hemingway beat up Wallace Stevens at a party, once, and Stevens himself was somewhat notorious for punching people.

William Burroughs shot his wife in the head trying to play another William--Tell, that is.

These examples could be multiplied endlessly-- and that's just Norman Mailer.
posted by jamjam at 10:04 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps once the bottom 98% of published writers start making a livable wage we can talk.

The bottom 98% publish shit.

Sturgeon was an optimist.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:09 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm more than willing to be the "rock star" of the literary world. Where do I sign up? I assume that I don't actually have to write anything, do I?
posted by redspraypaint at 10:09 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


My google-fu is failing me hear, but I vaguely recall reading about a book signing where a fan cut himself right in front of the author, saying "I want to show you something."
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on July 30, 2011


gah.. here/hear.
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on July 30, 2011


And there's season six of "Californication" right there.
posted by nonliteral at 10:11 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back in the day Uncle Bill would shit in your mailbox, put an apple on top of the thing and shoot the damn mailbox dead.


btw, we don't really need more grrraaa in this day and age. I'm perfectly happy with authors being respectful and doing what they do best.
posted by edgeways at 10:14 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ken Kesey was a rock star.
posted by Sailormom at 10:27 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huck500: People are selling tons of books without the publishing industry, so maybe we can just let it die quietly.

Sure, John Locke (no, not that one... or that other one) sells a lot of books, but I'm not sure that everyone who buys it reads his stuff. I can't remember who made this observation but when people buy a Kindle or a Nook, they want to buy books for it so they go on Amazon to find stuff. The first place they hit are the bestseller lists, which are dominated by one, two, three dollar books, and buy a few of them because they're cheap. They may or may not read them. The fact is that there aren't any good guides out there for e-reader owners to point them towards good e-books. Now, to get on my own particular hobbyhorse, a MeFi BookFilter would be ideal for this (but I understand why mathowie et al. wouldn't be thrilled with the massive extra modwork that would be required to run something like that).

That said, there just isn't a good filter out there for the mass of e-books. One of the reasons why I haven't gotten an e-reader yet personally, is the lack of something like that, a community of people recommending good e-books. Until then, I'll happily content myself with my local bookstore and library (frankly, the e-reader thing would mostly be on top of that and would probably mostly cut into my internet time).
posted by Kattullus at 10:32 AM on July 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Grant Morrison is doing some prose print work now, yes? There's yer rockstar, folks. Done and done.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:37 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meyer with something, like super sparkly

Like those sparkly twilight dildoes that you refrigerate for that authentic vampire cock feeling? I am pretty sure she already has one.
posted by elizardbits at 10:42 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


> now the details are fuzzy to me but one of them left a thing full of dead bees outside the other one's door.

I believe the dude was Robert Hass and it was not an affair. What happened was he put the moves on some woman and she said yeah but you gotta know I have a mastectomy and then he said he changed his mind. So she left him the dead bees as a sympathetic magical curse (which is very bad form, by the way.) The story is on Bill Moyers Language of Life audio book.
posted by bukvich at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something something male model of success that doesn't even happen for female rockstars.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


That being said: if anyone wants to have a literary rivalry, I'm game. We can even duel and shit. Phasers at dawn!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:49 AM on July 30, 2011


We can even duel and shit.

In that order?
posted by found missing at 10:50 AM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Of course. I don't want to get shit on my boots while stomping your face in!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:52 AM on July 30, 2011


If anyone was ever "caught" with seven stewardesses, it would almost certainly be because he was holding them hostage.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


sonascope: "These days, life is increasingly sedate and monastic, which won't sound cool if I'm ever discussing my book with Terry Gross. Maybe I'll have to ask her to greet me with open legs or something like that, so my interview will enter the realm of notable disasters."

Sadly, that wouldn't work, as Gross and the person she interviews are in separate rooms, in sound booths I believe, so as to keep the interview an interview, and not be distracted by, um, for example, a guy who just rode up on a scooter dressed as a nun.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2011


First off, I don’t know who Chuck Wendig is, but I’m pretty sure it’s Dennis Leary from the early 90’s. I was tired of it then.
Second, he has a pretty dated/deluded view of Rock Stars. Rock Stars haven’t been such for 20+ years. Most of them these days are polite, quiet, vegetarian parents who won’t tolerate any craziness around them. The very few exceptions are probably not nearly as fun as he tries to make it seem. Other than a few, they’re the ones the ones with serious issues who can’t keep it together and have very few people around them and will probably die. There is no culture today that supports that kind of lifestyle.
Third, that was dumb.
posted by bongo_x at 11:07 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fact that the current US poet laureate once fended off "a mob of half-naked, half-costumed hippie Buddhist poets" with a broken bottle should be enough for anyone.
posted by stuck on an island at 11:15 AM on July 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


This stuff happens, you just have to be close enough to the tiny tiny circle of people who know about it. When I was in an MFA program 20 years ago, two famous poets had an affair while in residence at the arts colony Yaddo.

The New York Observer just ran an article about this kind of thing: "In the Colonies, It’s Write Mischief: Summers of love at writers’ getaways; anxious spouses left at home"
posted by Jahaza at 11:17 AM on July 30, 2011


We have enough cult of personality in the arts as it is. Maybe writers can try to get famous for writing a fucking book, crazy as that might sound.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:17 AM on July 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I do think that at the next National Book Awards ceremony, a very drunk Piers Anthony can start yelling "Imma let you finish!" And then Carrie Fisher should get in a hair pulling fight with Ophra. It would raise the entertainment value of the event greatly.
posted by happyroach at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, where is Truman Capote when we need him most?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:34 AM on July 30, 2011


"... Terry Pratchett needs to go and take a shit in Dan Brown’s mailbox."
No. No one needs to do anything of the sort. There just isn't accounting for taste, and Brown may be a derivative and terrible writer but it is not the responsibility of Pratchett to somehow edumacate us on this fact.

We already have Harlan Ellison and Orson Scott Card making asses of themselves pushing their ill-formed opinions on us.

I really don't need any more taste police, thankyewverrymuch, even if I admit that I sometimes feel we could all use them.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:49 AM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


As for mailboxes and shitting in them. Consider the following:

"No single tale of Thompson sums up his bizarre sense of humour better than his famed birthday gift to Jack Nicholson. Hunter decided the perfect tribute to his actor pal would be to drive to the top of a creek overlooking Nicholson’s mansion and fire off a few rounds of ammunition while booming out a tape of what Nicholson’s former girlfriend Anjelica Huston described as “terrible dying-animal cries”. Thompson then placed a frozen elk heart on Nicholson’s doormat, causing blood to seep into the star’s living room."


Or is that taking things too far?
posted by Winnemac at 11:49 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for fame, well, let's remember that writers, no matter how best-selling, block-bustering they get, almost always fade from history in less than a generation. It is a truism that many best-selling and award winning authors from the last century are almost all out of print and nearly unknown.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:52 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


That said, there just isn't a good filter out there for the mass of e-books.


Maybe Pandora for books?


Frankly, though, I've found that the nook store does a good job recommending books based on what people buy. Then I can read a chapter right on the site or download a sample on my device, look at customer reviews, etc. I still enjoy wandering through shelves of books, but I mostly read on the nook, now.
posted by Huck500 at 12:00 PM on July 30, 2011


Last I heard they send you to prison for shitting in mailboxes, where you have to rad The Secret. uggghh ... poor Terry Pratchett.
posted by mannequito at 12:11 PM on July 30, 2011


empath: "My google-fu is failing me hear, but I vaguely recall reading about a book signing where a fan cut himself right in front of the author, saying "I want to show you something.""

It happened at an Alex Pardee book signing at Seattle's Upper Playground.
posted by idiopath at 12:12 PM on July 30, 2011


I'd happily take a shit in Chuck Wendig's mailbox just for writing this piece ... if I could be bothered look for his house.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:25 PM on July 30, 2011


I don't want authors to act like asshat rockstars.

That's what asshat rockstars are for.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:37 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oscar Wilde wasn't a rock star because he was put on trial for sodomy and indecency. He was put on trial for sodomy and indecency because Victorian England was a fucking awful place if you were homosexual.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:48 PM on July 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


It strikes me as somewhat unlikely that a person who makes his living mostly sitting by himself, creating something that other people will experience mostly sitting by themselves, can in any way hope to compete with the shenanigans of a person who makes his living yelling and occasionally lighting shit on fire, powered by near on a megawatt of amplification, in front of tens of thousands of people, many of whom are completely off their asses on various psycho-active substances.
posted by valkyryn at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm working on a pretty intellectual comic book. I'm also preparing to get up on a stage dressed as sexy GLaDOS and do a striptease to "Still Alive". Is that sufficiently scandalous for Mr. Wendig?
posted by egypturnash at 1:02 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a more direct link to the story about Alex Pardee's book signing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2011


I've always wanted to become famous enough so I could have thinly veiled revenge novels on my enemies ..but I don't really have any enemies so I'll take Phobewonkenobie's offer of an issue Villain Rival.

EN GARDE!
posted by The Whelk at 1:13 PM on July 30, 2011


I went to see Jim Butcher before a reading he did last night, where he had an SRO crowd in a rather large area designed for appearances; Pat Rothfuss had even more when I saw him in the same venue. And at this point, writers like Rothfuss and Butcher sell as many books in the first week as major recording artists sell albums.

Which is to say we don't need to turn writers into rock stars; some of them are already there.
posted by jscalzi at 1:18 PM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


When Scarlett came out we had a performer dress as her and do her signature stunt from the book, along with period punch drinks and free samples of perfume based on then contemporary scorches.

There is no reason why readings or signings have to be so boring.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I’m talking, Terry Pratchett needs to go and take a shit in Dan Brown’s mailbox.

I don't care what else is in that article, it was worth it for this sentence alone.
posted by anaximander at 1:26 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, so we're pretty much done having art forms survive on their own merits

I'm pretty sure that, but for folk arts, this has never been the case. If any art is thriving, it's thanks to its publicist.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:27 PM on July 30, 2011


Sir Terry has a sword, there are so many more interesting things he could do to Dan Brown.
posted by The Whelk at 1:27 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


scar Wilde wasn't a rock star because he was put on trial for sodomy and indecency.

True, but he was a celebrity because he hobnobbed with the famous, had an epigrammic wit that got him in the presses all the time, trained himself to lose his native Irish accent, had costume designers create his dailywear, and a hundred other ongoing self-promotional anctics.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:29 PM on July 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sir Terry has a sword, there are so many more interesting things he could do to Dan Brown.
posted by The Whelk


May I suggest sodomy and indecency?
posted by 445supermag at 1:31 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah Wilde was famous before he ever wrote anything, I don't think he had written anything besides some poems and a few children's stories when he went on his tour of America?
posted by The Whelk at 1:37 PM on July 30, 2011


sodomy and indecency?

We're trying to PUNISH Dan brown here.
posted by The Whelk at 1:37 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Card Cheat: "If anyone was ever "caught" with seven stewardesses, it would almost certainly be because he was holding them hostage."

Well, he didn't specify what Gaiman was doing with those stewardesses.
posted by deborah at 1:46 PM on July 30, 2011


Enchanting them into joining his unholy army of the night
posted by The Whelk at 1:53 PM on July 30, 2011


Now that I think about it, local semi-pro musicians probably make more money than the bulk of published (fiction) writers.
posted by Ardiril at 2:00 PM on July 30, 2011


Huck500: Frankly, though, I've found that the nook store does a good job recommending books based on what people buy. Then I can read a chapter right on the site or download a sample on my device, look at customer reviews, etc. I still enjoy wandering through shelves of books, but I mostly read on the nook, now.

Well, yes. Amazon does a decent enough job of recommending stuff for me based on what I search for and have bought for me through the years, but it never recommends something I wouldn't have found myself anyway. There are no communities which I can tap into which will provide that for me. By communities I mean both the critical community (i.e. book reviewers and academics) or a network of friends who read. That's not to say that no such thing will evolve for e-books, but it's a new enough phenomenon that it hasn't evolved yet. Certainly nothing of the scale or depth which exists for physical books.

Bunny Ultramod: True, but he was a celebrity because he hobnobbed with the famous

It's kinda vice versa. He became famous as a student, well before he started hobnobbing. It was more a case of people hobnobbing with him to get a bit of reflected glory. He made a lot of people into stars, but he himself created his own celebrity.
posted by Kattullus at 2:13 PM on July 30, 2011


We got some writers in here, Hey Bunny! wanna start a rivalry?
posted by The Whelk at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2011


(There was a Crowsaw podcast were the discussion turned to a team of SF suthor superheroes like RAYGUN BRADBURY AND IRON GAIMAN)
posted by The Whelk at 2:16 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"These days, life is increasingly sedate and monastic, which won't sound cool if I'm ever discussing my book with Terry Gross. Maybe I'll have to ask her to greet me with open legs or something like that, so my interview will enter the realm of notable disasters."

Gene Simmons pretty much beat you to it.
posted by TedW at 2:16 PM on July 30, 2011


oh hey I just found the worst sentence in english

A.S. Byatt's Bavarian Sex Dungeon.
posted by The Whelk at 3:19 PM on July 30, 2011


By communities I mean both the critical community (i.e. book reviewers and academics) or a network of friends who read. That's not to say that no such thing will evolve for e-books, but it's a new enough phenomenon that it hasn't evolved yet. Certainly nothing of the scale or depth which exists for physical books.

Goodreads.

It doesn't really matter that it's not ebook-specific. Most of the books available on paper are available in eBook form.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:30 PM on July 30, 2011


Rockstars haven't acted like stereotypical rockstars in a long time. Something about dying young and / or killing your friends in car accidents.

Bad advice from a bad writer.
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:32 PM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


No please, I'd rather have writers be writers. In particular, good writers should continue to be writers.

I wouldn't even want to go to a book signing with a wasted author. Well, maybe Neal Stephenson if it came about as the result of a group of fans hitting a bar with only Snow Crash and The Diamond Age considered appropriate books to discuss. William Gibson would work as well if the last decade of writing never occurred.

And just think of the helicopter parent reaction to libraries in this case! Dens of vice, sin and knowledge for certain!

Now if someone wants to come up with legitimate ideas for increasing the popularity of reading, I'm all for it.
posted by graxe at 4:11 PM on July 30, 2011


Bukowski did alright in this pic.

NSFW
posted by The ____ of Justice at 4:34 PM on July 30, 2011


You know, successful people are rock stars if they want to be rock stars, hell not all rock stars want to be rock stars. Ignore your idols sex life.

We do not otoh need more people going into literature who aren't simply inable to not write, that can only lead to more Harry Potters. I've accepted a few decades being remembered for their psychopathic obsession with remakes, but I hate imagining that some pool of shitty literature will ensure we don't emerge the other side until 2100.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:43 PM on July 30, 2011


Dear AskMe: My girlfriend wants me to shit in her mailbox...
posted by Wolfdog at 4:44 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gene Simmons pretty much beat you to it.
posted by TedW at 2:16 PM on July 30 [+] [!]


I'm pretty sure that's what sonascope was referring to, TedW.
posted by jayder at 4:44 PM on July 30, 2011


"Now that I think about it, local semi-pro musicians probably make more money than the bulk of published (fiction) writers."

I'm pretty sure that's wishful thinking. Based on my limited experience as a local semi-pro musician, my guess is that, like writers, these people are scraping by - working long hours and having little taxable income. A lot of people see that as "doing ok" until they get older and start thinking about how they're going to support themselves in their old age. At this point, I'm very glad I have a day job.
posted by sneebler at 4:51 PM on July 30, 2011


Rockstars haven't acted like stereotypical rockstars in a long time. Something about dying young and / or killing your friends in car accidents.

Amy Weinhouse...
posted by humanfont at 5:02 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that's what sonascope was referring to, TedW.

Whooooosssh...

That would be the sound of a clue going past my head.
posted by TedW at 5:04 PM on July 30, 2011


Amy Weinhouse...

Thus proving my point. She'd be the exception rather than the rule.
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:28 PM on July 30, 2011


This stuff happens, you just have to be close enough to the tiny tiny circle of people who know about it

Sure. What, you think those writers' tours involve, say, guys who write material that appeals to 18-25 goth chicks sitting alone in their hotel rooms for months on end?
posted by rodgerd at 5:38 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then again, there is David Brooks, if he does something, I don't want to know.

If Brooks ever takes a shit in Paul Krugman's mailbox, I want to know about it.
posted by homunculus at 5:52 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't mind knowing David Brook's movements, if nothing else I need to make sure the snipers are informed.
posted by The Whelk at 6:11 PM on July 30, 2011


sneebler: Would you settle for a more stable cashflow, albeit a pittance?
posted by Ardiril at 6:58 PM on July 30, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi: Goodreads. It doesn't really matter that it's not ebook-specific. Most of the books available on paper are available in eBook form.

I really like Goodreads, though my Goodreads buddies read physical books, as far as I can tell. I did a quick check of the five most recent books my buddies had given 5 stars too. Three did have Kindle editions (Room by Emma Donoghue, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe and Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan) and two didn't (Couldn't Keep It to Myself by Wally Lamb and The Life of a Simple Man by Émile Guillaumin). Three out of five is pretty good, though the two that don't exist on Kindle are the ones I didn't know about before.

I'm a passive user of Goodreads (I'm not good at rating books on a numerical scale) but I do like the reviews I get sent in e-mail from friends and I've checked out a few books because of those reviews and have generally been happy. But my friends don't read e-books, particularly, so that's still a world hidden from me. I could find other readers, but if I don't know them so I won't know how our tastes align or diverge, like I do with friends. Furthermore, when I go searching for e-book only authors, none of my friends have read them. Seeing what random strangers have said about books doesn't help me much. Neither does an aggregate number score. That said, I do know that you get out of GoodReads what you put into it. If I got to know likeminded GoodReads users, I would be casting a wider net.

With professional book reviewers or good bookbloggers, when you read their stuff for a while you start getting a sense for whether they work for you or not. At least that's been my experience. It's also fairly easy to look up books that you've hated or loved and see what their take on it is. Also, the best of them will usually be fairly good at explaining the reasons for their estimation, which makes it possible for me to extrapolate what I'd think. I've never been able to find reviewers of that kind of quality on GoodReads that review the kind of books I'm interested in reading. That said, when it comes to getting book tips from friends, there's no service better.
posted by Kattullus at 7:23 PM on July 30, 2011


Bestselling author Dan Brown could smell a mailbox, and he knew it was his own.

Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:23 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe Pandora for books?

It should be called Alexandria, after the library.

Byron, Hemingway, Heinlein in his day, there have been larger-than-life writers.

Writers are maybe more likely to be lonely and tortured because of the solitary nature of their work; I can think of more talented men and women who died young, like Shelley, or were eccentric shut-ins like Emily Dickinson and Amy Lowell. .
posted by misha at 8:34 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neil Gaiman is as much rockstar as writer at this point. Though don't take this literally and read his Alice Cooper comic.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:23 PM on July 30, 2011


R Crumb is performing with a band at the Opera House soon. Neil did the same thing. Christopher Hitchens, Joss Whedon and Terry Pratchett all sold out the Opera House, and I was as nervous as a schoolgirl when I met Hitch. Harlan Ellison. Alan Moore. HST. Burroughs. Neil Strauss. Palahunick. There are heaps of literary rockstars.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:28 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait no it was STEEL GAIMAN and AtOMIC ASIMOV
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 PM on July 30, 2011


IRON M BANKS
posted by The Whelk at 10:38 PM on July 30, 2011


TERROR PRATCHETT


They fight the armies of DEADLY KOONZT
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


yeah.. Gaiman pulls down 5 figures for speaking engagements.
posted by edgeways at 11:16 PM on July 30, 2011


I hear he steals money from libraries.
posted by wayland at 12:38 AM on July 31, 2011


"You never hear, “Famous author Neil Gaiman caught with seven stewardesses in a Wichita bus depot.”

No, we don't. And that's probably because Neil is discreet, doesn't need to sleep with people he can't fully trust, and probably has several people in his life to sleep with who he can trust in that respect... and, of course, a wonderful, creative, most likely very open-minded wife as well.

But the post? It definitely has a point. Neil Gaiman can -- and has -- written about just about everything, from creative smut and dark kink to books for preschoolers. But even though he is far more open about his personal life than most writers, he's still quite closed, to the point that others like him who live complicated lives with real, complicated relationships really have few people they can relate to at a celebrity level.

And the thing is, I *love* Neil Gaiman's work, and I think it's awesome that Twitter and blogs give us a more revealing window into his life and the life of his wife Amanda Palmer... but let's face it. There are a lot of complicated things going on under the surface that do not bubble up to the top. In a very real way, they seem to me to be "passing" as ordinary, when they are quite likely to be anything but.

And the thing is, you get this palpable sense that they do have a pretty complicated relationship... one where they can literally spend months apart, while working very closely with others that they obviously have complex interpersonal relationships with which may or may not be fueled my a mix of collaboration, creativity... and yes, sex.

Neil was previously married, and from what I can tell, lives quite close to his former partner. He has a son working at Google, I think at least one daughter who lives with him part of the time. He bounces around all over the place, occasionally meeting up with Amanda for a few stolen nights in Boston or in Minnesota... and it seems pretty likely to me that they are a couple that likely have firm plans *not* to have kids together, and that in itself is a major position to take in the literary world nowadays, it seems... and we don't even hear about that. We most certainly don't hear about Amanda's bisexuality much anymore, in terms of it being a potential, as opposed to an actual reality that she occasionally pursues. And that's a shame, because if she *is* openly bisexual, well... let's just say that Mrs. Gaiman makes Lady Gaga look brave... rather than calculating, which, let's face it, she also is.

These are people who know they have to work really hard to do what they do to the best of their abilities, who are probably justifiably afraid of anything or anyone getting in the way of that, which can include relationships that are too serious, too closely tied, too constantly contented, and too happy. They already have a serious relationship with their work, and choose to make that sacrifice of being apart, even though it likely leads them pain and lonely nights, and,, quite possibly, the occasional dalliance. Sometimes, it feels like they've set their lives up as a big extended family... negotiated in a way that is not entirely dissimilar to the lives of those of us who are polyamorous. But those are the lives that we don't see, quite possibly because to reveal those lives leads to repercussions, of one sort or another.

"the artist has to be performance art themselves in order to sell?"

The artist certainly has to sell themselves... and increasingly, that's best done in the form of a very personal connection with one's fans. I'm not much of a fan of most of Lady Gaga's music, but I would love to meet her, if only because she is a great mix of someone who does things with intent -- or calculatedly, as some would say -- and someone who genuinely cares about her fans and loves that they are supporting her ability to do the thing she does.

Authors, frankly, all too often hide behind their stories. Sometimes, there are good reasons for that, because they are busy people whose stories reflect a rich inner life that sometimes they don't get a chance to live... but the truth is, Hemingway was a rockstar, a ton of serious historic authors were far more revealing about their opinions, sentiments, and even personal lives than most major authors today. It's no surprise that it really does help to live an interesting life if you want to be an interesting author. It's just unfortunate that so many of today's authors hide behind their characters. It's kind of shocking that JK Rowling -- an author primarily focused on a 'tweenish audience -- is more honest and more revealing about her own personal thoughts than just about any other major author.

Awhile back, I read the biography of Aldous Huxley, which offered interesting details of his open relationship with his wife Maria, her bisexuality and his encouragement of that... of their shared loves, etc. All this is now historical fact, and you can see some of that in his works, but really, it makes me wish that they could've been more public about their personal lives. We're not in the 1950s anymore, and as much as Huxley opened my mind to a lot of different things as a teen, arguably, the most powerful thing that Huxley could've shared with his readers was more of himself.

We do need writers who are brave, open, and opinionated. They *should* come out of the closet as being people with complex lives and controversial opinions, because it's not the prerogative of just the rich or just the intellectuals to live lives that are brave new worlds, of a sort. That can belong to all of us, if we want to be honest to our true selves. Progress comes through the full expression of our thoughts. Brave words can change the world, because they expand the boundaries of our reality, and increase the realm of what is considered possible.

So, if our best writers decide not to commit themselves fully to sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings, and opinions, because it could be inconvenient, well... where does that leave the rest of us?
posted by markkraft at 1:32 AM on July 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


When fans turn out to watch a rock concert, they are watching the band do the thing that they do that the fans enjoy.

When fans turn out to a book signing, they are watching the artist chill and sign things, but they aren't watching them indulged in the creative process.

SOLUTION!

Send George R.R. Martin on a fifty city tour. In each city, he will sit on stage and write or edit a chapter of "Song of Ice and Fire" before a packed house, occasionally reading something, before deleting it. Sometimes, he'll watch football instead. It will be part rock concert, part Andy Kaufmann and will allow Martin to finish the book sooner - and to still watch the Giants play whenever he wants.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:47 AM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tell that to Chuck Palahniuk.

I'll pin a note to the turd I mail him.


Coincidentally, all of this is in the opening chapter of his next book.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 AM on July 31, 2011


Poor old Sir Terry. I saw him recently at the opera house and wouldn't be surprised if he started shitting in mailboxes soon.
posted by Joe Chip at 5:44 AM on July 31, 2011


As an aside, I just want to point out that I've been a member of Metafilter for 9 years, and the cheap and obvious comment I made upthread about Dan Brown has gotten more favorites than anything else I've ever posted here.

Making it a bit like a Dan Brown novel itself.
posted by adamrice at 7:21 AM on July 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Harlan Ellison used to do that " watch me write a Story in real time in a shop window" thing.
posted by The Whelk at 7:27 AM on July 31, 2011


And the thing is, I *love* Neil Gaiman's work, and I think it's awesome that Twitter and blogs give us a more revealing window into his life and the life of his wife Amanda Palmer...

Yeah, but that's no reason to set a chair right outside it and sit there craning your neck to peer in.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:20 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, markkraft, that's a lot of depth for an article I pretty much posted as a funny joke sort of thing.

While realistically if Neil Gaiman is caught with seven stewardesses doing anything, they're probably trying to get his autograph (hence the funny), the thing about life these days that in general, famous people can't and probably shouldn't share massive details about their personal lives any more. They'll get into too much trouble if they do, specifically because too many people care about the details. If those of us on MetaFilter go into massive amounts of detail about our sex lives on Ask Mefi, a kabillion people won't care the way they would if Neil Gaiman posted an AskMe about uh, anything. The second any famous person says "I like BDSM" (hi, Rhianna) or whatever, we all go crazy and make way too many remarks, comments, judgments, and generally start leeching and misbehaving over any details. And they are all over the Internet in .5 seconds. No wonder everybody has to be circumspect now, and gets in massive trouble if they do not. Hell, look at the marriages of everyone who's ever been on reality television, because you can count on one hand the number of them that have lasted.

I think this post was a lot more about putting on a silly show for fans more than anything else, though. Not so much about sharing great details.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:11 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Send George R.R. Martin on a fifty city tour. In each city, he will sit on stage and write or edit a chapter of "Song of Ice and Fire" before a packed house, occasionally reading something, before deleting it

Yes, but who can afford to rent out all those cities for the years it would take him to write the chapters?

Poor old Sir Terry. I saw him recently at the opera house and wouldn't be surprised if he started shitting in mailboxes soon.

Flagged as 'offensive', because picturing this is breaking my heart.
posted by misha at 10:20 AM on July 31, 2011


This was why JT LeRoy made a name for hirself. Because (s)he was not the person you thought. But lots of readers bought it, and liked it -- because they thought it was coming from a particular shitstorm of a particular life. Well, it wasn't. And "his" books are now garbage.

That's an extreme example, but it sort of encapsulates why this pr-tabloid-marketing bullshit results in lower and lower standards of writing.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:00 AM on July 31, 2011


As an aside, I just want to point out that I've been a member of Metafilter for 9 years, and the cheap and obvious comment I made upthread about Dan Brown has gotten more favorites than anything else I've ever posted here.

Making it a bit like a Dan Brown novel itself.
posted by adamrice


I don't like the one-linerization of Metafilter any better than you apparently do, adamrice, but I have to say yours was one of the very best and brightest of the breed (and it wasn't even trying to justify the war on Boing Boing).
posted by jamjam at 11:31 AM on July 31, 2011


Something something male model of success that doesn't even happen for female rockstars.

Elizabeth Wurtzel.
posted by Sailormom at 12:22 PM on July 31, 2011


Flagged as 'offensive', because picturing this is breaking my heart.

When this article flippantly said that Sir Terry should act like more of a rockstar, when the poor guy is so frail and near the end of his life, it broke my heart too. Apparently nobody else had made this connection in in 100+ comments.
posted by Joe Chip at 2:00 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ken Kesey was a rock star.

Speaking of Kesey: Film Hitches a Weird Ride on Kesey’s Bus
posted by homunculus at 8:16 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe C: That's scary. Sir Terry is eleven months older than I am.
posted by Logophiliac at 7:00 AM on August 1, 2011


No one here is aware that categories can overlap?
posted by IndigoJones at 7:00 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate this guy.
posted by grobstein at 5:15 PM on August 2, 2011


Are you people forgetting Hunter S Thompson?

Speaking of Hunter: Hunter Thompson's 'The Rum Diary' movie trailer
posted by homunculus at 9:34 AM on August 27, 2011


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