January, 2012


26
Jan 12

The Magic and Loss that is Ebooks

We got a Kindle last year to get a clue about ebooks, and at times I find it magical–I wanted to re-read The Wind and the Willows, found it in one minute in their Kindle catalog, downloaded it (for free as it’s public domain) within 30 seconds.

The entire book was summoned like an elemental, some spirit from the air, as if it were flying around the house and I was able to summon it into this tablet. Zoop, it was there. It feels different than finding and downloading something on the internet. More mysterious. Whoosh, the Wizard of Oz appears in my hand.

I downloaded my novel EVERYTHING IS BROKEN to see its Kindle appearance. Whoosh, it was summoned from the ether and appeared in my hands.

The Kindle is readable; so is Nook. They work just fine. But the physical book, with its pages, its heft and smell, has a romance, a seduction, for those of us for whom libraries were the refuge of our childhood…


26
Jan 12

It’s so Obvious and We Constantly Forget…How connected they are…

It’s easy to lose touch with how much our emotions thump our bodies; how our feelings about our lives manifest in how we feel physically. I’m having some churning sadness re family issues, & it feels like it’s making me ill.

The body/mind connection is so obvious, but we forget it, & forget it can go both ways. Events can affect our health through the emotional connection; our health can affect our mindstate, & point of view. Sometimes I’m blindsided by an emotional reaction, it undermines me automatically; other times I can observe it coming, have some freedom from automatic response…

But the one time I got a bad review (that mattered) I got physically ill for weeks after.


25
Jan 12

Wolf Packing? Did the Tea Party get upset with me?

I’m told that “wolf packing” is a neo-con tactic of sending lots of people to Amazon to write negative reviews of books they objected to because of socio-political content.

Something strange is happening re my novel Everything Is Broken- –reviews are good, producers in Hollywood are interested and impressed by it, but there has suddenly been a rash of instances of the ebook version being “returned” for money back. Apparently there’s a 27% EBOOK return rate on this ONE book–which is unprecedented, and the novel just happens to satirize tea partiers, and trickle-down free marketeer conservatives. This trend followed on a PW review mentioning the political angle. Then I heard that the gush of returns may be a variation of “wolfpacking”, but in this case they buy the book and then “return it” (yes, one can “return” an ebook, strange as it sounds) as a way of making a political statement. In such cases they might not actually have read the book, they just heard ahead of time what it was about–probably due to the Publisher’s Weekly review, which was clear that the book satirized tea party/libertarian people. Once the PW review was out, word got around amongst those the book satirizes.

Someone who reviews a great many books told us that “this is the first novel we know of that uses the words ‘tea party’ and ‘tea baggers’ and extrapolates a very near future in which the US has been changed for the worse by ‘tea party’ politics.”

So–did tea partiers set out to discredit Everything is Broken, through ebook returns, to try to get Amazon to drop it? At any rate, the book remains available, in all its formats.

I heard there was a concerted group effort to trash some of Al Franken’s books on amazon and elsewhere…

All very disturbing. If true, it’s a most underhanded variety of dirty politics.

Here is the Publisher’s Weekly review. Note the clarity on the political subtext (my emphasis added) : “In this slim, grim, and powerful novel, Shirley lets his imagination loose on the frightening possibilities of a massive natural disaster striking a small American town. A tidal wave transforms Freedom, Calif., from seaside idyll into a broken and perilously unstable landscape. Survivors include some natural helpers like Drew Haver and his son, Russ, as well as psychopaths Dickie Rockwell, a gang leader and drug dealer, and Lon Ferrara, the town’s ultralibertarian mayor, who privatized emergency services and now refuses help from FEMA. Treating women like commodities and wielding a plethora of weapons, these men fight for survival and ownership of the ruins. Shirley’s vision is vivid and horrifying…”


16
Jan 12

“EVERYTHING IS BROKEN” – my New Novel, a thriller and political allegory

New novel by John Shirley NOW AVAILABLE –both as a trade paper and as an e-book for Kindle, Nook etc.

This near-future novel of political allegory in a grim, violent, semi apocalyptic setting, is: “EVERYTHING IS BROKEN”

PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY REVIEW: “In this slim, grim, and powerful novel, Shirley lets his imagination loose on the frightening possibilities of a massive natural disaster striking a small American town. A tidal wave transforms Freedom, Calif., from seaside idyll into a broken and perilously unstable landscape. Survivors include some natural helpers like Drew Haver and his son, Russ, as well as psychopaths Dickie Rockwell, a gang leader and drug dealer, and Lon Ferrara, the town’s ultralibertarian mayor, who privatized emergency services and now refuses help from FEMA. Treating women like commodities and wielding a plethora of weapons, these men fight for survival and ownership of the ruins. Shirley’s vision is vivid and horrifying…”

http://www.amazon.com/Everything-is-Broken-ebook/dp/B006PJIWDW/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326745005&sr=1-6


16
Jan 12

A Movement and a Rest

This morning I had a walk, gray visit to the beach. It was low tide, as January seems the low tide of the year, but my dogs were lively, seabirds went about their business. I thought of the moon pulling the tide like a hand coiling a spring. It’ll release, and the tide’ll rise; either way, there’s turbulence, interaction–gravitation with planet, wind with water, a churning, a constant striking of sparks from flint.

It strikes me, so to speak, that there’s no need for a creator in a universe that is all creativity. It is its own creator.


15
Jan 12

Sure, it’s the Opiate of the People…but who Can Blame the People?

I relate to spirituality, & metaphysical speculation–but I think it’s past time that we let go of religion per se. Still, the persistence of organized religion is not a mystery. If you face life straight on, it can be terrifying, to most people. Many people just don’t have the inner resources to deal with life’s uncertainties–and the one certainty, death.

“Religion is the opiate of the people” –that’s not just whistlin’ dixie. Maybe it should be “the xanax of the people” now. But the adage, either way, has a certain contemptuous ring, whereas think of how opiates & xanax type drugs are used (non-recreationally). They’re used to deal with pain, and fear; to deal with the terror of facing life straight on.

I have no contempt for people who embrace religion, even foolish religion, just as I don’t have contempt for a child who’s terrified to go outside because he saw someone shot dead out there.

Stephen King, talking to someone who is an atheist, said, “You don’t believe in God? How can you bear it?”


13
Jan 12

Listening to Kyuss

Listening to Kyuss. I get that “all rock songs are one intricate continuum” feeling, listening to some bands. It’s not that the bands are derivative (Kyuss has a very original sound though they’re clearly a psychedelic-influenced stoner band), it’s that they seem to communicate with one another in the echo vchamber that is civilization.

Rock songs fit well, if chosen well, as background music for movies, and it almost doesn’t matter what’s happening in the film, because rock is the music of human life, life both sweet and sour.

Play the right song in the right setting and it seems like the setting itself is singing to you.

…..For music (vocals and lyrics) by John Shirley go to: http://www.reverbnation.com/johnshirley


7
Jan 12

Trauma and Conservatives

With everyone there’s a moment, often in childhood, for some later, when they realize just how ruthless,dangerous & unforgiving the world can be. That moment’s always a shock.

I’ve wondered if hard-right pathological-level conservatives, and people who’re just “survival of the fittest” financially predatory sort of people–like the ones who devised ‘scrips’ instead of pay for coal miners, so they had to buy from the company store at inflated prices, or like modern banksters–could have been traumatized by that moment of horrific realization, into stark social coldness; could have been made so afraid that they hide from the fear behind rationales like “it’s survival of the fittest”…


4
Jan 12

Is Occupy Oppressed–or Is it using a kind of Protest Judo, to Good Effect?

A friend of mine denounces Democrats because some Dem city administrations have been coming down, through police, on OCCUPY demonstrations. Actually it’s more complex. Bureaucratic Democrats don’t object to demonstrations– they object to CAMPING as demonstration. They also object to people smashing windows. (Not that it’s done a lot but it has happened.) And they like demonstrators to get permits. That’s just the way bureaucrats think: they’re about orderliness, and demonstrations, in their mind, have to fit into that. They’re also really worried about anything that seems to threaten local economic health. However, Occupy tactics sort of deliberately provoke the police (and understandably–it’s not necessarily a bad tactic).

The occupy concept is to redefine what belongs to the people and what to the corporations. And camping demonstrations can do that. So it’s kind of inevitable, this clash. But that doesn’t mean that the Dem/bureaucrats are down on what occupy believes, it means that there’s a set up for a clash. The Dems are pro System, qua system. They are not for the whole system as it stands.

It should be pointed out, too, that the Occupiers have benefited from police crackdowns, in some ways–the crackdowns in NYC brought an enormous amount of sympathetic media attention to the movement. And this was probably what the Occupy planners, on some level, had in mind.

There is no excuse for police brutality–but it’s too simplistic to claim that police crackdowns of Occupy camping constitutes suppression.


1
Jan 12

It’s DE END OF DE WOILD!

Wait…my Calendar for 2011…it…ENDS! It comes to an end December 31! It’s NOW the day AFTER the Calendar ends!

That must mean…it’s the end of time! The world’s going to end! AIIIIIIEEEE! Pray to God for forgiveness! Hide in storm cellars till the Earth explodes so you can say goodbye to loved ones! Eat food that’s too fattening for you! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

What? Where? Oh–there? A 2012 Calendar?

Oh I see it. Oh. Okay. But wait. The 2012 Calendar ends on next December 31! NOOOOOOOO! That must mean–the end of time!

What? Oh.

But…wait. That calendar ends on…