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text 2017-03-16 04:40
New Voices - the beginning of a new direction

Further to the new direction in my writing career.

 

Okay, so you’re saying my writing career had no direction before so how can I have a new one?

 

Well, maybe having no direction is a direction.

 

Too Zen for you?

 

How about: If you write a book and nobody reads it have you really written a book? That one’s been driving me crazy since, well, since I wrote a book and nobody read it.

 

Before you? me? we? all of us? get too hung up (do people still say that?) on these esoteric ruminations let me continue.

 

All of my book marketing has been so far done online. I blog, I Tweet, I post on my Facebook page, I send out promotional newsletters to my Advance Reading Team, I review books, I’ve even gone so far as to join and contribute to online reading/writing groups.

 

And it’s got me_______. (You fill in the blank)

 

This direction(?) has been macro – my books are available through Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Library Direct, OverDrive and a few more in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Japan and India. They’re available digitally as epub, mobi, pdf, online reader and more, suitable to most reading devices including your cellphone as well as in paperback in the UK, USA and Canada.

 

My new direction will be micro – I’ll sell actual books to real people face to face.

 

My first experience with this will be on March 27, 2017 at the Vancouver Public Library where I’ll be reading my work along with five other writers in their “New Voices” series. (How after seven years, seven novels and two plays I can be considered a “new voice” says something – what I’m not sure.)

 

The event is from 7 to 8:30 pm and our host will even provide a table for us to display and sell our books. I don’t know about the rest of the participants, but I’m taking advantage of the table and might even break off from my reading prematurely if I see someone in the audience interested in the merchandise.

 

Having been a salesman all my life I’m not the least bit intimidated.

 

So, I’ve crunched the numbers taking into consideration the price of my books, the exchange rate, shipping and tax and if I sell a book for $15 it’s $4 less than it can be purchased from Amazon and I can still make some money.

 

Enough, I hope, to at least cover the outrageous cost of parking downtown.

 

This is marginally better than selling my books at a flea market or garage sale, but if the world doesn’t want to buy them maybe the neighbourhood does.

 

I’m not afraid of taking chances, going in a new direction, and maybe, likely, failing. I never know where things will lead what’s important to me is to keep moving forward.

 

Well, at least to keep moving.

 

One thing’s for certain, if I do nothing, that’s what will happen.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

30

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

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review 2011-07-02 00:00
Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico - Javier Marías,Esther Allen A fierce, fun read, in which every sentence of its 57 entertaining and literary pages is a rush, starting with:
“No one knows what it is like to be hunted down without having lived it, and unless the chase was active and constant, carried out with deliberation, determination, dedication, and never a break, with perseverance and fanaticism, as if the pursuers had nothing else to do in life but look for you and then, at best, wait for the moment to settle the score.”

However, if you read this you’ll have a good idea what it’s like to be hunted down (without having lived it), talk about living vicariously. Bad Nature is my first Marias, and if it’s any indication he’s a master of the language of the vicarious. Take, for example, the following language about hate:
“Vengeance is extremely wearying and hatred tends to evaporate, it’s a fragile, ephemeral feeling, impermanent, fleeting, so difficult to maintain that it quickly gives way to rancor or resentment which are more bearable, easier to retrieve, much less virulent and somehow less pressing, while hatred is always in a tearing hurry, always urgent: I want him dead, bring me the son of a bitch’s head, I want to see hi m flayed and his body smeared with tar and feathers, a carcass, skinned and butchered, and then he will be no one and this hatred that is exhausting me will end.”

Just reading that was exhausting, but in a good way, by way of evoking the experience. The language itself invigorates and compels and I could not put the book down. And as escapist reading goes, it’s a great premise. A translator and Spanish language adviser to Elvis Presley during the filming of Fun In Acapulco winds up the target of revenge over an insult he, the translator, was merely delivering in Spanish on Elvis’s behalf to a thug in a bar, where he, the translator, is abandoned.

From there the chase is on. The messenger/translator is telling the tale, and reading feels like running with him, and some of what happens is really, really funny in a way that brought to mind Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The end comes down to who kills who, as in who wins the fight when the hunter and hunted come to blows, never mind that, excepting a barroom encounter, they are strangers fighting over nothing more significant than a bruised ego. It’s mind-blowing what even the most ridiculous hatred can do given the chance, and the chance to vicariously experience it through the language of a master like Marias was a thrill.

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review 2011-07-02 00:00
Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico - Javier Marías,Esther Allen A fierce, fun read, in which every sentence of its 57 entertaining and literary pages is a rush, starting with:
“No one knows what it is like to be hunted down without having lived it, and unless the chase was active and constant, carried out with deliberation, determination, dedication, and never a break, with perseverance and fanaticism, as if the pursuers had nothing else to do in life but look for you and then, at best, wait for the moment to settle the score.”

However, if you read this you’ll have a good idea what it’s like to be hunted down (without having lived it), talk about living vicariously. Bad Nature is my first Marias, and if it’s any indication he’s a master of the language of the vicarious. Take, for example, the following language about hate:
“Vengeance is extremely wearying and hatred tends to evaporate, it’s a fragile, ephemeral feeling, impermanent, fleeting, so difficult to maintain that it quickly gives way to rancor or resentment which are more bearable, easier to retrieve, much less virulent and somehow less pressing, while hatred is always in a tearing hurry, always urgent: I want him dead, bring me the son of a bitch’s head, I want to see hi m flayed and his body smeared with tar and feathers, a carcass, skinned and butchered, and then he will be no one and this hatred that is exhausting me will end.”

Just reading that was exhausting, but in a good way, by way of evoking the experience. The language itself invigorates and compels and I could not put the book down. And as escapist reading goes, it’s a great premise. A translator and Spanish language adviser to Elvis Presley during the filming of Fun In Acapulco winds up the target of revenge over an insult he, the translator, was merely delivering in Spanish on Elvis’s behalf to a thug in a bar, where he, the translator, is abandoned.

From there the chase is on. The messenger/translator is telling the tale, and reading feels like running with him, and some of what happens is really, really funny in a way that brought to mind Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The end comes down to who kills who, as in who wins the fight when the hunter and hunted come to blows, never mind that, excepting a barroom encounter, they are strangers fighting over nothing more significant than a bruised ego. It’s mind-blowing what even the most ridiculous hatred can do given the chance, and the chance to vicariously experience it through the language of a master like Marias was a thrill.

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review 2011-03-03 00:00
Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico - Javier Marías,Esther Allen Yeah, I know—another 5 star review. I seem to be handing them out like candy lately. But, BUT, it’s not my fault. Blame GR. Blame amazon.com. Blame yourselves. I take recommendations from wherever I get them, and all too frequently, I like what I get my hands on. So think of this 5 Star as somewhere between 4 and 5—probably not perfect, but I wouldn’t know perfect if I saw it. Are we OK? Am I forgiven for another Oh-Boy! review (to follow)?

Javier Marías does it for me. He speaks to me. Once our pacing is resolved—the pace at which his fiction presents itself and the pace at which I most receptively take it in—we sing together. Well, he speaks, I sing, somehow it all works out.

With Bad Nature, Marías revisits a character first introduced in Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me. The narrator, Ruibérriz de Torres, plays a minor role in TITBTOM, but shares center-stage with Elvis in this novella. Something that readers of this novella only won’t know is that Ruibérriz de Torres (yes, he lives through the story he narrates [duh!] and that aside cannot be construed as a spoiler) to become, among other things, a ghostwriter. At the time he narrates this story, he would have been a participant in the events of TITBTOM. From the novella’s first sentence, the narrator begins to reveal his own character and the resultant action in the story:

No one knows what it is to be hunted down without having lived it, and unless the chase was active and constant, carried out with deliberation, determination, dedication and never a break, with perseverance and fanaticism, as if the pursuers had nothing else to do in life but look for you, keep after you, follow your trail, locate you, catch up with you and then, at best, wait for the moment to settle the score.
Ruibérriz de Torres is very deliberate in what he says, and he’s a man terrified by something in his past—something that has haunted him, trailed him, something he cannot get beyond:
A chase lasts like no other kind of time because every second counts, one, two, three and four, they haven’t caught me yet, they haven’t butchered me yet, here I am and I’m breathing, one, two, and three and four.
This gloomy introduction, then, gives way to a surprisingly funny account of a time in his youth (age 22) while working in the States and landing a job as a speech coach for Elvis as he prepares for the filming of Fun in Acapulco (a film Marías knows more about than any human should). A night out in Mexico City with a subset of Presley’s entourage, during which Ruibérriz de Torres acts as translator, leads to a misunderstanding with some locals and an event which will never be far from the narrator’s awareness. That event is made more interesting in that it instantiates the Translator’s Dilemma—that of remaining true to the letter or the spirit of the speech to be translated. What fun!

This is a slight, little volume. Some might challenge its worth at $9.95 given a reader can get Marías’ novels for $10.00 to $13 & change. If you’re a Marías fan, it’s worth it; if you’re only wondering and looking for some sort of value, take advantage of a 4-for-3 promotion like I did. Hell, if that doesn’t work for you either, borrow a copy—borrow it from me—well, some of you could borrow it from me, you know who you are.

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