Broadcast 3/8/2014 at 20:28:08 (16 Listens, 9 Downloads, 1419 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast
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Anis Shivani critic, novelist, poet, essayist--
New book Literature in an age of globalization
The Fifth Lash and other stories
book poetry-- My Tranquil War and other poems
Literature in an Age of Globalization
Plastic Realism-- Neoliberal Discourse in American Fiction
Novel-- Kerachi Raj
Article in Daily Beast 5 Ways to Fix Book Publishing
rough notes from the interview-- mostly my questions
(these are provided to give you an idea what the audio is about, so you'll listen)
Rob: You wrote that publishing is a Top Down system, saying in your Dailybeast article:
" This model of literary production is doomed. The idea that there should be centralized, massively consolidated, bureaucratic organizations known as the major trade houses, with multiple layers of editors, vast publicity departments, and books fed to them by an entity known as literary agents, only to take repeated losses and rely on a few stars to help them break even, is bound for extinction."
"If book publishing is to survive, something drastic will have to occur. The technology already exists to make publishing a democratic venture, driven from the bottom up rather than the other way around."
Why did you write this and how do you live it?
Horrible ugly entities, commercial publishers becoming more and more centralized every day" with formulas...
B lack Lawrence Press (published Anatolia and Other stories)
Rob: "The crisis of publishing is really the crisis of writing and reading. The publishing industry today generally obstructs the free flow of energies between readers and writers. It is a broker for celebrity authors, taking the entire literary culture on a downward slope because the definition of "commercial" is constantly being dumbed down."
You say you are working with small publishers. WOuld you say these are the new kind of publishers that take the approach that you say is needed?
Raymond Hammond NYQ books
C&R press in tennessee (Chad Prevost and Ryan Van Cleefe)
Big publishers like to stick with safe formulas
can you talk about the five key principles you mentioned in your article?
I propose the following key principles for a major restructuring of the publishing industry:
4-smallness-- " Bigness is the bane of any creative or responsive activity, and publishing is no exception. There are simply too many books being produced by too many giant organizations that have little connection with reality anymore"" "Writing has become corrupted as a result of the pervasive hierarchies..."
Anis: It makes no sense for top down decision makers deciding what to publish based on ideology.
lack of synchronicity"
The things that need to happen will happen because of delegitimization-- will affect newspapers and network news, top-down publishing-- these institutions are not in synch with where the energies are coming from.
The big publishers are not doing any good fiction at all.
Some good books came out after 911
Big institutions get delegitimized on their own" that's the great thing about indy culture and this bottom up movement". is that people get choices...
Rob: You write: "In short, writing needs to be reader and community driven, hierarchies need to be radically flattened, creativity needs to be diffused at the local level, and globalization needs to reactivate literary worth everywhere.
"Admittedly, a lot of undeserved cultural authority will have to erode before this idealization can materialize."
I think this idealization depends upon the delegitimization.
Anis Shivani: "global outburst of creativity-- you have billions of new potential readers coming into the market, exerting a counterforce.
Combine globalization with technology-- markets get completely redefined" think of a global literary marketplace.
Rob: I think you're talking about a very different kind of globalization than the trade deal globalization that supports a few hundred transnational corporations.
Rob: You've written about a new vision of liberalism
Rob: I don' think you're talking about a very different globalization than the one that trade agreements and transnational corporations want, with elimination of regulations and trade barriers.
Writing is what one does when one is all talked out. Sometimes, however, writing can be helped by talking it all out without the presumption of innocence. That's the connecting link in this book, the buoyant matrix of values that shows that writers are always best served by strong readers and that this is what the challenge of authorship is all about.
you've written, in your next book, Plastic Realism Neoliberal Discourse In American Fiction
" unprecedented nexus of institutional forces that sever the connection between writer and reader and instead deliver a house style that confirms and validates larger trends in neoliberal political economy. "
" dissident voices of any kind are being rigorously excluded and the final deliverance of literary fiction to corporatization is assuming completion. "
When I hear you talking about globalization-- you're talking about ideas.
Anis Shivani: Fiction is victim of neoliberalism or the current manifestation of globalization" Jonathan Franzen's book, Freedom, illustrates neoliberal ideology in practice.
justification of inequality, legitimizing ideology--
Rob: So, you are saying that the big, top-down publishers are selecting fiction that presents a neo-liberal vision of the world. if you offer a different vision, they don't publish you.
Anis Shivani: Nearly all creative writing is" in academia" that's a removal and protection for creative people-- you don't have to be responsible to readers at all. You are only responsible to this ideology--
Rob: How do people find the writers that the mainstream, top-down publishers reject?
Anis Shivani: The gatekeepers try to do their job but their ways around it.
Great press in Boston-- Black Widow Press Joe Phillips-- Put out Jerome Rothenberg reader. Clayton Eshleman--
Rob: Are there bottom places where people can discover these kinds of writings.
Anis Shivani-- Best way is to go to writers that you like and trust-- writers with blogs share what they like
Rob: How does bottom up publishing look like for you? Why would someone go with a bottom up approach instead of a big publisher with a big advance?
Rob: do you make your living from your writing? Can you pay your bills with your book sale royalties?
Rob: How do you measure success in being published? What does success mean in a world where you published doesn't support you in making a living?
Rob: Are there awards for these non-mainstream, non-formulaic, non-neoliberal writings? Are there venues where writers of this kind of writing can share ideas?
Anis Shivani-- the awards have become incorporated into academia-- you have to have a pedigree, established in a credentialing system. That makes all the difference.
Wherever you have awards they tend to be tainted.
Fadi Joudah poet won Yale prize-- Canadian Griffin prize-- won for translation
Rob: You've also written about the writing workshop process. What are your thoughts there.
Rob: If someone wants to learn to write, what DO you suggest?
Anis: a library card"
Franz Wright is one of our greatest poets-- find people that you like.
Rob: You've written for free, for sites like Huffingtonpost"
Anis: wrote one piece on Huffingtonpost 15 most over-rated writers-- most read criticism article on the web.
Rob: What are the current Formulas? What is non-formulaic? Stories have basic forms"
Anis: typical, does nothing, emasculated male character who lives in Brooklyn" likable,
Neoliberalism-- Formula-- 911 novel--
Rob: what are some of the neoliberal formulas or elements that novels are expected to include or exclude.
personal redemption in poetry and fiction is a very neoliberal idea these days.
Creating a concept of passive citizenship, accepting the existence of consmerism as a given"
Rob- you're describing libertarianism and Ayn Rand kind of writing.
Rob: so, you're saying that these formulas support the consumer, no-commons, no social support culture"
Anis: multicultural novels-- accept incredible unequal society-- neoliberal approach-- you should be happy with acceptance of your identity-- but it won't lead to any economic changes, won't lead to any re-distribution". the writing says we accept these parameters, we are okay with the system. That's a Faustian agreement.
Rob: What about bottom-up marketing approaches to writing, like self-publishing e-books, fund-raising sites like indiegogo?
Anis: I have had in mind starting a press, at some point" ..and a blog for criticism...
Rob: In an ideal world, what would publishing look like?
Anis: The best writing gets out there with the least about of friction and ideological obstacles and interference.
Rob: What advice would you give to someone who is a writer-- ie., someone who must write, who cannot not write?
There are no shortcuts in writing. You are in it for the long haul".
Rob: what about writing and money?
Anis: Don't expect money. Expect to starve, but you can have the happiest life.
Live a life that is consistent with your writing. Then the writing becomes more honest too. If you live that kind of authentic life, then you can simplify-- give up things-- simplify tremendously-- there's so much stuff that can fall away and we.. don't miss it. " see what's really important. " And every writer must have a cat.
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