Adventures in Marketing: Week 249

Three books sold.
The buyer of “The Pirates and the Mouse,” “Outlaws, Rebels…,” and “Most Outrageous” was a fellow in a small (pop. 40,000) town in Utah, where, I wouldn’t be surprised if, he was the only person to own any of them. When I asked what had led him to me and my books, he replied that he had recently become interested in underground comix, and had read me praised in an article by comics historian/scholar Dan Nadel.
Soon after this, I received an e-mail from an archivist in the mid-west, who, while sorting through the papers of the late below-the-UG cartoonist B.N. Duncan, had come across a booklet/zine about the equally sub-stratified Maxon Crumb, authored by Duncan and me. He wondered from when it dated.
I had profiled Duncan for “The Comics Journal,” and he, having arranged an interview of Maxon for the sidewalk outside Cody’s Books, on Telegraph, where Duncan regularly sold his self-published books but unsure if he could carry it off himself, invited me to join him. Our mostly-Duncan’s interview and my profile of Maxon appeared together in the “Journal.” Duncan photocopied and stapled together our combined pages and added the resultant booklet to his wares. “1999,” I said. (No, I did not receive royalties.)
The archivist went on to ask if I knew anyone who might be interested in seeing Duncan’s voluminous correspondence with Robert Crumb.
Indeed, I did, for Dan Nadel (See above) was engaged in writing Crumb’s bio. So when I thanked Dan for leading the fellow in Utah to me, I told him about the availability of this correspondence for which he thanked me.
It all comes around.

In other news…
1.) It does not directly concern me, but, in April, NYRB will be publishing a collection of Shary Flenniken’s “Trots and Bonnie.” When people are asked what strips they would most like to see collected, this is always among them, and Shary had previously, it seemed, resisted. I had interviewed her when I wrote my book on the Air Pirates, and she had seemed a delightful person and this seems a great – and well-deserved – honor. I’m hoping to review the book which does not yet seem available for ordering, but keep your eyes open for it.

Adventures in Marketing: Week 248

Sold three books.
A correspondent/pal from Comics Journal Message Board Days (I have two or three remaining) went for a “Pirates and Mouse,” “I Will Keep You Alive,” “Goshkin At Large” package.
Good feelings.

In other news…
1.) My latest piece at tcj.com (“No Other Person Doing”), about the outsider artist/
caroonist Charles Williams, received zero comments there, a single “Like,” when linked to at FB, and two e-mailed reactions. One, while complimentary, (“Amazing Piece of Writing,” “quite an Achievement in the Mastery of Literary Illusion” did devolve into remarks (“Creepy Joe Biden” and “drug-filled orgies”) which might have troubled a recipient not accustomed to their author’s style and mindset. But the second (“Beautiful” “thank you for writing this”), from an artist whose work and writing I admire, left me unconflictedly comforted.
But still, four responses in toto? Questions of going-on, echoing Beckettishly, persist.
2.) Line-editing (See previous “Adventure”) goes well. (We are up to 1974. Forty-five years remain.) I learn from what I read. As I edit with an eye on what the author desires, as opposed to what I might, I learn from that too.

No Other Person Doing

My most recent article is up at http://www.tcj.com/no-other-person-doing/

It begins:

The archaeologists, in pith helmets and multi-pocketed khaki shorts, stood around the dig, decrying the spoilage of the earth represented by the clutch of rusted hub caps – Ford and Chevy mostly – they had unearthed.
“But how do you know,” Goshkin asked, “they aren’t meant to be here and, if left undisturbed, might not metamorphosize into something that will reward future generations enormously?”
The crew regarded him skeptically
“Is it any more unlikely,” he said, “than some cell or piece of cell, arising on a ball of fire in the cosmos, leading to us standing here now?”
Or so Goshkin dreamed the night after Charles Williams’s Cosmic Giggles arrived for his review.
Day residue, he presumed. Not a visitation.

Adventures in Marketing: Weeks 245 – 247


No sales.
But gave a “Cheesesteak” away.
Some years – 10? More? – I had a piece accepted by two women who were putting together a collection of memories about Atlantic City. Publishing didn’t happen and publishing didn’t happen and I stopped hearing from the women?
Until a week ago, when I got an e-mail from another woman saying publication of the collection was imminent and would I (a) submit a Contributor’s Note (b) forward a photo and © sign the attached rudimentary contract, acknowledging I would receive no compensation.
I did not mind not receiving compensation, but I was curious how many contributor’s copies I would receive. Oh, the woman e-mailed me back, we don’t know if the publisher will give us any copies for contributors.
I don’t mean to be a dickhead, I said, but I’ve been in a number of anthologies, some of them hardbound, and I’ve always gotten a copy. So if I don’t get one, you can’t use my piece.
We really want to include piece, the woman said. So if the publisher won’t give us extras, I’ll buy one and send it to you.
Then she checked my web site and said she would even buy some of my books herself.
So I sent her a “Cheesesteak.”
Feeling like a dickhead.
A little.

In other news…
1.) Remember that woman who asked me to review her Christmas book, even though she’d made me buy it by refusing a swap for – forget her buying – one of mine? Well, I gave her five stars and several sentences at Amazon. “THANK YOU!!! she said.
So we’re still pals.
2.) I had sent another “Cheesesteak” to a fellow with whom I’d entered e-mail correspondence over a different matter entirely. He turned out to be writing a memoir, of which he sent me a chapter. So I reacted as I usually do when someone sends me something – asked or not, welcome or not – and critiqued it, sentence-by-sentence, word-by-word. Some people thank me. Some ignore me. (And God knows what they think.) This fellow sent another chapter. So I did it again.
He offered “compensation” if I’d do the rest. We reached a deal. Below-market-rate – everybody happy. I like doing this. Plus, his book is about a niche world in which I have an interest, and he has a knowledge that few others do, and there is a likelihood his book will have significance within this world. (Plus no one is knocking on my door for a chance to read about my year in VISTA.) I feel lucky to have connected with him and he feels lucky to have connected to me.
The world spins in weird and whacky ways, I said.

Last 10 Books I’ve Read (vii)

1. Drndic. “Belladonna.” Had been wow-ed by “EEG” (See “Last” vi), so tried this. Also a “Wow!” – and a challenge. If you feel up to either, try this first.
2. Houllebecq. “Submission.” Someone seems to have been de-acquisitioning their Houllebecq holdings on the “Free Books” shelves at the café, for this one is the third I picked up there. Funnier than his others.
3. Meltzer. “LA is the Capitol of Kansas.” Meltzer can write like a fireball, but these seem a collection of quickly tossed off pieces that rarely burn bright.
4. Lepore. “These Truths.” A history of America unlike the one taught me 60-70 years ago. I learned some stuff, but I couldn’t help thinking that, 60 or 70 years from now they’ll probably be teaching a different one than this.
5. Dalachinsky. “The Final Note.” Decided I ought to learn to enjoy poetry and I’d liked what I’d heard him read on KCSM, so I tried this. The idea seemed good. He wrote a poem every evening he listened to a jazz musician play during a 20-year period, but there was nothing I could see in any poem that differentiated any evening. He could have written them all one night on a Nedick’s napkin as far as I could tell.
6. Tyler. “Redhead By the Side of the Road.” A gift to Adele from her sister. Anne Tyler is always fun – but Anne Tyler’s books are always the same. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, as a writer pal once told me, “if you want a career.”
7. McCarthy. “Suttree” (Third time). Since I’d read “Blood Meridian” for a second… Never read a novel with so many (English) words I didn’t know the meaning of – and didn’t mind at all. Would love to know the autobiographical facts around this one. McCarthy must have lived it – or damn close to it, but he keeps his mouth closed in the aricles I could find. Anyway, terrific.
8. “Six Macedonian Poets.” I had liked one (Gziezel, I think) quoted by Drndic in her novel – but ion this collection I liked Ivanovick more.
9. Faulkner. “Absalom, Absalom.” An amazing book – which, I imagine, could not be taught – and maybe not published – maybe even not written today. (A century from now will they be re-discovering white, male, racist writers and deciding their work has been unfairly overlooked?) Faulkner hides these, almost soap-operish plots, in smoke and dazzle and magic, as you gape in wonder.
10. Kerouac. “Big Sur.” An sad story by an ultimately sad man, who can’t help himself, and who is surrounded by people who can’t either. But he delivers wonder. How can one going mad take notes on and/or recall that madness so adeptly?

We are all one

Just yesterday, I said I had three short pieces in the pipe line at First of the Month.

Here’s the first: https://www.firstofthemonth.org/we-are-all-one/#more-11284

Normally, I’d quote the first paragraph as a tease, but I’ve been reading Faulkner, and it’s all one sentence, so here’s a snippet:

FB put me in touch with a “Friend” whom I had last seen – or, maybe next-to-last – at “Lorna’s” in the mid-‘60s, when I was at Penn Law – or maybe it was “Frnak’s” – hanging with Max Garden and that crowd, and when I “shared” a post from this fellow in praise of “Cheesesteak,” the brother of a deceased UG cartoonist/tattooist, whom I’d written about a decade ago, said he believed – correctly, it turned out – that his father-in-law had dated the “friend”’s mother

Adventures in Marketing: Weeks 241 – 244

Sold one “Goshkin.” Well, “sold” with an * since the “buyer,” a fellow former w.c. attorney to whom I’d sent a copy in appreciation of her beyond-the-call support, felt she ought to pay for it. Okay.

In other news…
I have three 300 – 600 word pieces slatted to appear in “First of the Month,” mini-personal essays, I call them; but if I were Lydia Davis, I’d say “short stories.” (“Light and Deep – the Levin Way,” the editor says.
And a longer piece – and Goshkin’s return – about a black, gay, Kentucky mining town artist/cartoonist, who died of AIDs and starvation, will run at tcj.com. (Where do you find these people, this editor said. He asked if I would consider writing about someone better known or a more “traditional” up-and-comer.”
Sure, I said. It’s always nice to be asked.

This Writing Life (5.)

We were talking about Red Panda. The NBA’s greatest halftime act.
“When I see something like this,” I said, “I always wonder what her parents said when she told them she wasn’t going to med school but balance bowls she kicked onto her head while riding a giant unicycle.”
“That’s an excellent question,” Eric said, “but you have to appreciate that she is the best in the world at what she does. When I ask myself what I am best in the world at, all I can come up with is that, after years of going to Washington Bullets games, I could get out of the Capitol Centre parking lot, onto the Beltway Parkway, faster than any other person.”
I let that sink in. “S. Clay Wilson once told me that I had written the best article anyone ever had about him – and invited me up to a hotel room to get stoned.”
“But how many could there have been?” Inner Daphne asked. “Six? Eight? A dozen?”
“It’s possible Bob is the best unsung writer in America,” Budd said, springing to my defense.
“I want him out of the ‘unsung’ category,” the other Bob said, “so I can be a contenda.”
“The problem is,” Large Victor said, “ at the annual convention, no one shows up for the awards ceremony because accepting one means being disqualified from membership.”

Season of Giving

S. Clay Wilson, the legendary and highly influential underground cartoonist, who created Cap’n Pissgums, Star-Eyed Stella, Ruby the Dyke, and — shilling for this very web site — the Checkered Demon, remains disabled from a traumatic brain injury suffered 12-years-ago. He and his wife are dependent on SSI and contributions to the S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust, 3434-16 St., SF, CA 94114. Why not send one?

This Writing Life iv

“Have you read my book yet?” She had switched from Christian bondage novels to a defense of Jews against charges of waging a war on Christmas.
“Have you read any of mine?” I said.
“No.”
“There you are.”
“Tell you what,” she said. “Send me one, and I’ll read a chapter, and you can read a chapter in mine, and we’ll discuss them.”
“But you already refused to swap books, and I BOUGHT yours. Plus I already know Irving Berlin wrote ‘White Christmas.’”
Forgiveness, I thought. So I asked where to begin.