Monday, July 14, 2008

First Ever Meeting of the LROD Writer's Book Club: September 15, 2008

I went out this weekend and bought my copy of More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss.  

I will admit that I haven't bought a hardback book in ages. The last time was Joshua Ferris's And Then We Came to The End, which I also recommend; it is hilarious and touching. If you've ever worked in an office, you'll love it.  A friend and I bonded together and had an anti-American Idol Book Club; Ferris's book was our first and favorite pick.  (FYI: there's grumblings at my house about pitching in to buy me a Kindle for my birthday, which would mean no more books at all (except for very special ones, but cheaper downloads....good lordy.  My birthday's not until August, so there's time to ponder the meaning of all that.)  

Anyway, once I got to the bookstore, I couldn't remember the name of Strauss's book, which I think is a bit of a problem with these sentence-like titles.  I recently read and LOVED Miranda July's completely insane and ingenious collection of stories entitled No One Belongs Here More Than You, but also can never remember the title without looking it up.  I've recommended it to everyone I bump into, but without the title, it's a little difficult.

I had a funny conversation with the dude at my local bookstore about these titles.  We decided that in our head these titles simply translate into: What the Hell is the Name of This Book, which is definitely what I'm going to title my second novel (if someone doesn't steal it first and if the first novel doesn't kill me first).

Okay, so anyway, not to ramble.  

INVITATION: You are cordially invited to the first LROD Online Book Club on Monday, September 15th.  That should give you plenty of time to get your copy (beg, borrow, buy, steal, or check out from the library) in order for our beautiful and thoughtful discussion on More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss.  Please dress for the occasion and bring a virtual potluck dish to pass.

If it works out, we can make it a habit.  Anyone wishing to nominate a book, can email me, and I'll keep a running list.  Book publishers wishing to contact me, can reach me at writerrejected at aol dot com.  (I've always wanted to say that.)

Also, other bloggers: please publicize this book club on your blog if you are in the mood.  I'd like to get as many writing readers as we can in on it, so we can have an informed debate on the merit Mr. Strauss's work once and for all.


Anonymous said...

I think you'll get a lot of comments like "It's fabulous" from Strauss' many friends (his ad for the book in the Times has three big name authors hyping it).
Ditto for his wanna-be-friends.
Rejected authors (your core audience) won't read the book because they are disgruntled souls. Some may write that it stinks anyway.
I won't read it because I have too much I WANT to read (Nabokov now, with Hamsun waiting his turn). Of course, not having read it, I won't comment on Strauss' book.
It may be fabulous, this novel by Strauss, but I think the odds are against it getting a fair evaluation. (Though what evaluation, since it is an individual response, is the last and true word on a work?)
You ask for a "beautiful and thoughtful" discussion. Why should it be that? You warned writers submitting to the Rejected Story Corner to be ready for shark attacks. Why should we get civilized now?
Lastly, I'm the guy who has gently tried to get you to divulge your literary tastes. In this post you finally reveal some of your reading -- contemporaries.
If someone wants to sell watches, he should familiarize himself with his competition's product. People-in-the-know say to approach getting published like they would a job.
Me? I have to attend an Invitation to a Beheading.

Shakespere said...

Hi. I enjoyed your blog. Your posts are very interesting.

Joey said...

^ Part of what s/he said. I've already got a reading list, and it's dozens of books long. I'm not averse to reading current material, but when it is, it's usually done on my terms, and not as part of a collective effort to hand out olive branches to trashed authors or help bookblogs gain legitimacy. WR, this isn't a reading club; at least, if it is, I'm on the wrong site. I started reading LROD because of the insightful commentary on the state of the publication industry, not to suck up to rising authors by communally reading their latest texts. There are innumerable websites already devoted to just that, and if you intend to turn LROD into just one more, was good while it lasted.

Writer, Rejected said...

People, people...I love it when you turn on me. It means I've kept my edge and that you love me just as I am.

But listen, gentle rejectos, I read way more than contemporary writers. I read classics and favorites and old time wonders, and I aspire to write something great and meaningful. I do not often find greatness and meaningfulness in my contemporaries, but sometimes I do. And even when I don't, I am often entertained and provoked into thought. I try to read pretty broadly.

As for the Book Club, someone complains that I've jumped the shark or sold out or lost my edge every time I add a new feature. But it's always just the same old LROD. Don't worry so much.

I actually think it's a great idea to evaluate a contemporary book that is being hyped in the media to see what it is, what it offers, how it falls short. I expect that this will be the scope of our discussion, as writers ourselves, and as rejected writers. I don't think there'll be much sucking up, but I could be wrong and you could be right. That's what's exciting about life. We won't know until we get there.

But as for the power of the Book Club changing me and my blog....doubtful, my friend. Very doubtful. I hope you'll keep coming by for the parts of the blog you like. And I hope you'll keep complaining at me for the parts you don't. That's what keeps us all honest.

darinstrauss said...

Thanks for giving me a shot. I hope you like the book, but I'm prepared to take any serious criticism seriously.

And I'm sorry that some people here have turned on you for having written that you've read -- and liked! -- a book by an author who happens still to be alive.

I mean: we all love the classics. But our art form, like jazz, is in trouble if aficionados refuse to try anything contemporary simply because it's new.

That's especially true of aficionados who want, one day, to become published writers themselves -- and who would then, I assume, want people to read their work.

Anyway, many thanks; I do appreciate it, and I look forward to hearing your honest opinions.

All best, and thanks again,


rmellis said...

Hey, I just read it when I was out of town for the weekend. I put my comments on my blog, but now I'm going to go back and hype your bookclub.

Hey, anon above: Invitation to a Beheading is the only Nabokov I hated.

Anonymous said...

Rmellis, you had a problem with Strauss' novel, and the problem you describe is one I constantly have with the literary fiction of today. And it's a Biggie, this problem.
The stuff lacks AUTHENTICITY. In characters and situations. You can't learn to write with authenticity in school. Research won't help you, and you can't hide its lack.
Of course, some work isn't realism-based, but it should have an inner authenticity -- which means that the author must fully believe in what he's doing. Gimmicky writing won't stand up.
There's a lot of Nabokov I don't care for. He can be show-offy. I like it when he gets a good plot -- it seems to settle him down to the task. Bend Sinister was sickeningly cruel; Nabokov can be a very, very cruel writer.
That said, the guy was a freaking genius. He was wired differently from other people.
I'll finish Invitation to a Beheading tonight, but I see what Nabokov was doing. Was succeeding, for me, in doing. I wonder if you "got it."
You're obviously a big fan of this LAOD book club. Were you a big fan of running rejected stories? I think they were more relevant to the name of this blog.
Maybe your husband can have his new novel discussed.

rmellis said...

It's not about "authenticity." Fiction is by definition artificial, so any semblence of authenticity in it is just very, very persuasive artifice. But thanks for my next blog post!

I like the idea of the book club because I like WR and think s/he would throw a good one, with plenty of smarts and no BS. And isn't this blog at least partly about sussing out why some books get published to great acclaim and some don't? I don't think, as you do, it's all about the MFA.

I'd rather eat glass than market my spouse's book.

rmellis said...

Hey, if anyone wants the book and doesn't have the dough, drop me a line at readermail at and I'll send you mine.

Writer, Rejected said...

Now, that's the spirit!

Anonymous said...

Your argument ("It's not about authenticity") will be all semantics, rmellis. Of course we want authenticity, and when phoniness arrives on the page, we know it (or some do). The point is not worth arguing (I already know that fiction writers make up stuff).
Just as it is not worth arguing the importance of contacts. Come on.
Invitation to a Beheading is a very disturbing and unpleasant and unforgiving book, and it again displays Nabokov's cruelty. And his greatness. It doesn't deal in a realistic portayal of life, but it portrays life. Unfortunately, I think he got it right.