31 May 2007

the giver of "fucktard of the year award" finds his way to the Thinking spot!

you may remember my mention of fucktard being my favorite of all things that will and tom were called... the honor was bestowed by one tod goldman, author and writing professor. his post can be found here. while i disagree with him, obviously, he has a writing style that will most likely delight you... and gosh darn it - he is pretty funny.

i think he raises valid questions in his comment left today, and i'd like to take a shot at replying... i swear i will stop talking about the book burning someday. i know there is a war waging that still needs to be stopped - in the worst of ways... but this is all near and dear to my heart, in the biggest way. so here goes...

tod wrote:

I don't throw around fucktard lightly, so I'm glad you appreciated it. I'm curious, three days later: how has this actually help literacy? Sure, it's a protest, but what was accomplished? The people who care are the same people already reading books in the first place. If they don't care, burning the books has probably had no effect on them.

i think it is too soon to tell. another fine result of this culture - mememe nownownow!!!! as i've said, prospero's thought that this might, maybe start a discussion in kansas city. we're having one now. it's a start. hopefully a seed will be planted, hopefully this will be a catalyst for more people to get involved, for change to occur. if i may ask, as someone who clearly understands the problem, what are you doing in your neck of the woods? have you contacted you local literacy outreach organization? have you donated any of your books? perhaps some of the proceeds from your book sales could go to raising awareness? just a few thoughts... burning books tends to freak everyone out, across the board. non readers are contacting us too. perhaps the NEA study will again be brought into discussion? p/s - that study scared the crap out of me. it is a dire situation. who knows.

we've been more than a little choked up by the response - the phones are still going crazy, the email continues to pour in. prospero's website server almost locked up. we're working on where to go next, what to do. so many people seem to think this was some huge publicity stunt for the store - if it were, don't you think we would've been a little more prepared for the reaction? i think it also bears mentioning, that any act of creation destroys something.

and on the contrary, many of the emails we've received are from people that had given up reading and have sworn to again - they have gone out and bought books! as an activist, i know in my heart that one person can make a difference. many others have asked how to help - we've tried to respond with some ideas, but as i've said, the response has been overwhelming for a little outfit like prospero's - two/three people can only do so much.

and to steal doctor zom's line in your comments section, "the boston tea party was just a bunch of wasted tea..."

we need to shift this discussion from the media's "OMG!!! BURNING BOOKS!!!" to the why. you are absolutely correct. maybe you could write a little something in your blog about the NEA study? your thoughts on the declining readership in america? take it and and RUN, man!!!

Further, I noticed on the YouTube film, which is what actually brought me here in the first place, that not a lot of people were talking about how this was helping literacy. There were some good jokes -- I did laugh at the one about Flicka, for instance --but not a lot of action plans.

the video wasn't shot by us, but by a friend of the bookstore. i can't speak for his angle and what he chose to put in the video. the dude with the flicka comment is one of the best poets i've ever encountered. i think you might even change your mind... again, we weren't prepared on any level for this to turn into national and international news. there wasn't any grand paln, other than to hopefully start a dialogue. we are regular people, living our lives, that love books more than many do. soooo.... what are your action plans? any ideas to throw into the discussion? why is it that so many in this country wish to wait around for someone else to do something about everything? DO IT.

All of us who work in the book world -- be it writing them, as I do, or selling them -- have to be passionate about it because it requires too much heartbreak to do it for any other reason.

believe me, i know. this has been a topic of many of a late night discussion in our casa. i have watched will start a publishing house - from a love of poetry. i know, i know - you think poets aren't worthy of recognition, but, still... it is his heart, his love, his passion. he's a writer. he's the executive director of the writers place in kansas city. he eats, breathes and drinks all things literary. what is so horrible about publishing writers? self-publishing isn't taken seriously in the industry. his book wasn't funded by this, nor will be tom's. did you read the list of the other authors slated to be published as well as those already? better yet, have you read them? they are some of the best this region has to offer. he wants them out there, to be read and appreciated - for people to know that kansas city has a lot of writers worthy of recognition.

do you think that the used books biz is lucrative? he's done this for ten years - in the early days after collecting boxes of books in his house, he worked other jobs to keep it open out of his own pocket. he still works other jobs. we have a bebe and a life that is often not ours due to his commitment to local artists, musicians and writers. we wouldn't have it any other way.

As a writing professor, I'm concerned about the lack of literacy even in the graduate students I teach, so believe me when I say I care deeply about the subject. And as an author, I am always concerned that the currency of words has been traded in for 1st person shooter games, since I know well how books saved me when I was young, edified as I grew older and sustain me today, both emotionally and financially, of course.

amen, brother, amen - on the 1st person shooter games tip. you are lucky to sustain yourself doing something that you love. kudos to you!

But until I can see something other than a nice feature story coming out of this -- something other than funding your own press -- that actually addresses the core issue here -- kids don't read and neither do adults -- I will continue to believe that it's fucktarded to burn books for literacy.

dig in! have at it - then it will be beyond a feature story! see how this is supposed to work now? you will witness change with your own eyes, and this will all have meant something to you and countless others. a groundswell can occur. if you choose not to, so be it. it is always easier to throw stones and call names, no? you are, in any event, entitled to your own opinion about my partner being a fucktard, but you're wrong. :) (why isn't fucktard in my spell check?)

as for prosperos helping to further literacy, they have long assisted our local literacy outreach group - in the form of helping with fundraisers, etc. they have always given teachers books at cost - we are a bookstore after all, there has to be some level of selling, but they make no money on those purchases... it isn't as if prosperos isn't already active in those areas. and will also is active through his position at the writers place...

thank you for taking the time to write and for thinking about this. and all best with your writing endeavors!

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