It is, it turns out, a fairly short leap from "What is YA?" to "What is Punk?"
This, sent to me via myspace mail, is the kind of message Dr. Frank gets in the bizarro world:
att. dr. frank:
how come you always write pop-punk songs? You're obviously intelligent enough to step outside of standard pop-punk structures and ideas. I understand that punk is probabaly what you 'dig'. Do you not listen to any other type of music? Or do you just not care enough to experiment with different styles of music...?
John McNally experiences James Frey's website:
It's kind of like walking into a room and seeing dozens of shrunken heads floating inside glass jars while the host talks about the weather.(via Maud Newton.)
Stepping off from this article on adult readers of YA lit, Leila and her commenters have begun to assemble a "list of Young Adult books that adults will appreciate (and hopefully love)"
(As for the original article, do you buy this explanation: that "grown-up" readers have turned to YA in order to escape the untidy resolutions of "adult" books? If so, maybe I picked the wrong ghetto to try to crossover from!)
UPDATE: The debate continues with this petulant post in the "literary fiction" blog Elegant Variation, with the subsequent comments thread featuring contributions by Cecil Castellucci, Gwenda Bond and others. Original title: "When the Bar has no Lower to Go..." (subsequently emended to "Choices.") Excerpt from the post's author's follow-up comment:
I believe that it is the very conventions and requirements of the genres in question that forever prevent them from reaching the very highest levels. I don’t think any art of any kind can reach its full flower with any kinds of restraints – happy endings, clear villains, three acts, whatever – on them. I understand that this comes down to what you read novels for, and not everyone wants what I want. But I seek out the great depth that only novels can offer, the interiority of character, of being able to travel infinitely deep and I think that these types of books – out of honest and fair consideration of their readerships – don’t go there.Let's hear it for the "great edifice of Grownupland."
UPDATE UPDATE: I like this comment on the EV thread by Lauren McLaughlin:
Self-obsessed, lamebrained, terminal psychoanalysis is exactly what I suspect drives readers screaming from the "serious" literature section and into the arms of Genre where, freed from the devouring needs of endless self-analysis, ideas both Big and small have room to breathe.
Just to be clear though, the official name of the subcategory for which the book has been nominated is "YOUNG ADULT/TEEN."
Not "Best Punk Rock Book Ever."
UPDATE: They have now corrected the item, but here's the original pop-up, for posterity. Good times.
I keep meaning to mention: Random House presents The King Dork Band Name Generator. Submit!
And speaking of band names, Chris Parker, transatlantic King Dork reader and TV writer (for such shows as Hollyoaks, Coronation Street, and East Enders) sends along this story:
In September 2001, my wife and I were on a three-week Amtrak trip across the US. On 9/11, we were staying at the Hotel Triton on Grant Avenue, San Francisco. In our panic and confusion, we looked for the quickest way out of the city and headed for the BART. A lady picked up on our outsider vibes and invited us to come and stay with her, driving us from North Berkeley BART to her beautiful split-level home on Kerr Avenue in Kensington, whereupon she gave us her house keys and went about the rest of her day... We sat around and watched CNN, shell-shocked, until the lady's husband came home from work. He told us about the band his teenage sons were involved with. I asked what the band was called.
"Um... The name kind of changes, I'm not sure it has one right now."
"What's the last name it had?"
A pause. Something weary in the man's eyes said there was no good way out of this.
"Umm... Alfred Bitchcock."
I believe I've gotten more feedback on the basis of this review in the American Airlines in-flight magazine than from any other recent King Dork press. I guess people really do read these things... (Nice piece, too.)
That's Jeff, who recently mailed me his copy of King Dork to be signed, along with a letter, some snapshots of his trip to Italy, and a page torn from his English class journal.
Here's the page from the journal, with commentary from English teacher Ms. O. ("she has a studded belt"):
Tony found this letter in the Mission a couple of years ago. Transcription:
March 10, 1998
Mark [last name not transcribed] my dear Man,
Hi pumpkin pie-head! So how's the life of the emotional abuser? Don't worry I'm stable for now. Today is tues. I just walked to work and they sent me home. (hooray!) I didn't feel like working I needed a day off.
So anyway, I feel sad I'm looking through my phone list trying to find a replacement for monday. I wish you were coming in on friday it would make life so much easier, I miss you so terribly I don't even know what to do. Hurry home! I feel like you've been gone so long I'm actually getting use to you being away which isn't good. I don't like that at all.
I just got coffee at Arabica and a slice of spinich quish from Co-op it was a great breakfast. (yum!) I can't wait until your sleeping right next to me agian. It's so hard to imagine you every night next to me, I can hardly wait. Maybe we could make-out sunday night if your not too busy.
Mark I really am feeling very strange lately with my family, and close friends being so distant I just don't want you to be one of them anymore. Your supposed to be my lover, my companion across our long journey into the cruel world, we must face our destiny together. Come on, come back now before I start forgetting your name!
I wish that we were independently wealthy and could travel to many foreign lands exploring different cultures, and human behavioral patterns. Hey, we gotta make a quilt, remember. Go develop the film I gave you so we can do transfers. Maybe we could work on that, and relive our experience doing it, it would help us remember and talk about our memories. I think I need to talk about everything I saw and did. I can't wait until your back and I can float on some of those thoughts with you. It's so hard to talk about any of it with anyone at all! I keep thinking about our collaboration and I'm not able to think of anything except missing you sweet, warm kisses, I can't help but to think of how I miss you dearly.
I go to sleep everynight with my 2 pillows (one of which you always slept on) feeling sad and lonely in my heart, where is my Mark? Not here that big jerk, he'd better come to sleep soon! Cuddling is a large part of our love and, we are lacking in that area. When you come back let's just stay in bed for weeks straight. I bring some bread, water, and a toaster in my room. O.K. lover?
I love you Toad-head
Get with us. We're like dough in your pockets.
So it turns out that King Dork has been nominated for a Quill Award.
Al Roker apparently announced the nominees at noon today (EST) on a live webcast on MSNBC, but I couldn't get the webvideo player to play. It seems to be "for real" though.
It's a sort of American Idol-esque readers' choice kind of deal. If you feel like helping me out, you can vote for King Dork on the web in two categories by clicking on these links:
The voting goes from today through 30 September, and the winners are announced on 11 October. Then there is an awards ceremony thing in New York that is going to be on TV and everything.
There's some stiff competition, but it would be pretty cool to win, so if you can bring yourself to vote for King Dork I would really appreciate it.
(My buddy Lane Smith is also nominated - so vote for him in the Children's Illustrated Book category - as well as Als Gore and Franken, Calvin Trillin, Stephen King, Stan Lee, Lemony Snicket, Joan Didion, Tim Russert, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, Garrison Keillor, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, EL Doctorow, David Mitchell, Julia Child, Barbara Ehrenreich, Frank McCourt, and The Dalai Lama. So it should be a pretty good "black tie affair," though if the Dalai Lama doesn't have to wear a tuxedo, I'm not wearing one either.)
Geo Kayes is my neighborhood bar, and there is a book club that meets there called The Master Readers' Drinking Club. They have been reading King Dork, so they invited me to their meeting last night. Usually they meet in the bar, but for this occasion they moved to Sushiya, a Japanese restaurant across the street. I'd never "done" a book club before. It was fun. I ate sushi for the first time ever, and drank some sake with a name that translates into English as "beautiful teenage boy." Or so I'm told.
From time to time, this blog presents a Google-ympics, in which interesting search strings that have brought people to this site are categorized and listed. At the end, a winner is proclaimed. This is one of those times, so here we go:
what's the real world like
the meaning of whatever
what mrs means
disadvantages of being close-minded
what is it when people explode
is there a problem with a man that paint his toe nails with finger nail polish
what's the best way to get rich
how to shoot a gun
when a guys says ur thick what's that mean
what's that hard thing when fingering girl
organic way to treat for black widows
doublemint gun theme song
looking through gary glitter's eyes
lucy in the sky with diamonds what it really means
songs meaning i'm sorry
yummy yummy i got love in my tommy
palindromes with only two letters
what's war all about?
show me trimming own hair
what am I going to do
what is it what's it what it is
how to describe my awesome boyfriend
Computer, show me some:
cute japanese things
girls in morgues
monkeys dressed as literary figures
unitard covered ass
gay men with large big huge mustaches
art that makes you feel warm
And the winner is:
JK Rowling large breasts
(via Andrew Sullivan.)
Hey, sorry for the last-minute heads up, but I'm going to be on KALX tonight (Mon. 8/14) between 7 and 9:30, spinning records with Kendra and trying to plug this event-y show-y book-y thing:
That's tonight on KALX Berkeley, 90.7 FM, 7 - 9:30PM. And the bookstore thing is on Thurs. 8/17, 7:30 PM at Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. (510) 649-1320.
(By the way, when I played that song at my recent appearance at Amoeba in LA, this guy who was offended by it went around the store hassling various fans. He complained to the management and accused them of being just as "insensitive" as me. Then he told them he was going to wait for me outside and beat me up when I came out. He didn't though, for whatever reason.)
This object was placed in the stairwell-vestibule of my apartment building about a month ago and has been there ever since:
This picture arrived with the following note:
As a graduate of Hillsdale High School (Hillsdale Knights) in San Mateo, class of '83, and as one of the few punk rockers, I can honestly tell you that you nailed every detail of being the odd man out in a public suburban high school. Me and my friends formed our first band in 1980 (the Dangling Genitals) before any of us played an instrument. We simply assigned who would play what. I was the last to pick and was elected to be on guitar. A few months later we were making noise in the garage and changed our name to Wig Torture. We played at lunch in the "great court" of Hillsdale in 1983 and the reaction from the normal people was as described in King Dork. Our lunchtime gig a year later at San Mateo High wasn't any better.