Roland Denning’s short novel The Beach Beneath the Pavement is a satirical portrait of would-be rogue Bernard Hawks, a journalist whose career is on the skids, in a paranoid, scaredy-cat world (represented by present-day London and environs) in which the leading, and indeed only, ideology is a mind-numbing consumerism premised on the very shaky nihilist pilings of “post-credibility”– a jumbled self-contradictory anti-theory full of portentous nonsense that everybody (except our protagonist Bernard and his Sancho Panza Dilwyn) uses to justify all manner of cowardice, stupidity, double-think, cruelty, and frittering-away of life.
Although some of the tropes in this book are Pynchonian, the writer whose works kept coming to my mind as I read The Beach Beneath the Pavement was Carl Hiaasen, whose broad-brush satires of venal bastards destroying the natural and cultural beauty of Florida, although they read sometimes like Three-Stooges scripts, burn with a white-hot rage. Like Hiassen, Denning is angry about the mindless destruction of something beautiful. Like Hiaasen, Denning can be sentimental and lazy. But also like Hiaasen, when Denning is funny, he’s very, very funny. I laughed ’til I thought I was going to be sick, even as bombs were going off in Olde London Towne every other chapter.
When his book came in the mail, I read two chapters & then set it aside for later, as I was in the middle of a few other books at the time. I haven’t finished reading beyond chapter two yet. All of which context will only make you laugh harder (and cringe more) when you watch Roland’s alter robot ego as he follows the path that leads him to self-published stardom.
Part 2 below the fold. This is simply the best thing on publishing and self-publishing ever. Watch it and cry. Watch it and weep. Watch it and laugh your ass off. Watch it and go buy a few copies of Roland’s book, and then a few of mine.
I’ve bumped into a series of issues related to publishing recently. I don’t know that they ever will or should combine to form a coherent idea, but it feels like I should record them as though in a design notebook…
Disch achieved fame and notoriety for his fiction writing, particularly science fiction, and as a poet. You can find his Wikkipedia entry here. I gather from the various blog obits from friends and acquaintances that Disch was one of those enormously brilliant people who could be a real pain in the butt to deal with in person. I don’t know, I never met him.
For me, Disch’s name is synonymous with the character he created for his children’s book (and subsequent Disney movie adaptation), the The Brave Little Toaster. If I may make a secret confession, I totally love that story and that movie. Really. It is ridiculous and sappy (and I never particularly liked the sequels), but there was just something about this scrappy little toaster that defied all laws of logic and nature and found his master again against ridiculous odds. Maybe that’s why I went into public advocacy.
So I find it sad that the man who created the scrappy Little Toaster took his own life. A sad day for Brave Little Toasters everywhere.
If you care about holding onto democracy and yer constitutional rights in today’s modern digital-futuristic world of today, check out Harold Feld’s Tales of the Sausage Factory. He’s written a lot of good stuff lately — on net neutrality, on the new FCC chairman, on collusion in FCC auctions, on municipal wireless & democracy. . . When Harold writes something it’s usually well written, informative, funny, and very important.
Hmm… well, been stumbling over piracy and DRM stories all day, so I figured I’d pass along the joy.
First up, Cory Doctorow does the Daniel in the lions’ den thing and tries to convince the folks at Microsoft that anti-piracy techniques like Digital Rights Management are ineffective and worse, (from Microsoft’s standpoint) bad for business. It makes a good primer for many of the issues being discussed regarding copyrights, copy protection, and the full-court press by the RIAA and MPAA to legislate away some of the American citizen’s rights, because they are inconvenient.
Meanwhile, back in the other Washington, Orrin Hatch (well known composer and sometimes legislator) is introducing a bill that might make any device that could be used to violate copyrights illegal. As with most other cases these days, this one is sold as vital to protect our children (which is, of course, just behind preventing terrorism as the excuse du jour for taking away your rights).