The usual Sunday potpourri

  • We had a bit of Northwest Georgia snow for a while yesterday, thick enough to cover the yards and mess up your hair if you walked out into it with a camera. It all melted away by mid-afternoon.
  • My novel Conjure Woman’s Cat will be among those listed on TaleFlick this coming week. According to their web site, “TaleFlick Discovery is a weekly contest that allows the public to vote on which stories they want to see adapted to the screen. Fans can now be involved earlier in the filmmaking process than ever before.” Personally, if Conjure Woman’s Cat became a movie, I’d like to see Viola Davis in the lead role of Eulalie–not that anyone would ask me for casting advice.
  • In spite of my criticism about the amount of backstory in Cemetery Road, I enjoyed reading the novel. The small-town alliances and secrets make for a very complex story that’s even hard for a man returning to his old hometown to figure out. Suffice it to say, there is great depth in the characters and enough lies to cover almost everything that happens.
  • I’m actually writing again, at work on a novel that might be considered a sequel of sorts to the three Florida Folk Magic novels set in the Florida Panhandle in the 1950s. It’s fun while I’m writing and frustrating while I’m researching the specifics from hospital care and to dishwashing soap promotions of the era.
  • My website will expire on the 20th of this month. I’m sad to see it go, but it’s no longer financially viable. I’ve deleted most of the information on it, leaving a home page with links to my writing. I’m happy to say that a fair number of people visited this site every month. Thank you.
  • My eyes are starting to glaze over about the American Dirt controversy. I see most of the complaints about the novel as a spurious tempest in a teapot.

Malcolm

For discussion: do you support this view of publishing and writing?

from PEN America

PEN AMERICA RESPONDS TO ‘AMERICAN DIRT’ CONTROVERSY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(New York, NY) – Following news that the publisher of American Dirt plans to cancel its book tour, PEN America issued the following statement:“We have been closely following the debate concerning American Dirt, which implicates concerns at the heart of PEN America’s mission. Our organization has long been committed to the vital work of amplifying lesser-heard voices, and we are staunch advocates of increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in publishing. In our public programming, we strive to present the broadest array of writers from across the country and around the world. We have dedicated programs focused on fostering writing among individuals who are incarcerated, undocumented immigrant youth, and others who might be locked out of the literary community due to resources, background, or other factors. And we have engaged deeply over the last two years in combating online harassment, and recognize its particular silencing impact on women writers and writers of color.“As writers, we believe in the necessity of reasoned discourse across differences. The breadth of passionate perspectives unleashed by this controversy has sparked an overdue public conversation. We urge that this dialogue unfold in the realm of ideas and opinions, and avoid descending into either ad hominem attacks or caricature. As defenders of freedom of expression, we categorically reject rigid rules about who has the right to tell which stories. We see no contradiction between that position and the need for the publishing industry to urgently address its own chronic shortcomings. If the fury over this book can catalyze concrete change in how books are sourced, edited, and promoted, it will have achieved something important. It is past time to equip, resource, and elevate a wider group of voices to speak for themselves and about their experiences. As a nearly 100-year-old organization, we have our own historic legacies, blind spots, and challenges to reckon with. We look at this debate through the lens of how we can continue to evolve to better fulfill our mission.

“Finally, we reject all threats of violence, as well as vitriol aimed to shut down discussion and enforce silence. In our digital discourse, harsh invective too easily gives way to threats and intimidation that have a chilling effect not only on their targets, but on entire topics or points of view. We believe such approaches impair, rather than advance, what is an urgent and essential debate.”

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If you haven’t been following the “American Dirt” controversy, you can find information here.