About That Book . . .

big-book-feature

You’ve probably gleaned from my posts that I have been working on compiling a book of my reviews. The book was not my idea, and at first I resisted it with intense skepticism. However, during my downtime after temporarily closing the blog, I became rather fond of the idea of having my work presented in book form, primarily for that day far in the future when I’m an old fart and feel the need to revisit my salad days. I never had any intention of selling the book or making a dime from it, figuring that few people would buy it anyway—after all, I don’t have a “name,” I don’t have connections and there are gazillions of books containing music criticism.

The person who successfully pushed me into making the effort is the author Robert Morrow, who volunteered for the thankless role of editor. Since he has a full-time job and lives thousands of miles away in Bellevue, Washington, our enterprise proceeded at a somewhat leisurely pace. Every couple of months or so we’d connect via Skype and discuss different ways to organize and present over 300 reviews.

My favorite Skype moment was when he lost track of the time difference and called me just as I was getting ready for a scene. I will never forget his face when he saw my upper torso on his screen, my exposed tits rising above the curves of a red leather underbust corset, highlighted by a pair of silver nipple clamps.

He stammered an apology and ended the call. I hope he marched into his bedroom and gave his wife a good stiff one.

Anyway, we got to a point where we were making good progress and had several very productive, PG-rated conversations about our work. The book was finally taking shape, and I have to admit I was excited to see my vision come together. My main drive was to present a work that spanned the entire history of popular music to date, and the structure helped make the holes in my narrative seem less important. Our work ground to a halt for a few weeks after the attack on the Promenade, but once I regained my balance, I felt pretty confident we’d have everything wrapped up by October.

Then came the bad news.

“Congratulations! You’ve beaten Tolstoy. By quite a comfortable margin, I might add,” Robert said to the fully-clothed version of me.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, a little problem came up when I stared to put all the parts together. I noticed that the word count was pretty high by the time I got to The Beatles, so I thought I’d better stop and calculate the whole thing before going further. How many words do you think you’ve written over the last four years?”

“I don’t know—a hundred thousand?”

“Try 1.2 million.”

“What!??!”

“Yeah. 1.2 million. War and Peace came in at a little over 500,000.”

“Oh, my fucking God!”

“That’s including all of them. When we subtract the pieces we agreed to cut, you come in at just over a million. You know what this means.”

“Yeah—nobody’s going to read this book. I wouldn’t read this fucking book!”

“Even if you gave it away for 99 cents, it would be a tough sell. It would take up a hell of a lot of memory on a Kindle.”

That statement hit a sore spot. My intent was always to give the book away for free. I found out later that Amazon doesn’t allow an author to do that—you have to charge at least ninety-nine fucking cents. I responded from my gut.

“Fuck the book. Screw it.”

“I knew you’d say that, but we do have options.”

Those options were a.) publishing in volumes and b.) do a “Best of the altrockchick” book. I hated both ideas. Twelve volumes would be ridiculous—shit, Proust only made it to seven! The volume concept would also break the narrative, which immediately ruled it out as far as I was concerned. As for the “best of” concept, that was dead on arrival. I’d lose any sense of structure and the narrative flow would be as strong as a guy with a prostate problem.

A few days later, Robert sent me an email proposing a slimmed-down version that would maintain the flow but would sacrifice all the series, taking the best reviews from each and folding them into a timeline. I gave that some hard thought, but the truth is my most enjoyable writing experiences came from the series format. I imagined my seventy-year old me scanning the contents of my alleged masterpiece and moaning, “Where the fuck is The Psychedelic Series? What kind of crap is this?”

I wrote back, “Let’s table the discussion and pick it up next year. I’ve lost my objectivity and have to let the thing go for a while.”

He wrote back, “I understand. Let me know if you change your mind.”

I felt bad because of all the work he had put into it, placing his own creative efforts on hold so he could help me realize mine. He went through and edited almost three hundred posts, clearing up all the embarrassing typos and sentences vanishing in mid-stream.  I am very lucky to have such a wonderful and generous friend.

I really owe him a blow job.

Meanwhile, I still felt the urge of the architect to see the structure in real life, so I decided to spend a little time restructuring the website to sync with the structure of the book. It’s still a work in progress, but when it’s finished, the menu will reflect the chapter order I had envisioned. This will probably mean nothing to the person who pops in out of the ether to read a review about his or her favorite album, but it means a lot to me. I like to feel that there was some method in my madness, even if the method was more intuitive than intentional.

So! I shall now go off and ponder ways to summarize my work in an agreeable format that people can access easily at no charge. I’ll pop in with a review from time to time, doing my best to keep things short, sweet and to the point. I do not want to be remembered as The Wordiest Bitch Who Ever Lived.

Maybe I should do my reviews in haiku . . . let’s try one for Led Zeppelin IV:

scratching for significance on a stairway to nowhere, meowing

9 responses

  1. A real pity this book idea has grinded to a halt but I’m fully understanding of your desire and intent as to how it should be presented… I’d be the very same only more awkward because I’m a bloody minded git who would be loathe to have ONE word cut out of my writings never mind paragraphs, chapters etc. My own memoirs based on what I’ve written so far, not to mention I’d also want to feature huge chunks of my journal (yes, I’ve been writing a personal journal for many years) would mean Tolstoy could be resurrected from the dead by the time anyone gets round to finishing reading it!

    The GOOD thing is, this blog is available again. It’s here for us to dip in and out of whenever we fancy and it pained me when you removed it originally since there’s so much great work here but as you remember we discussed that at the time and I was fully understanding and supportive as I also am with this book.

    Ha! I can review Led Zeppelin IV (and many more “classic” albums) in just one word… 😉

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    1. It’s hard to know whether it’s my artistic arrogance or artistic integrity. I had no problems with the stuff Robert wanted to cut—nearly all of them were contemporary reviews where I admit I tried hard to make something out of very little. He never suggested cutting the classic stuff until he did the word count, which absolutely floored me. The thing is that I don’t feel I hit my stride until I jettisoned the blog paradigm and started writing longer reviews where I could really dig into the music. I don’t want to see those sliced up and turned into the crappy consumer-oriented reviews you get from the big players.

      I just need some time to let it settle—the solution is there, I just need to uncover it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I look forward to including your new book on my music library bookshelf. And, thankfully, I have an eclectic tribe of friends who will no doubt delight in such a book as a gift. Felicitations!

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    1. Thank you! We’ll figure something out: I just need to let it rest for a while and the solution will come to me. Perseverance is one of my most helpful and sometimes annoying character traits.

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  3. Rats! The longer your reviews (and all your other pieces are), the more I get into them! From where I sit, you don’t waste words, no matter what length the piece is; I mean, a painter should have all the colors she or he requires, right?

    Mr. Morrow, you lucky chap…so many thanks to you for helping the ARC in this endeavor. I sincerely hope the two of you are able to make it happen in the end. I’d pay whatever fee ARC thinks is fair.

    Didn’t know nipple clamps came in silver…but it’s only top shelf for the altrockchick!

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    1. Thank you! I’m sure we’ll work something out—I just need some time to rethink the whole thing.

      As for the clamps, I spare no effort or expense on my #1 priority in life!

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  4. I read this post with great interest and sympathy. You are such a great writer. I envy your apparently infinite store of sharp observations and perfect sentences. I’m sure editing your work was a great pleasure for Robert, including the unforgettable glimpse of you. Like all of your fans, hoping you can find a way to get a collection in our hands. x0x0x0

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    1. That is so nice of you! I think I just need some time to let it go for a while, and the baseball playoffs couldn’t have come at a better time—I’ll have a whole month of baseball to take my mind off it! Oh—and before I forget, I want to thank you and everyone in North Carolina for giving us Madison Bumgarner!

      Robert has been a gem! We spoke last week and he told me he’s going to post something about his experience soon. I think he feels somewhat responsible for not catching the word count issue earlier, but I told him he was being silly and that if he were in Nice I’d give him a good whack with my riding crop!

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  5. […] She’s already written about that conversation, but I’ll just say that it knocked us both for a loop. She decided to put the project on hold while she considers her options. […]

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