Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm sick of Brooklyn, too, Ed Nawotka.

Thinking a lot about regionalism lately, I've been mulling over my own dislike for travel. I really just hate it. I hate the fuss and the non-familiarities and the having to be on time for things. My lit. preferences tend to mirror this as the geographic trends in my reading hover significantly around the one place (or subject) for extended periods of time. Most recently, Australia was my readerly home and this sprung from a year-long hang-up with surf culture/lit.

I share with Ed Nawotka of Houston a similar disdain for the tendency of major book reviews to spend the majority of their readerly/critic time in NYC but I'm sure it's their own regional love that leads to this phenomenon. Believe me, I'm the last person you'd see running around swooning over Wells Tower. Ander Monson, however, needs only flinch for me to completely lose it. I would wager my entire home library on the bet that if Ander Monson wrote a novel about the snow, static electricity and hollow sound of walking on a frozen lake and set it in or within 100 miles of New York City, he'd be front page NYtimes Sunday Book Review material- throw in a 9-11 subplot and he's a National Book Award shoe-in.

Furthermore, my Oklahoma reading is fullforceahead as I'm just about to finish Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry and Hud is in the Netflix queue or whatever it's called. It seems I'm moving to a land where the majority of one's day is spent longing for a breeze or a cool-down. Joe Meno, a stellar Chicago author, was in town for a reading at the store and my husbandinthreeweeks, Bayard Godsave, read a couple stories as a local opener (which Daniel is trying to do more often and I think is absolutely wonderful). Prior to the ballyhoo, they (Bayard and Joe) were chatting about our move to OK and there was a great exchange where neither of them could decide if the state was in the South, the Midwest or what. I vote for the South, mostly because I'm manifesting in my mind endless sweet tea and biscuits and gravy and also that's what they eat in the McMurtry (they also sweat through their leather belts, but I'm choosing to ignore that).

The catalyst for this post is a video I found as I was obsessively following BEA via the internetz (the BEA which I've gathered signals the end of BEA as anyone has known it). It's from the NBCC panel where that guy I mentioned earlier, Ed Nawotka, whose name is remarkably Wisconsin but he lives in Houston and has a bone to pick with book critics all reviewing the same books (ahem- he clearly hasn't been to The Inside Flap- which is sadly lacking in updates, but was booming for years with Downer Schwartz employee reviews). The panel responds with the example of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Geeta Sharma-Jensen for successfully localizing her book section. I can personally attest to this.


  1. Milwaukee makes BEA without someone from Milwaukee actually having to do the boasting! Awesome!!

  2. i am envious of your writing talent, SM. and now i need to read Ander Monson. looks like the revolution will happen in Milwaukee, folks!

  3. Sarah, many thanks for the shout out: I'm originaly from Detroit, was educated in north central Minnesota, and love snow. You should hear me rant about the disrespect Midwestern writers get compared with those from the South -- I like to use it to get into fights in honkeytonks all over my fair state of Texas.

  4. You're very welcome, Ed! Can you recommend any good Texas lit?

  5. This is all smart and understandable, although obsessively following the BEA is not. Smart people even in Brooklyn held avoid it just as stupid people avoid Journal of the Plague Year.