Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Calling Naomi Klein

Did you guys get this meme from [name redacted], Internet Marketing Coordinator at Holtzbrinck Publishers? I imagine it went out to the whole Long Sunday crew—I don’t know how else she (or her interns) would have found my page. I quote, with redactions:
Hi there,

I am hoping that Fort Kant would be interested in this.

On June 7th, Farrar Straus & Giroux will publish [Author’s]
brilliant new novel, [Title]. [Author’s] most recent,
best-selling novel, [Title of previous novel], won both the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner award, and became an Academy Award-winning film starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep.

We now invite you to download an advance digital copy of the new novel before it goes on sale next week. Please note that this advance copy is for review purposes ONLY, and that the access URL is NOT to be posted or redistributed.

We hope that you'll enjoy the novel, and if you mention the book or
author on your blog or site, please send us an e-mail with a link.
I must admit, I was a little flattered to get this invitation. Fort Kant is concerned with literature only like 1/20th of the time, so I was tickled to hear that someone out there cares about what I might have to say about a new novel.

Now, this invitation is clearly an attempt to generate “buzz”—you’ve read articles about people hired to go to bars in Williamsburg to get overheard talking about so-and-so’s new album—you can imagine the conversation in the boardroom (the internet café? the bubble tea room? Dean & DeLuca?) about how to get the blogosphere to do your work for you—but No Logo my eye, I mean, this review could be my big break! (This may be even less than a campaign for free advertising. Could this be an attempt just to sell a book to me and the other bloggers targeted by Ms. [...] and her interns? (Which, great section in No Logo on how corporations use interns as a way of externalizing costs).)

(Hilary recalls that the author in question had been a customer at her uncle’s furniture store on Christopher St. (now closed). Hilary reports that he was quite polite, and quite concerned about which raw silk accessories—lampshades or pillows, Hilary can’t remember which—would fit his apartment best. (Molly Ringwald would send her servant to collect fabric samples, but Mr. Cunningham said he would buy the pillows himself!))

More advertisements!

1.) Mrs. Dalloway if you want to feel in a muddle. A Room of One’s Own for an experience of psychedelic clarity. As Fort Kant is now a recognized literary authority, here’s my blurb: “A room of one’s own grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

2.) A long quotation from one of Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s other authors, Wallace Shawn. (Possible running titles: Primitive accumulation grows out of the barrel of a gun; rule of law grows out of the barrel of a gun.)
The voluptuous field that was given to me—how did I come to be given that one, and not the one that was black and barren? Yes, it happened like that because before I was born, the fields were apportioned, and some of the fields were pieced together.

The fields were pieced together one by one, by thieves, by killers. Over years, over centuries, night after night, knives glittering, throats cut, again and again, until the beautiful Christmas morning we woke up, and our proud parents showed us the gorgeous, shining, blood-soaked fields which now were ours. Cultivate, they said, husband everything you pull from the earth, guard, save, then give your own children the next hillside, the next valley. From each advantage, draw up more. Grow, cultivate, preserve, guard. Drive forward till you have everything. The others will always fall back, retreat, give you what you want or sell you what you want for the price you want. They have no choice, because they’re sick and weak. They’ve become “the poor.”

And the book runs on, years, centuries, till the moment comes when our parents say the time of apportionment is now over. We have what we need—our position is well defended on every side. Now, finally, everything can be frozen, just as it is. The violence can stop. From now on, no more stealing, no more killing. From this moment, an eternal silence, the rule of law.


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