Congratulations to above/ground press on their 20th anniversary this month! They’re a small chapbook press based out of Ottawa, and there’s an official celebratory reading and launch being held on Friday, August 23, 2013 at the Mercury Lounge in Ottawa. Check it out if you can.
I have a brief piece in this issue of Broken Pencil which looks at the origins of above/ground press. I talked with its founder, rob mclennan, and a few of the people he’s published, and give an overview of the philosophy behind the press.
There’s a lot of talk in this issue about the role negative reviews play in critical culture. It makes me a little nervous, because one of the books I read for this issue didn’t get a particularly positive review.
I review because I love books, and I enter into every book hoping it’s great. With BP, I’m fortunate in that I get to choose what I review from stacks of books and zines, and I always try to select something I think I’ll like. There are so many books out there, there’s no sense in wasting time reading and reviewing something simply for the sake of it.
It should go without saying, but reviews only pertain to the books reviewed. They’re not comments on their author, or on previous and subsequent books – which I may have loved. For my part, I try to give considered criticism. Sometimes the space allotted is short, but I do what I can within the confines of the word count I’m afforded.
Anyway, also in this issue, check out Hal Niedzviecki’s excellent “How to Argue: A Guide to Defending…Paper.” The response to opponent #2 is gold, and all arts professionals should pay close attention to it.
“Work from Home for Fun and Profit,” a comic from Dakota McFadzean, is both sweet and contains solid advice. Also applicable to arts professionals.
Alison Lang has written a piece on the appeal of fan fiction. Having recently gone to see Fan Fiction: The Show do a performance on Sailor Moon, but having never read any, this was an interesting guide to understanding both fan fiction consumers and producers. Previously, I avoided it as a misguided attempt to co-opt original work, but somehow, some characters move beyond their creators and become cultural icons in and of themselves.