:: Buzzwords Archive: August 2010. Click here for the latest posts.

3:AM Asia: Clarification (published 18/08/2010)

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By Roland Kelts.

For my latest column in The Daily Yomiuri and 3:AM magazine, I interviewed Yukari Shiina of World Manga, an agency specializing in connecting international artists with the domestic manga publishing industry. The following insights and comments by Shiina-san, an agent and industry consultant, survived the final edit:

Shiina believes the depressed economy and exaggerated expectations (i.e., oversaturation of the market) are key factors behind collapsing sales. But she doesn’t ignore the digital elephant in the room.

“I’m not sure exactly how much it is contributing to the declines, but scanlations are a problem,” Shiina says, referring to the unauthorized posting and translation of manga titles on the Internet. “I don’t buy scanlation groups’ argument that they promote manga in general. It might be true with some obscure titles, but it can’t be with hits such as Naruto.”

What may not be clear to some readers is that in the passage above, Shiina-san is addressing conditions strictly in the US manga market, not those in Japan. Declining sales in the latter are cited in a preceding paragraph, which may cause the confusion.

I aim to clarify this issue in all online versions of this column, on behalf of Shiina-san–and myself, of course.

Novelistic Form: Burroughs (published )

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Daniel Older: Your books, since The Ticket That Exploded especially, are no longer ‘novels’; a breaking up of novelistic form is noticeable in the Naked Lunch. Towards what end or goal is this break-up heading?

William Burroughs: That’s very difficult to say. I think that the novelistic form is probably outmoded and that we may look forward perhaps to a future in which people do not read at all or read only illustrated books and magazines or some abbreviated form of reading matter. To compete with television and photo magazines, writers will have to develop more precise techniques producing the same effect on the reader as a lurid action photo.

The Job: Interview with William Burroughs by Daniel Odier, Jonathan Cape 1970 [re-issue]

Read more.

Five for: Ben Brooks (published )

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1) What are you working on at the moment?
A novel about a man being kept alive alone in a room while the earth is decontaminated (after a poisonous bloom has filled the sky and shattered). He begins to forget things. His television turns itself on, showing only images of wildlife and scenery.

2) What’s the most over-used word about your work?
Stylized.

3) Which piece of art best describes you?
20:50.

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4) Which literary character do you most identify with?
Mildred, the pipe character, from Socrates Adams-Florou‘s currently unpublished novel Everything’s Fine.

5) Which one book do you wish you had written and why?
The God of Small Things. She got a fucking massive advance for that as well as the Booker prize money. It’s also pretty good.

Ben Brooks is the author of Fences and An Island of Fifty. The Kasahara School of Nihilism is forthcoming from Fugue State Press.

What’s the Frequency, Tom? (published 16/08/2010)

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3:AM‘s Andrew Gallix interviews Tom McCarthy for this month’s Dazed & Confused magazine:

Why do you think that all new means of telecommunication are linked to death, mourning and melancholia?

I don’t know if I can explain it. It’s just a pattern that keeps recurring. For every comm-tech invention, there seems to be a dead sibling somewhere. Bell even made a pact with his brother that, if one of them died like their other brother had, the surviving one would invent a device capable of receiving messages from the dead. Then the second brother dies, and Bell invents the telephone. He remained a rationalist, a sceptic – basically because his brothers never called. But the desire, the fantasy. is there in the technology: a ghost in the machine. It’s the same with radio. Seances in the 20s weren’t about spirit and ectoplasm any more: they were about “tuning in” to voices resonating on high frequencies, like radio waves. With the internet, it seems to be more about a presence than an absence: everything’s there, every click and keystroke ever made eternally retrievable, a giant archive. That’s kind of haunting too, though.

And 3:AM‘s Steve Finbow both speaks to McCarthy and reviews C for Bookmunch:

An historical account of technology from sericulture and Huguenot looms to the invention of the Kinetoscope, wireless, the aeroplane and their use in culture and war, C is also a bildungsroman (a formation novel or [in]formation novel) with its attendant personal losses and journeys of self-discovery. Serge is an information freak, channelling radio signals, novels, and music. The passages on the early years of wireless networks and the language used by operators read like descriptions of the Internet and contemporary text messaging. Serge’s sister Sophie experiments on insects, draws charts, cuts out cryptic headlines, creating her own network of interconnectedness while the world forms and reforms in its own historical laboratory, running tests on technology and death.

ampere’s and (published )

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This week’s visuals:

Marc H. Miller‘s 98 Bowery

& William T. Vollmann‘s invoice to Penguin for “4 street prostitutes’ modeling time” [via]

& Illustrated mid-century album covers, Finnegans Wake by Russo, Basil Rathbone reads Edgar Allan Poe by Antonio Frasconi

& Tate Britain exhibits William Blake art found in railway timetable [via]

& Never-before-seen shots from the set of Twin Peaks

& Michel Fingesten bookplates

& Laurence W. Chaves’ illustrations for Confessions of an English Opium Eater [via]

[Image: Mahendra Singh's illustrations for Fables of La Fontaine]