Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Revisiting Reintroduction and Crowdsourcing Consensus
Revisiting Reintroduction: Several more thoughts about how to reintroduce Lafferty’s writing to the world and get his name well known among the reading public: NPR: In a reply to a comment on this blog from not Bridget the other day, I asked a question: How do we ensure that Lafferty is widely recognized as an influential and uniquely creative writer? How do we make him a household name, mentioned with other creators within the genre like Theodore Sturgeon, Alfred Bester, and Philip K. Dick? Lafferty was a far better and actually more careful (or at least more intentional with his wild creativity) writer than any of them (and they're the greats). Sturgeon was very well served by the North Atlantic Books series of The Complete Short Stories of Theodore Sturgeon. While these were never cheap, they were massively produced and marketed--getting long articles and commentary on NPR for example. Hey, that's an idea, perhaps Andrew Ferguson and/or the LOCUS people could get NPR to do a Profile on Lafferty as an almost forgotten American Literary Giant. They could talk about his uniquely American voice, blending Irish, Western, and Native tall tale within SF. They could talk about his histories and historical novels, especially Okla Hannali, which is so important to understanding American history. They could have highly successful current authors (Gaiman, Swanwick, Waldrop, etc.) talk about his influence. And they could show how his (far too few) rabid fans launched a whole industry of small press publishers, producing chapbooks and hand-sewn small editions of 30 or 50 pages in limited numbers that are now selling for hundreds of dollars. Most importantly, they could bemoan how the publishing policies of printing only that which resembles current and previous best sellers may well rob us of such an important voice. NYRB: Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow get the New York Review of Books to do a profile on Lafferty? Perhaps they could review the Centipede Press series on or around his centennial. How does one go about planting a seed among the editors and reviewers at the NYRB? Might John Pelan, as the publisher need to contact them? Is there a requirement for number of copies in print (If so, I’m sure a 300-copy edition would be woefully inadequate)? Do they ever review or profile the authors of out-of-print books? Would they ever condescend to look an an author labeled SF, and could they be persuaded to recognise Lafferty’s uniquely American voice regardless of genre? Academia: I believe in the power of a well-infected academia. Lafferty has often been described as a writer’s writer. How do we get literature professors to embrace Lafferty? Bradbury has made it onto “serious” academic syllabi, Philip K. Dick is frequently taught, and I have even seen William Gibson included as an optional author in a Modern Lit class. If Lafferty were more widely assigned, it would give him the patina of “old master” which would cause new editions of his books to be welcomed with accolades and applause. Google: Given the cross-cultural reach of Google, perhaps a Google Doodle on Lafferty’s 100th birthday would have more impact than all the other methods combined. How do we plant a seed, place a bug in the ear, put a bee in the bonnet of those who control and create such things? Crowdsourcing Consensus: Reading Lafferty is an individual experience. Stories that resonate strongly with one person can leave other readers nonplussed. Each reader’s absolute favorite Lafferty stories are uniquely that readers own favorites, and may say as much about the reader as about the stories. In a thread of comments under the post about the upcoming Centipede Press release of The Man Who Made Models over at The Ants of God are Queer Fish, Daniel Peterson admitted that he had been compiling his ideal list of stories for a Best of Lafferty volume in his head for years. This led me to wonder if we all do that, and what do our individual choices of stories, essays, poetry, etc. say about us as readers of Lafferty? Please use the comments section under this entry and post your choices for what should be included in a “Best of Lafferty” collection. Add as much or as little explanation as you like. My personal list can be found a few posts back on this blog here: http://yetanotherlafferty.blogspot.com/2013/08/reintroducing-world-to-lafferty-ideas.html Thank you!