Here’s to the holidays. American Short Fiction is celebrating the season of light with a feast of a discussion by some of our favorite literary voices.
The topic of conversation: What does online publishing mean to you?
Here’s how the conversation started:
Recently anderbo.com editor Rick Rofihe (whose fiction has been published multiple times in The New Yorker, among other places, and who has collection of short stories from FSG ) said, on fictionaut, “the print book is not long for this world.”
He goes on, “‘Three Point Back’ was a story that I published on epiphanyzine.com and I had more feedback on that story than the nine stories I had in The New Yorker. It was also in print, it was a good-looking journal and they gave me six copies and that was nice but I was like, what am I going to do with these? Send them to people? Why not just email them a link?”
As web editor of American Short Fiction, I got to thinking of writers’ senses of the importance, usefulness of online publication. Does “instaneousness” trump “sancrosanctity”?
I set a single question to a number of stars of literary fiction, including some familiar and guiding lights and others new and brightly shining. From writer to editor and from email newbie to Twitter king, they form quite a constellation.
This week we invite you to feast for eye and ear to this conversation of luminaries. Just the thing to add a thoughtful extra sparkle to your pre-holiday reading. . .
ASF’s Stacy Muszynski asks: Rick Moody, what does online publishing meant to you?
Rick Moody answers:
I’m reminded therefore of Derrida’s ideas about writing versus speech and the way in which writing is always feared by Western metaphysics because there is a space between composer and reader, a space that often, in the texts Derrida likes to cites, is compared to death. What I imagine Derrida is trying to do when he talks about this space, is to celebrate these poisonous or fatal qualities. Writing, he seems to say, should revel in its difference from speech, in its lacunae. This kind of thing, this revelry, happens best with the book, it seems to me, with the printed thing that takes years to write and months to produce—so that the prose is already out of date by the time it gets from writer to reader. Out of date, what a wonderful concept. A concept to be celebrated! Out of time, out of date, outmoded, obsolete, useless to popular culture, arcane, elite, etc. All positives, as far as I’m concerned.
Online publication, to me, is of interest because it’s cheaper and easier to produce, thus emboldening people who want to bring their vision out into the marketplace of ideas. But that doesn’t mean it’s better. Best of all is written on stone, and if that doesn’t work, whatever is nearly as long lasting as stone. Parchment, goatskin, vellum, and so on. Or acid-free paper, which is still a better and longer lasting storage medium than anything digital.
Literature is for history, after all. Who gives a shit, in the end, about what people think now? It’s all a passing fad.
Rick Moody’s print work includes novels, short story collections, memoir, film adaptation, and much, much more. Then there are his contributions to the digital world, including genre-crossing in elimae.com, to his ongoing commitment to a music blog at The Rumpus, and last week’s three-day, 153-tweet serialized short story, “Some Contemporary Characters,” at Electric Literature.
Check back tomorrow—we’ll be posting up new thoughts from writers on online publishing all week.