November 12, 2010

Inaugural Blog Tour: Eat When You Feel Sad



Three blogs brought to you by one book. One of them has the coolest cigarette smoking beaver logo we've ever seen.

More and more, we find ourselves in awe of the quality, depth and variety of places on the internet talking about books. Thus, we’ve decided to take a year-end look at how those places talked about our titles. (Read the kickoff.) The point is to feature not only the titles we proudly published in 2010, but also some of the great writing about those titles from around the internet. In some cases the writing may only mention our book. In these instances the posts would of course have to be extraordinary.

The blog tour is off the rails today. This is mainly because Zachary German‘s debut novel, Eat When You Feel Sad, is tailor made for something like this. It is a microcosm of the culture and emotions aligning with a generation that came of age with the internet. That isn’t what the book is about, but it is what makes the novel abundant in the blogosphere (I hope that last word isn’t actually copyrighted by MSNBC).

Like his associate Tao Lin, German has a deadpan delivery and writes in prose spare enough to be considered a desert. The quotidian subject matter of this debut is delivered with a routine that speaks of automation or log books. While this firmly places the book into the avant-garde it does not stop the book from affirmation and demonstrating life-in-the-living.

Tao Lin characterized the book thus: “Moving, funny, emotional, and–in a revolutionary way–both highly-readable and avant-garde, Eat When You Feel Sad excites me very much in terms of literature and also life itself.

Before sharing some of the interesting places Eat When You Feel Sad turned up we’d like to point you toward what is probably the most thorough appraisal of the work over at HTMLGiant.

With the self-reflective big site piece out of the way it is time to look at the small and more often than not, concise.

Topping this diverse triumvirate of blogs is Abjectiblog, which I personally have to say I really, really like. Creative is a word that falls short. This evocative blog is artistic in content and execution.

I am going to try to write this without mentioning Tao Lin, as I have never read any of Lin’s novels. I have a feeling German’s writing is similar though, from what I have read of Lin’s poetry and short stories. Self-conscious, young characters moving around in a city full of pronouned objects and entertainment, depressed maybe, searching for happiness, with a very distanced TM style.

EWYFS feels like more though. At times, it is so minimalist in tone that it almost mocks the style. The novel as a whole is not CM, but the manner in which German separates trivial actions into even more trivial actions, and into even more trivial actions, it begins to approach a kind of CM relative to what a typical writer/reader would consider not worth mentioning.

The CM and TM referred to here are two forms of minimalism as determined by the review’s author. C is content. T is for tone. Somewhat serious sounding in description but written, er, typed out in a very digestible manner.

More than a book review site, Abjectiblog has its own minimalistic evocations that might fall into the LANGUAGE school of poetic theory. Well worth your attention.

The second blog is more along the lines of what you would expect: less lit theory and more identification. Because German’s book contains a terse assessment of “how things are” in a general sense for an age, sex and lifestyle the book resonates with like minded readers in a very literal way.

We are talking about the blog, A Bunch Books and the site’s review style can be captured with this selection:

I want to write about it more. I want to say something about how German’s style is like Tao Lin’s but different. It’s even more detached, maybe? It’s even more precise without being so cautiously self-aware? Whatevs.

The review selections and approach to review mimic (or is it correlate with?) the style and milieu of this movement. I am trying so very hard to avoid using the word “hispsterism.” Oops. Whatevs.

Finally, and so very proudly, we offer you a French language reviewer for German’s novel. Sermon De Bavoir is perhaps the best blog name I have ever laid eyes upon. The blog’s subjects are diverse but the book review is given an expansive place on this politically engaged site.

Google translator’s improved capabilities have been greatly exaggerated. That is for sure.But with a little effort and a willingness to extrapolate and substitute words, Google’s service reveals a wonderful French blog and an extremely thorough and excited review of German’s novel.

What we have always hidden the novel, these supposedly boring moments of everyday life, Zachary German he shows them, and therefore shows us a character in a way never seen before. And curiously, this is where the depth is found: in our sense of really knowing Robert, to be his close friend, rather than Rastignac example, a character that remains for us, and plays its role – grandiose s it is, I do not say-when we are there.

Robert is us. And in the end we come to have an incredible love for Robert, an incredible love for this little book, a love that we explain with difficulty, and that pushes us to write passionate letters to the author, who, precisely, is part of our generation, our age, was born in 1988, published a book this year, in 2010. It is us too.

Sermon De Bavoir in English and for those of you lucky enough to read French, here it is thus.

How’s that for blog touring?

Paul Oliver is the marketing manager of Melville House. Previously he was co-owner of Wolfgang Books in Philadelphia.