Readers' Submissions

Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 278

  • Written by Dana
  • February 26th, 2011
  • 4 min read


FLUSHED BY SPRING RAINS

Meredith Bernstein
Harry Foster
Jim Mitchell
Deanne Urmy
Martha Kennedy
Peg Anderson
Laurette Carroll
Rebecca Carroll
Barbara Proper
Ken Young
Brian Butler
Annie Burke
(plus a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship)

Twelve people. Twelve people (plus free money). David M. Carroll, author of a 186 page book titled: Following the Water, thanks twelve people who helped him 'write' 'edit' and 'make happen' the book (single quote marks mine). Is this a 186 page epic poem? Is this a 186 page Latin translation of Roman Empire massage emporium receipts? Is this . . . it's a collection of stories, observations, and musing through a one year cycle of the natural world. Ferns and turtles and fish and birds and water and stuff. Did this really require the additional input of twelve people? Example:

"I am indebted to Deanne Urmy for her sensitive and sustained focus, deft touch, and insightful editing of my manuscript."

If Deanne Urmy is performing this function does he really need Peg Anderson to be a copyeditor (?), and Laurette Carroll to be an "in-house editor," and Rebecca Carroll to be a sounding board from the perspectives of writer and editor, and Barbara Proper offering text comments? Jesus. And let us not forget Ken Young, Brian Butler, and Annie Burke for manuscript assistance (?). Jesus Christ. A MacArthur Foundation Fellowship was a part of this? I wonder how many people were involved in that? If it was me I'd be throwing some of this baggage off of the train. Many writers, however, love this.

Writer: Hey honey, I'm getting lots of emails from all the people working on my book at my publishing company.

Writer's Wife: The toilet is still running–when are you going to fix that?

Here is my question. Who wrote this 186 page book on wetlands, deer, and mayflies? I (and nobody else, just me) think we have lost our way. Years ago I was being tested for heart health issues. A cardiologist was hooking me up to machines and such. Another doctor came in–no introduction or eye contact or handshake–looked and left. I got a bill from him for $200. This is just corrupt piling on. I think the publishing houses pile on the authors like that corrupt doctor took advantage of me. Many authors like this treatment. We must be a lonely race.

Hey, I don't want to sound like Suzy Sceptic here, but do you suppose the publishing company knew that MacArthur grant money was attached to this book so suddenly everyone had a paw in the honey pot? Just thinkin'. Question: in two hundred years what do you think the definition for an author will be? If you tell me at a party that you have just authored a published book I am happy for you and I want to hear about it. Just please don't mention the other twelve people.

I think we have lost our way. With everything I write I give the reader a mostly unrecognised and mostly unappreciated gift. The gift? Certainty. When you read something of mine you know 100% that I wrote it. I'm the author. I wrote what you are reading. Maybe someday that will mean something. Maybe not. Maybe someday, some century, when you look up the word author in the dictionary there will be a picture of me and it will say: See: Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes on Stickmanbangkok. com.

Maybe not.

I've read this book and I recommend that others do so. It is exquisite. Fun and interesting wordsmithing, imagery, feelings, and communication of prose-poem ideas. It was a National Book Award Finalist and it deserved to be so. But twelve people? Two of those people were not directly hands-on people but 'dedicated to' people. So maybe it is only ten people. But one person, Guy Jarvis (jacket photography), was forgotten–now we are back up to eleven people. Too many people.

I believe somehow we have lost our grip. We are not writing books anymore but giving ourselves up to a process not dissimilar to constructing complicated sandwiches in a deli. Authors now have to dodge people who want some of their time and creativity and dignity and money like farangs have to dodge trannies on Sukhumvit, or like tourists have to dodge touts in Morocco, or like elderly British couples have to dodge and 'negotiate' with beggars in Bombay. It's just more social entropy and winding down of civilization, and no there are not ten or eleven other people involved in that opinion. That is my opinion. We had a couple of hundred good character building and morals building years in the United States and now it is going the other way. Show up at a publisher with a manuscript in your hand and the rats burst from the sewers as if flushed by Spring rains. Ever seen a rat smile? Show up at a publishing house with a manuscript in your hand.

Following the Water by David M. Carroll is a nice little book. The kind of book that I would like to see Thais write about their own landscape. Except for dramatic southern waterscape vistas, Thai landscape is not very interesting in a big way. It will take a subtle approach to record it's special features. Following the Water sets the standard for naturalist subtle writing–I just wish I knew who wrote it. When Mr. Carroll finishes reading a stand alone essay or a story of mine under the Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes banner he knows who wrote it.

That should mean something.


Stickman's thoughts:

They say that we all have a book in us, but actually getting it written and published is something few see through to completion.