I’ll be reading from A Field Guide to the North American Family this Saturday, as part of New York’s 20th annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair. The Indie Author Read-a-Thon runs from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and I’ll probably only be reading a couple of short chapters from the book; I can’t recommend that anyone schlep to 44th Street just to see me. That said, I had a blast at this book fair last year, trolling the beautiful wares of such publishers as Akashic Books, New York Review Classics, and Gingko Press. You know… the kind of books that don’t lend themselves to the Kindle. I emerged $40 poorer, but with half of my Christmas shopping done. My favorite find? An anthology of scam emails from Africa. So: Come for the books… stay for the reading!
I find it hard to believe, but today is the one year anniversary of The Millions, making this little Blog About Books a veritable ancient in the “blog world.” Authoring this blog has been a great experience for me. It turned me from an unmotivated, but ostensibly “aspiring” writer, into someone who writes for an audience every day and can now seriously contemplate life as a writer without much dread. If there’s any folks out there who are contemplating a similar sort of writing life, putting together a blog is a great way to get the kinks out, not to mention all the web skills you pick up along the way.When I first started The Millions it wasn’t even a blog about books, it was just a… blog. My buddy Derek had had a blog for a while and was really into it. It looked like fun and I was getting tired of trying to muster up the energy to write in my journal each day, so I decided to give it a try. My first post appears to have been about politics, and I think it was my last post about politics. I kind of meandered along like that for a while, writing intermittently about art lectures and rock and roll shows and things like that until one day in the shower, where I have most of my epiphanies, I had an epiphany. A Blog About Books. “I’ve decided to reinvent The Millions…”, I wrote. A manifesto soon followed. And it was followed again and again by more and more manifestos. And of course I went bookfinding and bookspotting. And occasionally people read the blog and they seemed to enjoy it and some of them even left comments or emailed me or asked me a book question. It’s been fun. I hope to keep doing it, too. I don’t have a lot of readers, 30 to 60 a day, and most of those are family members, but I’m pretty addicted to it. This year brings lots of busyness and lots of changes. I’m getting married, moving, and going back to school, but maybe I’ll find the time to make it to The Millions anniversary #2 on March 24th, 2005; you’ll have to keep reading to find out.The anniversary might be a good time to post another manifesto, and since I think I may have written a (small) one today in responding to an email from a reader, I might as well put it up here:I lean perhaps too much on the side of being uncritical about books. In fact, I prefer to allow the books I read to be a jumping off point for conversation or to talk about the experience of reading a particular book. I feel like that there is so much qualitative judgment being passed on books (…and music…and movies) that it tends to drown out the other stuff… so I haven’t wanted The Millions to add to the din of the review culture. Having said that, I think it IS important to pass qualitative judgment on books, but it is far more important to single out (and try to get people to read) the good ones instead of knocking down the bad ones. I also fear that my usual positivity makes me seem like a corporate shill for Amazon, but I’m hoping that most of my readers aren’t so cynical. I just happened to have all of this on my mind since it turns out that today is the one year anniversary of The Millions.Thanks to all you trusted fellow readers!
I just got off the phone with Liane Hansen of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. The show asked me to be a part of their Summer Reading series, which asks a guest each week what they’ve been reading, what they’ll read next, and what they’d read if they had all the time in the world. Hopefully, I don’t sound too nervous (it was my first time on the radio – a little nerve-wracking). But if you want to tune in, it’ll be on midway through the show’s second hour tomorrow. The segment will be posted on their website as well, so I’ll post a link here after it airs.Update: You can now listen to the segment online if you missed it on the radio.
The Millions, at any given time, has ten regular paid contributors and has been host to over a hundred guest contributors, including some of the literary world’s leading voices. With all this going on, we’ve long felt the great writing here needed a little room to breathe. With The Millions having outgrown its bloggy roots, and with needs that long ago surpassed my meager abilities as a web designer, we decided it was time to give The Millions a redesign that reflected the breadth of criticism, commentary, and reporting you’ve come to expect from the site.
So first, a quick tour. The new front page showcases two main headlines – these will be our two most recent essays or reviews – along with a dozen more recently published stories below.
Underneath that is a new section called Curiosities. Throughout the day, we’ll be sharing interesting links and tidbits here. Those of you who read The Millions via RSS will see Curiosities in the feed along with the rest of our content.
Also in the lower area are category-based links into our archives, as well as our monthly Top Ten. At the top right of the page, you’ll find a search box for the site and for Amazon.
If you you have any feedback or see anything broken, please let me know.
It’s not an easy time to be running an independent literature and culture publication that pays its writers, but we strongly believe that we can help fill the gap as coverage shrinks elsewhere. If you’d like to support this effort (or are just inclined to give a housewarming gift), please visit our support page.
Thanks for reading The Millions!