Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ten Days Left to Support M. Allen Cunningham's Illustrated Limited Edition

Art by N. Shields, from Date of Disappearance
Ten days and $324 left to go in the Date of Disappearance fundraiser at United States Artists. If the deadline arrives, and we're shy of one hundred percent, the project is off.

But I know we can make it! Remember, this is "micro-philanthropy," meaning you can pledge one dollar, five dollars, whatever you wish -- it's a no-risk deal, you get to write it off, you can pledge to receive gifts, and you're supporting the arts.

I like to think that the project is kinda special: Date of Disappearance is a limited edition, every copy numbered and signed and illuminated beautifully with ten ink-and-charcoal images by Portland artist Nathan Shields. The book will launch a micro-press,and I want to put it out there in a special way -- exclusively through our country's fabulous indie bookstores (i.e., not Amazon or the chains).

During this final lap of fundraising, I've had the honor of being interviewed by fellow author Victoria Patterson (Drift, This Vacant Paradise). Not only is she an extremely gifted fiction writer -- she asks very smart interview questions. A snippet:
VP: You’re a true champion of independent booksellers. Do you see the plight of the artist and the independent bookseller as similar?

MAC: I love this question. Yes, yes. Alfred Kazin characterized modern American writers as being steeped — unavoidably and necessarily — in all the little, often superficial details of life in America, and yet as being at the same time deeply, subtly alienated from all of that. The same could be said of many great booksellers, I think. Both artist and bookseller stand at the vanguard of culture. Both struggle for something essentially impractical, unlucrative, and yet unspeakably necessary. Both have labored to build a life in accordance with a passionate vision. Both accumulate intangible rewards, usually in the absence of lower gratifications (prestige, affluence, vacations). Both are cursed and blessed to live in the conviction that what they do has relevance and worth in this world — to spend their days in service to something they love unreasonably and irredeemably. And strangely, mysteriously, the artist and bookseller alike are also (though each is much more than this too) perpetuators and guardians of community — the writer as observer, voice, empathetic being, the bookstore as megaphone, nexus, flashpoint. ...
Visit Three Guys One Book for the whole interview:

Join 68 Date of Disappearance supporters at: 

Friday, November 04, 2011

Writer's Statement

The following was written a few years ago for an application I submitted to an institution which shall remain nameless...

I’ve traveled my path as a writer a little bit backwards and now come to this application from an unusual place. I studied literature in college, but at twenty I went off to begin writing seriously on my own. In the years since then I’ve released two novels and published numerous short stories in national literary magazines. Meanwhile I’ve worked various jobs, among them flower delivery driver, bookstore clerk, hospital purchasing agent, house-painter, newspaper delivery agent, and ranch caretaker. In all candor I’ve reached a very difficult moment in my writing and in my life. I hope to make it a turning point, and this is why I’m submitting this application.

I’ve done my best alone. I’ve strained my eyes with deep reading. I’ve labored, as Wallace Stegner advised, to take charge of my material, filling crates with drafts before each story or novel was finished. I’ve grown a trusty shell against the sidelong looks of those who would question the validity of my vocation. I’ve even accepted the relative insignificance of this work in the larger world (does the world need me to write another book?) and kept working anyhow.

What I have never done is plug into a community of mutual support. I’ve never benefited from – or had the opportunity to contribute to – the seriousness and shared aims of a body of advanced writers. Now, thanks to this painful absence in my life, I’ve realized late and hard how crucial such community is. I’ve been a sort of closet writer all these years, but it turns out you can’t do this thing all by yourself, alone in a room, forever.

I’ve known of [your institution’s] existence for a long time. What draws me to apply now is my wish to work alongside serious, developed writers like me, all of us primed to better our craft, undistracted and unashamed. After long seclusion I can’t possibly express how timely, how instrumental for my work, such an environment would be. Beyond the literary gods in books, nobody has ever assured me daily and at length that to live as I have – to view writing as serious work – is not shameful or socially suspect, but maybe legitimate and honest (yes, even when it doesn’t pay). Getting published is a form of assurance, but publication is not community. The world of print can be curiously cold, and after years and years at the desk sharing your work with the stern dead walls, you realize print alone will not warm your room. You realize you need a real and breathing community: a gang of believers to be inspired by, to inspire.

I wish to continue writing, but I can’t go it all alone anymore. I need to share myself. I’m ready.

My application was passed over and I persevered alone, managing somehow to complete a new novel and then turn my attention to Date of Disappearance, my illustrated limited edition book of stories now accumulating support on USA Projects.

Having launched this fundraiser, I’m amazed to see (in a form I never anticipated) that “gang of believers” cohering around me after all. Turns out they were there all the time. I thank each and every one of them for their support, their community, their belief. If you'd care to join them, the fundraiser runs until two weeks from today. Any support is deeply appreciated -- and can earn you unique gifts!  http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/date_of_disappearance  

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Victory for the Small!

As reported by the New York Times today, St. Mark's Bookshop in New York has struck a deal with its landlord which will allow the store to stay open for business!

After many months of stalled negotiations and uncertainty about the bookshop's future, this is happy news. Independent bookstores like St. Mark’s promise to quietly save our country from spiritual and municipal ruin, because the booksellers, at their best, are proponents of the most civilizing things in life: art, education, civic involvement, and the meaningful wasting of time (which can foment genius).

Yet independent bookselling is an enterprise fraught with risk, and at our present historical moment the systemic atmosphere in America is one almost entirely contemptuous of significant cultural undertakings like this. The corporate and online book-vendors can be boarish, destructive entities, with little or no accountability to communities, and fidelity to nothing but the dollar and whatever dross will stimulate its multiplication. By contrast, independent booksellers are in the business of knowing their neighborhoods, their clientele, and the clientele’s particular tastes. They thereby do a profound service to their communities — and, by ripple effect, to the larger culture.

Vitality of the independents — of St. Mark’s at this moment — means vitality for democratic culture itself, which begins in and consists of (what else?) neighborhoods!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Illustrated Story Collection News: Help Still Needed

The Date of Disappearance percentage bar held steady most of last week. Then within a single twenty-four-hour period it leapt seven percentage points! That was something to see, let me tell you, and it brought the remaining funds-to-raise down to the three-figure range!

In a matter of days we will enter the final two weeks before United States Artists pulls the plug on this fundraiser. As fundraising goes, that is an extremely short period of time, which means help getting the word out and encouraging continued support is as critical as ever to this project’s success.

Please make liberal use of the “Share” and “Embed” links beside my videos, the pass-along message included in my 10/16 update, and the Date of Disappearance Facebook page.

And buckle your seatbelts, it’s gonna be close!!

Anyone who has pledged in the time between this fundraiser’s launch and the close of next Saturday, November 5th will be eligible to receive …
A downloadable audio version of my short story “Windmills” in its entirety, including my personal audio greeting and dedication to YOU. Listen on your bike, in the car, or at the gym! This is story #3 in the collection. Here’s a snippet:

“I came inside and I realized the whole drive home was a blank. Like it didn’t happen. I couldn’t remember starting the car, changing highways, listening to the radio, nothing. Have you ever had a feeling like that?”
PLEDGE BY: 11:59 p.m. PT, Saturday, Nov. 5th

Congrats to our latest Patron Extraordinaire, Taniya, whose name was just drawn from the hat! Taniya receives a spiffy and durable pocket journal by Moleskine. Look for it soon, Taniya, and enjoy!

With enduring gratitude, and with good hopes,

Date of Disappearance Project Goal:
Amount Raised as of Today:
            $3,928 (or 83%!)
Remaining Amount to Raise:
Fundraising Days Remaining: