Last week Professor Mark Crispin Miller invited me to speak to his culture in media class at NYU about my experiences as an author dealing with the problems of the shrinking book publishing industry and the loss of quality and increased (ensorshlp that followed as a result. I mostly talked about the problems. During my train ride home, I started thinking more about possible solutions.
Publishing involves a product, information, that is unlike any other product; information can be copied and shared. Partly because of this, and partly because information can be a public good, a human right, writers are often expected to work for free or for low pay. The problems of this industry are unique. So must be the solutions. I put together Wish List, that, if implemented, would make my life easier and the reading public smarter. Some things on my list involve nothing less than reorganizing the entire economy or getting society as a whole to change its expectations. But, hey, the first step on the way to a revolution is to imagine how things might be, however impossible such changes may seem from where we stand now. Continue reading →
Locus Amoenus, 9/11 novel by Victoria N. Alexander, has been nominated for the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Since 2007, the DLPP has awarded $10,000 each year. Previous recipients include, Bob Shacochis for The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Francine Prose for A Changed Man. The 2016 winner will be announced in September.
A tale of dark political corruption, betrayal and a through the looking-glass world where you can believe six impossible things before breakfast, Locus Amœnus is also a fiercely funny romp by a talented writer. Locus Amœnus is now available on Amazon at a 10% discount.
“Alexander’s Locus Amœnus is a biting, witty, and ultimately touching window on modern American life. She evokes the wit and depth of the best of Kingsolver and high satire and earnest social exploration of Pynchon or Delillo. Her experiences bridging the worlds of rural and urban northeastern America provide those of us with experience of both a welcomed bit of nostalgia, longing, familiarity, and a sense of loss. This story is to be savored, and hopefully re-read in certain existential moods.”
“This brilliant, searing political novel deserves to be read by all of those interested in the current and future state of the United States of America. Darkly comic, wry and witty, Locus Amœnus is a genuine pastoral, a critique of the bloating and corruption of American life that draws on Hamlet for its dissection of politics, relationships, and love in post-9/11 America. From Swift to Shakespeare, the literary antecedents for Locus Amœnus are wide and varied, but the novel that emerges is wholly original and haunting in its graphic depiction of contemporary American mores and failures. I can’t recommend Victoria N. Alexander’s new novel enough.”
A satirical examination of how we live in the 21st century, in the United Estates of America, with less civilization and more discontents than hitherto. Amidst nostalgic reflections on our past, Victoria notices current absurdities and contradictions in our appetites and critique of consumerism, and despite the tragedy, we have the consolation of her humor. I haven’t laughed this well while reading in a long time. Locus Amœnus is available now on Amazon.
Brilliantly combining Shakespeare’s knowing personal-political masterpiece, Hamlet, with post-911 ruminations of an edifying diversity of characters inhabiting Amenia in rural New York, novelist Victoria N. Alexander manages to do the three things that Nabokov says a good novelist must do: tell a story, inform, and enchant. Locus Amœnus, a short, sweet, sui generis blend of contemporary adult fiction and geopolitical drama, reminds us that something may be rotten in more than Denmark.
Locus Amœnus will be out soon. You can pre-order from Amazon at a 13% discount. (This discount decreases as the pub date nears!!)
The galleys (review copies) of Locus Amœnus came out today. Permanent, the publisher, will be sending them to Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly and various other trade review publications.
Locus Amœnus will be out very, very soon. You can pre-order from Permanent or from Amazon at a 15% discount.
Okay, so maybe picking a Latin phrase, Locus Amœnus, with its weird spelling, for the title of my latest novel might make it a little hard for people to recommend it to friends. (If you order now from Amazon you can get 13% off.) Locus amœnus can be pronounced in English, Low cuss a men us, with stresses on “low” and “a.” In Latin you want to make “amœnus” sound more like “a moin us.” I have also heard amœnus pronounced “uh mean us.” Any of these are acceptable. This is America, after all.
Locus Amœnus means “pleasant location,” and it’s used in poetry to describe a restful place where nothing bad ever happens. It also happens to be the scene of the crime in many of Ovid’s tales, an idea which fits well with the theme of my novel. I couldn’t pass up this phrase for my title, despite its awkwardness, because the story is set in the rural upstate town of Amenia, a would-be pastoral paradise where I own a sheep farm. The name “Amenia” of course comes from the same Latin word as amœnus. Amenia is, by the way, variously pronounced as “Uh many uh” or “Uh meanie uh.”
Here is the final cover design for Locus Amœnus, which will be released at the end of April. The novel is a dark comedy/tragedy, a revision of Hamlet set in rural upstate New York in 2009. I requested a graffiti font for the tile to add a bit of irreverence to contrast the pastoral scene. The designer chose to use a bullet-holes-and-blood font to make it look like a thriller. The story does involve an old murder, two accidental deaths, some bloody noses and an allusion to Shakespeare’s heap of bodies at the end of his play, but no one actually gets a mob-style hit in Locus Amœnus.