You Can’t Cash Acclaim at the Bank

Jennifer Weiner talks on her blog about the plight of author Mary Gaitskill, a widely acclaimed novelist and a National Book Award finalist. But acclaim, as the NY Times reports in their piece on Gaitskill, doesn’t always translate into money. Gaitskill barely scratches out a living and is deeply in debt.

"Her life is not easy," said Knight Landesman, Ms. Gaitskill’s friend and the
publisher of the magazine Artforum. "There have been good reviews, but that does
not translate into dough. She has not been offered the cushy faculty job at
Princeton. The work has been too raw, and that’s why this has been, really, such
wonderful news."

Gaitskill’s financial troubles were a shock to Weiner, a bestselling novelist herself who considers the author a major influence.

Gaitskill was one of the writers who made me believe that I could be a
writer, too, and her characters, while creepy, live and breathe on the page. If
she’s in debt and living in a doom room trying to write over the noise of
Britney Spears, there’s something wrong with the modern-day patronage system
that I always figured was working pretty well.

I recommend both Weiner’s post and the NY Times article to all aspiring writers — many of whom have unrealistic expectations about what they can expect once they are published.  Sadly, Gaitskill’s story is far more common than Weiner’s.

Men of Mystery

Yesterday, Tod and I attended the sixth annual Men of Mystery event — where 62 mystery authors hob-nob at the Irvine Marriott with 550 hot, sweaty, lusty female fans.  The objects of the women’s insatiable desire this time included Barry Eisler, J.A. Konrath, Gregg Hurwitz, Sean Doolittle, Thomas Perry, Eddie Muller, Gar Anthony Haywood, Nathan Walpow, Rob Roberge, David Corbett, Paul Levine, Mark Haskell Smith, Terrill Lee Lankford, Gary Phillips, Dick Lochte, Tom Nolan and Dean Koontz. As usual, I had a terrific time. I’ll leave it to my brother Tod to blog about the snarky details. The big surprise of the day was the announcement that MofM organizser Joan Hansen has been awarded The Raven by the Mystery Writers of America, which she certainly deserves.

Afterwards, Tod and I scooted down to the Barnes & Noble in Aliso Viejo where we discussed writing for two hours with a dozen friendly folks and managed to sell a whopping one book each. Ah, the glitz and glamor of being a Man of Mystery.

King Kong Tie-Ins

Galleycat reports that Pocket Books is going ape for King Kong Tie-ins.

Anybody can put out a novelization for their blockbuster film, but Peter
Jackson had bigger plans for King Kong: He came up with a
backstory that’s been turned into an official prequel, King Kong: The
Island of the Skull
[by Matthew Costello]. As Rod
Lott writes in Bookgasm
, "Kong himself does not appear, not even in a
cameo. His name is whispered, his face is crudely drawn, but the ape never rears
his giant, ugly head." Still, Lott found it entertaining enough, and a cut above
the usual tie-in.

There will also be a novelization, by Christopher Golden, as well as two behind-the-scenes picture books (The Making of King Kong
and The World of King Kong), and sci-fi writer Karen Haber will be edit
Kong Unbound, "in which various writers will discuss "the history and
legacy of the most famous ape in Hollywood and his continuing impact on pop
culture and modern filmmakers."

Google Yourself At Your Own Risk

Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen googled herself the other day and was stung by what she found.

Any writer who succumbs to the temptation of checking out what others are saying
about her books should be warned that what’s out there on the internet ain’t
always pretty. After eighteen books and twenty years in this business, I should
know better than to go searching for more reasons to drive myself crazy, but
what else is a masochist supposed to do in her spare time?

While you’re at it, stay away from Technorati and Blogpulse, too. Occasionally, I make the mistake of googling or blogpulsing myself and I’m always sorry I did. Do I really need to know all the different ways fanficcers and "Real People Slash" whackos would like me to fuck myself? No.

I also see a lot of outright lies and falsehoods — people accusing me of doing or saying something I never did or said. As infuriating as that is, I try to resist the strong temptation to refute every one of them (which would take hours, and draw me deeper into the cesspool, so I don’t bother).  It’s just not worth the time or effort.

But what attracts me to those Me Me Me searches, besides a raging ego, is that sometimes I will stumble on a positive review or an interesting discussion about my books, TV shows, or blog posts that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Still, every time I type my name into one of those search engines I do so knowing I probably won’t like what I see…and vow never to do it again.

Until tomorrow.

My Sister Is So Dead

We Goldbergs have really big mouths. My Mom, my brother, and my sisters all have blogs (and, of course, so do I. Not to mention my Uncle, my cousins, my distant cousins, even my sister-in-law for a while). Why?  Because we have really big mouths and can’t shut the hell up.  We love to share our opinions, our sordid pasts, and our stories with anybody who will listen.

Occasionally, this gets us into trouble, not just with fanficcers,, vanity press companies, fucktards, and Tono Rondone, but with our own family of big mouths. My sister Linda talks about this (where else?) on her blog today.

Recent Flicks

I’ve been remiss in commenting on the movies I’ve seen lately, so here goes:

PRIME. Insanely dull. Not funny. Closest I’ve coming to falling asleep in a movie theatre in decades. Oddly, my wife felt the same way.

THE SQUID AND THE WHALE. Jeff Daniels is terrific. Some great scenes. Film doesn’t so much end as it simply stops. Still, worth seeing.

GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK.  Based on the reviews, I was expecting a lot. My expectations weren’t met. David Strathairn’s performance as Murrow is great, but the film still skates on the surface. It doesn’t reveal anything you didn’t already know and offers no fresh insights.

IN HER SHOES. I’m embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed this movie. My wife took me to it against my will and I found it funny, moving, and a well-acted. Sure, it’s a formula movie…but the formula works.

And there was some French movie we saw in the last month or so that was so forgettable that neither my wife nor I can remember what it was about, who was in it, or even what the title was.

Montgomery Simplifies

David Montgomery reviews my brother Tod’s book SIMPLIFY on his site today. And he likes it.

Short story collections are nearly impossible to review, especially in
anything under several hundred words. (How do you comment generally on a book
that contains twelve different stories that vary in plot, theme, quality, etc.?)
Still, there are a few observations that one can make about Tod Goldberg’s
Simplify. The stories are sharp and insightful, many of them dealing
with issues emerging from childhood. The writing is often funny, even when it’s
painful, and always to the point, with keen dialogue and a strong voice.
Finally, the stories on the whole are powerful, provocative and a pleasure to
read. The title entry, in particular, is a minor masterpiece.

Reese Reckons

The Book Standard reports that Reese Witherspoon will star in a movie adaptation of Jeff Long’s novel THE RECKONING.

The story centers on a photojournalist who arrives in Cambodia to cover the U.S.
military search for the remains of an American pilot shot down during the
Vietnam War.  Ted Tally (Red Dragon, The
Silence of the Lambs
) penned the screenplay, which is out to directors.  Witherspoon will produce the project along with Type
A’s Jennifer Simpson.  Long’s
book was published by Atria in July 2004.

Where Has He Been?

Sorry I’ve been a little scarce around here the last few days. I’m on the board of my HOA and I’ve been preoccupied with a small community crisis, talking to my neighbors, organizing meetings, and firing off letters to our City Council and Planning Commission… and I’ve been working on my book  and preparing for a studio meeting today. And tomorrow, I’m gone all day doing booksignings with my brother Tod:

The month of The Goldbergs begins in earnest on Saturday as Lee and I barnstorm
Southern California with just two turntables, a microphone, a fair amount of
Polo shirts and a scorched path filled with dead hookers and coke deals gone
wrong behind us. That’s just how the Goldbergs roll, y’all. Strictly gangsta and Polo. Check out
the road show at the Barnes
& Noble in Aliso Viejo
on Saturday night at 5pm (you’ll be able to spot
us pretty easily — we’ll be the two liberal Democrat Jews standing in the
middle of the OC) or swing by the Marriott in Irvine for Men of Mystery Saturday
morning at 9am. (Tickets may well be sold out already, but that doesn’t mean you
can’t just loiter in the parking lot waiting for an autograph.)

Sadly, the blog has kind of fallen through the cracks with all that activity. I hope to be back in my usual form very soon.