My good friend John Anderson went to South by Southwest this year and wrote about it. Since John Anderson is the sort of music fanatic who makes even those of us who have called ourselves professional music journalists look like clueless newbies, his SXSW is jam-packed with nuggety musical goodness, and when you’re done reading his report, you’ll be well ahead of the crowd in terms of what’s going to be cool for the next year or two. Thus, you’ll be able to say “What, The Cribs? Who hasn’t heard of them?” to your would-be hipster friends, crushing their will to live and establishing yourself as the new music master. And that’s what life’s all about, friends. Yes, indeed.
Reader and blogger Kevin Marks asks this question in one of the comment threads, and it’s something I think is worth throwing open to the general Whatever community (in other news: there is a Whatever community! Hello, you!):
I’ve just signed up to take over the local Teenage Writers group at a local big bookstore. The way it works is we meet once a month to read each others’ work and talk about writing. The wrinkle is that each month I have to pick a helpful book for teenage writers to read, which the bookshop will stock specially. Obviously “Coffee Shop” is on the list for a future month when it’s in print, but what else is worth suggesting?
First, while I’m flattered Kevin is thinking of Coffee Shop as a useful book, it’s going to be a limited edition, and at $35 a pop I don’t know if that’s the right price point for teens. So don’t worry about adding that one to the list (unless, you know, them kids are rich!).
Second, anyone have any suggestions for Kevin, here? My feeling is the book should be writing-oriented rather than simply a book with good writing, and it should be useful for teens. This is not to say it can’t be a general audience book, but it should have something in it that your average, smart, writerly teen is going to find useful.
“Writing-oriented” I would think doesn’t necessarily have be a “how to write” book — it could be a book that looks at books, or a biography of a writer with commentary about his or her books, or even books that are useful toward writing well even if they are not specifically about writing (I’ve known a number of writers who have recommended Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as a useful text for writers, for example, although I’m not sure I would be one of them).
So: Suggestions? Add them in the comment thread. I’ll add my own in there to get things started.
Two links of note for today:
1. An interview of me by Jeff VanderMeer, in which I reveal my true, unalloyed soul, and talk about my heretofore undescribed line of children’s titles, “The Fuzzy Ferrets.” You won’t want to miss this.
2. A nice review of Old Man’s War in January Magazine. Nice to see the book is still making the rounds with reviewers.