That’s what T.S. Eliot wrote, right? No? No matter…speaking of wastelands, I’ve just returned from the Barnes & Noble web site, which is where I had journeyed in order to find an untapped reviewer community. Unfortunately, in the place of a thriving town, I found a Potemkin village instead. It’s true that there are a few reviewers who are enthusiastic, but it appears that they are only enthusiastic for books which are already popular. Plus, most of the reviewers chose for their identity to remain anonymous. As a result, it resembles a post-apocalyptic landscape more than any online civilization.
Following another suggestion from a friend, I ventured out and examined a site called NetGalley. It’s an interesting idea. They do the work of gathering a collection of hungry reviewers through enticing deals (i.e., free books) and rewarding competitions, and as the aspiring author, you pay them a hefty sum to gain access to their throngs. In general, I like the idea. However, once again, I find that my preferred style and genre seem to work against me. After scrutinizing their catalog, I noticed the category of “humor” was not listed among them. Hmmm…yet again, I became painfully aware of how satire is becoming an anachronism in the world of contemporary literature. Then, as I traversed its more popular titles, I discovered that Goodreads was not an isolated hub in the “chick lit” category. Yet again, I scrolled through page after page of listings for erotica, romance (yes, mostly paranormal), and young adult fiction which focused on themes of ‘dystopia’. So, obviously, that site is also an ideal tool of promotion for me. Yes, I’m being facetious.
(On a side note, when I think of ‘dystopia’, I think of novels that focus on showing how mankind’s notions of progress can actually backfire and cause a loss of humanity, especially in philosophical terms. Classic examples are Brave New World and 1984. If you’re going to use the word ‘dystopia’ to describe The Hunger Games, then you’re clearly not literate, and you don’t understand the meaning of the category. It DOES show that you desperately want to elevate the intellectual status of your entertainment, but unfortunately, you’re reading a book which is only slightly more mature than the Dragon Lance series. You might as well refer to Star Wars as a ‘dystopian’ movie where Luke has a light saber instead of a bow and arrow. Of course, it’s my ‘dystopia’ where Jennifer Lawrence’s breasts remain covered throughout her movie performance.)
Which brings me to my fearful conclusion: that literature is slowly dying as multimedia gladly offers to immediately satisfy the desire for instant gratification, and it looks like books have not escaped that trend. Could a dark satire like “American Psycho” have become as popular in this particular reading landscape? I have my doubts. In any case, it proves that I will have to effectively build a rocket ship and blast off in order to rid my mouth of this particular flavor of terroir from the current terrain. There has to be an audience for my book; I just have to find the completely insane route which will deliver me to them. That should be easy…right?