Friday, January 6, 2012

Creatures From the Blog Lagoon

In this age of social networking, the rise of the e-book, and the countless choices in front of the literary public, the book blog is a crucial means of getting the word out about a book. Book blogs are run by individuals (or sometimes a collective) who simply read books with the pure hope that they will derive some pleasure from it. If they like it, they write about. If they don't like it, they write about it anyway. So, while it's not the traditional, monolithic form of critical review, more and more, the book blog is becoming the voice we know, trust and have easiest access to. These people might be your friends, neighbours, teachers or the cashier at your local Walmart. But one thing they have in common is their love of books. I mean, why else would a person set themselves up as a book blogger, buy the books (although, once they develop a reputation, sometimes people in the industry will start sending books to the bloggers in hopes they will be reviewed) and take the time to write about it? All of these activities consumes time and that's increasingly something none of us have to spare.

The cool thing about book blogs is their unfettered honesty and, if they like a book, the chances for that opinion to go viral on the web within hours or days is always there. Lots of these blogs are linked to dozens of other, similar blogs and so word gets out pretty fast about what's either good to read or not worth your while.

Where is all this going, or coming from? Well, lately I've been blessed with some positive publicity from a variety of sources, and I wanted to sahre it, as well as acknowledge the givers.

A book blogger who goes by "raidergirl3" recently named Moonlight Sketches among her favourite reads of the year. This person apparently has read a lot, is a rabid fan of books in general and seems quite savvy--articulate, too, which I particularly appreciate in a reviewer, regardless of whether it's a postive review or not. Here's the link to her review: .

And here's the link to her ranking of top reads, some of which I'll definitely be checking out: Just scroll down to her "Best of 2011" entry. Look, I know it's not a Giller Prize, but you know what? To know that someone took a chance on your book, spent their hard-earned money on it and is willing to praise it publicly, thereby putting her/his reputation on the could that not mean a lot to any writer? Thank you, raidergirl3, once again, whoever you are.

Another book blogger, Chad Pelley, of Salty Ink, has been quite kind to me, as well as to numerous other writers. To my mind, he's the king of book bloggers in Atlantic Canada and one of the best in the entire country, his knowledge of the industry and of books by Canadians being on a par with anyone's and much better than most. He's also the author of a recently published novel entitled Away From Everywhere, which I highly recommend, especially if you like books with lots of action and conflict, with a steady supply of introspection and subtle commentary on the human condition. I unabashedly loved it and have been telling people about it for nearly two years now, in fact long before I knew anything about the author. So, sure, he's been kind to me lately, so I thought I'd plug his book once more. It's not only good karma, it's the right thing to do.

Chad wrote an article for The Telegram in December and mentioned Moonlight Sketches as one of the "hot reads" for a warm, winter night. A few days later, he wrote a blog entry that listed what he considers the top books of short fiction in Canada this year. Again, Moonlight Sketches made the list.
From what I can tell, this self-professed "slow reader" has read a ton of books this year by Canadian authors and certainly has his favourites. Have a look at his list and you'll see what I mean: But book blogging/reviewing is one of those areas where you're kind of expected to have favourites--I mean, that's partly what having an opinion is all about, being able to separate wheat from chaff, having the ability to rank one's own reactions to books, if not the books themselves.

Most recently, I was informed that my collection became a "Salty Ink bestseller" this year, having been cited by readers of this blog (and they are legion and widespread) as being one of those books they bought at least in part because they saw it mentioned on Salty Ink. So how could I not be grateful? Book bloggers have actually put food on my table this year, and I truly ought to be thankful and humbled. You would think so, right?

I did an interview with Salty Ink a couple of days ago, afte the "bestseller" incident was revealed and, with 2011 in the rearview mirror, I was able to gain, and articulate, some perspective about what kind of year it's been and how I actually feel about the book and the publishing industry itself. You can find the interview here:

As most of you know by now, on this blog I vary from time to time, waxing philosphic about some topics and, on other days, simply letting you know what's been going on with me. There's been a lot of stuff related to Moonlight Sketches lately, as well as with the upcoming novel, Finton Moon (April 2012), and I thought it was time I wrapped it all up in one blog entry of my own with a nice, neat bow on it--a pretty good bit of housecleaning to start the new year.

I've had some fairly interesting and exciting stuff happen in the last couple of days, in fact, including some government correspondence to the effect that I am now culturally "significant" in some way. I'll be sharing that news in more detail soon. I am flattered by the insinuation (I mean, who wouldn't be?), but I have it in perspective. Truly, I am a teacher and a writer who has published one book, going on two. I haven't cured any diseases, haven't particularly made the world a better place in any broad sense and, even in the literary world, realize that there are many who have made themselves far more significant than my book of short stories could ever be. But it was a nice moment, especially after spending the better (or worse) part of two decades toiling away in obscurity. And deserves, as my man Clint says in Unforgiven, well, that's got nothin' to do with it.

Thanks, book bloggers, for taking notice and for loving books of all sorts. And even if you hate something I write in future years, it's okay to say so because I know it's just your opinion, and you're just trying to keep it real and do a good job.

May 2012 be your best year yet and the best year in books in, like, ever!


  1. Nothing less than you deserve, Gerard, and I can hardly wait for April and the new book! Book reading in Dartmouth, riiiiiiiiiiiiiight??

  2. Aw, thanks. :-) Oh, but that reading in Dartmouth sounds like a right lovely idea. And NEXT time I hope we at least get to have a coffee or beer 'cause it's only right. that we should.