29 January 2016

Blood: Stories Update

We're almost there — my debut book, Blood: Stories, was scheduled for January release, but is going to be a couple weeks late, because things happen, it's a small press, etc. It looks like it's going to be a really beautiful object and well worth the wait. I expect copies will be making their way out in the world around the second week of February. [Update 29 February: Wrong about that. Physical copies have made their way to me, which means they're on their way to the distributor, and once the distributor has done all their distributory things to them, they'll be out in the world. Any day now...]

The book's info has been submitted to the distributor (Small Press Distribution), and should appear in their databases early next week, which will allow bookstores and libraries to place orders. It should also be hitting all the online vendors soon. (It's been on Goodreads for a while.) That means the pre-order sale from Black Lawrence Press will end [and it has], so if you want to order directly from the publisher at a discount, you'll need to do it immediately to get the discount.

Update: The book is now available for pre-order at Amazon, and ought to be at B&N, Bookdepository, etc. very soon. This means BLP can't offer a discount on it themselves anymore, but they will of course be hugely grateful to you if you order directly through them.

People have asked about e-books. BLP does not yet do e-books, though they're hoping to have them by the end of the year. Plans are afoot. But I doubt there will be any before summer at the earliest.

I'll be stepping out of my hermitage and making some appearances to support the book. The first will be Sunday Salon in New York City on February 21. Then I'll be at the AWP Conference in Los Angeles (March 30-April 2), where I'm doing a couple of signings and a reading. This summer, I'll be at Readercon. More details on all of this later. My newsletter and/or Twitter are good ways to keep up with what I'm up to.

(Reviewers: Either BLP or I can provide a PDF, an unofficial e-book, or, if you're really convincing about your need for it, a physical copy [they're a small press with limited resources, and hardcopies are not cheap even for the publisher]. Email me or editors@blacklawrencepress.com.)

And here is the table of contents:

26 January 2016

Activists of the Imagination: On English as a Department, Division, Discipline

Earlier this month, just back from a marvelous and productive MLA Convention in Austin, Texas, I started to write a post in response to an Inside Higher Ed article on "Selling the English Major", which discusses ways English departments are dealing with the national decline in enrollments in the major. I had ideas about the importance of senior faculty teaching intro courses (including First-Year Composition), the value of getting out of the department now and then, the pragmatic usefulness of making general education courses in the major more topical and appealing, etc.

After writing thousands of words, I realized none of my ideas, many of which are simply derived from things I've observed schools doing, would make much of a difference. There are deeper, systemic problems, problems of culture and history and administration, problems that simply can't be dealt with at the department level. Certainly, at the department level people can be experts at shooting themselves in the foot, but more commonly what I see are pretty good departments having their resources slashed and transferred to science and business departments, and then those pretty good departments are told to do better with less. (And often they do, which only increases the problem, because if they can do so well with half of what they had before, surely they could stand a few more cuts...) I got through thousands of words about all this and then just dissolved into despair.

Then I read a fascinating post from Roger Whitson: "English as a Division Rather than a Department". It's not really about the idea of increasing enrollment in English programs, though I think some of the suggestions would help with that, but rather with more fundamental questions of what, exactly, this whole discipline even is. Those are questions I find more exciting than dispiriting, so here are some thoughts on it all, offered with the proviso that these are quick reactions to Whitson's piece and likely have all sorts of holes in them...