An Evening of Fiction and Music

On Thursday evening, February 2nd, at the San Francisco Main Library, I will read from my novel Fool’s Republic (North Atlantic Books, 2011), accompanied by upright bassist Eric Marshall. Please join us for this fusion of fiction and music.

Here’s the link: http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1008644801 .

 
The Event:
6:00 – 7:30 PM
Thursday February 2, 2012
Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room B
San Francisco Main Library
100 Larkin Street, San Francisco CA 94102
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My Recommendations for Night Table Reading Series

I was recently asked to contribute an article for the McNally Robinson Booksellers night table reading series. My recommendations:

  • Just Kids, by Patti Smith
  • The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman
  • The Smoking Diaries, by Simon Gray
  • Talking Into the Ear of a Donkey, by Robert Bly

Click here to read the article:

http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/editorial-2215/Gordon-W.-Dale—-Night-Table-Recommendations

After all, there’s nothing like a good book to get you through the winter doldrums.

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Fool’s Republic a Finalist for USA “Best Books 2011”!

I’m very pleased to announce that my novel Fool’s Republic (North Atlantic Books, 2011) was a finalist in the Fiction: Thriller/Adventure category of The USA “Best Books 2011″ Awards”. 

 
In addition to this honor, Fool’s Republic has been shortlisted for the British Crimewriters Association Debut Dagger Award (under it’s working title: Rome Was Never Like This) and received Honorable Mention in the 2011 San Francisco Book Festival.

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The Next Big Thing–Emotifonts!

The other day I saw a sign that said: if sarcasm had a font, what would it look like? That got me wondering. If irony had a font, what would that look like, and would it be invisible to televangelists and politicians?

Actually, I quite like the idea of having different fonts for different emotions. It’d be particularly useful for novels. Each genre could have its own—a font that raced ahead in an almost straight line for thrillers, and a weepy, throbbing kind of font for romance novels. Gothic novels could have… well, never mind. Someone’s already invented gothic font, not that the publishers of gothic novels seem to have noticed. Political tracts could have text that leaned heavily to the left or right.

 Certainly emotional fonts—shall we call them emotifonts?—would save a lot of time. Instead of writing, “ Well,” he said, raising an eyebrow suggestively, or “Well,” he said, raising an eyebrow disapprovingly, you would just use the suggestive or disapproving font as you deemed appropriate. Then we could finally do away with adverbs altogether in written dialogue, which would make it far more readable (you might want to imagine that last sentence in didactic font). I suppose if you wanted to write something like: He raised his eyebrow archly, you’d use an arch font. And if he raised his eyebrow archly in support of a proposal, you’d use an arch support font. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.) But you can see where this is leading: there’d be as many fonts as there are emotions. A million emotional fonts, all competing for attention. Much like group therapy, but less annoying.

 Still it might be worth it, just for the way it would improve the cinema. Studios could insert emotifont subtitles into films where the actors are former fashion models or reality stars, just so we could tell what the emotional subtext was supposed to be. And think of the improvement to subtitles. To my ear, some languages just sound angry. Two characters meet, have an exchange, and I expect immediate bloodshed. Then I look at the subtitles, which read: “Natsumi is my wife.”, and I’m no further ahead. Is that a simple declarative statement, the emotional equivalent of “My dog’s name is Fido.”, or is it the prelude to a bout of jealous, homicidal rage? I simply can’t tell. Emotifonts would solve that problem.  And I can just imagine the advertising copy on the director’s cut DVD: Here, for the first time, you can finally see the emotifonts as the director intended you to see them!

Emotifonts, the best idea I’ve had in years! Now if I can only invent one for books destined for the New York Times bestseller list.

 Gordon W. Dale is the author of Fool’s Republic (North Atlantic Books), which was awarded Honorable Mention by the 2011 San Francisco Book Festival.

 

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Free Books!

I passed this storefront in El Cerrito, CA and thought, hmmm… it’s a store that gives away it’s merchandise for free and it has burglar bars on the window. That makes sense.

And then I thought, wait a minute, they’re giving away free books. Free books! Is that a good idea? I felt a deep sense of loss when bookstores started falling like dominoes, but I never expected them to be replaced by outlets that gave away books. If you can’t stay in business selling books, how do you keep the doors open by giving them away?

Then I realized it was probably a sneaky marketing ploy by the Book Publishers Association of America (or whatever association book publishers belong to). They’re giving away free books in the same spirit that a heroin dealer offers free samples of smack. A little taste, then another, then you’re hooked. Pretty smart, those book publishers. But then it occurred to me: if they’re so smart, why are they going broke?

I don’t know how long the Free Books! storefront in El Cerrito has been in operation, but it proudly displays a sign saying 167,257 books given away. 167,257 books! In her heyday, J.K. Rowling could sell more units that that on a winter morning in Novgorod. Imagine if the Free Books! store was a Free iPhones! store? The line would be around the block. They’d have to hire the Hell’s Angels to provide security.

A store offering free books. I suppose it was inevitable. But doesn’t it make more sense to stack  the books on the sidewalk, where they’d be easily accessible, twenty-four hours a day? Then the burglar bars could function as street art, a kind of metaphor for modern life: the valuable stuff is out there, free for the taking; the useless, empty crap, the stuff we’re supposed to focus on, is locked up tight.

Burglar bars protecting an empty store—now that’s what I call progress.

Gordon W. Dale is the author of the novel Fool’s Republic, published by North Atlantic Books.
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Hugh “Bluesman” Laurie.

 I’m sure blues purists and music critics cringe at the very idea of a British actor doing a blues album but as I am, thankfully, neither of those things, I can permit myself to enjoy whatever I like. I bought this album at Starbucks (yes, I know… I succumbed again to the point-of-sale marketing efforts of the evil empire. So sue me.) because, well, frankly, I enjoy all things Hugh Laurie. And I wasn’t disappointed.

As Laurie himself says in the liner notes: “You don’t buy fish from a dentist, or ask a plumber for financial advice, so why listen to an actor’s music?” He goes on to say: “The answer is–there is no answer.”

Well, I’ve got an answer: because it’s weird and wonderful. It’s Hugh Laurie.

Gordon W. Dale is the author of the novel  Fool’s Republic (North Atlantic Books).
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Artistic Intention

I was at a presentation last week where the speaker made the astonishing assertion that the difference between the work of a professional abstract artist and the smears and scribbles of a child or chimpanzee was a matter of intention. The point being I suppose that the smears and scribbles of an artist are always begun with some final result or effect in mind. Bollocks!

With that in mind, I thought I’d share this photo of an elephant painting with clear intention. I suppose if she couldn’t actually draw, she’d have to resort to something abstract.

(I’m just glad elephants can’t write. The competition is brutal enough already.)

The photograph is by Yuri Zelez and was taken at at a sanctuary in Thailand where people can visit and work with rescued elephants. You can check it out at elephantstay.com.

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Great Review from Midwest Book Review !

Here’s what Midwest Book Review said about Fool’s Republic:

 “The eerie background feels right for this stark timely political thriller. The story line echoes Benjamin Franklin’s wise commentary that “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither”.  Fool’s Republic is a terrific look at how easily the government gives and takes away under the guise of national security.”

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Winnipeg Book Launch June 12th, 2011

On Sunday, June 12th at 2:00 PM I will be discussing and signing copies of my novel Fool’s Republic (North Atlantic Books/Random House) at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg. I will be speaking for about 20 minutes, followed by a question and answer session. I’d be very pleased to see you there.
 
EVENT DETAILS:
 
2:00 PM June 12th, 2011
McNally Robinson Booksellers
Grant Park in the Atrium
Grant Park Mall
1120 Grant Ave.
Winnipeg, Manitoba
 
Event is no charge.

Phone: 204-475-0483

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SF Book Festival: Fool’s Republic Awarded Honorable Mention!

Fool’s Republic received honorable mention in the 2011 San Francisco Book Festival, general fiction category!

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