Wired talks GEEK LOVE
So I've been reading the Wired piece on Katherine Dunn's GEEK LOVE this morning, in bits and pieces around other things. Beyond the piece being a really interesting piece on a very odd book that's somehow managed to work its way into the collective consciousness, there's a sense of nostalgia that surrounds the book, and if you read between the lines, it describes a book industry I'm still mourning.
GEEK LOVE is a test of me, of a sort. If you are a writer, and you've read it, and you've loved it, and you've maybe read it again and talk about it with this sort of reverence, I am more likely to trust your writing, unseen. It's the reason I took a day's vacation from work the day Erin Morgenstern's THE NIGHT CIRCUS was released; I knew she got GEEK LOVE the same way I did, and I knew that because of that understanding, her book was going to be something special and momentous, and that reading it would be a sort of event for me.
I wasn't wrong.
But about two-thirds through the article, you can see a rare convergence of publishing talent you don't see anymore. You see a group of unknowns who took a chance on an author who wrote a book that should have been unsellable by anyone's definition. And yet here we are, 25 years later, still talking about this book, and just about everyone involved in its publication has become an industry star.
Why don't we see that anymore? Why don't we see publishers taking chances on books that you'd think people would never want to read? Why do we see overbuying of a trend to such a point that the public rebels and stops buying it? (::cough:: vampires. ::cough:: dystopian) Why is everyone looking for things like platform and established audiences (like fan fiction with huge readerships) instead of the next GEEK LOVE?
As a reader, I want the GEEK LOVEs. I want the quirky, strange books that make me think about life and art and ethics. I want books that push boundaries and make people question everything they know. And that's not a YA dystopian with a copied cover created by a ghostwriter who probably has had no luck getting their own work published and so has to sit at the feet of the Kardashians' "ideas."
For every BELLMAN & BLACK (and let's face it, if Setterfield's previous book hadn't been such a smash, would even B&B seen the light of day?), there are 100 books that copy another book. But like photocopies of old, with each successive iteration, it blurs and the quality becomes harder to read, until soon you wonder why they bothered.
And when they original was not all that original, that degradation happens even sooner.
So tell me; where are the GEEK LOVEs? Probably self-published, or in a drawer, but how do we find them? How can we sort through this giant wave of Things We Do Not Want to find a book that's going to be so different and memorable they can write about it 25 years later, and it's still amazing and astonishing?