I went through this phase where I would stay up all nice watching IFC (sleeping has never been a skill of mine). I saw a lot of weird shit. The film, Naked Lunch, still stood out for it’s strangeness. It was my first introduction to William S. Burroughs, an author I loved in my late teen/early twenties. Not that I don’t love him now, I just have so many other things to read.
I wonder if I would have picked him up if I’d known he’d killed his wife playing William Tell? It wasn’t premeditated murder or anything–they were both drunk when it was decided (I’m not sure by whom) that it would be a good idea for William to shoot a gin and tonic off Joan’s head. He hit her face. She died, and he fled all possibility of punishment.
Finding this out colored my perception of him, but before that I had all those lovely moments with his stories, with his steam powered dildo, his talking asshole, and all his other skits. My stronger impression was of William S. Burroughs, the author, not William S. Burroughs, the drunken murderer.
Did Hugh Howey lose some business with that post? Yeah, yeah he did. Am I sorry that this is my first introduction to his writing, and not his book, which is currently in my TBR pile? Yes, honestly. It’s just, it was bad. Comedy, and specifically satire, is not easy. I’d rather my first experience with him be good.
Howey doesn’t strike me as much of an asshole though. Life will continue for him.
What about those authors whose idea of marketing is declaring things like: Suck my dick! Buy my book! The authors who spam social networking sites with their ugliness, like a small child that misbehaves to get attention. There was a time when their bad behavior was limited to a small subset of those around them, those who are directly affected by their behavior.
Now, they can go on Reddit, Twitter, GoodReads, WordPress, and spread their shit like a conscientious farmer. Will there be anymore great asshole authors, or will they all crash and burn before their careers start? Should we trust on these rare geniuses overwhelming misanthropy to keep them away from social media long enough for them to make their debut? Or will their overbearing egos cause them to seek and audience, and then crash and burn before they make their pen their opus?
While the changes wrought by technology aren’t necessarily bad, they’re still changes. I find myself writing shorter and shorter paragraphs, largely because they seem to read better on my Kindle. New words and tropes filter into our stories. We communicate with our readers and each other in different ways. It will be interesting to see if there are any new Bukowskis among this generations literary greats, or if assholes get the cold shoulder in the world of social media. I think some will survive. People will tolerate a fair amount, provided you’re able to entertain them.