Ja's Bar - Smack and Mirror's
J.A.’s bar is absurdly quiet these days. Jamie’s at the bar signing a copy of Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for me and we make up 50% of the customers. Dana sits in a back corner, desperately looking in her purse for a digital camera cord, muttering rude words in Chinese. The other guy is James Frey. He’s curled up in the foetal position, several weeks beard growth on his face. I think he’s mouthing: ‘give pieces a chance’.
The Pit hasn’t been used in weeks. The last jello-wresting fracas was J.K. Rowling vs. Stephanie Meyer, but everyone’s eyes, including mine, were glued to Obama’s massive package.
Desperate, J.A. hauled out the mud-coated jello, steamed it clean and turned it into a hot tub/tiki bar. Alas.... No one’s interested.
It’s not just the economic downturn. There’s something else going on and it makes me wonder.
Out in the street, the faint scent of noses worn down by grindstones is in the air. Everyone’s wants an angle so bad they’d sacrifice a virgin to Pythagoras a) he were alive and b) any were available.
What’s selling, what’s not, who’s selling and how is the question. For example - Vampires are their own genre these days, not that there is anything wrong with that, but to me the real-life vampires are CEO’s who require bailouts & suck the life from the rest of us. Now life imitates art and all that. Too close for comfort for my taste.
Escapism is not a new thing for paying customers who shell out deep to keep their illusions. They want fantasy – hard and fast with plenty of sequels. It’s getting tougher for serious writers these days. Even JA is turning to the e-press to gain better royalties, but I don’t see no Kindles near that hot tub. I buy a hard copy I can keep it for a few decades or pass it to a friend. I wants my paperbacks, thank you very much, but I’m choosier these days. A series is too much of a commitment. Too many changes all happening at once. It's not just getting published, it's HOW to get published.
I sip a lukewarm Pap Smear with a wrinkled cherry as I contemplate the writer’s life. I recall a fiction-writing meeting I attended just the other night. A new guy came by with buddies. I asked him what he was working on. He waxed enthusiastic about his screenplay which was about a guy and his two buddies who sell a screenplay to his favourite actress and become rich.
I nodded pleasantly as I threw up a little bit in the back of my mouth.
Not because it was an obvious exercise in self-absorbed fantasy fulfillment that would never go anywhere, but because it probably will sell if he has a decent amount of writing talent, finishes it and knows someone in the business. The sure sell. Even if it's trash.
Everyone wants a new sparkly spin on an old idea. They want to be popular without selling out. Kinda like doing a lap dance with your clothes on. They want it both ways, and in this slow economy, with all the new ways to download free entertainment, who can blame them?
That’s an illusion no one wants to shatter.