Thursday, October 18, 2012

another home for the homeless adjunct

Debra Leigh Scott's "How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps" was picked up and retitled at alternet.org. So Debra is fighting her way through the capitalist thicket of her "edupreneurship," and it appears as if she is making progress. My understanding is that she very much needs to get a profitable movie deal, big league book contract, or some other such financial reward from all of her hard work "saving" other people's faculty or students, and I'm sure millions of people she is fighting for could use some extra bucks, health coverage, and more. It would be a wonderful thing if all of her work ultimately does help level the economic playing field for students and teachers at American universities, but it's all important to recognize, and help publicize, that there are some programs in place to help both of these groups.

I guess it takes a lot longer to read a novel on the subject, and that could be one reason Fight for Your Long Day only has so many readers. But overall, in these times of social media and short-attention spans, folks seem to love a good opinionated essay on a topic, and then their free-and-easy chance to opine anonymously in the comments section, much more than any reading that might be harder work at times and offer its share of moral ambiguity and doubt about all kinds of agendas.

Moderate or nuanced positions are merely for suckers and cowards; defined outrage is in. Yeah, it's election season, so let's let it all hang out and "F" those who oppose us every chance we get. If you don't believe me, just ask everyone from Bill O'Reilly to Rachel Maddow to Rush Limbaugh to Michael Moore. Novels with nuances and ambiguity and perhaps even a strange, half-hidden nonpartisan streak despite a healthy dollop of the left in its focus on the leftover do not go over as well in these polarized times.

On the other hand, it could just be that folks haven't heard of the book. In Philadelphia on Tuesday evening, at a poetry reading, two different folks, one a poet and the event organizer, the other an English adjunct at Drexel, didn't recognize the title when my poet-accomplice was kind enough to bring it up in introducing me to these guys. I've noticed according to amazon's author central, my teaching region has sold many more copies than have moved in Philadelphia despite the book being in a window at the Faber in 30th Street Station as well as in the Sunday section of the Philly Inquirer's business news.

So, as they say, it is what it is.

In sales we talk about how out of ten people, the one person who dislikes you or your product will tell ten people whereas the folks who like you or it will tell one person. Over two years of marketing a novel, I've come to learn that at least in the case of this book, if the person does like the book, the one person they are most likely to tell is the author.

But, aside from another spate of insomnia, I've been in good spirits recently and have experienced life's "blessings and light" in other ways. Some of the examples of the bitter, aging, drunken writers, among the amazingly successful ones, are rather disturbing, and we can all do our best to try to remain outside of that category of writer whether we're famous, infamous, unknown, or entirely forgotten.

I'm working full-time, everyone in my family seems to have health benefits that work (knock on plastic keyboard), I do have readers, and some of these readers seem to hold my only published novel in high regard. What more, not only do I have occasional time to read (Foucault's lectures of all things!) and write fiction, but I also have the opportunity to communicate with motivated college students and live vicariously through all the various lives and diverse majors that a general-education curriculum brings together in one room.

Although it can be alternately, or even all at once, fascinating, stressful, unbelievable, and terrifying that some of my best students here are seeing the world in terms exactly antithetical to Debra Leigh Scott and everyone else fighting for some greater good or social justice, I learn a lot more from being in a room with my current students than I would if I were back in Philly, teaching in another version of America, one I have more experience with.

Okay. Better try the bed again.









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