Book of Dreams – out now!

I have a new book out. It’s available here: https://amzn.to/2ozn9vY

It is called Book of Dreams. It’s a collection of about 125-some dreams, all weird and surreal, all vaguely related. It’s perfect if you have no attention span and you want to flip to some random page. It is pure hell if you’re the kind of person who needs act two to land on page 90 and not a page before or after.

I think this book is slightly less “Konrath” than my last few books. It’s not as manic or as fast-paced. NyQuil and Mariah Carey are not mentioned. It still has the same kind of humor; it just doesn’t lean on the persona as much, if that makes any sense.

And yes, I stole this idea from Jack Kerouac, sort of. Actually, Burroughs had a book called My Education: A Book of Dreams which I liked more. Kerouac’s book was much more free jazz and random, but had a lot of intersection with the characters in his books. WSB’s book had more about his daily life and his slow descent into death. (It came out two years before his passing.) My book isn’t either of those. I think some of these dreams are the backgrounds of stories that later came up in books like Atmospheres. I always end up in dead malls in dreams, so that’s a bit of a broken record here. The living-in-a-post-apocalypse thing is also a common trope, although I guess that’s not fiction anymore.

I really love the cover. It was designed by Casey Babb (www.breakingbabb.com) He also has an etsy store where he is always selling zines, prints, and other weird shit, which I would highly recommend visiting: https://www.etsy.com/shop/breakingbabb

The book is available in print and kindle on the amazon. You can also read the kindle version for free if you are a kindle unlimited member. And if you buy the print book, you get the kindle version for free.

The book is 168 pages, which I felt was a bit light, and I feel bad releasing a 45,000-word book, especially since I haven’t published any books over 50K since 2014. (Vol. 13 was 42K, but it was a collection, and nobody read it.) I wanted to put out a big book first, something 80 or 90 thousand words. But seeing as my most popular book as of late was just shy of 16K words, whatever. The next one will be bigger.

This is my 15th book. It is the 23rd release on Paragraph Line since we started ten years ago. The other big metric is this pushes me above the million-word mark in my published writing. My total published word count is now 1,019,640 words. So there’s that.

Anyway, check it at Amazon. I am also still largely boycotting Goodreads, but if you’re not, it has popped up over there. Tell all your friends. Buy two, they’re small. Etc.

Now, on to the next one.

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Food jail, backups, the death of facebook, etc.

I miss being able to write here on a daily basis on everyday topics that have nothing to do with my writing, in a style not like my writing. It’s caused a problem in that people read stuff here and assume my books are like this writing, and either say I should write more like this in my books (no) or make this blog all absurd stuff like my books (no). I do like when I look back at a random entry from 1997 and see what existential crisis I was having over buying CDs or something.

I’ve been in food jail for the last few weeks. I should be at about 170-175, but I’ve been just north of 200 for most of the year, and need to get past that. So I’m on plan, and I’m hesitant to say which plan, because everyone is a fucking expert, and I don’t need yet another goddamn person telling me I need to intermittently fast. I know what I need to do and what I need to eat, but it’s a slow process. If I could lose a pound a week, there are only 20 weeks left in the year, so that’s almost my goal. But it’s been slow. When I did this ten years ago, I would eat about 1500 calories a day, keep at a good ratio of protein/fat/carbs, and eat clean(ish) and I’d always lose 1-2 pounds a week, without fail. Now, not so much. There’s certainly something metabolic there — higher cortisol from stress, lower testosterone from being ten years older. And when I get too much into reading this junk, diving into various pseudo-science blogs about insulin response and carbohydrate conversion and whatever else, my ultimate response is to say fuck it and start eating again. So I’m going to have to stick with what I’m doing, keep exercising, and slowly carve away at it.

Went to the GP last week, partly because it’s just time for my annual, partly because everyone is dead and dying and there’s some paranoia there. Everything’s fine. All the blood numbers are fine. Blood pressure is borderline, but between the day job and all the caffeine, that’s understandable. I need to lose weight, although this doctor doesn’t hassle me about it that much. I have mixed feelings about fat acceptance – if you’re into it, whatever, but I know I felt better and my numbers were better when I weighed less, so it definitely has health consequences for me, and it’s something I need to work on. Anyway, why am I telling the world all of this?

Spent yesterday burning too many cycles dealing with my backup solution. I have used CrashPlan for years, and they decided to get out of the home game, and told everyone to switch to their pro/small business plan, or go screw. I stuck with it, and then found out my machine hasn’t been backing itself up for weeks. I futzed with their program for a minute, and it said it had to re-upload everything, which would take a week or two. Or maybe it didn’t – their new UI is very opaque and tells you nothing. I spent all day poking around with alternatives. They gave me a “deal” to switch to Carbonite, but the “deal” was roughly twice as expensive. I looked at rolling my own solution, using a tool like Duplicacy to back up my stuff to an Amazon S3 bucket, and then using Wasabi, which is a cheap-o S3 substitute. I couldn’t really get that to work, so I gave up and switched to BackBlaze. I like the UI and the performance of BackBlaze, and the price is right. I am not entirely into the recovery method – instead of just being able to browse the archives remotely, you either request a monster ZIP of your entire archive, or pay to have them ship you a drive. I suppose that is okay for a full-machine failure, but doesn’t address when I need to go back and grab a single file from backup. I do also back up locally, on an external drive and to a NAS, so that’s okay for now I guess.

Facebook keeps removing features. I keep wanting to write some big “the death of Facebook” article but I have no inertia there. The first thing that went – they had this thing, and I can’t remember the name, but it showed you a feed of posts that might interest you, things from feeds friends followed or whatever, just a firehose of things that weren’t in your friends feed. I really liked this idea, because it might show you things out of your orbit that you could then follow. (Instagram does something similar.) So that vanished. Then the news items, which is probably good, because that just raised my blood pressure, but I don’t read news anymore, so that was my only exposure to current events. The “friends activity ticker” also got pulled, which ceased to be useful after I had more than like fifty friends, but still. And now, the concept of friend feeds is gone. I don’t even know that most people knew about this, but you could make lists of friends, like “school friends” and “work friends” and “annoying friends who post too many pictures of their kids” or whatever, and then you could unfollow those people, but go to that feed to see those posts. I found that helpful because when my main feed would get fucked and have a ten-hour gap in posts, I could go to a close friends feed and still read their posts. I think with the combination of news feed fuckery and people just losing interest, FB is going to become MySpace soon. Which is bad, because it’s the only way I sell books (not that I’ve been selling any books lately) and it’s the only way I keep in touch with people, since nobody reads this anymore. And no “what’s next after Facebook” replacement has gained any traction. So, who knows. There was a weird dark ages after college for me, because everyone in college emailed and chatted and was on the computer constantly, and then from the mid-90s to the mid-00s, people just dropped off the map completely. I sort of see that happening again. Maybe I need a new hobby.

I have a book 99% done that I can’t seem to get out the door. It is completely written, has been through like three or four editing passes, and I’m at the point where I can’t even look at it anymore, let alone write a snappy description and tell the world it is the greatest thing ever. I have someone working on a cover for it right now. Maybe that will make me get off my ass and finish it.

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Bourdain

Usually, these things don’t get to me. But for some reason, this one has.

So Anthony Bourdain is dead. Suicide, hotel room, 61. I feel some need to extrapolate on this, front-loading this with a lede of what he accomplished or why this is so tragic, etc etc. I have no energy for that. You can go to Facebook and see that 50,000 times.

I’m trying to figure out why this bothers me so much, and I think it’s because of when I became connected with his work. I remember exactly when and where I first picked up a copy of Kitchen Confidential. There was a book store called Coliseum Books in Columbus Circle, and I’d go there every Friday after I went to my shrink. (She’s also dead, I found out recently – lymphoma, I think.) I think I read the New Yorker article, so I picked up his book. This was back when I spent hours and hours on the subway, and was single, lived alone, had no cable TV, so I would plow through books, reading a book a day most of the time. But while I read a lot of forgettable work back then, his stuff had a real resonation for me.

My kitchen career was low-level and short-lived. A summer on the Taco Bell drive-through; a couple of months washing dishes at an old-school Italian restaurant; part of a semester doing the same at a dorm, with the very brief and slight promotion of being the dude who stocked the milk and juice bar in the front-of-house. But when Bourdain described the camaraderie, the in-the-trenches slog of working the back half of a restaurant, I immediately related. I’d never aspired to cook or even stay in the business long enough to do anything other than collect a small paycheck, but I’d spent enough Friday nights at war with the dinner rush, completely slammed with a wall of dirty pans and plates, and no way out. I got it, and it pulled me in.

Bourdain had a persona, and I think it grew much more when he became a TV personality, picking fights with other chefs, with vegetarians, with food chains. His work as that persona was good, but it’s easy to forget he was a hell of a writer, and that’s what drilled into my brain. It wasn’t that he was a good brand; he was a guy I knew, someone telling stories and shooting the shit and talking war, a war I briefly fought. There’s something about any writing about a very involved job like that – it’s the reason I probably go back and re-read Bukowski’s Post Office every other year. Bourdain had chops, but he also had the ability to figure out what to write from such a career, and to do it in a different template than all the other stodgy food books up to that point.

I think he’s also a very intertwined part of the early 00s and New York for me. I was not a foodie, and spent far more time at McDonald’s than at any French restaurant. But if I had to make a list of the things that made up the background of my time in New York from 1999 to 2007, he’d be on that short list. I used to walk home down the back alleys of south Manhattan to avoid the tourists and bustle of Broadway, the Broome to Jersey to Mulberry to Prince to Bowery route, the interior of the blocks that were grand and exquisite on the exterior, but I’d be seeing the service entrances and freight elevators. And that’s where I’d see the chefs, always smoking, always preparing for a battle that was about to start when I was heading home from the cubicles. And that always made me think of Bourdain and other chefs, and the underbelly of the city, and those folks who took the long train from Jackson Heights or Hoboken to cut up fish or wash dishes for minimum wage in a city where bankers earned millions of bonuses in the W years.

It’s weird because I feel like I knew Bourdain, although I didn’t. When I stop and think about it, I think, wait, did I know him? Like did I meet him at a signing, or have a friend of a friend that worked with him, or run into him at some point? I didn’t, but it feels like it, because his writing got so in my head. I don’t have a connection to the TV host who jetted to France to eat oysters with someone famous in the food world. I mean, good for him that he got the money and the opportunity, and it’s fun to binge-watch on Netflix, but that’s not what did it for me. He somehow burned into the background of my brain, and that’s why his death bothers me.

There’s also the usual thing I do, where I look at him at 61, and me at 47, and I’ve wasted a lot of time on 401K calculator sites that all tell me I have to keep this optempo going for another twenty years, and I feel like I want to retire in 20 weeks, and who knows when I’ll even get started with this writing thing in earnest. He broke big because he wrote what he knew and he wrote as a person, and I’m so burned out and sick of writing what I write. So I keep thinking, well maybe next week I’ll reinvent myself, and do everything different. But the clock is ticking, and when someone goes, it puts that in perspective.

I’m not going to go into the why of how he did it, or if this is some epidemic, or if prescription drugs played a part, or what 800 number you should call, or any of that shit. You’ve probably seen it a million times already this morning. Just like how I couldn’t think of a snappy paragraph to open this, I don’t have one to close it. Just wanted to get down my thoughts now, because it seems like I never get to do that anymore.

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The Awl

So it looks like The Awl is no more. Another blog bites the dust.

The Awl started in 2009, originally some folks who left The Gawker and decided to do their own thing from their apartment in Brooklyn or whatever. It was a general culture blog, with emphasis on New York City, and a bit more about new media, comedy, and technology or online life, with a wry and sarcastic sense of humor, and less of an emphasis on the usual celebrity stuff that drags down a lifestyle blog.

I don’t remember how I got hooked on it — maybe some cross-posting from Boing-Boing or Wired or something. But I started following it religiously in 2010 or 2011, reading every day, commenting frequently, sometimes deep-drilling on research when I read a story that interested me. And I always kept it on my distant radar that I’d try to write something to publish there, some nonfiction or memoir piece, maybe a smarmy cultural analysis thing, I don’t know.

I think one thing that did come out of that was that in that 2011, 2012 timeframe, I blogged a lot more here, and was probably influenced by The Awl to write more article-like things. That always happens, through osmosis or kleptomania, maybe a mix of both. I was writing a lot in general then, trying to find a way to restart a mostly-dormant writing career that hadn’t released a real book since 2002. I didn’t want to be a journalist, didn’t want to fall into that “new media” category or anything, but it shows in a lot of my writing here that I was influenced heavily by that. (Go read an old post like The Death of Death and tell me I wasn’t reading The Awl when I wrote that.)

Another big takeaway for me as I think back over the last ten years of The Awl is how it fed some need to be a New York expatriate, in a weird way. I left Manhattan four or five years before that, which is six lifetimes in New York time, but I had some distant nostalgia for the city then. Magnify this even further by the fact that I started remotely working for a New York company in 2010, and would occasionally find myself in town again, but would also virtually be in the city every day. Reading stories about the hyper-gentrification and strange politics and book gossip and the struggles of living on The Big Smear partly satisfied that need for me, at least a little.

Like all online properties, The Awl got stupid at one point a few years ago, either flipped ownership or editors or something, and the ensuing reboot just wasn’t as interesting to me. I stuck with it when I could, but it no longer became a daily read. Some of this was just the way blogs changed over time: long reads became one-page reads; articles became listicles; opinion pieces became link-bait topics. Things slowly morphed as ads dominated page layout, comment sections vanished, and it went from being a bunch of cool kids exchanging smarmy jokes to a… well, whatever it became. Not really a blog anymore.

I’ve been in my head a lot lately about what’s going to happen when Facebook dies – that’s another article I’ve been meaning to write for a bit. And it makes me think a lot about the cycle of life of these web properties, like SomethingAwful or Fark or Digg or whatever. I know there are things that I used to use daily and then somehow abandoned, and I always wonder why they lost critical mass with me, and with everybody. When did everyone make a conscious decision to stop using MySpace? Was it because Facebook was so much better, or was it because everyone else stopped using it?

And it makes me think a lot about what the next thing will be. I am trying to make more of a conscious effort to blog here, because I will always have this blog, and can always keep going. But I’m shouting into the darkness here, and there’s no network around this, no way for me to follow others, draw in new readers, find like minds, or whatever. This is a single silo, connected to nothing. That’s fine by me, but it’s not the solution for others. Other people won’t blog. They aren’t idiots like me.

And I don’t know shit about how to make money on this, and I never run ads here or strategize some grand scheme, like picking focused topics and trending keywords and how to flip these posts into a book proposal that will get me a deal, blah blah blah. This also is not a way for me to sell books — my writing here is much different than the writing in my books, and I’m a horrible marketer, so who knows what works. So I can’t pull the “I made a million dollars blogging and you can too!” scheme to get the rest of you creative and interesting folks to entertain me by writing your own blogs.

But yeah — the death of a blog like The Awl makes me think the trend is going in the wrong direction, and that’s frustrating. I feel like I have the lifelong dream of opening an indoor shopping mall in the Midwest, then getting in the car and cruising around the dying remains of the malls of Indiana and Ohio and Pennsylvania. It’s depressing. It makes me wonder what is next.

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New Book:  Help Me Find My Car Keys And We Can Drive Out!

I have a new book out. It got released in the last few hours of 2017, which I now realize is the worst possible time to launch a book.

TL;DR: out now on print or kindle.

The book is titled Help Me Find My Car Keys And We Can Drive Out! If you read my zine Mandatory Laxative, this book is similar in style and structure, only it’s five times as long (and doesn’t have any artwork inside, unfortunately.) It’s a hundred pages, thirty things that range from micro-short pieces to flash to lists to almost short story length. Same absurdism as ever, and I can’t really describe it other than to say it is Konrathian.

This book was a last-second idea, because I’ve been struggling for all of 2017 to get a much larger book done, that’s sort of a sequel to Atmospheres. I wrote something like 350,000 words last year, and could not get it to click, could not get it done by December. I was really beating myself up last month, because I’ve put out at least a book a year for the last six years, and I really wanted to get something done in 2017. On the plane ride home from Milwaukee, I got the idea that I should just do another zine, but slightly longer. I throw aside super-short bits that might work for a zine, so I dug around and put together thirty pieces, and here you go. 350,000 words edited down to something like 16,000.

The odds were really against me finishing this in time. I was editing the first draft of the completed ms, and my new computer 100% died. I luckily had a backup in Crashplan, and was able to keep working on my old machine while I got the new one running again.

The cover sucks, and is supposed to suck. The editing is rough, but you get what you pay for. I’ve made this as cheap as possible, so enjoy.

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KONCAST Episode 10: Ryan Werner

http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-10-ryan-werner

In this episode, I talk to writer, publisher, musician, and lunch lady Ryan Werner. He is the author of Shake Away These Constant Days, Murmuration, If There’s Any Truth In a Northbound Train, and Soft. He plays guitar in Young Indian and numerous other bands. He also runs Passenger Side books.

Links from this episode:

http://www.ryanwernerwritesstuff.com

https://ryanwerner.bandcamp.com

http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-10-ryan-werner

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KONCAST Episode 9: Timothy Gager

http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-9-timothy-gager

In this episode, I talk to writer and poet Timothy Gager. He is the author of thirteen books of poetry and fiction, including his latest book of poetry, Chief Jay Strongbow is Real. He’s also the host of the Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Links from this episode:

Timothy Gager: http://www.timothygager.com

The Dire Reader Series: http://www.direreader.com

Chief Jay Strongbow is Real: http://amzn.to/2zuBVaN

http://lithub.com/the-literary-class-system-is-impoverishing-literature/

The RCA eBook reader: https://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/REB_1100
Click here to for more details on this new episode of The Koncast

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KONCAST Episode 8: Joshua Citrak

http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-7-joshua-citrak

In this episode, I talk to writer Joshua Citrak. He is the creator and co-host of the podcast Hangin’ With Old Lew.

We discuss: the Raiders and North Korean Juche; the nuclear war, wildfires, and hurricanes trifecta; the Elkhart connection; post-industrial Binghamton; the rise and fall of IBM America; the synergy between nuclear holocaust and evangelical churches; Vegas betting on earthquakes; fun and profit in outsourcing and Superfund sites; the Great Elkhart Garbage Fire; Apple and the eco brand; on getting the hell out of your home town; getting started writing; the internet gold rush and Cow Town; William S. Burroughs and post-apocalyptic writing; Pessoa, Johnson, and other writing influences; fiction vs. poetry; the Castro Writer’s Coop; Mike Daily; Jeffrey Dinsmore; shit-talking about shit-posting on social media; Jon Konrath the Facebook persona versus Jon Konrath the person; starting up Hangin’ With Old Lew; why podcasting is great; Facebook sharing is killing us all; the ROI numbers game; and why the 49ers suck.

Links from this episode:

Hangin’ With Old Lew: The Podcast: https://www.hanginwitholdlew.com

Jon Konrath: http://www.rumored.com

The Day After: https://youtu.be/yif-5cKg1Yo

The Centralia Mine Fire: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia_mine_fire

Fernando Pessoa – The Book of Disquiet: http://amzn.to/2xpfyp3

Denis Johnson – Jesus’ Son: http://amzn.to/2xikOJt

Kemble Scott: SoMa: http://amzn.to/2wAaSxT

The Castro Writer’s Coop: http://www.castrowriterscoop.com

Kevin Sampsell – Creamy Bullets: http://amzn.to/2hmRjhU

Slouchmag: http://www.slouchmag.com
Click here to for more details on this new episode of The Koncast

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The Bizzong! Podcast

Today I am on Bizzong! which is the bizarre and weird fiction podcast. I talk to Frank Elder for about an hour about my writing, publishing, The Same Picture of Jon Konrath Every Day, The Koncast, and being “bizarro-adjacent.”

Check it out here: http://bizzong.projectentertainment.libsynpro.com/koncourse-jon-konrath-bizzong-podcast

I had lots of fun doing this, and we had a pretty good conversation. Now that I do The Koncast, it’s pretty weird to be on the other side of the table, but we had a good talk. Bizzong! also has a ton of other episodes with other weird writers, so check it out!

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KONCAST Episode 7: Andrea Donderi

http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-7-andrea-donderi

In this episode, I talk to long-time friend Andrea Donderi, a recent graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

We discuss: the IU support center; the early web; knowledge bases and creating content; Jorn Barger and the invention of the blog; Gopher versus the WWW; the ChiNet BBS and other internet BBSes; social networks before social networks; hoarding old email; identifying as a writer; learning how to capture life as a writer; the Stanford Stegner Fellowship program; the Warren Wilson MFA program; how a low-residency program works; Victor LaValle and David Shields as teachers; the one fellow graduate student/actor who has been in everybody’s MFA program and shall not be named; Zeroville by Steve Erickson; the inevitable UFO discussion; the government keeping secrets in the desert versus the internet; Don Donderi; and is an MFA worth it?

Links from this episode:

– Andrea’s blog: http://loosestrife.dreamwidth.org

– Jon Konrath: http://www.rumored.com

– The Warren Wilson MFA program: http://www.wwcmfa.org

– Don Donderi’s site: http://www.ufoets.com

– Zeroville by Steve Erickson: http://amzn.to/2eEMTFW

– The UFO documentary I couldn’t remember was Mirage Men: http://www.miragemen.com

 

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