Saturday, December 09, 2006

John Gould-Maine Treasure

I'm currently reading the late John Gould's book, Dispatches From Maine, 1942-1992 (W.W. Norton, 1994). Mr. Gould was a prolific writer, who captured Maine and represented it well to the millions of readers who regularly read his columns, for the six decades he was syndicated in The Christian Science Monitor.

While this blog is almost strictly given to writing, writers and the writer's craft, I chose to post this piece over at Words Matter, as it also has some tie-in to the social commentary I try to provide at that site.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Stephen King-Rock Critic

For most Maine writers (hell, why include the Maine qualifier?), Stephen King is the “holy grail” by which success is measured. Love his work, or not, most of us will never sell a fraction of just one of his titles.

I’m not an obsessive fan of King’s books, but I’ve read a number of them and both the The Dead Zone and The Stand are books I could read again. In fact, The Stand is one of my top 25 books of all time.

One of King’s books that holds a special place in my life is his book, On Writing, where he details the writer’s craft and gives some great advice. It was following his advice to write regularly, on schedule that helped me ramp up my writing and get it to the place where I finally began to get it published. Of the multitude of writing books on the market, I never hesitate to recommend this one to any aspiring writer.

While King is prolific to beat the band, he also writes a regular column for Entertainment Weekly, where he comments on American pop culture. The Pop of King, is King’s regular take on all things current and relevant.

In his latest column, where he shares his best of 2006 list of musical artists, he names Festus, Missouri’s favorite sons, The Bottle Rockets, as one of his top ten acts for the past year. As a fan of Brian Henneman and Company, I appreciate King’s endorsement, especially recognizing that this band's blue collar rock deserves some attention, particularly in light of the deluge of inferior “talent” that receives more than their fair share of spotlight time (can you say Paris Hilton, former American Idol, Carrie Greenwood, Madonna and a slew of other names that are too numerous to mention).

King, like many writers, would probably trade all his literary fame and awards for a chance at rock stardom. He actually plays guitar and was a member of a group of writers “slumming” as musicians for a short period of time. With fellow wordsmiths, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Matt Groenig and others, he played in the Rock Bottom Remainders for a brief span of time.

I’m sure the boys in the Bottle Rockets are appreciative of the mention and the additional units of inventory moved that an endorsement from a writing god like King is sure to result in. If you don’t know the band, or their recorded material, check out Zoysia, their latest, but for sure, pick up some of their earlier stuff like The Brooklyn Side, 24 Hours a Day, as well as the the Doug Sahm-influenced Sons of Sahm.