Waxing Press

"Donald Trump, Rocket Man" by Tom LeClair

guest blogIan Wissman

Since Trump started calling Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man,” Google searches for the lyrics of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” have exploded. It’s hard to see any connection between the lonely astronaut in John’s song and the leader of North Korea. One rides a rocket, the other directs rockets to be fired. But there is a strong connection between, not Kim, but Trump and another “rocket man” in a work of art considerably more substantial than John’s ditty: Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, the American novel I consider the most important to be published since the end of World War II, which the book is about. The novel shared the National Book Award in 1974.

         In Gravity’s Rainbow, the sexual contacts of one Tyrone Slothrop, an American officer in London during the Blitz, seem to predict the location of German rocket strikes in the city. Intelligence Services become interested in Slothrop’s “gift” and assume he has rocket expertise that will help them understand the Germans’ mysterious 00000 rocket. After Slothrop is sent to the south of France to study what the Allies know of the 00000, he becomes paranoid about the spies’ use of him and deserts for his personal investigation of his and friends’ possible connections to rocket 00000. Slothrop is a comic bumbler, but his travels around Europe bring him into contact with various persons in the German rocket program, some of whom were brought to the United States after the War. At one point, Slothrop dons a rocket costume and is afterwards known as “rocket man.” He does not solve the mystery of the 00000 and does not return to America, but near the novel’s conclusion he ends his obsession with rockets, sheds his identity as rocket man, and fades away, about as happy an ending as one can expect from this increasingly pessimistic book.

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For Pynchon, Slothrop is a humorous device, a Quixote of rockets instead of windmills. But in Gravity’s Rainbow and in modern history, the rockets he chases are real and come to have the capacity that Kim is working toward—the ability to carry nuclear warheads. Rocket 00000 does not. Instead, we find near the end of the novel that the rocket carries a human sacrifice, possibly a suicidal victim, Pynchon’s symbol for the destruction of nuclear war (to which he alludes only elliptically). The victim—the literal man in the rocket—is a young homosexual named Gottfried. His master, the man who launches the rocket in this ultimate act of Sado-masochism, is the Satanic Blicero. Gottfried’s death launch atop the giant phallus of 00000 has strong overtones of anal intercourse, an act from which no future generation can enter the world. Put more bluntly than Pynchon does: these two rocket men employ the mechanism by which humans can commit mass murder and mass suicide. Or even more bluntly, with our rockets we are perversely fucking ourselves to death. In the novel, this action is perpetrated by white males, but Pynchon makes it clear with his other characters that the rocket men of the globe drag along with them to destruction women, children, and people of color.

         But “rocket man” symbolizes even more than patriarchal mastery for Pynchon. Rocket man is more generally “technology man” that dominates and slowly destroys the earth, not just its human inhabitants. This wider interpretation of Pynchon’s symbol is best summarized in a passage where he describes the “World just before men,” the fecund brew of living things that, once dead, could be mined and pumped (coal and oil) out of the earth to fuel destructive technologies and development that, while extending human life, also alienate humans from their earthly home. Set in World War II, Gravity’s Rainbow is ultimately about humans’ thousand-year War on Nature. The primal causes are fear of death and desire for transcendence, for the symbolic immortality of the tools and buildings that outlast their makers. For a brief moment the victim in 00000 is in “heaven”—before his fated descent and death. In Pynchon’s long view, human history may also be a brief ride because of its mastery and destruction of nature. Except for the Luddites, Pynchon implies, we humans are all rocket men and women.

         In Pynchonian light, Kim is a rocket man but Trump is the rocket man on Viagra. In Gravity’s Rainbow, rockets are compared with towers such as the Tower of Babel, constructs of pride and greed. Trump is the builder of towers, those structures in the sky that have his name blazoned on them. Trump’s association of himself with his buildings as giant phalluses is no accident, for he identifies power in sexual terms. He is the male master whose wake is filled with subjugated women. That his ambitious rocket/buildings have brought him close many times to financial self-destruction is no accident. His environmental policies and cabinet choices are those of rocket man: mine and pump and pollute for short-term benefits, future generations be damned or, more precisely, fucked.

         From the perspective of Gravity’s Rainbow, Trump is, unfortunately, not an American aberration but a dramatic summation. Slothrop traces his roots back to the Puritans. For Pynchon, early Protestant steeples were “rockets,” symbols of transcendence based on extermination of the natives, the cutting of forests, the adoption of slavery, and the creation of a powerful ruling class. Political Fascism as such was created in America’s war-time enemy, Germany. But for Pynchon, environmental Fascism—the domination and exploitation of nature—ruled America in past and will rule in the future through monopolistic industries and multinational corporations such as Exxon. Trump the developer, his corporate pals in extraction industries, his hatred of environmental regulations, and his Fascist sympathizers would be no surprise to the man who wrote Gravity’s Rainbow, a novel in which greed overwhelms all morality.

         The rocket traces half an arc, at odds with the circular and cyclical nature of nature itself and of early human communities that lived according to that cycle. For the victim in 00000, there is no living return. As Pynchon says, quoting Rilke, “Once, only once.” For industrialized cultures, there may also be no return to sustainable life. Perhaps this is the reason why there is a futuristic, science-fiction component—the “Raketen-Stadt”—near the end of Gravity’s Rainbow. Here John’s astronaut and Pynchon’s rocket man do connect: escape from the cycles of life and death enforced by gravity, no return but further “transcendence” even if, as John’s character says, Mars is no place to raise a family. With his “Make America Great Again” slogan, Trump promises an impossible return to a time when only a few nations had rockets and nuclear weapons, when America was a transcendent hegemon and its president a true rocket man in his power over mass death. Now that “power” is mostly bombast and bluster in the face of mutually assured destruction. Rocket men such as Kim and Trump must be content with ruling over rocket states where power is concentrated in the few, where national or corporate interests rule, and where citizens’ have little affect on the state. Both rely on a fake cult of powerful personality, but they are more like Pynchon’s victim in 00000 than the person who launches that rocket.

         Of American fictions that illuminate Trump, Robert Coover’s The Public Burning best presents a context of American national politics in which to see Trump’s presidency. Gravity’s Rainbow is both wider in its purview and more profound, internationalist and world historical. In the past, some readers or would-be readers of the novel have dismissed Pynchon as a paranoid. But these readers had not experienced Trump as president, the product of rocket-man culture who now has his small hands on the buttons that could—in some crazed Sado-masochistic act of mastery and destruction—fire off the rockets that will fuck us all.

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Tom LeClair is the author of three books of criticism and six novels, including Harpooning Donald TrumpLincoln's Billy, and the Passing series. His fourth and final installment in the series, Passing Away, will be published by Waxing Press in 2018. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati.This essay originally appeared on Medium.com here.

Book Review: Passing Off by Tom Leclair

book reviews, tastemakingIan Wissman

Despite its slim spine, Tom LeClair's Passing Off brings the enormity you might expect from the man behind the concept of the Systems Novel--in its 175 pages there's ideas about language (English and its Grecian etymologies), ancient world as home, destruction of the ancient world in the modern world, pollution and ecology, the real threat of global warming, what it means to be a developed nation, deep, deep knowledge of basketball and how the game is played, written in effective, quick language that moves fast like the game, multi-valent and layered "deceptions" or "passings off" to trick the reader, the characters, the players. Basically, it's a book brimming with stuff.

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If you you're attracted to Greece and Athens, LeClair paints the life of the Greeks in a unique, non-Romanticized way that the West rarely sees, giving great insight into the culture and its tics. The book has prescience, too, into not only the Greek economic woes we've seen in the past decade, but the true threats of global warming, especially to a place like Greece so reliant on its booming tourism business--what happens when the beaches are gone?

In 2007, I took a solo trip to Athens while I lived in London. A student of his, I actually got a lot of recommendations from LeClair about how to effectively spend my time in the Ancient World. Like most tourists, I was attracted to and enchanted by the promise of the ancient, but when I arrived I was met by a polluted, confused and post-modern mangle that was exciting and abuzz in a very different way. My expectations were flouted, but I learned many important lessons those days alone in Greece. The book took me back to those days walking the smoggy streets, thick with stray dogs and men flicking worry beads. Alone, atop the Acropolis, I asked an older French woman and her husband if she would take my picture in front of the Parthenon. She smiled and obliged at my clumsy gesturing. A strange moment of unmitigated trust in a foreign land with a foreign stranger and no shared language. When I had the film developed, I came to find she had framed the shot so that my whole body was in the shot with only just suggestions of the Parthenon in the background. At first I was saddened that I didn't have a real iconic shot of me in front of one of the most iconic wonders of this wonderful world--even if the structure was enrobed in scaffolding and hideous at the time--but then, I took closer consideration and realized how well composed and beautiful the photograph was, how it's the only one from my time in Greece without other people in it. Just me and the Parthenon. It captured so much of the country's juxtapositions: modern and ancient--an ancient city on a hill with gridlocked traffic toxifying the air, literally melting the faces off of the history hanging above it, loneliness in a crowd, familiarity in a strange land and strangeness in a familiar setting. In other pictures from the top of the Acropolis, the brown haze of pollution stinks out along the horizon. But I couldn't help but love it.

I'm being tangential here to talk about Greece as a special place, because this book does that too. It is. Anyway, if you like literary games of deception and language, of ecology and terrorism, of art and sport, then Passing Off is not to be missed.

Passing Off is the first in LeClair's "Passing" series, followed by Passing On, and Passing Through. Coming next year from Waxing Press will be the series' conclusion with Passing Away.

Book Review: The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski

book reviews, tastemakingIan Wissman

The Familiar is a singular literary moment in the making that I am not so sure is getting the attention it deserves, so I’ll use my tiny little voice on this remote corner of the internet to profess to you its power. Before I speak directly about Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May, I’ll mention a bit about the series as a whole: I’ve said in other reviews of Vols. 3 & 4 (found on Goodreads) that The Familiar isn’t just a novel in serial, but the development of a whole mythology on par with the classics, codified in our unique 21st century world. The global scope, the webwork of connectivity, the implications of science and technology on humanity, the greater forces (neither bene- nor malevolent, [just volent?]) that affect our lives. The story has a way of swelling like a tide, gathering in more and more water as its crescent rises higher and higher, threatening to subsume you, but only yet just a threat. In that way, any single volume cannot convince a readership—perhaps it will be the series’ fatal issue in an age so desperately in need of instant and immediate (if only surface) gratification—but once a second, and especially a third book has been devoured, only then does the water pull you under, making you as much a part of the tidal crash as the rest of the ocean and the sand and the algae and the fish. And so maybe that’s why I didn’t write reviews for Vols. 1 & 2 on my first read through, because, while they had enough hooks in my skin, it wasn’t until Volume 3: Honeysuckle & Pain that the tumblers clicked like a key in a lock, turning over my mind and kicking off—a probably overly obsessive—love for what Danielewski is up to here. Forgive all the mixed metaphors. After four books, I can say with surety, The Familiar is Mark Z. Danielewski’s opus and will outshine the accomplishments that House of Leaves made in changing literature.

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So, Vol. 1... Wait, before we get there, let’s give a background of this reader’s relationship with his writing: As a young highschoolian underachiever in the early aughts, more dedicated to the drumset after class than academics, reading, writing, etc., I came upon this dark and mysterious object called House of Leaves. I had seen it mentioned on a book-recommendation thread on a local Cincinnati punk message board (now dead and defunct, RIP Neus Subjex), and happened to be in a Borders bookstore later that day. Flipping through the thing, I was piqued and so I doled out my $20 and changed my life. I read the book feverishly in my room. The book fed nightmares, which excited me for some reason. It made me feel like I had lost my mind. It altered my understanding of what literature is and does and can be, and set me on the path of erudite and arcane and bizarre and wonderfully inventive fictions I continue to walk. Had I not read House of Leaves at that time, I don’t know that I would be a person who reads the Gravity’s Rainbows of the world, the Moby-Dicks, the Absalom, Absaloms. Hell, I don’t know that I would have gone down the lit degree path where I gained my MA, much less working as a professional writer or operating my own literary press had I not picked up that mysterious tome. Assertively, House of Leaves changed me as a person, or at least unlocked a part of me that allowed me to become this person. The disappointment is that I’ve not been very engaged in Danielewski’s intermining books—Only Revolutions was a true letdown for me, where the form and style didn’t inform the content, which was written in a poetic style that didn’t jive with my tastes, and The 50 Year Sword is a fun romp, though inessential. I had been tracking the progress of The Familiar since first hearing about it, probably sometime around 2009, so when it was finally coming out, I told myself this is my last shot with MZD: He’d delivered such a novel that changed the landscape of novels, that I was okay with the rest of his output being not my cup of tea. Fortunately, I gave him that last shot, renewing my trust in his capable mind (and writing).

Finally, we’re at One Rainy Day in May—which is set on my birthday (not significant, but it did tickle me). I had high hopes with low expectations going in. I mean, the thing sounded fucking weird, and maybe a little arrogant: a 27-volume story about a 12-year old girl and a kitten? And when it came out that each book would be 880 pages, I just laughed. I shelled out again for MZD’s latest excursion, cautiously stepping onto a boat ride that might take 10+ years to get off of. So I read the damn thing and it was… conflicting. There was all this genre-y stuff (YA, comically hard-boiled noir, techno-thriller/cyberpunk). Spatters of a number of foreign languages, with a prominent character writing in a weird pidgin blend of English that challenged my faculties as a reader. Images rendered in text and also actual images littering the pages, overwhelming the senses. A few pages that are just computer code, indecipherable to the casual reader. But at the root, it’s a story about an epileptic and (seemingly) hyper-vulnerable (to bullies, to health, to life) 12-year old girl who leaves the house with the promise of getting a dog and winds up with a cat.

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Bait was laid. Traps were set. Couched in the language of a “remediation of the television series,” one had to think of this in terms of a “pilot episode.” The gang’s all here, and the plots are (sorta?) setup, but it all seems so disconnected and conducive to head-spinning. There was so much to latch on to, but yet, not enough to really get a bearing. But, as a pilot, the aesthetics were established, and I had to admit that I was sold for episode two. Volume 2: Into the Forest expanded on everything great in Vol. 1.

Okay, so I’m really writing much more of an autobiography here than a review. I’m sorry about that. Maybe that says something about me. Maybe it says something about the books. There are plenty of negative to middling reviews on Goodreads (and an abundance of positive ones, too, mind you), with most of the lower ratings focusing in on not understanding the story immediately (would you judge a film, a TV show on the first 10 minutes? And what is the fun of immediately and completely grasping a story?), or questioning the typographical and ergodic choices leading one to question what the fuck they expected with a book from the master of funny-looking-pages (and, often, those reviewers, rather than question the nature of MZD’s choices, settled on the easiest of possible answers: that they are pointless choices to tell the story—this is wrong and intellectually lazy). My favorite is the one where the guy comes up with a purple-y misnomer (see “rum writer”) that imposes a critical lack of engagement with what he’s criticizing in the book. I think he just came up with this dumb phrase (which is ill-defined in his review and a misnomer because the phrase does nothing to inform you what it means on its own) and then he tried to write a review around it.

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Just so you know, if you’re still reading along, I’m really unhappy with how this review is shaping up in contrast to the ones I’ve written for Vols. 3 & 4. I thought I’d have something really great to deliver about this book, so here’s this:

This review comes to you as I re-read the entire series leading up to the release of Volume 5: Redwood (dubbed the “season finale” of “season one”). And where my first read was confounding and perhaps garnered a little tepid of an immediate response from me (though also enticing, tantalizing at the same time), a second reading with the full grasp of the succeeding three books changed my tune on this one. It’s still, surely, the weakest of the series so far, but unbeknownst to you who reads it (and those of you who’ve made it this far into this banal and boring review), MZD has masterfully placed the set pieces across the board—not just characters, but motifs, meaning, themes, symbols, plot points are all perfectly placed in Vol. 1, set for ripening through the rest of the series. Re-reading reaps rewards, revealing crumbs of ideas that don’t come to bear until 2 and 3 books later, leaving one to wonder how much else lives in Vols. 2-4 that will bear its full fruit down the line.

My advice about The Familiar: read two books before you make your final decision on reading further. Each one can be read in a week—and who doesn’t like the thought of reading 880 pages in a week?—and each one builds the mythology of MZD’s oeuvre exponentially. Find a friend to read it with. You’ll find yourself in conversations and speculations that reach well beyond the bounds of the book, but all still somehow addressed in the book. Because that’s probably one of the most powerful things of all about a book that purports to need twenty-seven 880-page volumes: within it, you will find everything.

Book Review: Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

book reviews, tastemakingIan Wissman

When it comes to literature and the aesthetics of writing, I'm a Mooreman. I believe in art's power and need to present a real challenge to its viewer/reader/auditor with intellectual rigor and a fascinatingly unique perspective. That entertainment is a secondary or tertiary value of any piece of fiction (or art in general) comes as a shock to those who let me expound on why I like "difficult" fiction, but base entertainment seems often valueless with middling rewards. Sure, I indulge from time to time in pulp and rote genre fantasia, but those digressions tend to leave no lasting or inspiring impressions on me. And, in truth, real entertainment comes to me through that aforementioned intellectual rigor and struggle with a book. Dense prose and demanding concepts that require legwork on the reader give me intense pleasures, especially rewarding when my brain makes new connexions beyond the text, affecting the way I think and feel and express. To me, the true value of reading a book is the expansion of my capacity to communicate, to make myself clearer in a world of voices unable to articulate with precision. And this is why I love a book like Thomas Pynchon's National Book Award-winner, Gravity's Rainbow.

One problem with writing about Gravity's Rainbow is that a seminal book such as this has been written about endlessly for the past 44 years. I'm left only with my ability to articulate why challenging fiction is necessary and why it needs to be pursued if, as a civilization, we're to maintain our humanity. So, I'm going to write circuitously about my appreciation for challenging and demanding fiction to express my love of Gravity's Rainbow.

First, let's recognize that "entertainment," that ever-present-but-elusive thing, is highly subjective and often polarizing--it's what makes me cringe when colleagues talk about a show like The Big Bang Theory but fail to recognize the nuanced and shaggy beauty of the bizarre and discombobulating new season of Twin Peaks. But, it's not entertainment value that drives the cringe; it's level of intellectual accessibility, and the ability to forestall the concrete for ambiguousness. That is, where I'm sure I could find some chuckles in the aforementioned sit-com, the heartier pleasures come from the deep, complex interpretive work one must do to "get" and "enjoy" the latter. With Gravity's Rainbow, nothing is taken for granted: the reader is never condescended to, never abused. In fact, the book teaches you in its early chapters how to read it, setting up the chess pieces of its literary game early on. Each character intro is suffused with the necessary info to track their narrative arcs. No more succinctly is this done with Katje's introduction, which opens with her being filmed and ends with Grigori, the octopus, being conditioned with the very film.

One sees Grigori 100 pages later, but in a new, unexpected context. However, astute reading will recognize him and the connexions to Pavlovian conditioning and feel that hearty pleasure of connexion-making, and re-contextualized story-telling. Other character details, such as Tyrone Slothrop's harmonica playing, becomes key clues and indicators that signify more complexity to readers as they build motifs throughout the book. As Tyrone basically dissolves into nature, glimpses of his dissolute self appear to other characters through these clues--the harmonica heard in the distance, the Hawaiian shirt passing in the periphery of a crowd. Meaning-making is done on the part of the reader in these moments, rewarding the reader's acuity and recall.

Think about a key trope in a really great stand-up set: The callback. While it can sometimes feel forced, it's often appreciated when a comic strives for it, because it rewards the audience's keen attention to the details of the comic's "narrative" of jokes, fostering a kind of "in-ness" between artist and audience. The same is done in literature's greatest feats, like Gravity's Rainbow, where the nudge-nudge-wink-wink of consistent callbacks doesn't wear on you, but rather makes the text bloom and blossom in your mind. It reminds me of the comment complaint about films based on books: "The book was better," the expected and cliched refrain (there's always truth to cliches, otherwise they wouldn't be cliches). What's at the root of this universal feeling is that the film missed some essence of the book that you perceived--typically from the intellectual rigor you put into reading the book over the film. I feel similarly about "difficult" or "challenging" literature in comparison to lighter, less demanding novels. Because of the work needed to "understand" the book's plots, characters, ideas, meanings, et. al., the deep, deep satisfaction of these fictions outshines those pulpy pleasures.

Is reading Gravity's Rainbow a must for everyone? No. Surely not. It's messy and complicated, fraught with really problematic stuff that won't tickle the fancies of many readers. But those who look to books to challenge their perceptions, don't be daunted by difficulty. Trust in yourself. Trust in the author. And enjoy the hell out of the ride.

Book Review: The Vorrh by B. Catling

tastemaking, book reviewsIan Wissman

Last year I read The Vorrh, an ephemeral dream of a book that took inspiration from Roussel's Impressions of Africa to create a new mythical fantasy set in the early 20th century. The Vorrh, an infinite forest in the heart of Africa, fabled to have the Garden of Eden at its center, deteriorates the minds of men who spend any amount of time within it. Populated by cryptozoological beasts of Catling's own creation, and some built on historical legend, The Vorrh is the first book of a planned trilogy also featured historical figures such as Roussel himself, and photographic genius Eadweard Muybridge, whose passages about capturing motion in still image were some of the most interesting, poetic pieces of prose I'd read in a long time. And keep in mind, this is a genre novel.

"Nebuchadnezzar" by William Blake, 1795

"Nebuchadnezzar" by William Blake, 1795

I'm pretty interested lately in the intersection of genre and literary fiction because there's a burgeoning space for it. Literary writers giving great treatment to genre tropes, images, aesthetics, themes, motifs--the work of China Miéville and Mark Z Danielewski's The Familiar series would be the best examples of contemporary writers doing it now. There's a rich history of it, and genre can be great and informative when done beautifully. The Vorrh did it all wonderfully. However, this time around, it feels that Catling may have bit off more than he could chew while being unable to re-capture some of that same magic of the first entry in the series.

Firstly, the book is overstuffed with moving parts that have so much promise but never pay off. Starting with book's namesake creatures: the Erstwhile--forsaken angels who it is fabled were left in the garden to protect the Tree of Knowledge from Adam, but left behind on Earth and have just been rotting away here since. They have some interesting scenes throughout, with the primary Erstwhile character living in a mental facility in London, but there's absolutely no pay off with these beings--they foretell no plot point or thematic element other than maybe to build on/confirm the idea that the center of the Vorrh is Eden. But then why do they occupy so much page space? Secondly, with so much of the book taking place in Europe in 1924-1925 with a German Jew in London, there are a few mentions of him hiding his identity, but again, not much pay off or real use is made of it. The settings, themes and ideas don't bloom because it seems Catling may have been working overtime to pack too much into this book rather than focus on the prose. The promise of real dangers of life between two looming wars should weigh in the balance, along with the pressures of identity. The balance is lost, which is a shame because the Erstwhile known as Nicholas in the mental hospital has multiple, shifting identities as Nebuchadnezzar of William Blake's famous monotype print, but also as this angelic being from the origin of time, and a few more even more surreal ones. In all, there are a lot of fragments of ideas with just no general full thought behind them, or rhyme or reason to their purpose. Which is unfortunate, because these fragments are fully ripe with the same magnitude of intrigue that this books predecessor has, it just gets a little overstuffed and mismanaged this time around.

Which gets down to the aesthetic of the book. Where The Vorrh had an ephemeral, out-of-time and imagistic quality, less reliant on plot than themes and motifs, The Erstwhile breaks down into feeling very much like a genre book driven by an "extraction plot" halfway through. Ishmael, the cyclops-hero of the first novel must enter the Vorrh to retrieve the slave labor race of people who have wandered in and become distracted/lost in search of something. Once it turns into this sort of basic genre plot-driven affair, the prose takes the backseat, losing its love-labored poetic quality. Shed of the ephemeral features, the book sacrifices what makes it unique and becomes a catalog of "weird stuff" told plainly, which just isn't that interesting.

As a trilogy, I'm hopeful this one perhaps was acting as a setup for the final book, to get things in order, however, with so many moving parts, I worry that there's just too much to work for in concluding the final book that it won't suffer from the same loss of "magic" that this one did. Perhaps this is just the problem of some series anyway? The Vorrh perhaps was just lightning in a bottle, a beautiful moment in a glimmer.

The first one can be read as a standalone book, by the way, and I would rabidly recommend it to anyone and everyone vehemently. Reading on is up to you. The Erstwhile is still worthwhile, and I can't imagine I will skip this trilogy's conclusion when it hits the shelves.

Release Party for An Accidental Profession

news, new releases, release partyIan Wissman

We're excited to announce the details of our release party for Daniel S. Jones's An Accidental Profession. The event will be held at the Northside Yacht Club (4231 Spring Grove Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223) on Friday, June 16th at 7:00 PM. See our Facebook invite and RSVP.

Jones will be reading a selection from the novel as well as signing copies of the book, which will be available for purchase all evening.

We will also be providing hors d'oeuvres for the event (meat and vegetarian options available). Northside Yacht Club will be creating a themed cocktail for the event--more details to come on that.

 

An Accidental Profession Available in Stores

newsIan Wissman

Friends in Cincinnati, Ohio will be delighted to know that they can now purchase copies of An Accidental Profession at Shake It Records in Northside. We're currently working on finding a home for the book at more locations throughout the city as well as more places online for you to purchase An Accidental Profession. We'll have more news soon, too, about our release event featuring a reading and signing by Daniel S. Jones.

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Choosing An Accidental Profession

tastemaking, new releasesIan Wissman

If you're unfamiliar with this site, you may be wondering a whole host of things: Where am I? What is Waxing Press? What is An Accidental Profession? Why should I read this book? I write books, should I submit my book to Waxing Press? So, to answer most of those questions, I'd like to answer a bigger one: why did we choose An Accidental Profession to inaugurate Waxing Press and set us out into this world? It's an easy one. So allow us to elucidate:

Firstly, it's uproarious in its degradation. Told through the lens of anonymity on all accounts, the narrator unshackles the chains to tell the secret lives of the most unsavory, unsympathetic creatures you could ever meet. Somehow, they're all believable in their un-savoriness, and, to apply the cliche of a train wreck, you cannot bear look away. You invest in their horrible acts, somehow rooting for them to score with the best looking guy or gal in the office--married or not. It's a carnival pleasure of sorts. There's Chaucerian ribaldry, there's tales of comeuppance, it's the workplace fiction-as-fact tell-all of modern life in the American corporate office--where so many find themselves because it offers a handsome paycheck, comfortable living, but a miserable quality of such. It is somewhere you found yourself one day, unplanned. An accidental profession.

Further, captured in the book is that kind of zeitgeist of existential Bartlebian office-life dread, with a critical, soul-dividing narrative of forlorn love. Is it love or lust?

I could go on, but I don't want to dictate what the book is and isn't to you. So let this stand as a couple of the reasons why we chose this book for Waxing Press. I really hope others can find the same universal sensibility in it. If not, at least there's a lot of weird office sex in it.

Welcome to Waxing Press

new releases, newsIan Wissman

Our first title, An Accidental Profession by Daniel S. Jones will be available for pre-order in a matter of days. Please check back soon or sign up to our mailing list using the form to the the right to be notified when it becomes available. In addition to being able to purchase print and digital editions of the book we'll also have some Waxing Press merchandise available through this site as well. If you prefer to use Amazon directly to order digital books on your Kindle-enabled device, An Accidental Profession as a digital book will be available to purchase on Amazon, but please note, the digital edition purchased through our site will have formats compatible with all eReader devices including Kindle. You can read more about it in our FAQs section.

Going forward, this blog space will feature book reviews from our staff's reading lists, some short thought pieces on writing, literary aesthetics and style, as well as other literature news and whatever else we want to share with you.

Please sign up for our mailing list using the form to the right to begin receiving news about forthcoming releases and other stuff. We won't share your info with anyone else, and we won't even email you very much--just when we're too excited about news here at Waxing Press.