Medium Rare

happymealRemember when Happy Meal’s® came in a box? Yeah, this blog has nothing to do with that, or Happy Meals, or even McDonald’s. Just the Big Mac.

Or rather, what the Big Mac signifies.

The Big Mac is the best (while your mileage may vary™  just play along) of the junk food available. I think we can agree that it’s basically the polar opposite of a Filet Mignon. And thus we enter metaphorland!

You see, a certain Hippie I know what going off on a rant when I got home yesterday, regarding the industry and it’s love of everything written horribly. A friend of ours was told to “dummy down” a manuscript because, while it was great, it wouldn’t sell like this. Between that and an article he read, he went on and on about bad paranormal romance doing better than well written fiction, fifth grade reading level writing, talentless schmucks getting book deals, etc. He spoke of selling out to the buyers and tossing art to the side.

I was crushed.

I asked, “Do you write for the story or the money, and don’t lie because I know the answer.” He didn’t lie. He said story, “But what good is the story if it’s never sold to be read?”

Oh yes, this spun us off into a whole rant/debate thing. A part of me giggled. Ahhh the good old days—when we were just friends arguing over industry and other nonsense at cons and such. It was playful banter. It was venting frustrations. It was… it was anything but a serious argument.

Then it turned serious.

Not in that we were actually arguing. Oddly, we don’t do that, or at least haven’t yet. This turned serious in that it wasn’t playful. The glint in his eye became an angry monkey that threatened to throttle the muse and force it to kick out crap just to get published.

Yeah, you read that right. “Just to get published.” Which of course, turned into me having a fit about not giving your stuff away, not self-publishing, and asking how purposely writing crap wasn’t just as bad as those two evils.

If you follow my twitter, you may have seen me post what he said next,. “It’s the difference between Big Macs and Filet Mignon… but the ones writing Big Macs can afford the filet, on an island somewhere.” I tried to come back with something snappy—how you want to be remembered for art and craft and all that silliness. (See, now you know I was hot, because I actually used the word “craft”). His response, also on twitter, was low… because it was true, “We’ve been to Poe’s house… have you seen Dan Brown’s?”

Of course, as our house is not just a family but a tribe, and several of the natives were watching the festivities, I turned to them with hope. One is in 8th grade, the other in 11th. “What was the last book you read?” First they answered with books they had to read for school. “No, no… the last book you read for fun.” I was met with blank stares. Then they finally piped up with titles and the following clarifiers which broke my soul. “In 5th grade.” “In 8th grade.”

Does anyone read anymore?!! My mother does. I’m betting most people reading this blog do. But what happened to the reading public? Not only have they been drastically reduced to the minority over the years, but they’re accepting crappy Big Macs instead of requesting, nay demanding, Filet mignon.

I will not sell out. I will not sell out. I will not sell out. I will not give my stuff away, because my mentors told me not to. I will not self-publish, because my mentors told me not to. And I will not write Big Macs.

I like my Filet mignon. Medium rare please.

So tell me, oh loyal audience of mine. What were the last 3 books you read? Genre only? Nonfiction? Do you read the paper? What do you read and how do you like it served—with a side of fries, or garlic mashed potatoes?

Sure, a beach book has it’s place and time, but all the time? Replacing the fireplace cuddle books? No, I just can’t accept that! And this debate is far from over… throughout the rest of the night it came up, at random, with venom, and is sure to be fueled by a dueling blog and more banter today. So help me, kind audience. Help me help the Hippie remember. Listen to the mentors. Do as they say, not as they do. Don’t give your stuff away. Don’t self-publish. And for the love of all things holy, don’t write garbage on purpose! Write good fiction… and if the editor is willing to pay you money to “dummy it down,” deal with it then.

Down with Big Mac writing! Long live beautiful meat™!

0 Responses to Medium Rare

  • Kelli says:

    If you’re a member of the message board, I’ve opened it for debate over there as well… http://bit.ly/b7QD9r

    And yes, hippie, i’m looking at you. when you’re done posting your response, toss a link here to it and then post it over there. no, no, no, no, NO… filet =)

  • paula says:

    It depends on the day.
    The other morning I was reading “The Te of Piglet”
    Last night in bed I was reading “Vampires” by David Skal
    Sometimes it’s nice to read something that is easy and full of fluff.I love to read Laurell K Hamilton because after working all day and listening to children fight I like to read something that takes no effort.
    My favorite book of all time ,which I re read every now and then is “This is my Blood” by David Niall Wilson.
    Like I said it depends on the day.

  • Bob Ford says:
  • Della says:

    My last three:
    Dark Hallow – Brian Keene
    Thunderstruck – Erik Larson
    The Harmony Silk Factory – Tash Aw

    I have queued up:

    Perdido Street Station – China Mieville
    American Creation – Joseph Ellis
    Three Bags Full – Leonie Swan

  • Ariell says:

    The last three books I read for fun:
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman
    Going Bovine by Libba Bray
    The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon

    I’m shocked that the average best seller is written at a fifth grade reading level! In fifth grade I had a college reading level, I was reading books like Moby Dick. In fact I read so much my teacher made me read the dictionary because I was so far ahead of my classmates. I am HORRIFIED that people read so little,and I wish there was a way to convince them to discover the joys reading brings.

  • wolfnoma says:

    Ok Kelli since you asked I shall answer;

    I read the paper but I read it online. Also I check various web news services.
    I read several blogs and occasionally I find myself responding to one or two of them.

    Currently the books I am reading or re-reading are;

    Dark Faith by a bunch of different authors who have a brilliant form and a wield their respective styles of writing like Samurai Warriors wield their blades.

    The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand for the 3rd or 4th time, I really have lost count. I never get tired of her work for some reason. GO HOWARD ROAK!

    Nothing Like it in the World by Stephen Ambrose. Yes, this deals with trains. I like trains and you should too.

    Onward…

    We live in a world where instant gratification comes in the form of not just Fast Food but also a video game mentality where we experience an adrenalin rush every 15 to 20 seconds. Books by nature can not compare to the Zombie Killing games, World War games or even the great PAC-MAN Google revitilization games that occur every day. For that, litterary works suffer.

    Some artists have cashed in on the Dumbing-Down of our society by producing schlock for the tapioca fed masses. Literecy is at an all time low for this 1st world nation we live in which means Everyone suffers and no one is immune. That is how the Twilight books came about and the “CLASSIC NOVEL INVOVLING YOUR FAVORITE MONSTER NOW” books. (Somehow I just can’t imagine Bram Stoker or Mary Shelly being too happy with those sets of novels.) Hopefully though this fad will get some folks to dig deeper into the depths of the libraries offerings and find gems of brain food produced by the Journeymen of the trade like Salinger (a personal favorite of mine), Mr. HST and his gonzo ways, Mrs. Rand (another favorite), J.R.R. Tolkein, e.e. cummings, T.S. Elliot and many, many more names I could put in here but I am rambling already.

    What we have here is another Hydra and I have a theory about that but I will save it for a rant in a blog or when you, me and a group of crazy, drunken, literate, modern day disillusioned earth citizens get together in a rambunctious gathering located at some undisclosed location in Pennsylvania that requires not just a secret handshake but a sacrificial transgendered Llama!

  • Let’s see. I’m reading The Poisonwood Bible right now. Before that was Olive Kitteridge (and I LOVED it) and before that was That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo.

    I can’t stand reading Big Mac crap.

  • I’ve been on both sides of this fence – writing to get paid vs. writing the story I wanted. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to take those gigs in order to make a living. But I think it is best to follow the David Morrell philosophy of “write the story you want to write and worry about selling it later.” I’ve noticed in my own writing that the quality of the story is better when it is one that I am vested in beyond the aspect of being compensated.

    As a reader, I can tell the difference between the stories that were written for a paycheck and the ones the author truly cared about. I can tell when a writer is being lazy and just doing the bare minimum to scrape by.

    As for getting kids to read, I think the best thing to do is model the behavior. Take your kids to the library. Read to them, even if they can read on their own. Read a novel together out loud and switch off who reads each chapter to keep them interested. Instead of music, listen to audio books in the car. If all you do as a parent is sit on the computer or watch TV, how can you expect your kid to want to read. Share the books you loved as a kid. They will thank you for it later.

  • JimPI says:

    Three most recent reads:
    –The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley
    –The Other Hollywood by Legs McNeil
    –Breeding Ground by Sarah Pinborough

    From my perspective, here’s the thing. Many if most people (well, non-writers at least) read for escapism. They don’t want to have to think too hard about what they are reading. They want excitement, adventure, romance, and for the good guys to prevail in the end. If the writing is too, for lack of a better term, high-brow, they lose interest. That’s too much like homework. They want their books like they want their food – quick, easy, and tasty. Screw the nutritional content and to Hell with spending time making it from scratch. That’s too much work.

    The Road obviously doesn’t fit into that category. One really has to work to get through that book. My theory on why it still became as popular as it did is summarized in one word. Rhymes with Boprah.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I like my Big Macs just as much as I like my steaks. Just depends on what I’m in the mood for at the moment. And I’ll readily admit I perhaps more often choose the fast food over the made-from-scratch dinner. I’m running ragged on time just like everyone else. Doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t appreciate the work the artist has put into their craft. Just means I don’t want something heavy right now.

    You could easily say the same thing about music. My formative years were the 1980s, music-wise. I listened to a LOT of hair metal (still do, actually). You’d be hard pressed to say bands like Bon Jovi, Metallica, or GnR were putting out the musical equivalent of filet. Sure, the rabid fans might disagree on that but ’tis true. And yes, occasionally there were flashes of outright brilliance like Mindcrime. But generally, the most popular bands were and still are the ones who cater to the wants of the fans or in some way manage to put out a new sound at just the right time. I don’t think that necessarily lessens them artistically.

    I think the financial success of putting out the Big Macs gives them the security to explore their art without having to spend time at the day job.

  • Kelli says:
  • Kelli says:

    wow, comments across the grid on this one… let me clarify here, because i don’t even remember where it was at this point:

    i’m not saying it has to be high literacy, but it should be good. you shouldn’t just pump out crap, that you know is crap, and not expect to be frowned upon… even if it’s only by what bob said was other writers. write the story, the way you write. do it to the best of your ability. don’t worry about using bigger and/or smaller words, use what you know, what you’re comfortable with… it just amazes me that the public will take the crap, the editors and publishers will pay for it, and the writers will sell their souls (those that choose to do this… those that are just bad writers didn’t sell anything other than a big mac that they equated to filet because it was made with angus beef)

  • Wow…first off…thank you Paula. You are one of only three people I have encountered that count “This is My Blood” as their favorite…

    Last three books…

    Mr. Shivers – a debut novel by a wonderful new writer – part Grapes of Wrath and part dark fantasy…powerful and well written – author: Robert Jackson Bennett

    Before that was my latest fluff…I read the fourth of the Dresden Files novels…which I find entertaining but VERY MUCH fast-food of novels.

    Right now reading “The Thief of Broken Toys” by Tim Lebbon – very well done and thought out – and listening to “The Forgetting Wood,” and audiobook I published by Steven Savile – absolutely wonderful stuff…

    David

  • Kevin Lucia says:

    Last three novels:

    Recently for pleasure:

    In Silent Graves, Keepers, Mr. Hands, Coffin County (now reading Far Dark Fields), by Gary Braunbeck

    Before that:

    Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
    Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
    The Face, Dean Koontz

    On Deck:

    Buffalo Lockjaw, Greg Ames (He was in one of my CW classes at BU and I LOVED his work)
    The Tomb, F. Paul Wilson

    I should point out that I play both sides of the fence, also. When I’m in the mood for a big greasy steak – Stephen King. Something light – Dean Koontz. Filet Mignon – Peter Straub (my absolute favorite)

  • drew says:

    BIg Macs are Ok if you know they’re big macs and dont try to market them as filet. LAst three books:
    That Old Cape Magic- Richard Russo
    Cemetery Dance- Preston and Child
    Day of Night- Frederick Reiken

  • Bob Ford says:

    “it just amazes me that the public will take the crap, the editors and publishers will pay for it…”

    It continues to amaze me too. But even more so, it amazes me that most of the American public doesn’t seem to care one way or another. Maybe it’s a wolf pack mentality of a book that catches fire. Maybe it’s just lightning striking when we don’t expect it to.

    Thing is, I agree with you Kelli. I think you’re absolutely right that if a writer produces crap when they can write better – they SHOULD expect to be slapped for it. But often times, they only ones who do the slapping are writers themselves who think or know they can do better. I’m just not sure the majority of readers actually cares about the art and craft behind it – while they’re on summer vacation or riding the train to work, they’re interested in a good read, a great story, interesting characters and maybe some sex thrown in for good measure to spice things up.

    That’s what it seems they’re after and more than not, what climbs up the best seller lists. It doesn’t appear they care whether the story they’re reading is poorly crafted.

  • Burke says:

    I read many books each week, and so does the hubby, but I also was disturbed to see that my kid doesn’t read nor do any of her friends! (is she still a “kid” at 18?) Anyway, the kid tells me stories “take too long to read” or “I lost interest half way through”. Makes me sad.

    Last three books…
    Regina’s Song by David Eddings
    Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
    Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
    Of course I am sure there were a few trashy romance novels, but I couldn’t tell you their titles or authors :)

  • Meteornotes says:

    The answer is simple: most people are dumb.

    Well, OK, it’s a bit more complicated than that. But really, look at all other forms of entertainment. Movies (have you seen the crap that plagues the theaters?), Television (American Karaoke, err, I mean Idol. And a giant pile of “reality” shows that are EVEN WORSE), Music (turn on any radio station and try not to let your brain turn to mush in five minutes), Games (FUCKING FARMVILLE!), and so on. People want mindless entertainment. They don’t want to think. They’ve been trained by our schools, by their jobs, by their interactions with most other people that thinking for yourself is NOT GOOD and is really to be avoided. Americans for the most part are vastly overworked, vastly underpaid, and are so exhausted at the end of their day at their soul crushing career of choice that most of them can barely concentrate on a Law & Order episode, which has been telling you who the criminal is in the first five minutes for the last twenty year.

    I really think reading for pleasure will be all but dead in about 20 years or so. I remember reading an article in 1988 that said by 2020, kids will no longer be taught how to read/write. I don’t think it was terribly off the mark. It’s sad, but what can be done? A complete overhaul of our educational system to emphasize reading and how fucking important it is? We’re too buys re-writing history texts to eliminate things we don’t like in them, re-writing biology texts so every theory in the universe is supported (again, no one is EVER supposed to be offended or have their belief systems challenged, or be forced to think for themselves in any way). You think anyone is going to make reading a priority? I doubt it.

    It’s sad, but I don’t see this changing. It’s one of the reasons I stopped writing.

  • Bob Freeman says:

    Whether people are reading the literary equivalent of a Big Mac or Filet Mignon, I am just happy to know that people are reading. Both accomplish the same end, if we’re going to stick with this analogy, in that they feed your hunger. They both taste good. It’s simply not a matter of either / or.

    Like it or not, publishers are in this game to make money and they know that in this economy they can sell a lot more Big Macs than they can steak.

    Hard to begrudge them that.

    If the public demanded steak, steak is what they’d be served. The public however wants what it wants, and we as writers can bitch and moan to high heaven, but the simple truth is, the Dan Browns and Stephanie Meyers of the literary world move product.

    That is the name of the game. To play or not play is your decision.

    Me? I write what I want to write, regardless of market trends and such. Will I ever find a large enough audience to support my passion? Probably not, but you never know. All you can do, in the end, is stay true to yourself.

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  • Chris Owen says:

    Last 3 books:
    Tom Clancy : Rainbow Six (only book of his I read)
    Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers (possibly my favorite book ever. quite different from the film)
    Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson: Dune:House Atreides

  • Lu says:

    Last three
    The Joy of Home Winemaking
    The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
    Helter Skelter (because I’ve never read it and it was in the house)

    On Deck
    Cemetery Dance

    I’m going to have to agree whole heartedly with Meteornotes. And that is sad. Keep writing people, some of us still read.

  • Kelli says:

    snagged from keenedom before the boards exploded:

    bob ford: All right, love. Here’s my thoughts on the matter:

    I’ve worked in the advertising industry, in one form or another, for almost 22 years. Designing ad campaigns, packaging, brochures and other marketing materials is commercial art at its definition. I am developing art based materials for a business and turning a profit by doing so.

    I’ll be the first to admit that reading market trends and demographic reports has made me cynical of the American public in many ways.

    Yesterday, Publishers Weekly tweeted an article on the paranormal romance tidal wave. You can read it by clicking here.

    It was an interesting article discussing the growing (and growing and GROWING) genre of Paranormal Romance and all it’s spiderling offshoots.

    After Kelli got home, she must’ve seen the gleam in my eyes and thus began a debate on art vs commerce.

    One of our great friends, who I shall not name, was told by an editor to “dumb down” his novel and it would probably do very well. He had written it beyond a fifth grade reading level (no, I’m not making this up… the fifth-grade reading level thing is pretty much the accepted rule of thumb for best sellers) and wouldn’t do well with the majority of the population.

    Over the last ten years or so, I’ve gotten to know quite a few full-time writers. Kelli knows and has edited for tons more. Granted, most of them are writers in the horror genre instead of mainstream fiction, and that makes the chances of being a huge hit even slimmer, but there’s a very thin percentage of writers that are doing well. Most bust their ass day and night in order to keep the bills paid and food on the table.

    Our debate on art vs commerce continued on and I cited examples of some writers that are household names. No, I don’t feel the need to mention them here but you would recognize them. So would your parents. Probably the soccer mom next door and her sister who has a reading circle every Thursday night.

    A frighteningly large portion of today’s best sellers are poorly written. They are literary Big Macs. They may provide great entertainment and story and an ending that wows the audience, but the writing itself isn’t there.

    Know who the largest group is who complains about how poorly written the books are?

    Other writers. The majority of the American public either doesn’t notice, or doesn’t care because they are selling tons. Thus became my comment about the writers writing Big Macs can afford Filét Mignon.

    Sadly, I have to direct you to THIS article, discussing this very issue.

    Go on. I’ll grab myself another cup of coffee and wait. Believe me, you’re going to want to read that one.

    I haven’t read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I have tried to read No Country for Old Men and it made my eyes bleed. At first I thought there were just typos. A badly edited manuscript. But no. As the pages kept turning I saw it was intentional. The lack of punctuation made me want to punch a dolphin.

    I put the book down and it’s gathering dust.

    I AM THE MINORITY HERE… because No Country for Old Men sold a metric fuckton, became the buzz of the Hollywood Machine, blah blah blah.

    Art vs Commerce

    Raise your hand if you’ve read:

    Karl Edward Wagner
    TED Klein
    Algernon Blackwood
    Shirley Jackson
    Ray Bradbury
    Charles L. Grant
    David J. Schow
    Robert Bloch
    Richard Matheson
    Hugh B. Cave

    Okay. You, you, you over there (hey, your fly’s down by the way), you with the goatee and latte. The rest of you? No? The rest of you can go stand in I-fucked-up-corner.

    That list is some of the most influential writers ever, gifting us with some of the best prose most of us will ever encounter. Yet, they’re sliding by the way side for today’s reading generation. You know, the ones who don’t care about things like… PUNCTUATION.

    At the end of our discussion (which I’m sure will continue), I told Kelli to write what she writes. That’s what we have to do; both of us. We write what we write and I’m well aware of that. As individuals, we want to tell the best story possible in the best way. We want to have an emotional impact on the reader. Give them chills. Make them cry. Have them laugh out loud.

    We do what we do and write what we write and get bitch-slapped by our Muse and when we slap its ass and send it out, an editor or agent will decide how to package it.

    And, believe you me, so will the American public when they sit down at their reading circles and drink iced coffee and eat their Big Macs.

    nikita: You couldn’t have posted this at a better time! The last three books I read were Brian Keene’s Kill Whitey, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451…and Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse.
    So I have much to say on this topic Smiley

    First of all, I don’t like the Big Mac, so let’s replace it with a sinfully delicious sandwich I do love–the double quarter pounder with cheese. And I’ll take my filet as you take yours–medium rare. And I’ll love them both. I need them both. For me, it isn’t any more healthy to overly indulge in the filet than it is the quarter pounder.

    Balance.

    Clearly I love good books–I wouldn’t be here otherwise–but goddamnit sometimes push-pin is just as good as poetry.

    Allow me to explain.

    Back in the day, people used to play a game in which they would place push-pins into a brim of a hat. I can’t remember the goal of the game but the point was, it was typically a simple game played by simple people, and Jeremy Bentham believed that the pleasure to be gained from playing push-pin was equal in value to the pleasure another person might take in reading Shakespeare, for example. One outlet for happiness is just as good as another.

    Now, having said that, I will not sit here and say Stephenie Meyer is a better writer than Brian Keene and Ray Bradbury–she isn’t. But I won’t feel guilty about reading her books. I can’t. Not ever. I used to have this same discussion with one of my philosophy professors every single time I took one of his classes, and I have yet to yield to his insistence that Danielle Steele novels and horror movies may, in reality, actually be trash. I won’t do it. Do I think someone should ONLY read Stephenie Meyer and Danielle Steele?? No. Do I think people should ONLY read Shakespeare and Plato and other great literary works?? No again. Art is subjective. Relativism is dangerous but I think there’s something to be gained by acknowledging that maybe good books don’t always have to be good books.

    And as much as I hate to admit, it’s money that makes the world go ’round. I can’t fix my car or pay my student loans or buy my groceries with good stories. And if it ever comes down to it, I wish I could be as strong as you Kelli. I wish I could say I would never sell out, that I wouldn’t water-down my story just to get it sold. But the fact is, I probably would.

    And again, I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing.

    Life is confusing

    loki: if a writer isn’t striving to create art, to create literature with their fiction, then it’s not worth my time to read their work.
    the whole idea that i keep hearing about how ‘storytelling is the most important thing!’ is jsut bullshit.
    if that’s truly the case, then those folks should just stop reading novels and start reading outlines, instead.
    .
    as to the last three books i’ve read:
    cherie priest ‘those who went remain there still’ (not her best work, but the shifting first person perspective is really well done and i enjoyed it quite a bit.)
    thomas pynchon ‘v.’ (one of the greatest books ever written in the english language and somethign i try to get back to once a year.)
    roberto bolaño ‘antwerp’ (which reminds me that i really need to reread ‘2666’ someday.)

    cory: Books aren’t popular because they are poorly written. They can, however, be poplar in spite of it.

    And ‘simple’ writing isn’t necessarily ‘dumbed’ down writing, or poor writing.

    A 5th-Grader could read The Road and understand it.

    Good writers can adapt to the limitations of their audience and use it to their advantage.

    jimPI: Three most recent reads:
    –The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley
    –The Other Hollywood by Legs McNeil
    –Breeding Ground by Sarah Pinborough

    From my perspective, here’s the thing. Many if most people (well, non-writers at least) read for escapism. They don’t want to have to think too hard about what they are reading. They want excitement, adventure, romance, and for the good guys to prevail in the end. If the writing is too, for lack of a better term, high-brow, they lose interest. That’s too much like homework. They want their books like they want their food – quick, easy, and tasty. Screw the nutritional content and to Hell with spending time making it from scratch. That’s too much work.

    The Road obviously doesn’t fit into that category. One really has to work to get through that book. My theory on why it still became as popular as it did is summarized in one word. Rhymes with Boprah.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I like my Big Macs just as much as I like my steaks. Just depends on what I’m in the mood for at the moment. And I’ll readily admit I perhaps more often choose the fast food over the made-from-scratch dinner. I’m running ragged on time just like everyone else. Doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t appreciate the work the artist has put into their craft. Just means I don’t want something heavy right now.

    You could easily say the same thing about music. My formative years were the 1980s, music-wise. I listened to a LOT of hair metal (still do, actually). You’d be hard pressed to say bands like Bon Jovi, Metallica, or GnR were putting out the musical equivalent of filet. Sure, the rabid fans might disagree on that but ’tis true. And yes, occasionally there were flashes of outright brilliance like Mindcrime. But generally, the most popular bands were and still are the ones who cater to the wants of the fans or in some way manage to put out a new sound at just the right time. I don’t think that necessarily lessens them artistically.

    I think the financial success of putting out the Big Macs gives them the security to explore their art without having to spend time at the day job.

    gorebeast: Last 3 Books Read:

    The Bridge by John Skipp & Craig Spector
    Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
    Brain Cheese Buffet by Edward Lee

    As I sat here pondering my response to this topic, I ate a Klondike bar. That got me thinking. I’m eating a snack. Why? Well, dagnabbit, I’m hungry. But I don’t want to eat a meal yet. So a snack is just the thing to stave off my hunger until my next meal. Then, a lightbulb appeared above my head, accompanied by a Ding!. I just created quite the little analogy. Sometimes I like to take breaks between “heavy” books and read something “light”. Hence, snack vs. meal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still cringe whenever I see a poorly edited story. I’m quick to notice grammatical errors and such (in other people’s work, not so much my own). This does not necessarily take me out of the story though. If I’m digging the plot, characters, yada yada yada, I can still enjoy it. Though I will constantly be thinking, “Who the hell edited this? Anyone?”

    Another way to look at it is through film terms. As in the film industry, it has become increasingly simplified for people with little to no talent to get their stuff out there to the consumers. I can’t tell you how many terrible, self-produced horror movies I watch on a regular basis. Time and time again I’m duped into watching something that has garnered praise (be it through festival circuits or from other “names” in the industry who support it). The publishing industry is no different. But, as in the film industry, every once in a while there is a diamond hiding amidst all the turds.

    jeff prettyman: Gonzalez, “The Beloved”
    Michael Lewis, “Moneyball”
    Moore, “Blood Red”

    I used to be a chef in fining dining restaurants, some of national acclaim. It was exciting and I was able to really flex my culinary muscle. As I grew older, and my children grew older, and my bills and financial resposibilities grew greater… I took a job with a “fine casual” chain. I looked pretty thoroughly before I made the switch, to make sure the job that I was taking for money reasons was one I could also be proud of food-wise. Now I put out food on a daily basis which I think is very good and if I feel the need to “flex” I make a fancy-schmancy meal for my family. It’s the balance thing Nikita mentioned. I don’t feel like a sell-out. My life, on a whole, is better now.
    Bob, I have read five of the ten you mentioned.
    And a final note on filet mignon. I eat fast food hamburgers very infrequently. But I still eat them more often than I do a filet mignon. Tastes in music, literature and food are subjective things. It is easier for writers to judge the quality of writing of a book. Musicians can tell better than I if the players on an album are okay or stellar. And I can tell you most chefs of “Filet Mignon Stature” will tell you that filet mignon is the most overrated steak there is. It’s appeal is all about texture over flavor. “Fork tender”. “You can cut it with a butter knife”.

    Flank
    Skirt
    Flat Iron
    Tri-tip
    New York Strip
    and my personal favorite, Ribeye
    These steaks are where the flavor is. If you haven’t dined on these you need to go stand in “I fucked up corner”.

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