The Truth About Bob Woodward

IS THERE A LITERARY HERD?

The proof that there is a literary herd was provided in a brief twitter exchange I had a couple days ago with Dennis Loy Johnson, editor and publisher at New York-based Melville House Press.

IN the article, Johnson freely dismantles Bob Woodward’s credibility as a reporter, using example after example, including “Deep Throat”; including Woodward’s infamous “interview” with the corpse of Bill Casey on his death bed.

BUT, that was five years ago when Bob Woodward was out of favor with the left-leaning intelligentsia. He’d been critical of President Barack Obama. Before that, Woodward was believed to approve of President George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq. Now it’s 2018, and the wind is blowing in another direction.

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(Are we at war with Eurasia or Eastasia this week?)

black hat 2Five years ago Dennis Loy Johnson could easily take shots at Bob Woodward; even expose him as something of a liar. TODAY Woodward, like all Insider D.C. commentators, is fundamentally opposed to Trump. Therefore, today he’s not a bad guy but a good guy again. Cue up memories of Watergate.

white hatIT MIGHT MAKE SENSE for Dennis Loy Johnson to advertise his 2013 take down of Bob Woodward. From a business standpoint it surely would– one would think– by drawing attention to Johnson and to Melville House. But it would make Johnson a pariah with the one-direction-only literary herd. Despite his instinct for telling the truth, Johnson is ultimately too shrewd to stand too-far apart from the herd.

To call out Bob Woodward and the salacious parts of Woodward’s new book would take rare intellectual courage, for one who stands in Johnson’s position.

TO DO SO would place himself in what he calls “LOSERVILLE”– which I believe Dennis Loy Johnson means to apply to writers existing outside the golden bubble realm of New York. (I don’t believe he was referring to Detroit– I hope he wasn’t– though he could’ve been.)

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Johnson also wants us to give him points for NOT tossing his own article down the Orwellian Memory Hole. We can do that.

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And Bob Woodward? What’s the truth about Bob Woodward?

The truth about Bob Woodward is that he is what he’s been from the beginning– an Establishment Centrist loyally serving Establishment power. Woodward stays the same. The perception of who Woodward is is always changing.

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-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS

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New Pop Lit at NaNoWriMo!

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New Pop Lit editors Karl Wenclas and Kathleen M. Crane are scheduled to make a rare public appearance at the Troy Public Library  on Thursday, November 17th in connection with National Novel Writing Month. Register for NaNoWriMo and read about Troy happenings here, then scroll down for information about our specific event. Or register for our event directly here.

For new writers, we intend ours to be THE NaNoWriMo event to attend. We’ve registered for NaNoWriMo ourselves. Kathleen has begun a new novel. Several of the stories in her collection, Aloha from Detroit, were taken from a novel she wrote. (Yes, writers are allowed to cannibalize their own work.)  Karl meanwhile has resurrected an unfinished novel of his own, excerpts of which were recently posted here.

We also of course edit one of the hottest literary sites around, New Pop Lit, whose mission is to discover exciting new writers. We’ve also published a print issue which we expect to be the foundation for a small press devoted to dynamic writing.

What are various ways to write a novel? How does one overcome writer’s block? How does the new author publish and promote the book once it’s finished? These are questions we’ll address at the event. Are we “experts”? No! We’re in the same boat as you the struggling writer– finding our way in a new publishing environment in which, over the past ten years, all the set rules have been overturned. Never have there been more options for authors– more opportunities. These are exciting times for writing and reading– we’re in the early stages of more changes to come.

See you in Troy next Thursday!

 

Our Dally in The Alley Report!

TABLING AT DETROIT’S DALLY IN THE ALLEY

The speed at which the “Dally” street festival is growing is astounding. In the 1990’s I lived in the same north Cass Corridor neighborhood that hosts this amazing urban street fair. I can remember when the event was confined to the long alley behind buildings. I remember when it expanded to neighboring streets. Now the event has overflowed onto a large chunk of Midtown Detroit.

The fair is twice the size of what I remember from 1998 or thereabouts. It’s as much as 50% bigger than the last time I attended it, when I was in town in 2008. In some respects for vendors it’s become too big. While the Allied Media Conference in June didn’t have enough traffic to suit our purposes, the Dally at times had too much; the vendors jammed helplessly in their spots watching the unending flow of people who were not there to purchase but instead, frankly, to get drunk. This was late evening, once the sun vanished.

How did we do from a sales standpoint?

I’ll use the mantra, “Not as well as we hoped but better than we feared.” For about a three-hour window we did very well, catching interest with Kathleen Crane’s eye-catching “ALOHA FROM DETROIT” t-shirts (soon to be on sale at the main http://www.newpoplit.com site), as well as with our prototype lit journal with its equally eye-catching Alyssa Klash cover. There were scores of other vendors selling Detroit t-shirts. Everyone who commented to us on the matter–at least a hundred people– said we had the best.

The weather was quite cool, and threatened rain for much of the day– moments of dark clouds overhead punctuated by occasional drops. We took a risk in that we were one of a handful of vendors who didn’t have a tent. (A big change from Dallys I remember from the past.) I’d decided not to spend $75 on renting a tent! Low overhead is how NEW POP LIT has decided to operate. It will remain the case as we move further into print book publishing. This is how we plan to takedown the bloated book giants– with a fast, streamlined operation.

Toward the end of the evening, when vendors had more time to chat, one of them complimented us on how we operated. He said the way to do it is to focus on a few products– your best movers– instead of having a ton of stock, which he had. Many vendors had large tents and many racks, holding as much merchandise as a store in a shopping mall. Their operations took hours to set up and take apart. He pointed out to us a rack of clothing he was selling at a large discount– items created or acquired long ago for another festival. Yet behind this rack were many, many other arrays of clothing and other products– a large investment which would have to be moved at event after event after event.

We had as much merchandise as we thought we would sell. We sold a large percentage of our main features. Some of the authors’ books we had with us were more problematic.

This was for a number of reasons. First, in face-to-face selling you can focus only on one or two items (much of what we sold was with sharp verbal effort). You’re focused first on what people ask about. Display– the look of a product– is crucial. Second, with our own products we were free to use creative discounting. I sold the NEW POP LIT prototype at two dollars off the cover price, because it’s not a finished product. (The real printing will take care of minor glitches and typos.) For the t-shirts we varied the price depending on crowd interest, which started slow in the morning, peaked in the afternoon, then dropped off a table when the beer drinker partyers arrived by the tens of thousands. (The Dally is one of the best pure parties anywhere– and I’ve been to a few, including the Indy 500.) Our attitude was that of vendors at a European or Arab or African open air bazaar– we were ready to bargain, and did so. In hindsight, we should’ve gotten permission from the authors who’d sent us books months ago to do likewise for them. But then, many books can’t be discounted and avoid a loss.

The great artist-writer “I’m not Picasso” Dan Nielsen had given us permission to do what we wished with his entertaining chapbooks, which added to our flexibility, because on a couple occasions when potential buyers were hesitating I said, “I’ll throw in the Dan Nielsen art-lit book,” and made the sale. Kudos to Dan. All marketing experts say it’s better to add value than to drop the price much. There were price points beneath which we wouldn’t go for anything. Well, except at the very end of the night when we were ready to pack up! Most of what we sold was close to the original price we’d set, but not at it.

There was much to take note of. One is how few real punks there were at the event– though punk bands dominated the stage inside the alley itself. (We were positioned closer to the techno/house music stage.) The Dally in the Alley was traditionally, for decades, a mainly punk affair– but except for the fashion-punk variety, the real punk person seems to be a thing of the past. With exceptions. A wild punky couple were struck by the photo of Jessie Lynn McMains we had at the front of our table and bought anything by her they could get their hands on– including the NEW POP LIT journal, which contains an amazing story by Jessie– one of the best stories you’ll ever read anywhere.

The punk couple, and other readers, will be sure to equally enjoy Kathy Crane’s tough “Aloha from Detroit” story in the journal. Inspiration for the t-shirts.

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The vendors on either side of us were FANTASTIC. Unbelievably friendly and helpful, seeing that for this event we were virtual neophytes. I sold at many zinefests in the past, but the Dally in The Alley is an entirely different creature. Especially what it’s morphed into. But it retains the same DIY cooperative vibe it’s always had.

It’s hard to describe here the full experience. I parked our vehicle almost a mile away– yet when the festival reached its peak, the crowd had expanded that far. On sidestreets outside the designated grounds, vendors had set up unofficially to hawk their wares. Bars on all sides had their own music events taking place. Is the Dally now comparable to Mardi Gras? To the big Austin music festival? It’s getting there.

Kudos to the neighborhood folks who put the Dally on, keeping the legacy going. They did an amazing job.

-K.W.