Disclaimer: There are a LOT of you out there that I consider to be good or even great people (and writers). I know opinions vary and I also know writing as a business sucks. I try to be as honest as I can with people and I try to avoid subtweeting or being vague in favor of outright saying names of those I have a problem with. So notice: I will only say one name here because THAT is where my grievance lies. Go read.
Oof – more publishing world drama. Yes, I also realize I don’t have to say a fucking thing, but shutting the fuck up seems to be exactly what the shit heels want, so I’m going to have to go against the grain (I think that might be my brand: loudmouth Puerto Rican guy that people wish shut up without internalizing why they want me to shut up when other people will say the same shit while whiter and never evoke that same response? Is that how this works? Or is that my platform? I need a fucking publicist.).
Otto Penzler had a party this week. More likely to show all his evil critics how happy he is and how many supporters he has. That’s cool. Sometimes we all need to boost our egos and mental health is important, even if you have disdain for other humans simply because they may be a different sex, color, or orientation than you are. You do you, my dude.
I’m not going to stray on that or the idea that every single person that would attend that party is a villain. I’ve gone to great lengths for free beer myself, so I can dig free shit being the only motivator for a writer to be at the shindig. I can also imagine plenty of guests being unaware of recent controversy and well, I do like to think the best of people. I really believe there are more allies in this business than not – even if it doesn’t feel that way all the time.
Oh that’s right, yes, background for those not in the know. Remember this? MANY news cycles ago…
Oh, four months ago. Well, anyway. THAT happened, but what does it mean for those present at said ‘party that absolutely no MWA people were invited to that totally MWA people went to’?
Nothing. Doesn’t mean a damn thing.
My gripe is with Otto. Whatever warm bodies surrounding him as meat shields, if they’re just standing there, are not my problem until they flap their gums or work as diligently to belittle their marginalized peers in public.
That also means I will absolutely walk into that bookshop whenever the fuck I want – especially knowing the owner would rather I not even be there. It’s literally the only game in town for our genre and I do believe the staff tries their very best to boost new voices despite their boss’ utterly ignorant contempt for anyone who won’t kiss his ring.
Party crashing is cooler either way.
And I will crash the party because that has been the only goddamn choice I’ve had since I’ve decided to take writing seriously. I’m sure the other *checks notes again* 25 (Jesus, 25? Seriously, guys?) Latinx crime writers can agree with me. Wait, I think one is dead, 24 then.
But Angel, a voice that I hope is not in my head says, the only choice is to boycott! We must take action in the same way that popular culture conveys since that isn’t a reflection at all of the real winners of the civil rights movement rewriting the narrative of how anything happened back in the 1960’s!
Eh…maybe? Sometimes we need to play the game with their rules because their rules can fuck them right back. Parasites aren’t long term planners, so if you can find a means to exploit that, it can be the best path.
I appreciate that sentiment from allies and there are places where boycotts work but books aren’t buses. It’s a niche world no matter how hard we want to pretend it isn’t and if there’s a physical store that will carry books by excellent writers who also happen to be marginalized or allies, I need to support that. I need to support the shift of cash flow because if that cash flow remains the same then you’ll never dethrone anyone.
That said, I will never apologize for my anger. This choad denigrated two excellent writers who work tirelessly to promote diversity in fiction and shat on ‘the mob’ who fill his coffers. In a perfect world we would absolutely shut it all down. In a world where his staff wouldn’t end up unemployed or the only decent bookshop south of the Upper West Side disappeared? This would end like a movie. We would be the champions, my friend. One of us would magically inherit the property and build the PERFECT bookstore and all kindles would explode in multi-color confetti and books would be the only source of currency for EVERYONE.
I would also buy a unicorn named Greg. He will fart carrot cake muffins and piss the very finest of Bissell Brothers beer and I will finally be happy.
None of that will happen and that’s OK. Despite what anyone thinks or what their motivations are, the real story here is that marginalized writers aren’t going anywhere. The numbers are growing, and the money will start flowing to where it wants. The real problem people like Otto should worry about (and frankly, why all folks like this are circling the wagons) is what happens when that paradigm change shatters their world and they’re left with nobody willing to take the free booze.
Therefore, I never give away booze. I like to know who loves and hates me from the jump.
Anyway, I have a book out that you should buy, read, and review. It’s called HELL CHOSE ME and shocker: it’s a crime fiction novel with a complicated character going through a literary-level existential crisis with a little bit of Clive Barker sensibility tossed in.
In other words: it’s awesome.
While you’re at it, buy Steph Cha’s and Attica Locke’s books too. They are even more awesome than I could ever hope to be. I sincerely mean that.