It seems only fitting to end (not that we ever have the luxury to presume things are over, but complacency aside and skepticism in place, we do have good reason to celebrate) where it began—with Robin Hemley, who, in closing his latest piece on the book blockade (“Notes of a Blockade Runner”), says “I doubt I’ll ever think again that what I write or say can’t possibly make a difference in our troubled but still repairable world.” Now that GMA has scrapped taxes on imported books, the concrete consequence of collective noise, I want to say thank you to Hemley (though I’m pretty sure he’ll say no thanks necessary) for writing the article that woke us all up and whipped our butts into action. Hemley had emailed a few writers including myself a month or so prior to his McSweeney’s piece about a Customs situation affecting the book industry—the details on hand at the time were sketchy and he encouraged us to investigate—and I must admit now with much shame that I didn’t (asking another writer on the list what was up was the extent of my investigation, and though he knew more than I did—easy to accomplish since I was clueless to the nth degree about the issue—he didn’t say much). As far as I know, none of us did. And so it took an American writer who was in town for a few months to get the word out. Lesson learned? Pointless to have your nose stuck in a book without you bothering to look up and smell the stinking corruption bound to swipe that book from you before you can say “wha?” Obvious, obvious lesson of course, but it can escape even those of us who should know better.
The good news comes shortly after the release of much-awaited books—And The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth by Carljoe Javier and A-Side/B-Side: Ang Mga Piso sa Jukebox ng Buhay Mo by Vlad Bautista Gonzales—shortly after Free Comic Book Day at Fully Booked where I snagged, at twenty percent off, Gabrielle Bell’s Cecil and Jordan in New York (which I’d been pining for since it came out and actually ordered through Amazon, an order I immediately cancelled right after shelling out a ridiculous amount of money for “taxes” to claim a previous Amazon order at the local post office), and shortly before the beginning of a new semester at the university, my classes being the occasion (excuse) for recent purchases such as Douglas Coupland’s City of Glass and Polaroids from the Dead, Joan Didion’s The White Album and Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Ann Lauterbach’s Or To Begin Again (which, in its central poem “Alice in the Wasteland,” cobbles together and reworks two favorites of mine) and desired purchases such as the Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary (but looks like this isn’t even out yet). Thank the gods for photocopying at 50 cents a page and Fair Use! For imported books, of course. With local books, buying is the way to go.
Check out the Victory Edition! of “The Great Book Blockade of 2009: Timeline and Readings” here.