hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

An Announcement Regarding Some Of My Books

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 23, 2022

This is one of what I expect will be several announcements of some cool or groovy or awesome or for some maybe a ho hum (hopefully not too many of the latter!) piece of news/info regarding my writing career, my authorship, the status of some of my old, out of print books, and some other things I’ve been busy as hell working on since last summer. I hope someone will appreciate some of the info I’ll be putting out.

If you look at most any of my profiles that have to do with writing, whether it be info on this site, or perhaps my Poets & Writers Directory listing or my Authors Guild profile or even my Goodreads Author profile among many you could find, you’d find a couple of things that might stand out. 1) This actually is no surprising, but it’s been disappointing. Virtually every books I’ve written that was published has been out of print for awhile, some far, far too long despite some going into three and four press runs. Because of this, what little supply various retailers or booksellers had slowly dwindled to nothing and since then some books have been relatively easy to find used but most have been very difficult and some literally totally impossible. All but one of my books were $10 or less (Cells was $20 or $25, but it was a huge book). So I’ve kept my eyes open for the past decade just looking occasionally at what was out there, what the list prices were, what was in demand, etc. Those of you who have visited this site may have noticed a tab for a page I have at the top of the homepage titled “My Books — Crazy Prices” and some of them WERE crazy! I think that was back in 2011 and you can look at some screenshots for yourself but one example was two new copies of Cells, being sold by third party vendors on Amazon for $100 and $170 respectively! Nuts. One place was offering to rent students a copy of The Napalmed Soul for $65 per semester. (I’m updating that webpage with new, current screenshots of what’s out there now.) I’ve moved a lot over the course of my life, close to 35 times. During all of those moves, I had to get rid of stuff, dump stuff, I lost stuff and some movers were nice enough to lose or trash a ton of my stuff, the last group from two years ago succeeding in losing over half of the magazines, newspapers, etc., that I was ever published in — I’m talking tons of boxes with hundreds or more of contributor copies. To top it off, they lost EVERY damn copy of all but one of my own books! And not only were they out of print, but some of the early, distant publishers were very small presses and were long gone themselves, and as I mentioned, over half of my books were/are literally impossible to find on the market anywhere, any time, so I’ve been screwed out of any copies of my own books with one exception. Which has really ticked me off. I wanted a copy or two of each for my own library, and frankly I wouldn’t have minded a few more to get back into the stores or on the marketplace somehow since several have remained in demand for so unbelievably long. And I’ve gone years without seeing any.

The point is I haven’t had ANY of my own books for many years and I’ve wanted some for god’s sake! So a couple of months ago when I couldn’t sleep one night I was puttering around in the basement and found a biggish box labeled Places, opened it up to discover quite a few copies of that book. Yay! However, for whatever reason, despite being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and some very good reviews and press, that book really hasn’t retained the value that some others have, so I was elated when a week later, I found a small white box behind some curtains against a basement wall that was labeled Shadows and I thought surely I’m not that lucky. But I was! Barely a fraction of the number of copies I’d found the week before, but still more than 20 and not only did a few major libraries’ Special Collections want a copy, but that book has been far more successful than I ever anticipated and is one of my most ripped off and pirated books (that is a different ticked off story) and its value has remained much higher than the original retail list price and at times has gone up to crazy figures. And I have screenshots, including ones of various pirate sites and IP thief sites, but I came across one a couple of weeks ago illegally selling a PDF copy for $100! For a $7 book! All of these criminals have been selling my stuff for years, but more and more the past few years, and I’ve not gotten a dime for it. In fact, I discovered last year they’re even selling my published scholarship for students to buy and use as their own and some of my papers do big business! Shocking. I never knew, I’m not very important, who’s heard of me, I never got a penny for those peer-reviewed publications and these assholes are making a killing because I’ve seen what some are charging. The worst of it is, academics don’t make a dime from publishing original research, at least not in the social sciences. You’re lucky if you get a contributor’s copy because I didn’t for at least a third of the journals that published my work. (Yes, I’m on Google Scholar, which isn’t remotely accurate about my work and citations. You can find me here if interested.) Anyway, what I found inspired me to start opening boxes I could both reach and maybe could physically handle — something embarrassing and difficult to admit as I was always strong but no longer am. So recently I found a small box within a larger box within an unopened wardrobe box and I was elated to find it had copies of all but a couple of my books! With some, there were just one or two copies, but with a few others, there were dozens! THUS, the point of all of this is those books of mine that I have sufficient surplus, after I donate 2-3 copies to some Special Collections libraries, will be the object of my focus as I attempt to find out how to get some out onto the marketplace, both ones that have been in massive demand and maybe some that never were listed for sale (predating Amazon — god!) in the first place, so I’m not sure if I can get them carried again by Amazon and other similar stores — I have an official Amazon Author page which has seen titles sadly decline from 9 to 7 to 5 to 3, etc. I approached Amazon about carrying some digital or tactile copies once more and they asserted they would only deal with the publisher when it came to that, and/or whomever holds the copyright rights. Which is me. And I had had no interaction or even knowledge of this one particular publisher in years, so I tried to look him up in New Orleans and found that he’d died a few years ago and there no longer was any company. Which got me worried. I started looking for the publishers and companies of most of the books I was interested in and found virtually none were either still alive or findable and most of the companies were long gone. I don’t know if Amazon will accept that and I intend to consult the Authors Guild legal department for advice, In the meantime, I see no reason why I can’t announce now my intended goal of making some available for sale here on this site, Yay! Of course I must figure out a way to accomplish that. I have a PayPal account and had a business account for some years for one or two businesses I owned before retiring. I also had a Stripe account. I suspect PayPal would be accommodating, but it’d be the logistics of simply setting it up here, provided they give me a go. Until then, I’ve figured out a possible way of making this feasible and workable until making it more obvious and official looking. I know how to do this from when I was a merchant previously, as well as a consumer. You can make a PayPal payment by sending it, provided you have a PayPal account, to the email address associated with the seller’s PayPal account (me) and unless things have changed over the past couple of years, it was that easy. There are other options too, but that’d be the first I’d explore. If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, ideas, etc., I’d be grateful for any comments to help get this accomplished. I have no planned date or time for my next announcement, but it won’t be one involving sales. It should be pretty cool and I think many of you will dig it. Thanks and have a good one! — Scott

PS: some cover shots of some of the little books I may be trying to make available to the public…

My book Places (Sterling House Press, 1995), Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.


Grungy Ass Swaying (1993). A collaboration with Paula Weinman that I regret enormously. Raunchy and naturally representing me in the Library of Congress!

Distant Visions, Again and Again (1994). Probably known as my only “tranquil” book, the reviewers generally liked it while noting I apparently was taking a break between raunchiness and violence. Hah!

Shadows Before the Maiming (Gothic Press, 1999). One of 5 books I had published in 1999, I didn’t have any major expectations for this one. I found myself surprised to be reviewed, labeled, listed, indexed, cataloged, etc., as a Horror writer and this evidently was a book of Horror poetry. So much so that it was listed in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror for 2000 (Carol & Graf), as well as both the book and myself reviewed and listed in magazines, books, on websites, etc., and despite that appearing in 1999, it continues to this day and that book has remained in high demand and is viewed as a collector’s item that’s typically very hard to find.


How about some screenshots of pirate sites of groups ripping me off, making some of these books available illegally with me naturally not getting a dime, nor having even known of it until I started looking last summer. Nice gig if you can get it, I suppose…

For your amusement.


This tricky outfit looks virtually identical to the plausibly legit Open Library where one checks out a book at a time, as with a real library. This outfit is clearly trying to emulate the real thing while drawing people in to swindle them and the authors. I have an older screenshot with their insignia at the top looking identical, but it read “Digital” Library rather than the actual Open Library they’re now screwing. One of the many ways you can tell it’s a pirate site is — most do this and it’s clever — after listing title, author, ISBN, publication info, etc. — they, and most others, then try to confuse any bots or web crawlers that might spot them for what they actually are by filling the text of their webpages with garbage containing keywords — title — but in relation to what someone would literally expect, usually scientific or agricultural and as a result, they get passed over due to their “educational” content. It’s always a game of catch up with criminals.

A link for an illegal copy of my popular Never-Ending Cigarettes. Notice the textual gibberish.

Notice the identity of the seller in the cute little URL. I’ve spent MONTHS trying to access that site and it’s like it knows I’m the damn author or something because it’s blocked me every time no matter what browser, what device, what IP. Until finally … the next screenshot.

Note the standard pirate tactic, or one of them. Totally accurate book info, including even IDs from WorldCat, etc., and available in 5 different digital formats, but look at the content below and once again, biology — cells. Way to beat the good bots. This is an educational site, obviously. Many of them load the keyword, usually the title, into the gibberish 2-3 times per sentence which I would think should be a red flag to a properly coded bots, but I guess their AI isn’t as advanced as one would think…

And now for the amazing SHADOWS


This one really gets me. No physical copy of course because no one has any (except me now!). But a PDF version and for $100??? I never made that for the whole damn press run! ASSHOLE! THIEF! And just flat out brazen about it. Grrr…

The next and final one is hard for me to comprehend as a service because I can’t imagine them having any customers — for me. It’s a company called Dataresearchers and I guess they’re legit, maybe, and they don’t appear to be ripping me off at all. They not selling anything by me as far as I’ve seen. What they ARE selling are custom writing services to students for outrageous amounts of money and the two ads I’m about to show in a collage so it’s one graphic just blows my mind because I don’t have any idea at all who in the hell would pay anything for these services. I’m not that big or important or even known! Check it out…

Yes, you are not hallucinating. On the left, they’ll charge a handy fee to write a custom BOOK REVIEW (???) on my Shadows Before the Maiming? I actually AM being taught in some universities and am in some textbooks, but I can assure you it’s not for “horror poetry.” Rather, original literary criticism on authors like Yeats and Jane Smiley among others. A book review? As crazy as that is, even crazier is the service advertised on the right. They will write a “custom essay” INCLUDING a graduate thesis or freaking doctoral dissertation on me — Scott C. Holstad! For ungodly amounts of money. Frankly, it’s nearly a compliment, to be honest. But also to be honest, I think if I ever found out that anyone anywhere were actually doing their dissertation on me for any reason, I’d probably have a heart attack on the spot from the shock! There’s a greater chance of me flying to Mars on my own with no vehicle, oxygen, anything than someone getting their doctorate on me.


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On Thomas Ligotti’s Book, Death Poems

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 7, 2022

Death PoemsDeath Poems by Thomas Ligotti
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m disappointed because I had been told I would love this book, I guess because I’ve had some “horror poetry” books published over the years. Mebbe so, but I’ve had far more books of poetry in other forms published. It’s simple, and I kind of feel this largely applies to this author’s entire canon — I like the themes, tone, morbid world view (much of which I tend to share), but that doesn’t make this guy a good writer and for god’s sake, I doubt anything could save this train wreck of so-called poems that don’t suck because they are formal or because they’re confessional or populist or postmodern or experimental or anything. He’s just a really bad poet! And honestly there’s no shame in that. It’s irritated the shit out of me to see and hear more and more people over the past couple of decades excitedly telling everyone they write poetry. At this point in time, EVERYONE thinks they’re a poet, and damn good at that. Trouble is that’s bullshit and always has been! Just because you throw together a few lines, maybe even self-publish a small volume of verse, doesn’t make you a fucking poet! I cringe every time I have to go to a wedding or funeral cause I know I’ll hear the worst kind of crap written by sincere, well meaning people. And they’ll get applause. From an audience that doesn’t realize the stuff they grew up reading and studying 50 years ago is so obsolete and a part of the distant past, they don’t realize they’re both showing themselves to be amateurs and a bit ignorant. Not that one has to be on the cutting edge. Many mainstream poets I can’t stand are still GOOD at their craft. Many populist poets, spurned by the Academy, like Bukowski, despite the image he fostered, knew how to write a poem and good ones. He knew the literary and poetic “rules” AND he knew how and when to bend or break them and pull it off effortlessly. Here’s a very famous American writer nearly everyone in the world has heard of and who has millions of fans (including me). Could tell a mean story, had real talent and influence. Most people can name more than one of his novels. But how many people know the titles of Jack Kerouac’s books of poetry? Right, no one. And I have them all. The fact is, no matter how famous or successful a writer he was, he was by god one of the absolute worst published poets of the past century! Wretched shit! Just cause you think you know poetry or you put lines down or a couple of people make flattering comments doesn’t mean you’re a real poet and certainly doesn’t mean you’re GOOD (using Kerouac as an example). People object and argue It’s subjective, and there is a bit of truth to that, but that’s not limited to poetry. That’s the argument made and the difference between the hard sciences and the soft or social sciences. You could make a legitimate argument that not only are poetry and literature subjective, but so are philosophy, religion, the arts, social studies, etc. But that’s why some general guidelines exist in each of these areas. That’s why you will study Hegel, Sartre, and Schopenhauer in philosophy but if you innocently (and ignorantly) ask virtually any philosopher or philosophy professor why we don’t study Ayn Rand, you typically get one of two reactions: side splitting laughter lasting uncomfortably too long or a hostile lecture about what a lightweight dittobrain brain she was, a “faux” intellectual whose “school” of philosophy she created is viewed as little different from how L Ron Hubbard is generally viewed. And they’re right about her. And just to prove I don’t have an anti-Rand bias, I was devastated when I found that one of my favorite writers and philosophers, a damn Nobel winner, ALSO typically isn’t included in Philosophy syllabi or viewed as a “real” philosopher — Camus! And I’ve long thought he was one of the three greatest existential philosophers in history, a view not shared by the “pros.” See, there are guidelines that can be employed that AREN’T necessarily in black and white, thus allowing a Donald Hall and Mark Strand to co-exist with Bukowski and Ferlinghetti as “legit” poets — even if that doesn’t always sit well with them. So Ligotti? I’ve gone on too long now and am tired, but it doesn’t matter if your language is formal, informal, experimental, etc. It still has to flow, to “sound” good on the page. If formal, what fits into the rules of rhyme, meter, stanzas, etc., must sound as natural as possible, must flow, not draw attention to itself and detract from the overall poem because it feels and seems forced. And while it’s harder to argue for rule adherence in free verse, just that one topic still applies. The language should actually seem and sound MORE natural, normal, flow comfortably, even in the case of surrealists or LANGUAGE poets. Because they know what they’re doing, what rules they’re intentionally breaking and why they MAY be successful at it. Ligotti’s poetry is made up of lines, words choices, a stilted dictation and lack of flow; it distracts from any point or message he may or may not be attempting to convey. It’s amateurish, buffoonish. It sounds like someone’s illiterate grandpa might. Fans may protest and argue “That’s the point, you dolt! He’s TRYING to make people uncomfortable with his poetry and his writing style, word choices, grammar usages, etc., are all part of that. How stupid are you?” (Meaning me.) Well, a rebuttal that’s I think many would agree with is been there, done that. It’s not remotely original but is definitely legitimate. I’ve done that myself with a number of poems and short stories when I was experimenting with postmodern metafiction. But while legit, just because someone may attempt to do that doesn’t mean they succeed or are any good. Which is the case here. I’ll end by throwing out a few names of authors who did exactly that, but SUCCESSFULLY, and are well known and loved by many (though still rarely in academia). One considered one of the best was William Burroughs, starting with his infamous Naked Lunch and most of his work thereafter. He and a partner are credited with popularizing and honing the “cut up method” to create almost meaningless text but still text one could get something out of. Ironically he was not the first, as Tristan Tzara and the Dadaist movement actually created and generated that technique. In the horror genre, there are fiction writers and the occasional poet who venture there (and also not “straight” horror, but more like dark surrealism that can incorporate horror elements). In no particular order, some who come to mind might include Anthony Burgess, who was SO linguistically experimental in his shock novel A Clockwork Orange that he had to spend an ungodly amount of time inventing a new damn language to fit the characters and the book (complete with glossary at back). Obviously Vonnegut, but some more current writers in the field who may occasionally succeed where Ligotti does not might include Boston, Crawford, Wayne AS, and most obvious of all, the late Harlan Ellison. I’m not saying this author has to be or become them. But he’d be well advised to do what most serious, professional writers do, and that’s study and analyze them to see where and how he/one can grow and improve, with your own voice intact ultimately. But until Ligotti shows evidence he’s done that, or from little I know of him, even gives a shit, I’ll continue to feel generous in giving 2 stars to this book and he’ll forever be relegated to the barely knowns, the wannabes, the amateurs who some think know what they are doing when such writers really don’t. Not recommended.

View all my reviews

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EXITS

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 15, 2021

While I have been a professional writer for 35+ years & while I’ve been heavily published in print & later the Internet & while my work has appeared online in a number of formats & genres, I have never — to the best of my memory — personally posted any of my creative writing & certainly never any fiction. Until now. Why now? No clue. I just always liked this piece I wrote over two decades ago & a couple of editors did too, resulting in a decent paycheck that beat the hell out of poetry or academic publishing!

I’ve largely been invested in postmodern work throughout my life, whether literature, art, theory, etc., & at this particular time in my life, I was engrossed in a certain sub-genre of postmodern literature called metafiction — most likely a fad, but some good, well known authors were known for that type of work, such as Martin Amis. Additionally, it influenced other forms of writing, so many in the poetry field who write or study L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry may attribute its movement & success to metafiction’s influence. Or not.

In any event, I spent a number of years engrossed in this & related movements while also being force fed (pompous) postmodern (faddish) theorists such as Foucault, Lyotard, Barthes, Lacan, Kristeva, Jameson & of course Derrida (We can thank Derrida for deconstruction, its overuse in grad schools & misuse among the media & general population.) Postmodern LIT was different for me though, at least some of it as opposed to the nearly exclusively French theorists (I can’t being myself to use the word “philosophers,” & some were other “professionals” as well, such as Lacan, etc.). (An aside on these pompous blowhards. I thought they were morons when first exposed to them & the more I read, the more I felt this. Frauds using grandiose terminology, concocted concepts & misused if not misunderstood ventures into other areas not their own (the hard sciences?), mixing & matching, all in a seeming effort to both impress & intimidate — especially cowering grad students. Well, a couple of badass physicists seem to agree and they wrote a book called Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science & it’s awesome! Alan Sokal & Jean Bricmont go even further than I would have in trashing these idiots, in calling their bluff, in correcting their absolutely attrocious butchering of physics & the hard sciences, if not other areas, in which they prove most of these French postmodern “geniuses” have no damn clue how to spell “quantum,” let alone “math,” they’re so stupid. They laugh at them & on behalf of their colleagues in the sciences as well & call them out, making them look like fools in one spoof so unbelievably stunning & brilliant that when one reads of it early in the book & sees proof of the plain idiocy amongst the cultural faux intellectuals & then goes on to read example after example of named, specific “demi-gods” spouting BS that, in some cases, is literally rubbish, dead wrong, proof of their insipidness. For others who wonder at the spectacle of such apparent twits gaining their reputations because they truly deserve them, this book will provide the truth with humorous sarcasm while putting the majority of them in their place — which is nowhere close to where “The Academy” has placed them!)

In any event, I’ve long enjoyed, been challenged by, amused, disturbed, impressed, etc., at what so many postmodern writers have done. I’m not foolish enough to state that these are the greatest writers, this the greatest genre. I’m just saying I dig it! And the creative opportunities seem endless so that one can go anywhere from simple “rebel” nonfiction masquerading as fiction (Winterson’s Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit — anti-religion) to the infamous Naked Lunch & yet even far beyond that as well. Some writers I’ve especially enjoyed include Vonnegut, Kosinski, Rhys, Acker, Doctorow, Burroughs & many more. While meandering through tons of books & authors, I discovered metafiction, which seemed to be a rising movement with a lot of promise, not for everyone as you’ll see, but utilizing various plot devices one can trace directly to a number of special films over the past few decades that were not adaptations of these novels, but were clearly influenced by them. As I’ve written a lot over the years, sometimes I like to experiment in new things, new areas, not because I plan to move in that direction, but just as a challenge, just for fun. So it was that I wrote several pieces of short fiction during the mid 1990s that were based upon & maybe even designed to be metafictional & while possibly three stand out in my mind, this one is the only one I think really came close to meeting that mark. And as I said, apparently I wasn’t alone in thinking that & it remains possibly my favorite piece of fiction I wrote, certainly so in writing it. I never claim my stuff is great; I’ve always claimed to outwork & outproduce virtually anyone else, which turned out to be true for some 15+ years I believe, as do some others in a position to make that judgment. So I didn’t intend to write a “Forward” or anything at all, but to simply put the story down & let people read it. But most people I’ve met haven’t read & thus wouldn’t understand the context of a metafictional work & while it’s not necessary in order to read any, because this is not representative of what I do & have done, I reconsidered & decided to preface the piece with a some info so anyone reading it might have a clue as to why the author apparently doesn’t.


EXITS

Hi!  I am a writer, or at least I pretend to be.  I think I am, therefore I am.  Yes, I write poetry, fiction, nonfiction ‑you name it, I write it.  Of course, if I wanted to really make money, I’d be writing kiddie lit, or maybe porn. Yeah…porn, that’s it….

Anyway, my name is Steve Universe. I know, I know, I get nailed for the name all the time. Actually, since I’m the author of this story, I suppose I could go by any name.  Naming is power, you know.  That’s what they say at least.  My parents exhausted universal power in first creating me, and then in naming me.  They created for me an identity, whether I wanted one or not.

Naming.  Power.  Writing.  Power.  Naming is such a buzz phrase these days. Current hot topic, especially with the feminists.  Because it’s true power.  For instance, I am writing a story.  Even now, as we speak.  Even now, as you read this.  I will write a character into the text.  I will name him.  What?  I’m not sure yet.  But I will create him and he will owe his very existence to me.  Pretty God‑like, don’t you think?  Power. Naming. I’m a writer.  Or at least I think I am.  Well, I speak as a writer.

My author’s name, evidently, is Scott Holstad.  (Who would have picked that name?)  He claims to be a writer (but then, don’t we all?).  I mean, who the hell has ever heard of Scott Holstad?  If I’m destined to be a measly character in someone’s story, why the hell couldn’t I get Updike or Vonnegut?  Hell, even Mailer or somebody like that? Somebody known?  Someone who matters?

Well, this Holstad character seems to be the asshole who gave me my name, at least that’s what he claims.  Steve Universe.  He seems to find humor in it.  Play on words, that sort of shit.  Universal.  University.  Mr. Universe.  Universe.  I don’t call that funny.  He’d never make a living as a comic.  And Steve.  Pretty boring I’d say. Why not something a little more exotic?  God knows, most writers do seem to have somewhat boring names.  Robert, John, Walter, Steven.  Well, I’m a writer; I speak as a writer. I would name my character Fabio…yeah, that’s it.  Exotic.  Romantic.  Steve.  That’s so…universal!  I mean, I could be anybody….

Hi! I’m THE writer, or at least I pretend to be.  The Government says I am, therefore I am.  They give me these little numbers and I exist.  Truly.  I kid you not.  I know it’s amazing, and I sometimes doubt it myself, but just try dodging your taxes sometime and see if you don’t exist!

Anyway, I’m the creator of Steve Universe.  I know, I know call me a narcissist (and you won’t be the only one), but deep down we’re all ego maniacs.  It’s that God Complex.

Well, Steve’s been railing away so I have decided to just write him out of the text. That’s right, erase him.  Just write him out.  Easy as pie.

There.  I’ve done it.  Steve Universe no longer exists.  And it was easy to do, like I said.  They say we are all capable of creation and that may be true but, God –  are we ever capable of destruction!  Total annihilation, say I!

 We can erase, Reconstruct, abolish, eliminate, terminate, DESTROY, with the greatest of ease.  Oh, and we writers are so proficient at it.  Comes with the territory I guess.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about something new lately.  New, that is, for me.  I speak to you as a writer, therefore I can say this.  I’m thinking of writing myself out of the text.  That’s right, textual suicide.  Innovative, eh?  I hate to admit this, but Steve was right about one thing, at least.  I’m not the best-known writer.  Oh, I have my share of groupies and I certainly appreciate them.  They’re devoted.  But, I’m not exactly a household name either.  Not that I’m ambitious.  Not that I’m a narcissist.  I speak as a writer, remember?

Look, what better way to achieve notoriety?  Textual suicide.  I will be no more. (And I know I am now. I know I exist because I have numbers proudly given to me by my Government.)  I will be no more.  Oh, I know I won’t be around to enjoy the accolades, but what the hell?

And those saps out there always fall for the suicides.  My God, what a bloody operation!  I’ve always wanted in on the scam.  The papers, TV, TV, TV, TV, mags, papers, bloodsucking TV.  We’re the fastfoodfastentertainmentfast sexfasttloodthirstyviolent generation by God, and we’re suckers for that shit!

Give me my suicide!

Give me my constitutionally guaranteed suicide!

Oh, they’ll just eat it up.  And Steve?  Well, he’s been written out of the text, eh? Doesn’t really matter anymore, does he?  He’s Steve Universe.  Was Steve Universe. Universal.  University.  Mr. Universe.  Steve Academia.  Boring Steve.


Steve, Steve I’m so 

bereaved I can’t conceive  

Why we must leave.


Oh, but I digress.  Again.  But I speak as a writer.  I’m allowed occasional digressions.  Writers, dammit!  Never seem to get to the friggin point.  I mean, well, what is the point?  The point’s the point son.  The end’s the point.  Cause we exist you know.  I, Scott C. Holstad, who speaks to you as a writer (and as a human? maybe?), I exist you know.  This I know.  For the Government tells me so.  It gets so slow.  Sometimes gotta go.  Breakdown.  Discourse.  Breakdown.  The point?

Oh yeah, the Point.  I guess it’s the End of the stick you put your hot dog on.  Or maybe your marshmallow.  The Point…the Point.

The Point, oh yeah.  Well, to get on with my story, I think I’m going to write a new character into the text.  To be my narrator, of course.  To carry on the tradition…the tradition…the Point.

Actually, to be perfectly honest with you, sometimes I feel like I’m already being erased from the text.  It’s like someone has pushed the Pause button, but it turns into the Erase button.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I don’t know how to…communicate…it.  I don’t know….

Well, this is very strange indeed.  It feels like someone’s been tampering with me, with me, with me, with me…me — …me…me…me with…me with…me with tampering… NO! That’s Martin Amis you dolt!  We’re not going backwards in this story.  We’re being Fucking erased!

As I said, I speak to you as a writer.  And I am the creator of this mess, so I decide what’s going on.  Right?  I am going to ever so conveniently create a new character before ever so conveniently obliterating myself from this increasingly dreary story.  Textual Suicide.  Oooh, how ’bout Cyber Textual Suicide?  Yeah, they love that Cyber shit.  It’s so in.

There.  See?  I’ve created yet again.  A new category.  A new ending.  A new genre which they’ll be beating down the damn doors for.  Cyber Textual Suicide.  Only a matter of time now before it’s in the Canon.  Oh baby, they’ll be asking GRE questions about it. I’m drooling now just thinking about it!  And I owe it all to me.  Me!  Not Steve Universe. Not Scott Holstad.  I mean, Wait!  Yes, Scott Holstad.  That is me.  I think.  Wait, hold on. Let me check my ID card.  Oh yes, right here.  Scott C. Holstad.  In black and white.  Very official looking.  See, the Government says I exist.  Therefore I am.  I am the Creator of this story.  Cause the Government says I can.  I am the Creator….

And people laughed when he claimed that God was dead.  God’s not dead you fools.  I am God!  The Creator.  Yes, of this story.  And the Government says I exist so it must be so.  Right?  And if I want to obliterate myself (Wait. Here it comes…a rousing, orgasmic cry of Cyber Textual Suicide!!!), from the text of course, I can do it!  Cause I’m the Destroyer.  I mean Creator.  I mean God.  Oh, what’s the difference?

And this new character…what should we name it?

It.  What gender first of all?  Or does that matter?  We’ve all read Virginia Woolf after all.  And we did see “The Crying Game.”

Well, ok, but what color hair?  Eyes?  Teeth?  Teeth?   OK, I tried to pull one over on you.  Or is it put one?  Or does it matter?  Whatever the case, I am the writer because I am the God.

OK.  Height?  Weight?  Genitals?  Oh, no need to go Victorian on me.  Really!  Boots or balls, what’ll it be?  Come on, come on, we don’t have all day here.

You see?  Do you see why I am writing this and you’re not?  My God, you’re slower than horse shit!  And indecisive.  What a match.  Readers dammit.  What the hell do Fish and Iser know anyway?  I mean, have they ever actually tried to work with a reader?  Ain’t that easy, is it?  No sirree.

I feel decidedly better now.  Sort of.  Just thinking about what I’m about to create makes me go positively gushy from head to toe.  I’m talking thrills a minute. Because I’m the Creator.  The Government says so.  And it should…. Hold on, what’s this?  But I haven’t decided to go yet.  I’m the only person who can erase myself from the text.  Hang it all, stop that!  What is going on here?  I speak to you as a writer because i am the creator exist you know the government tells me so this i know you know i am god it’s so I’m the master of this story but everything’s getting denser is that really a word werd weird bsmck shit now i know that’s not a word dammit i need my words to create i need my language my name my power my god….

Hi!  Sorry about all that gibberish back there.  You shouldn’t really have been forced to endure it.  Feel free to register a complaint with the proper authorities if you must.  But on behalf of the author and this publication, I would like to extend a formal apology.

Those Post-Modern writers think they can get away with anything.  Pretentious fucks!  Oops, sorry.  It’s just that they get feisty and break loose every now and then.  But don’t worry.  We take care of ’em. We put ’em back where they belong.

Now. Where were we?  Oh yes.

Hi! I am the writer.  I know I am a writer and I know I am the writer because I speak to you as a writer….

XXX

Scott C. Holstad 

© 1995 Scott C. Holstad

#metafiction

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An Intro to the Finnish Readers of Rendezvous’ssa re US Writer Scott C. Holstad, Circa 1993

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 13, 2021

When I started getting published in 1988-89, somehow — I no longer remember how — I came into contact with some Finnish writers, editors, publishers & magazines by at least 1990. At the time, Bukowski was very popular in Finland (& with me as well) & I’m afraid that like many, I emulated him just a tad too much for my first couple of years. But I started to branch out, set my own tone & feel, & develop my own reputation (never close to Bukowski’s, of course). In the meantime, I started getting published in small magazines in Finland, typically in English but sometimes in Finnish — which I didn’t read at the time. One editor really liked me, solicited stuff from me constantly, was a great guy & eventually asked if he could publish a small booklet of my poems, which kind of blew my mind (as it would be my first international book; I had already had something published in the US). My first poetry collection came out in the Spring 1991. I agreed to Jounni’s request & my 2nd collection, Industrial Madness, came out in December 1991. Other editors & magazines started soliciting work from me, I got to know quite a few good people over there & elsewhere in other countries that would strongly support me for years, such as Belgium, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, etc., & I started working with some Finnish friends & colleagues in L.A., where I was living at the time. (This helped me realize I wanted to move to Finland.) That first magazine, & the publishing company, was named Sivullinen. Published me a lot. But soon Sivullinen was joined by Sieto Kukka, Solinar, Talvipaivanseisaus & others. I also started getting fan mail. Now as strange it must seem to those of you who never knew me or heard of me as a writer, I actually did go through a 15+/- year period of massive productivity & was sometimes referred to as the most prolific man in the world at the time! (“Man” because no one could beat the late Lyn Lifshin, though I competed well for awhile. “Queen of the Small Press?” How many hundreds of books, many thousands of magazines? Every single literary one I ever saw, it often seemed like. But I was the male Lifshin “Lite,” so had some standing in that literary world.) So I started receiving fan mail from all over the world. And lots of requests, solicitations, offers to publish my books, & the occasional bra in a package from some sweet but delusional girl in a few different places. I had been getting published with Buk in many of the same mags since 1990, started corresponding with him then, would later go over to his house in San Pedro when I moved to Long Beach and he was nice enough to sign a few books for/to me, as well as a Bukowski t-shirt. This made me seem cooler to those that didn’t realize I wasn’t worth shit compared to the big boys. Nonetheless, Buk and I went from being published in a lot of the same magazines (with Gerry Locklin) to being put on the cover of a Finnish magazine, the name of which I no longer recall, which made it appear that we were standing side by side when in fact, it was just a slick Photoshop job of getting a photo of each of us to look, oh, like we were actually literally beside each other. But in a sense, we were at that moment. And even better, the cover screamed “Bukowski and Holstad!” Awesome. I actually don’t know why I was THAT excited because as the former editor of Caffeine magazine noted, for much of the 1990s, Caffeine was literally the biggest poetry magazine in America and since I started out with Rob in issue 1 and since he wanted to start off with a bang, among those he published were Ginsberg and Bukowski. On the cover. With me. And Buk and I appeared on many future covers of Caffeine and of some various other publications while he was still alive, but I’m not actually trying to brag so much as simply describe what it was like back then.

Which brings me to this collage I made this morning. And I do apologize for the state of the little article on the left. It’s barely readable, but I ran across it recently, hadn’t seen it in years/decades and couldn’t contain my enthusiasm, because it’s been a long time. So this little barely readable article is obviously in Finnish and it’s by the editor of what was a new-to-me Finnish magazine that would go on to publish me often: Rendezvous’ssa, or shortened in English, Rendezvous, It’s a little Introduction about me to the magazine’s readers. Appeared around the beginning of 1993. Since I was once so active in Finland (not only in writing/publishing, but in business as well, in other areas), I had various Finnish friends & colleagues & a couple would translate things like this, or longer, for me, but that was a long time ago & even though I learned to read & speak several languages, I’m beyond rusty now. And I no longer have access to translator friends. I can recall the person who translated this for me back in ’94, but I lost whatever the content was many years ago, so while I generally remembered what this said, I wanted to be able to read it fairly accurately again, so I decided to make an attempt to translate it myself. Which I did. Despite being rusty by many years. But with the admission that I had to refer to some sources a few times, the two more prominent being Google Translate & Translate.com. I frankly felt neither of them (or any others) did a perfect job & a couple of clauses virtually contradicted each other, so I basically just loosely translated it as reasonably accurately as I felt I could/should & the primary reason it may appear to a Fin to not be perfectly accurate is likely because of grammatical differences in the two languages, such as subject/object placement, etc. I moved a few things around but didn’t consciously try to add or eliminate anything of note. You’ll notice there were two or three words that I simply could not figure out, even within the context, so I guessed as best I could. I actually have hundreds of Finnish contacts and connections these days, many of them in the FDF, so if any of them were to see this & wish to correct me, improve this or comment, I’m open. So here’s my little goofy collage, which will mean little to most, but brings back good memories for me. Cheers!

Finnish introduction of US writer Scott C. Holstad to the readers of Rendezvous’ssa, followed by an English translation of my own

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An Interview With Global Security Expert Harris Schwartz

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 11, 2018

Today I published an interview on LinkedIn with a world renowned global leader in cybercrime & cybersecurity: Harris Schwartz. Feel free to read and comment. Many of you may find this interesting.  Cheers! https://www.linkedin.com/…/interview-global-security-exper…/

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A Review of Brother Number One

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 18, 2016

Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol PotBrother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot by David P. Chandler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first “review” I read when I came across reviews for Brother Number One was one by “Annie,” which stated, “More objective, non-sensational and honest than than ‘Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare’.” Funny, having finished both books now, I couldn’t agree with that statement less. I’ll get to the Nightmare book in another review (I think it’s an excellent book), but Brother Number One is for this one. It’s an interesting book. Since this is the “political biography of Pol Pot,” a mysterious man who I have wanted to know something of for quite some time, I thought this book would help me. And in a way, it did. But only in a way. For this book was published in 1992, five years before Pol’s death in 1997. It’s therefore an incomplete work. Moreover, and more importantly by far, the author claims that the subject is so very mysterious and so little is known about him and he has hidden himself in shrouds of mystery, at times for many years at a time, that it’s impossible to know anything of his whereabouts for years at a time. So that gives the author free reign to speculate as much as he wants, and boy, does he do that. First, he includes everything he possibly can about Pol’s, or Saloth Sar – as he was known most of his life – upbringing, including his childhood in a country village, to his upbringing with a brother and other relatives in the king’s palace, essentially, to his French education, first in Cambodia, then later as an elite student, in Paris where he became a communist, most likely around 1951. We learn of his return to Cambodia in the mid-50s, his rise in the Indochinese Communist Party, his helping to form the Cambodian Communist Party in 1960, his dealings with the Vietnamese, whom he needed yet always resented, his dealings with the Chinese, his resentment toward the French, toward the Cambodian monarchy, toward the US, his paranoia, his marriage, etc. But whole years are eliminated in this book. His whereabouts are claimed to be unknown. But that doesn’t stop the author, who begins numerous sentences with things such as, “It would be interesting to suppose,” or “One might assume,” or “It might be possible to guess,” etc, et al. If I had a dollar for every time the author speculates about Pol’s thoughts, feelings, or motives, I would be a wealthy man. Because that is all the author can do. He can only guess. There is very little recorded documentation at all, anywhere. The Vietnamese have some. The Chinese have some. Pol conducted some interviews in the late 1970s. Other than that, little accounts for the 1950s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s.

The author relies on numerous interviews for this book, but I’m assuming, as he often does, as Pol was still alive while the book was being written, that so many interviewees were aware of that fact and were scared to death of him, that few of them were willing to share many details of him or say many negative things about him. For instance, many of his secondary and college classmates were interviewed. He was known as a mediocre student, at best, but seemed to be liked by most. He had a pleasant smile, a decent laugh, and people differ on his effect on people and groups. Some say he had no influence on the Parisian communist groups, while others say he played a leading role. As a teacher in the 1950s, even though he never came close to completing his degree, he was known as a wise and good teacher, patient, well spoken, thoughtful, etc. The image doesn’t jibe with the genocidal maniac of the 1970s.

In fact, it’s hard to reconcile any image of him, pre-1970 or so, until 1975 really, when he started coming out of the woodworks and into the public eye. When he became public circa 1976, it was a shocker. No one knew who he was. He was alleged to have been a rubber plantation worked named “Pol Pot,” but when former colleagues saw him on TV making speeches, they knew at once he was Saloth Sar, the former teacher, childhood friend of the king and themselves, and they were shocked. How could this kind, good man be their new revolutionary prime minister, responsible for the deaths of a half a million people in the civil war which had just ended in 1975, and unbeknownst to anyone, about to become responsible for the deaths of one and a half million people in a probable genocide of epic proportions over the next three years? That’s over one fifth of the country’s population. Yes, Mao and Stalin killed many more people, but there were many, many more people to kill from. They didn’t kill one fifth of their country’s population. So, this was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

And the sweeping changes. Doing away with money. I mean, what the hell??? Emptying the cities? Seriously? Driving everyone out into the countryside, no matter where you were from or where your relatives were. Who cared if you lived or died? No one. Least of all the 12 and 13-year old Khmer Rouge soldiers. Illiterate peasant boys who couldn’t even read passports that were expected to be presented at all times. It was insane. Doing away with virtually all exports except for rice, and then if/when the rice crop fell through, what the hell happens to your country then? And the “base” people versus the “new” people. If you weren’t fighting with the revolutionaries when they “liberated” Cambodia in 1975, you were a “new” person, meaning you weren’t one of them, meaning you were an enemy combatant. Even if you were a peasant refugee who had merely fled to the city to escape the countryside fighting and had no irons in the fire one way or the other. You were the enemy.

S-21. It was the torture/interrogation center. Every communist regime has one, right? Hell, every regime of any sort has one. We have Guantanamo. The French had theirs too. S-21 was a former school. Over 20,000 people were processed through there in the three plus years it existed. Unless my facts have gotten jumbled up, and they may have, only about a half dozen people survived. All were tortured extensively, confessions of up to thousands of pages extracted, and all were killed, most brutally. The confessions typically said the person was a CIA agent, a KGB agent, and a Vietnamese agent. That the likelihood of one Cambodian person being all three, let alone any of these, was absurd as hell appeared to not have sunk in to Pol Pot and his colleagues. It made perfect sense to them that the Russians, their Vietnamese protégés, and the US, whom the Khmer Rouge believed they had defeated militarily in 1975 and who they thought had it out for them and was willing to work with its adversaries, would all be working together. Insanity sees reason everywhere.

This book is only 250 pages long, less than half as long as Nightmare is. It’s not nearly as detailed or in depth. It’s not nearly as well researched nor as well written. It relies far too extensively on speculation; at least 70% of the book is nothing but speculation. But as an introduction to Pol Pot, it’s an interesting book. I would suggest that, if it’s read, it’s read with this information in mind and then one would immediately read something more recent, ideally written after Pol’s death, such as Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare, which as I said, I think is an excellent book and which I hope to review soon. It relies on speculation almost not at all. One of the things that struck me most about Pol, the man, was that in one of these books, and I can’t remember which, sorry, he was asked if he knew how many people his administration was responsible for killing after he had been deposed. His answer was somewhere between several hundred and several thousand and that was because he had been kept out of the loop, or it would have been fewer than that. Stunning, really. Interesting to know if he really believed that or not. Somehow I doubt it. But there does seem to be evidence that he was actually kept out of the loop on a lot of the executions and that many of the “zones” were self sufficient and didn’t really report much back to headquarters and communications were so bad that it could take weeks or more to communicate by messenger, so by that time, things would have happened with or without permission. So things happened. How much was due to Pol? I guess we’ll never know. Of course, since Pol set the tone, ultimately it was all his responsibility. Everything and everyone was ultimately under his control. Anyone who displeased him was purged. He had complete control. Virtually all of his old communist colleagues from Paris and the old days in early communist Cambodia were purged to ensure his power. So, if he thought anyone were abusing their authority by acting genocidal without his permission, he could have done something about it. And he didn’t. So, obviously, the buck stopped with him.

So, I could go on and on, obviously. But I won’t. I’ve got to save some stuff to say for my next Pol Pot book. I learned a lot about a bizarre, incredibly secretive, insane man, responsible for the deaths of millions of people. It was surreal to read about, because this occurred during my lifetime and I remember a great deal of this, although of course not personally, obviously. The book itself is interesting, but for reasons already mentioned, not very good. Even though the author probably tried hard, he didn’t try hard enough. It’s probably a two star book at best, but I believe I’m going to give it three stars for effort because it’s one of the early Pol Pot books and it did make an impact of Pol Pot research, so that’s worth something. Still, it can’t be relied upon on its own. It’s not that trustworthy. It’s got to be supplemented by something more current in its research, so keep that in mind. I’m really not sure that I can recommend it. I can suggest reading it if interested in the subject matter, but only if you intend to read more than one source on the subject. If you intend to read only one book on Pol Pot, don’t let this be that source. It’s not reliable enough.

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