Smoking With David LaBounty

by Barry Graham Read the Story July 25, 2010

Let’s just go ahead and start with this to get it out of the way. How many women have you banged that you met off the internet?

Uhh… the answer would be zero. I haven’t been single since the internet was invented; back when I was single one had to meet women the old-fashioned way, like at bowling alleys or the produce section at the grocery store where I would buy vegetables that I would never eat. I will say that I have met people in the flesh who I only knew from the internet and have been disappointed. Some people are very funny and witty in their blogs and Facebook pages or whatever and then you meet them and it’s like shaking hands with a carp. Or talking to the floor. I think a lot of people craft artificial personas online because they can. Except for me of course. I’m as boring in person as I am on the internet.

Being a writer from southeast Michigan I always get excited when I see the reference in literature, I care more, pay attention better. In what way(s) would you say living/working/abiding in southeastern Michigan has affected your writing/storytelling?

Well, I certainly wouldn’t be the writer I am today if it wasn’t for where I live. I think southeastern Michigan is typical as far as any metropolitan area is, except we are everything to the nth degree, you know, highest unemployment, the most obese people, high crime rates etc… but there is also a lot of wealth and some natural beauty, lakes and what-have you, the haves and the have-nots live not too far from one another and their worlds seem to blur, one can drive from stinky River Rouge and be in northern Oakland County fishing with a beer in their hand with almost no noise at all in less than an hour. I guess southeastern Michigan is fertile ground for a writer if that makes sense, a lot of desperate people, a lot of good people, a lot of assholes.

What are the pros and cons of using such short, sparse paragraphs to tell a story?

I’m not smart enough to answer that question intelligently. I will say that I write short paragraphs because that’s what I favor as a reader. I have a short attention span and I like to keep things moving, I hate getting bogged down in paragraphs that take up a whole page I mean come on…. that’s worse than watching a Lions game.

Does your preference for short paragraphs stem from reading online or do you prefer short paragraphs in print form as well. If so, what short paragraph works have you learned from, studied from, been inspired by? Also, going back to the first part of the question, from a reader’s standpoint, what is the biggest difference between reading online and reading in print, besides the obvious computer screen? Different tolerance levels, expectations, etc? I know, so many questions in one question, sorry man.

I prefer short paragraphs in print as well. I also prefer short chapters in my novels and have written my own that way. The writing of Chuck Palahniuk comes to mind as in influence as far as a matter of form goes but I have to say his later works kinda suck. Michael Ondaatje has been an influence as well, though one wouldn’t know it from my writing.

I think reading in print is more aesthetically pleasing and forget reading anything long online, at least for me. If I’m going to sit and read something on a screen I have to be grabbed with the first couple of sentences or even a stanza if it’s poetry. So, I would say if one is writing something for an online audience it better be good and it better deliver quickly. That being said I’ve noticed that the bookstores are looking leaner and leaner, and I’m sure that’s because of the popularity of the digital readers which don’t interest me at all but I may have to buy one if that’s where the market is headed.

Interesting observation about the bookstores. Most people blame a slumping economy and the onset of digital media as the cause for declining sales in major bookstores. Can we maybe, at least, a little bit, also blame the power of the small and independent presses and their ability to network and gain readership though the internet? Maybe people are opting for small presses as opposed to going to the larger bookstores. Do you think the number if indie readers are actually that consequential? What else? What else can we blame for book stores closing? Good television? Video games? Mothers and fathers? Tupac and Biggie East Coast vs. West Coast beef?

I would love to blame the small presses for the demise of the bookstores but the big box bookstore customer isn’t a small press reader. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think the general reader is going to pick up a copy of my novel Affluenza (shameless, shameless plug) I think most of my readers are fellow writers and it’s very important that small press authors support one another, I try to buy as many titles as I can, especially if I’m acquainted with the writer. I think one can blame corporate greed for the declining sales, like an overfed fish that has to feed on itself because there is nothing else in the pond to eat. I went to Barnes and Noble this past weekend and they were pushing their version of a digital reader… hello! That means less jobs for booksellers and I will say the shelves were emptier and a lot of open space on the floor.

And one can certainly blame Barnes and Noble and Borders for pushing out independent booksellers a la Wal-Mart and any small town main street or Blockbuster video clerks pushing Netflix accounts and a year later that Blockbuster video store is closed. I know that’s a bleak assessment of the literary landscape but it’s what I’ve observed. I think one can blame corporate greed for a lot of society ills, and it does make a nice, vague target.

About the Author:

David LaBounty lives in Michigan. His latest novel is Affluenza.