Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#Quakebook: Co-authored by Mr. Salaryman, William Gibson and a bunch of other people

I don't really feel like going through the whole history of this book, those of you interested should check out the official blog of the #quakebook here. The short version is that it was thought up by My Man in Abiko at one point when he was naked, it had something to do with people sending twitter messages all over the place and then a book got done pretty quickly and then it built quite a buzz.

All proceeds of the book will go directly to the Japanese Red Cross to support the survivors of the earthquake with Amazon waivering their normal commission, so buying the book at $9.99 means that the full amount will go to the JRC. The book in digital format is available here at Amazon.com, if you are even the least bit interested in how people perceived the quake, why not buy it and even if the book doesn't interest you that much, you can still sleep a little better knowing that you donated a little money to the relief efforts here in Japan. If you are completely uninterested in the book, you can still go to the page and donate some money directly to the JRC and still sleep better at night without having to download the book.As you probably have figured out, a piece by me is in the book (based on this post) and I feel a little bad about it since if I had known it would snowball as it has done, I would have put a little more time in it and written something different under my own name. In the beginning, I didn't really care that much if I ended up in the book or not since I wasn't really sure on whether the tone of my piece would be suitable or not.

However, this all changed the day I saw that they had gotten legendary sci-fi writer William Gibson to participate with an original piece for #Quakebook... I mean, when Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive came out, I was heavily into the "Electronic Body Music" subculture (for you americans, think something like goth with less gloom and more electronics) where those books quickly became the bibles of the subculture and had a tremendous impact. Not to mention that his books made it a bit cool to have Japanese heritage.

(in fact, just thinking of it made me want to watch the classic Frontline Assembly Mindphaser video again... and makes me remember how I, during my first visit in Tokyo, desperately scavenged obscure video stores to get a copy of the Gunhead movie that the video took most of the visuals from - yeah, the movie sucked)

So for me, being able to say, that I "co-authored a book with William Gibson" is something huge. "Yoko Ono is in there too" - Couldn't care less, she might brag about being co-author of a book with me though, but that's her right. This is almost up there with becoming a temporary member of the Ramones and be able to start calling myself Mr. Salaryman Ramone (sadly, with the passing of Dee Dee, Joey and Johnny it's not very likely to happen...).

Ok, I can't help being a little annoyed with some of the edits done to my piece... In particular the part from the original going:

"The situation in the Fukushima plant is still worrisome, but the worst doomsday advocates seem to have calmed down a little bit; perhaps because the reality is bad enough and some foreign media was playing up the "the situation is beyond critical" angle so hard yesterday that instead of trying to trump it, they went with Libya instead and other news that had more drama in them."

...somehow got edited down to a much blander:

"The situation in the Fukushima plant is still worrisome, but the worst doomsday advocates seem to have calmed down a little bit. Perhaps this is because the reality is bad enough and the foreign media has switched its reporting to the situation in Lybia and other, more dramatic news stories"

But hey, it's all good, my blog is still here and I understand that the whole book was finished under heavy time pressure and I can cross out "co-author with William Gibson" with my big list of "things I want to achieve before I die" so I have no complaints! Now buy the book, donate some extra and feel like you did something useful!


Sarahf said...

Check you out, Mr published author with a famous guy I've never heard of sut you seem pleased about. I thought this was an awesome idea from the beginning, will order a copy forthwith.

Chris said...

We have been exchanging comments on each others blogs for a while (years)so I'm not gonna hesitate because I don't expect to be taken wrong.

Congrats on being included in the book and I hope it raises some serious cash.

(I just lied and instead of deleting it I'll just leave it..)

I don't give a fuck. I donated to the S.P.C.A twice and feel good.

I watched in amazement as everyone went crazy and then cannabalized each other as they split into 2 camps. People who were erring on the side of caution (since when was that bad?) and people who stayed.

Is that in the book? I sent a mail with the hopes that the medias blatant "pro-stereotype" anti "reality" reporting about the overall condition of personal and property safety would be included as it was a ridiculous and unique moment in history when people who knew what was going on could see the utter lack of objectivity by major organizations including the biggies like CNN, MSNBC, etc.

This is collected accounts by people who saw what they wanted to see. A lot of those people were fucking assholes to each other on Twitter and now...unless I'm jumping the gun....they just did a purified and edited account.

I wrote a post that was visited by people from major media outlets and the Japan Times surfed all the links and even downloaded images before switching from "No" to "No mass". looting.

The Huffington post changed their title too after my comment and visiting my site.

I'm guilty of not being too up on what exactly this was about but my view was apparently not the one that people wanted to discuss but that seems to be a habit they picked up from some of the biggest media outlets in the World.

/Rant ;)

Jonas said...

Hey, I liked your piece, with a view from one week after.

I got my short contribution in there as well, and also not feeling too good about it. I think Our Man wanted it raw and emotional - I probably got the raw part down, but somehow missed the emotions. Would surely have put a bit more effort into it if I had known how big it would become.

But very happy to see it out finally, and the great response it has received.

Jeffrey said...

Interesting, particularly Chris' response.

I have a freelance journalist friend who used to write for Aera and another who has been in Japan for about 40 years as a journalist and translator. I generally go by what they've been telling me.

I think for the "foreign community" concentrated in and around Tokyo, that it's been a lot of vicarious, at arm's length "reporting" or the case of thousands of blind men describing an elephant.

Generic Jen B said...

Super interesting comments.
Are there any stories taken from people up North or is it all Tokyo folks? Hope it makes lots of moolah regardless.

BiggerInJapan said...

hi all, hi Chris,

I'm three quarters through the book, here are my two cents (sorry, Salaryman, for hijacking your blog):

There are a few posts condemning the (mostly overseas) fear mongering reporting.

I can confirm that the book is NOT an edified/purified account of what happened. Remember that OurManInAbiko gave us a very tight deadline of two days, and it was only a week after the earthquake. So no overly poetic stuff, no deeply philosophical writings - (fortunately) there simply wasn't time for that. Just what people experienced, felt and thought.

The discussion (?) on whether to stay or to go that Chris refers to, and which I agree was totally sickening and worthless, developed and got poisonous mostly after the deadline for this book (I think), so I have not seen anything in here.

There are some stories from people (or with relatives) really in the disaster zone, naturally a bunch of Tokyoites, and some people farther away (which I personally found less relevant).

Inherent to its format there is little Literature to be found in this book, obviously, but that's not what it is about.

Last but not least, the creator of this project, OurManInAbiko, chose to remain anonymous, while he really could have gained from this. I have tons of respect for that gent. And yes, this project will make much more money for the Red Cross than what we all on an individual basis (could have) donated.

Generic Jen B said...

Great info biggie; hats off to ourmani.

Hanta said...

I'm very upset I was not asked to write anything. Don't they know who I am? ... no?

I donated 15man by the way so you can buy a book for me since I have no money left this month.

Mr. Salaryman said...

Ok, since I do encourage people to buy the book if they are even a little bit curious - and you can't really go wrong since all the money go to charity (and hey, I just think it's important to do something, JRC or the animal help). The one thing you can't criticize #Quakebook of is the heart behind it and I really hope that it will sell tons and reach the people who might not be the ones donating in the first place (hey Hanta; way to go but make sure you can live too!).

...that said, the book was quite a dissapointment to me. I might have had too high expectations on it, but I found it (with the caveat that it might be the PC Kindle reader's fault) badly formatted, a mix of a few very strong pieces a bunch of bland ones (mine included) and some just plain bad/odd/out of place pieces.

In my opinion, it does stand strong on it's own feet as a charity project, but judged solely on the content and the price, I would feel pissed off if I had payed for it. I can't really say that I feel proud for having participated, partly because my piece could have been better (and edited better...) and because the overall quality was below my expectations. The cover is beautiful though!

Again, I just write this here in the comments section since I don't want to put the book down and scare people off buying it, because it might hopefully be able to pull in a lot of money for the people suffering from the quake.

But part of it might be because I was here in Japan, I followed all the info on live tv and seen the tragic stories, I know how it felt in Tokyo when the quake struck etc., it might help people far away get a flavor for how it was.

It might have been that my expectations were a bit too high as well. But again and again, don't let this put you off buying it, there are a few strong pieces in there and all the money goes to the good guys!

@ThatDanRyan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
@ThatDanRyan said...

Mr. Salaryman:

I did the original edit on the piece you submitted to Quakebook. If you have any problems with the job I did, feel free to get in touch with me via email. I would prefer not to discuss your nitpicking criticisms in public. danryan@quakebook.org

Lea-chan said...

Congrats on becoming an author, Mr. Salaryman! I was surprised to read that quakebook had been edited at all. It doesn't exactly read like it has been. But that is what I really like about it, the way all the raw and unrefined observations give such an unpretentious, real portrayal of that moment in time. So don't beat yourself up over the editing. You could always write your own book one day. You certainly seem to have it in you.

I know this has probably been said a million times already, but I am still totally in awe of everyone who somehow managed to come together and create this project at a time when I was still hiding in my closet from aftershocks and radiation. So don't downplay what you have achieved here. Most books take over a year in the editing phases alone. To compare the way quakebook was written (and edited, apparently) to most other books, does not make a lot of sense.. It`s its own thing. And it`s pretty cool, I think.

Mr. Salaryman said...

@thatdan – Oh, hello there, how nice of you to drop by! Like I said, I’m not completely happy with the editing and if you are honestly interested in my feedback on it I would be happy to mail you it, but you phrasing it as “nitpicking criticism” for some odd reason gives me vibes that you’re a little pissy about it and then there’s not much point, is there?

I mentioned it here on my blog to give people a chance to read the original post and compare, that’s all and I’m ready to move on with my life since I’m not really good at holding grudges.

Lea-Chan – Yes, as always, I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is only *my* opinion and that there are billions of people out there with other opinions that deserve to be taken as seriously as mine. And it might not be completely fair to judge the book as a completely separate entity removed from the process, but I took the liberty of doing it anyway here on my own little spot on the Internet ;) But hey, I took the care to do it here in the hidden corner of the comments section to keep it a bit low profile.

But yeah, "the Adventures of a foreign Author in Tokyo" doesn't relly sound that exciting does it? I think I'll stick with Salaryman stuff for a while longer ;)

JJ said...

I heard this book reached #5 on the top nonfiction bestsellers on amazon. I checked the site to see if it moved up to #1, but that spot is currently held by the true story about of a 4-year-old going to heaven and back. I wonder if that book will outsell that other bestselling nonfiction resurrection story, the bible...

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