Friday, June 28, 2013

Meet the Shelf Inflicted Staff - Anthony Vacca

Today's guest is Anthony Vacca, the result of C.W. Sughrue and Nick Stefanos mating successfully.

How did you discover Goodreads?
A friend of mine told me about it back in 2009. I joined the site as mainly a way just to catalogue what I read so I could impress myself with how many books I read. My plan didn’t work out though and I am still hoping we can work things out.

But then about a year ago I had a lot more time to stare at a computer screen while at work and realized that there was actually whole communities of people who actually read the different kinds of books I like. And the rest is your typical story of a downward spiral into addiction.

What have been your most memorable Goodreads experiences?
Realizing how many poor suckers—I mean, wonderful people on this site actually think I am pretty good at reviewing books. It’s a very rewarding experience and one of the few forms of vanity I allow myself.

But really, one of the coolest experiences was realizing that there is such a thriving community of people discussing books on here. It's kind of a funny story. Dan and Kemper were two of the first real friends I made on this site. At the time I kept seeing their reviews pop up on a lot of the crime and mystery novels I was reading, and was like, oh cool here’s some people I can finally talk to about crime novels.(I know like one person in the real world who actually reads these kinds of books. The rest are snobs about the genre.) So I started harassing their reviews trying to talk to them. It was like another month before I even realized that there was apparently a whole ranking system for reviewers and, within that, a hierarchy. And thus I was so totally like, "Oh, I am only trying to make friends with people who have like a thousand followers and are some kind of royalty on here. Way to shoot for a humble start, Anthony."

But they have been great friends on here, along with so many others whose kindness and passion about books is what makes this place special for me.

Name one reviewer not in the Forbes 25 that people should be aware of.
I’ll name you two. Aubrey and Stephen M. Both are fellow Generation Y-er’s on the site and both write the kind of reviews I wish I could. And both tenaciously tackle such long and difficult works and their excitement about them make me want to be a better reader. Whatever the hell that means in my head.

What was your initial reaction to Amazon buying Goodreads?
Does this mean I can make some money? If so, how do I make more than others?

How many books do you own?
Somewhere in the upper triple digits. The real question is how much money would I have if I hadn’t bought all those books? I work at a library for chrissakes! Why do I keep buying books?

Who is your favorite author?
Nice try. I don’t do one favorite author. Since I love different kinds of literature for the different kinds of things they can do, I will give you two separate and appropriately pretentious lists:

Crime fiction: James Crumley, James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, George Pelecanos

Super-I-am-so-cool-for-reading-them literary authors: Ernest Hemingway, Denis Johnson, Martin Amis, Thomas Pynchon, T C Boyle, David Foster Wallace, Virginia Woolf.

Plays: William Shakespeare, David Mamet, Samuel Beckett

Poetry: Sylvia Plath, T S Eliot, William Blake, Walt Whitman

Graphic novels: Garth Ennis, Alan Moore, and Jason

Both these lists I am sure will change. I have a hard time not falling in love too quickly.

What is your favorite book of all time?
You poor bastard. This was a mistake to ask me. I’ll try to limit it to a top ten.

The Last Good Kiss, Infinite Jest, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The BoysMrs. Dalloway, The Great Gatsby, 1984, The Information, A Winter’s Tale, Endgame.

What are your thoughts on ebooks?
As far as I am concerned a book is something you hold in your hands that has a cover and a back and inside there are sheets of paper held together with glue to this thing that resembles the spine of an animal in function. Ever heard of something like that?

What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
I think it is certainly a thing that booksellers are going to have to reckon with, and I have seen a few quality works released this way; having said that, I think a gatekeeping process is important. There is a reason why books like Fifty Shades of Mommy Porn are not picked up by a publisher. But clearly, what do I know. I am  already a dinosaur of a snob.

Any literary aspirations?
Yes, but as much as I can blather on (as you have clearly seen if you actually read this far into my answers), I operate more on a “put my money where my mouth is” type-deal when it comes to writing. When I have something to show for it, then we can talk literary aspirations.

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