Any eager and dewy-eyed self-publishers convinced that Kindle Direct Publishing has put them on the same footing as the book majors might want to take a close look at Canongate’s latest promotional wheeze. The company has launched Radio Straka, a web-based audio broadcast station transmitting the work of fictional “towering figure of twentieth-century literature and culture” V.M. Straka, a pivotal character in the upcoming novel S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst.
I’m sorry, who? “Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker J.J. Abrams has produced, directed, or written films and television shows including Fringe, Lost, Alias, Felicity, Star Trek, Cloverfield, Mission: Impossible, and more,” according to Amazon’s advance page. Oops, silly me: That J.J. Abrams. That’s the one who does not have the director or screenwriter credit for Lost or Cloverfield. The one who appears to have created Alias without actually scripting or directing it. In fact, he seems to have created a lot without doing much of it. Creating without doing: It’s almost divine. In fact, the New York Times, no less, describes him as: “presiding pop-culture guru-geek … a generous showman.” Well, it’s almost an honor just to pen a review of a book created by him. (Hey, wait, you mean there isn’t a book yet? And it only has one letter in its title? Isn’t that confusing? Not when you have all this creatively created creative creativity to help guide you towards your eventual purchase decision.)
At least readers aren’t being left in any doubt over what the book is about. (Oops, sorry, is going to be about …) J.J. Abrams has shared advance details liberally, including the modest revelation that: “In all fairness, the book was written by Doug Dorst.” (So can we assume that J.J. Abrams wrote the hype?) He’s equally modestly described as “Creator” on the Amazon pre-order page, while Dorst takes the “Author” credit. Doug Dorst, by the way, appears to be author of that modern classic Alive in Necropolis, and teaches writing at Texas State University-San Marcos. Sorry if that sounds sniffy, Doug. But I’m happy to observe that you’re at least a writer, even though you don’t share in the divine attributes of a creator. (You think he’d mind if I called him J? Or even, J?)
Still, why let little things like literary credentials and quality get in the way of some very creative, well-executed, and presumably very generously financed puff? According to The Bookseller‘s writeup of the exercise, five hours in total of the Radio Straka show have been recorded to titillate the ears of eager listeners. There are even cutely designed tweets to remind anyone who might otherwise be in danger of missing the next exciting slice of creation from J.J. Abrams. (And Doug.) I’m sure “experimental creative studio Jotta” is probably banking on just as many creative awards for their Straka Radio campaign as J.J. Abrams (and Doug) is (are) banking on Pulitzer Prizes for the actual book. Oh, there’s a book? Or should I call it, rather, a creation? Of J.J. Abrams (and Doug).
J.J. Abrams (and Doug), it’s been a rare privilege (or privileges).