There’s a book that if you plant it in the ground can do some amazing things.
“We’re Getting On” by James Kaelan features three short fiction stories: “The Surrogate,” “You Must’ve Heard Something,” and “We’re Getting On.” The cover is made from a paper stock that has seeds mashed into it. Plant it. Water it. Trees will grow.
It was sent to me by Elijah Jenkins. A product of the southern Central Valley, Jenkins is one of those rare people interested in publishing exciting young authors. He's the executive director of Flatmancrooked, a relatively young indie publishing company based in Sacramento, Calif. that has featured anthologies, novellas and more.
We met at Dagny’s Coffee at 20th and Eye Street in Bakersfield (Where Jenkins was once in the band Mission Tonight), a town not known for much of a literary scene, though a young one is growing thanks to Jenkins' support and the help of Russo's Books and the Random Writers Workshop.
He sat outside the café. I rolled up in an El Camino and gave him some books. We talked. That's when he promised to send me a book that could sprout leaves.
It's all part of Kaelan's Zero Emission Book Project. His project includes a bike ride from Vancouver, an organic book, and an innovative book launch by Flatmancrooked.
While the book can literally grow, the project comes out of Kaelan's stories that collectively provide a harsh look at often failed attempts at relationships within a society addicted to technology.
Kaelan’s work doesn’t seem too far off in America’s current state of constant near-disaster. Whether you're connected to your own relationship tragedy, economic downfall, or failed Iphone, "We're Getting On" is for you. And though it is seeped in the concept of “failure,” it offers just enough hope amidst the chaos to keep you turning pages.
“We’re surrounded by machines, so to speak, and we rely upon them to see, eat, and communicate,” Kaelan wrote in an article for Electric Publishing. “I’m not interested in condemning the digital world permanently; that would be silly. I wrote this article on a computer, and I’ll Twitter and Facebook the hell out of it…”
Those interested in dystopian ideology and how the world often seems on a precipice will gravitate to Kaelen’s wordsmithing. And though its themes are gloomy, as in the slow starvation amid two characters in “You Must’ve Heard Something,” its characters offer just enough humor and hope to reflect real world coping mechanisms that we ourselves would hope to embody.
Of course the physical nature of the book offers hope too. Too gloomy? Plant it in the ground. Too dystopian? Give it extra water and Miracle Gro. Dance on the book's grave if you must. Life will spring forth.
Maybe the book itself is a respite from today’s postmodern publishing economy of too much paper filling too many unread books on far too many overstuffed shelves (Though we can’t help but being in love with the printed word).
A sticker inside the book reads: “If you don’t care for this book simply bury it in the soil and water it bi-weekly. It will grow into trees.”
Of course the sticker also says that if you like the book, plant it anyway.
Support Central Valley publishing and get the LAUNCH PACKAGE from Flatmancrooked. You get all kinds of goodies for a great low price that even includes an autograph.
Other ordering options: BUY.
NICK BELARDES is the author of Random Obsessions (2009) a book of oddities where you will learn that Mothman might be your big brother, Napoleon had stomach aches, and Thomas Jefferson's grandson was an ax murderer. In 2005 he released the dark novel Lords: Part One a fictional account of the mysterious "Lords of Bakersfield." A writer, poet and author, Belardes turned TV/online journalist overnight after blogging his way to success on Bakersfield issues. His articles and essays have appeared on the homepage of CNN.com and other news sites across America. You can find Nick on Facebook and Twitter.