September 10th, 2006


Funky Little Tunes

I'm driving home from work today, listening to the radio, and listening to the voice in the radio talk about EPs, albums, and singles, and it occurs me that collections and anthologies have a strong connection to albums.

The difference, however, is a lot of bands release their albums after doing their time in pubs and bars and festivals, and a writer often does time with short fiction in low paying 'zines, anthologies, and so forth. Once you've done enough time, you might get the chance to have a collection, which popular wisdom will tell you won't sell well, on the most part. Which is probably why collections are mostly released by independent presses these days, unless you're someone big and flashy in that famous way. Neil Gaiman isn't getting a huge print run for his new collection because of literary merit (no matter if you think he deserves it or not). Of course, I don't really hang in the music industry, but I imagine that there's a popular saying that EPs don't sell well, and that most albums go bust, just the same with fiction, but every form has got its doom and gloom, you know?

But I was just struck by the form of an album, and how it mirrors that of a collection, with it's individual tracks comprising a whole. An album isn't really comparable to a novel, but it is to a single author collection, and my reaction to them is much the same. It's very rare for me to find an album I love every track on, the same for a collection, and I'll go back for certain tracks, and certain stories, whereas, with a novel or film, I find myself picking up for scene or pieces of dialogue that I find especially memorable.

The thought can't be new, really. I remember a few years back Warren Ellis would go on about comparing single issue comics to singles, in which you could get that injection of culture straight into you. I tend to think the same goes for short fiction, but there's really no way you can drop a couple of dollars down on a counter and get one story, in a nice little package. I'm not talking a novella here, but a proper short story, anywhere from a thousand to eight thousand words, just in one neat form, which you can take with you after dropping the change. Something to read for that bit of disposable time on a train, before bed, between shows, or while you cook. Sure, you can do the same thing with a collection, but collections, you know, they cost money, take time to read, and they're not small and compact and sold for the price of a whim.

It's probably impossible to do outside a PDF or internet release, anyhow.

Anyhow: yes, collections, albums, singles, EPs. Just a thought I had as I was driving home. Can't even say it's that originally, really. Someone might even be doing it. Let me know if they are.
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