Cheeseburger Gothic

MUP

Posted January 30 into Writing by John Birmingham

So, I have a calendar entry for a phone hook up with Melbourne University Press on Feb 11 to discuss a book I was going to do with them, The City and the Tribe, a sort of Leviathan-like study of tribalism and modernity. I'm not sure that meeting is even going ahead now, since the entire board of MUP and the head publisher, Louise Adler, resigned today.

The Herald has a report here.

There have apparently been disagreements with the University over the direction of the house. Odd, because MUP is one of the most successful publishing houses in the country. Although, allegedly some in the University disparage its output as 'airport trash'. (A pretty grotesque slur in my opinion).

Anyway, I'm not as unsettled by the shenanigans as you'd imagine. I've been staring at the Commitment Matrix on the white board next to my desk and wondering whether I truly have the time to invest in a big prestige non fiction project. I know from Leviathan how much work is involved and I have a couple of other projects that would likely pay a lot more for much less demanding work. Airport novels, by way of coincidence.

I tried hashing this out with Dirk de Jager on Skype last week. I really want to avoid over-committing myself, but on the other hand I do have some financial damage from the last few years to repair and, just as importantly, I feel myself challenged to write this book.

Think I'll put my head down and lean into the other projects for now. Maybe have a look around next week.

13 Responses to ‘MUP’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 30
JB needs to be like Vegemite. You need to spread what you have thick and goodly. To spread yourself too thin - well, all you get is tasteless and awful.

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jason puts forth...

Posted January 31
Airport trash - I think what we choose to read on the plane defines our true love. 10 hours lost in another world or 10 hours cogitating the meaningless of existence (with footnotes). Give me mayhem any day.

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she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 31
I was deeply shocked by the MUP dust up yesterday, and ESPECIALLY by the "airport trash" slur; have these ivory tower snobs actually READ any of the 'ON' books that MUP produced (much less any of their other great books)? Katharine Murphy's On Disruption and David Speers' On Mutiny were brilliantly pithy and accessible treatises on events that are affecting us deeply but we as pleb airport trash readers may not necessarily be able to grasp, not having a conduit into the inner workings of these subjects. I'm also hanging out for the release of Paula Matthewson's On Merit, which should be a forensic tour de force on the LNP's woman problem.

It's sad that you may not end up with a publisher for the City and the Tribe straightaway, and I do understand the dilemma of producing more 'airport trash' to pay the bills vs challenging yourself on a big non fiction piece like this. I can't imagine the slog that went into researching and writing Leviathan, but can i just say that book is a fricking MASTERPIECE? Especially in the sense of a journeyman finishing his apprenticeship and producing his masterwork kind of way? You really earned the right to write airport novels after that one.

I am very much in favour of more 'splosions and 'airport trash', but would also very much like to devour a big non fiction treatise from you as well. Very few do blistering social commentary like you do, and I gave up the Boob to support the City and the Tribe and feel invested in it now (because it's all about me). But as I said when you pulled the pin on ASB, you have to do what works for you, and I'll buy whatever your publish anyway! xx

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 31
I still haven't spoken to MUP, but I assume there's no way this idea of mine fits into the academic monograph plan. It's the sort of book you buy in an airport, after all. (But you still feel superior to the Dan Brown readers).
I could send an email this arvo and sell it somewhere else, but I really have been looking at my white board and chewing my lip worrying about whether I had too much on.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 31
Yeah I can't see it fitting into their new plan of cutting off the revenue stream that would have helped fund the publishing of their monographs, which is very sad. The only good things that can be said about Dan Brown readers is at least they're reading, and that they exist to enable readers like me to feel superior.

Knowing nothing about the publishing process as I do, is it worth putting feelers out to see if you'd be able to sell it at all this year? If no one shows an interest then that's your answer and you can focus on the airport fiction instead of the non fiction. Or is the dilemma that someone will throw a wad of cash at you (in lieu of a truckful of cash backed up to your door) and then you'd be stuck having to deliver? I'm leaning toward the challenge/personal growth project simply because I've flagged 2019 as my year of doing stuff I've been making excuses about forever, but that's my narrative, not yours.

What other works would you have to delay in order to deliver this one? Maybe we can vote a book off the island? :P

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 31
"Or is the dilemma that someone will throw a wad of cash at you (in lieu of a truckful of cash backed up to your door) and then you'd be stuck having to deliver?"

This.

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted January 31
Ah. Yep that would do it. I guess you have to decide how badly you want to do it vs your other stuff? :(

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Rob mumbles...

Posted January 31
Academic writing. The stuff only read by undergrads because they have to? I've read some utter trash in my new degree.(mostly it says Marxism good, capitalist hegemony bad)

Give me the clever snark and gold plated hovercrafts any day.


and 'splosions.

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Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted January 31
From my ivory tower near the summit of mount Olympus, I have only one question:
Did you burn enough ink today?

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Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted January 31
Shame JB. I would have been keen to read this type of study. I did some courses on sociology and anthropology which I found really enjoyable. Since then (long long long ago) I have often thought of the tribal nature of societies and how football plays a role in continuing the tribalism BUT without the larger scale warfare. Yes, I know all about Chelsea headhunters (a friend of a friend was handed the knife) and lets not forget Millwall Bushwackers or FTroop.
Football can replace tribal warfare as an outlet for that aspect of our nature and I believe that over time this will prove to be true in Africa.
Thoughts?

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 1
I'm in two minds Porky. I really did want to write this book. It still fascinates me as a topic. But I also have to some debts to pay off and airport novels will do that.
As to the topic, there's a great book called The Professor in the Cage, which I'll write up here in a week or two. Middle aged English Lit professor takes up cage fighting. It's hella entertaining, but also goes deep on the same issues.

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HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 1
"I tried hashing this out with Dirk de Jager on Skype last week. I really want to avoid over-committing myself, but on the other hand I do have some financial damage from the last few years to repair and, just as importantly, I feel myself challenged to write this book"


I guess the hover must need a new polish or cut or whatever it is you outsource to some plebes etc...

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thetick puts forth...

Posted February 1
You gotta make your own decisions about how much work to do and stuff, but as an aside, I'd read the FUCK out of a book like that.

I mean, I'm gonna read all the rest of your stuff, but that sounds really interesting.

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