Steve Stack, author of “It is Just You, Everything is Not Shit” has come out with a new book, entitled “21st Century Dodos: A Collection of Endangered Objects (and other stuff).” Steve Stack also happens to have a (not-so) secret identity, as the publisher of The Friday Project, an experimental Harper Collins imprint. He joins me today on my blog for a little Q&A session, as part of the blog tour for his new book, and for some cake.
Your new book “21st Century Dodos” catalogs a host of modern-day items (134 at last count!) that have become extinct with the advent of more modern technology and the rapidly evolving society that we live in. While I found that many of the items were particularly British in origin, there was much that I could relate to – and indeed almost every item has a similar American counterpart – and I’m sure – a counterpart in most parts of the world. Everywhere you look, new technology replaces old technology at lightning speed, and the 4NonBlondes song “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” has never been more apt. (And speaking of dodo-birds, 4NonBlondes has also gone off to that large dodo-oasis in the sky). I am honored to have had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at your book and to be able to ask you a few questions.
Well, I am delighted to be here, thanks so much for inviting me.
Your last book is described as somewhat of a guidebook to being happy – where did this new idea come from?
It had been brewing for some time and whenever I mentioned it to friends they would fire back with loads of suggestion for entries. Once I had over 100 I figured it was time to get writing.
I have always been nostalgic for days gone by so I guess this project was just a natural progression from that.
I’ve seen you refer to this as a “bathroom book”? I didn’t read it in the bathroom (maybe that’s because it was on my laptop) but still…is there something magical that happens if you read it in the bathroom? Some hidden message that can only be heard underwater – er…or the sound of a flushing toilet?
How can I put this politely? Most of the entries in the book are just the right length for a trip to the bathroom/toilet/rest room (depending on what you call it in your country.)
Everyone sort of knows it’s you…why the pseudonym?
Honest answer is that the last one sold pretty well so it made sense to keep Steve Stack alive. Originally we kept it quiet as it wasn’t really the done thing for a publisher to publish themselves but the then boss of The Friday Project really wanted to do the book, commissioned me to write it and it sort of took off from there.
In this book you detail so many “household” items that have “gone the way of the dodo bird.” What’s up next for extinction in your opinion?
Well, a lot of the entries in the book aren’t quite extinct yet so one of them is bound to be the next to go. I think it might be a race between VHS tapes and audio cassettes.
Are books an endangered species?
No. Even as someone who is involved in lots of digital publishing I still believe books are here to stay.
Is Steve Stack soon to be an endangered species? How do you find time for it all? As anyone can see, you are a devoted father, you blog about everything from music and books to movies and cake, you tweet constantly, you run a Harper Collins publishing imprint, you write books – and now, I heard a rumor – the new head of Authonomy? Do you sleep?
I sleep lots. And I don’t work Fridays. The secret is that you don’t actually have to do a lot of work to be productive. You just have to do the right work at the right time. And have great people working with you.
Can you share with us some things that in your opinion are not headed towards dodo-hood any time soon? An album/band you love? A book or two you’ve read and adored recently? A new author/book from your Friday Project imprint? A favorite Authonomy title?
Ooh, I’d love to.
I love the Swedish band Hello Saferide. Musically and lyrically they are leagues ahead of everyone else.
Florence and Giles by John Harding is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year, it is really rather special.
And I am very proud of The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman, a book I recently published. It is a beautiful little hardback with wonderful illustrations.
It seems from your blog that most of the books that you read and love are fiction – as are many of the books on authonomy – do you write fiction yourself? Got anything hiding in your drawers?
Nothing in drawers. Lots in my head.
A manual detailing the good things in life, an encyclopedia of extinct and endangered household items, what’s next?
I am toying with the idea of a book about the demise of the handwritten letter, something that does feature in the 21st Century Dodos. It would be part history, part appeal and part manual.
All good things in life must come to an end, as you have clearly shown us with your exotic collection of dodo-like items. Thank you for answering my questions and appearing on my blog. It’s been lovely.
It has, hasn’t it? Thanks for having me.
Now, for the most important part of the interview – cake! (A recipe, if you please…)
1 Purchase cake
2 Open box
3 Remove cake
4 Slice and serve with a cup of tea