Monthly Archives: November 2012

Book Review editor resigns after Union moves to silence Eric Miles Williamson’s criticism

Sabers Up! Redux
by William Hastings

I have resigned. This is my last essay for this book review. Let me make this clear from the outset: I speak for myself, not for the union. I stand alone.

Which is how it should be.

In last month’s issue I ran a column by Eric Miles Williamson. I ran it alongside a bunch of other great work and then went back to living my life. A few weeks later I received a frantic email from the Industrial Worker’s editor, Diane Krauthamer, that told me to remove Eric’s column because “people are getting up in arms about this article.”

I thought: Great.

It’s high time people got up in arms.

But then I grew scared. I was scared because I was asked to censor a writer, and worse, by the same union that won us our public free speech rights in the early part of the twentieth century. How far we’ve come since the flooded jails of Spokane, I thought.


When we have come to a point where the “radical” left is as conservative as the far right, just over different terms, it’s time to get real scared about the future of this country and it’s time to fortify your spine and stand on your own. The groups aren’t doing anything for us.

The word conserve comes to us from the Latin conservare, com and servare meaning to keep, guard, observe. That is, to conserve something is to “keep in a safe state.” Anytime groupthink circles up and starts screaming that order is being disrupted, or groupthink is challenged, or they are being made uncomfortable, and then groupthink demands to have that gadfly stop, it is being conservative. “You won’t challenge us,” groupthink says, “you won’t make us think differently. Don’t agitate our safe little boat. We’re going to stay just like we are.”

Because, obviously, keeping things in a static, safe state, is the way to create change.

That was sarcasm.

I have to say that because it was apparent from the emails I received that the sarcasm and humor in Eric Miles Williamson’s column failed to reach many.

The very act of creation, whether it be in art or politics, is a dynamic, forceful act, one born from deep within and fired loudly without. And as history has shown us, the greatest creative acts were born from lone individuals bucking trends, systems and groupthink, willing to stand far out on the edge on their own. Change is not created by holding a safe state.

The incessant demands to remove Eric’s column highlight not only the conservative nature of supposedly liberal politics, but also deeper problems not many are willing to face. In a supposedly democratic union, a demand from any one member toward another is not democratic shop discussion but rather a type of fascism, a consolidation of power toward the center and away from the edges. Whether it happens in emails to me, or it happens on the street when one person screams at another to shut up because the first is offended, equal rights are not being created, rather, power is being centralized and hoarded…

Read the full article at Industrial Worker Book Review:

Arnold Snyder reviews “East Bay Grease”: “…one of the best novels I’ve read in years … an exhilarating read.”

In East Bay Grease, Eric Miles Williamson has created the ultimate novel of a child living in Hell, a story of brutality, transformation and transcendence. The narrator, T-Bird Murphy, is a poor kid from the Oakland slums, living in a world where people violate each other horribly—a world of vandalism and violence where no one ever calls the police because the police are the enemies of all. No one ever files lawsuits. It’s vigilante law. People take their revenge themselves. They use knives to maim and torture. They burn down houses. They murder. Everyone knows whodunit and they know why it was done. It’s the real world that the poor in the big cities in the U.S. live in, but though the poor make up a huge segment of our population, this world is invisible to anyone not living in it…

Read the full review at Write-aholic:

“Screenplays that Sell” reviewed by Adelaide Screenwriter

[…] Allison Burnett has written a dozen movies, including a run of seven consecutive spec scripts, every one of which sold to Hollywood. Well over 99% of all spec scripts written never sell. The odds of being in that less-than-one-per-cent that do sell, seven consecutive times, are beyond my memories of the Probability Theorem, but they would be astronomical. There has to be something more than luck at work here.

His background is that he was a theater-geek in high school, who then spent ten years writing plays, short stories and novels in New York, while working as a high school tutor and proof-reading at a law firm. At the end of that first ten years he had earned just $100 from his writing.

He moved to L.A. in 1990 to write screenplays.

The first significant fact he tells us, in his video Screenplays That Sell, is that he didn’t approach screenwriting while thinking romantically of himself as an artist; he was comparing screenwriting with proof-reading legal documents and tutoring high school kids. It was to be a business, a way of earning a living.

Soon after, he went bankrupt. Desperation brought a sharper focus. He was writing spec scripts that producers agreed were well-written, but that they refused to buy. Allison began to observe the patterns of his failures-to-sell…

Read the full review on the Adelaide Screenwriter blog: