Mark Amerika has watched technology make the transition from isolated uses to the almost countless uses that touch every part of people’s lives.
“I was on the internet starting in 1992,” author and artist Amerika said. “So, I have seen the world change over time with how everyone uses the online media culture to personally express themselves. The good news is that anyone can use it anytime. The bad news is that it can become addictive and too self- or ‘selfie’-absorbing.”
Amerika is the first speaker in the fall University of Houston-Victoria American Book Review Reading Series. His reading will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday in the UHV University West Alcorn Auditorium, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.
The American Book Review chose to move the readings to 11 a.m. because the new time will allow more UHV students to participate in the series. The event is free and open to the public.
“Mark has a unique style that captures the ever-shifting makeup of the digital and puts it into story form,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor and publisher and dean of the UHV School of Arts and Sciences. “Both his stories and his art explore how technology impacts our lives, and I look forward to hearing his presentation.”
Amerika’s journey toward becoming a writer started with an early love of reading. Growing up, his friends said he always “had a book in his face,” he said. When he’s writing, his work goes through a fluid and improvisational process.
“I sometimes refer to myself as a ‘remix artist,’” he said. “I’ll be reading another artist’s work that influences my mood and immediately try to remix that mood into a new style of writing that appeals to me.”
Much of his newer work is influenced by social media culture and how it permeates people’s lives, but his early contact with the internet in 1992 was far different from today’s experiences.
“I had a 14.4 baud modem that made this beautifully annoying noise when it was making a connection to the greater World Wide Web, and it would send a peaceful chill down my spine,” Amerika said. “It was like I was being teleported to another dimension. Now, the connection is so seamless and endless that it feels like our whole lives are under surveillance, and all we are doing is feeding the machine.”
During his presentation, Amerika plans to read from a selection of his early works and newest projects, including a novel he is finishing. He hopes attendees will see that he takes risks with his work and is not beholden to any commercial agenda that wants a uniform vision of life.
ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2006 and has a circulation of about 8,000. The journal specializes in reviews of works published by small presses.
Authors will be available after each reading to sign copies of their books. Each author also will meet with students and attend a community reception.
For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call the ABR office at 361-570-4101 or go to americanbookreview.org.