Arn? Narn. by Bruce Meisterman – Blog Tour Interview

Welcome to Author Bruce Meisterman
As a photographer, Bruce Meisterman has worked in areas as diverse as fine art and commercial photography, always looking to meld the two. Originally studying to be a painter, Bruce found that he could express himself and his art more effectively with a camera. Starting out as a photo-journalist with a newspaper, he honed his eye, insight, skills, and story-telling abilities from working with the demands of daily deadlines.
The book Arn? Narn. was initially conceived as an examination of a western culture, isolated from the world. Isolated not so much as to having no contact with the outside world, but as to being a destination rather than a place along one’s way. In researching the then-untitled book, Meisterman determined Newfoundland would be the perfect place in which to do this study.
After his first trip up there to photograph, he realized that a core element to his photos was missing, necessitating another trip to Newfoundland the following year. It was then where the story became apparent to him. The title of the book tells it all.
“Arn? Narn.” is the shortest conversation in Newfoundland English. The story behind it is this: two fishing boat captains are in the bay: one departing, the other returning. The departing captain yells out across the bay “Arn?’ The returning captain responds “Narn.” The translation is simple: “Any fish?”; “No fish.” And this book is about a culture, that culture, having supported itself for many years on fishing, finding itself now unable to do. The fish are gone.
While Arn? Narn. is about Newfoundland, the implications are of a much broader scope. The lessons learned here have global ramifications. Meisterman likens it to a canary in a coal mine, but on a planetary scale. When the canary dies, it’s time to get out of the coal mine and avert a human catastrophe. In this instance, the canary (the Newfoundland fishing industry) died, but no one took notice until it was too late. Evidence indicates other such global collapses are inevitable but may be avoidable, but only if action is taken.
Meisterman has been widely published in numerous publications such as: the New York Times, The Sun magazine, Yankee magazine, Country Journal magazine among many others and has been featured in a number of books. He has had numerous exhibitions ranging from galleries to museums. And his work resides in many private collections. Arn? Narn. is Meisterman’s first book.
He has been a guest lecturer at colleges and universities, religious organizations, and trade groups conducting them in a fashion where he also learns from the process as well as those attending. “We are all teachers to each other. How fortunate that I can be the subject of a whole room full of teachers.   They have made me a much better photographer. The one thing I never want to do is stop learning.”

Interview
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? 
photographer Sebastiao Salgado; musician Paul Winter; Bill Clinton; author John Barth; “newsman” Jon Stewart.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? 
Civil rights activist Whitney Young.

Night owl, or early bird? 
Both, actually.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 
If you’re concerned about the future and the fate of our planet, then Arn? Narn.is a good cautionary tale about what happens when greed gets in the way of a greater good.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 
Yes. I’ve started the preliminary work on the next book. It too is a photo-documentary, but about a significant cultural difference between the US and the rest of the world. I hope to bring it to market in 3-4 years.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
That’s an easy one – seeing the book in print and then learning that a reviewer had bought a copy as a gift for someone.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? 
Actually, there are many. Certainly one could be Peter Gabriel’s song, Don’t Give Up.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? 
Without sounding too flip – read the answer to the previous question. Don’t give up.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 
While photographing Arn? Narn., I fell in love with Newfoundland. That would be it for me.

Who are your favorite authors of all time? 
In no particular order: John Barth, David W. McFadden, Isaac Asimov, Nelson DeMille, David Lodge, William Kennedy, and Bill Bryson.

How do you react to a bad review? 
I learned not to take it personally. It is one person’s point of view. After that, maybe a glass of wine to celebrate the good ones.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? 
I would love a signed, first edition of Robert Frank’s The Americans. It was/is one of the seminal books on contemporary photography.

Which authors have influence you most how? 
Since I started out as a photo-journalist, the photographer who influenced me first was W. Eugene Smith. His towering humanity was portrayed in so many of his images. After that, Sebastaio Salgado. I didn’t shoot for a period of over 15 years. It was his work that inspired me to pick up the camera again. I’m very glad I did.
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What’s your favorite season/weather? 
Winter. I’m not a fan of shoveling or scraping ice off the car, but other than that, I love it.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
We had it all planned – Champagne and then a really nice dinner with a good bottle of wine. Something came up, I forget what, and we had to postpone. We’ve had smaller celebrations along the way. So it’s lasted a bit longer which is very nice.

Favorite music? 
How much space do we have? I love many types of music. Depending on my mood, it could be Beethoven or the Black Keys; William Ackerman or Neil Young; Kathleen Battle or Loreena McKennitt. My CD collection is still growing.

Favorite quote from a movie? 
That’s an easy one. It’s from Shakespeare’s Henry V. It’s from the St. Crispin’s Day speech. As acted by Kenneth Branagh, it is so incredibly stirring and inspirational.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Arn? Narn.
Arn? Narn., while telling the true story of a disappearing rural Newfoundland, is also a cautionary chronicle of an imminent world wide concern. In 1992, the Canadian government enacted a cod fishing moratorium on the over 500 year old fishing industry, throwing over 40,000 fisherman out of work. In the next ten years, nearly 20 % of Newfoundland’s population migrated off the large island. Now, 20 years later, the fish have not returned nor have the people.
The implications of this are only now just beginning to be understood. In 2006, Dr. Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia published a paper which received world-wide attention. In it, he predicted that by the middle of this century all stocks of wild, edible fish will be in total collapse. What happened in Newfoundland is expected to occur planet-wide.
Arn? Narn. is a photo-documentary of a culture vanishing before our eyes; perhaps as an early warning to all countries to learn how to manage their resources more carefully. This could very easily happen anywhere.
The title refers to a short conversation in Newfoundland English. It comes from the story of two fishing boats in a Newfoundland bay: one boat is departing, the other returning. The departing boat’s captain yells across his bow, “Arn?” The returning boat’s captain replies, “Narn.” The translation is simple: “Any fish?” “No fish.” That is the tragedy of this story. Through over-fishing, government mismanagement, and greed, the fish are gone.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of Arn? Narn.
Open to US only
Ends 12/28/12

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