Thursday, November 26, 2009

i'm grateful that literature is alive and well and thriving in many forms

One of the many things I'm thankful for today⎯books. Just finished The Help and A Gate at the Stairs, both novels I was sorry to finish as I so enjoyed being part of their worlds. I read them, however, without turning a page, downed them while biking around Central Park, hooked up to an ipod. At writer's conferences, I meet people who insist it's not reading unless you're holding dead trees in both hands. But I think that's like claiming that you can't hear Coltrane unless you listen to him on vinyl.

Of course, like most avid readers, I do love to turn pages. I just read The Humbling and The Anthologist in that delicious, tactile, old fashioned way. But reading the old fashioned way isn't always an option. Or, even the best one. David Griner, an advertising executive, is publishing a relative's diary in the form of tweets. Each day, an entry from a farm girl's 1937 "Line a Day" diary appears and, since the dates are coordinated, it is as if you're looking over her shoulder. The reading experience is enhanced by the fact it's published in a way that allows you to read the entries on the date that she wrote them. (Today's entry: To-day was Thanksgiving. Got off from school. -Nov. 25, 1937)

Next week, Rick Moody (The Ice Storm) is premiering a new story on Twitter. "Some Contemporary Characters" will be tweeted over the course of three days on Electric Literature, starting on Monday at 10 AM. A preview:

There are things in this taxable and careworn world that can only be said in a restrictive interface with a minimum of characters:

Saw him on
OKCupid. Agreed to meet. In his bio he said he had a “different conception of time.” And guess what? He didn’t show.

It's the first time a writer who's a name in the handheld publishing world is debuting a piece of fiction on twitter. I'll be tuning in, thankful that literature, despite doomsayers, is being given new opportunities to thrive. Happy holiday, everyone.

image via Black Clock


pennyo'reilly said...

As a fellow worker in the advertising realm, I love reading your blog. I'm fairly new to the business being only 30-yikes-when-did-that-happen! But there is a lot I can relate to: stories I have heard of carbon paper usage and vellum hand-drawings. Take some comfort though, in knowing sometimes we still use spray mount.

Unknown said...

I love to read and I am completely torn between your (completely correct) view that technology is providing new ways for literature to thrive and my 'dinosaur-ish' enjoyment of literally 'curling up with a good book'...sigh what to do...

BTW, I laughed at Penny's comment -I turned 40 this year and I remember using carbon sheets (you know before they actually gave you the pre-carbonised paper) whilst typing on a typewriter!!! LOL

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@pennyo'reilly Thanks for kind words. Phew on the spray mount ;)

@Kym Welcome, fellow ex-typist. I have no objection to lit turning tech as long as it doesn't trounce handheld as an option. (See today's post.)