Monday, January 12, 2009

Good news for the survival of books!

(not for the Survival of the Book (tm), necessarily...)

As many of you now know, the National Endowment for the Arts released a report with startling news: adults, especially young adults, are actually reading books! Hurray! Before you mock this enthusiasm, please note: "For the first time in the history of the survey - conducted five times since 1982 - the overall rate at which adults read literature (novels and short stories, plays, or poems) rose by seven percent. " So yes, worth celebrating.

And to continue on this wave of optimism, there's Boyd Tonkin's piece in the UK Independent in which he wonders whether this economic downturn, like the 1980s recession, might just produce some incredible literary voices.
Might the flight of big – or even middling – money from literary publishing prompt a quest for bolder choices and wider horizons from authors who know that their finely-finessed debut now stands no chance of reaching the Richard-and-Judy sofa or the Waterstone's front table? If slimmer cheques and smaller expectations force some novelists to give up altogether, surely they might inspire others to thumb their noses at a deep-frozen marketplace and go – as it were – for broke.

Tonkin points out that online commenters - mm-hm - "have effectively done their print ancestors' old job, charging into battle for the overlooked visionaries and the unsung avant-garde – who write for print. " He then mentions something I must look up, which has folks buzzing apparently in the UK: Paul Griffith's Let Me Tell You, a novella composed of words spoken by Ophelia in Hamlet.

So let's go forward with good thoughts - more readers, better writers, and an exciting literary future in the midst of a dismal economic reality! (Um... do I sound at all convincing?)

1 comment:

Paul Griffiths said...

See Boyd Tonkin's article of the following Friday, January 16, for much more on "let me tell you." Best wishes, pg