Sunday, April 26, 2009

the prophesied resurrection of the short story

Sunday, April 26, 2009
a friend showed me this link a couple of weeks ago and i just got around to reading the article:

Brevity's Pull: In Praise of the American Short Story, by A.O. Scott (published 4/5/09)
(you can read this article by registering for free at, if you haven't already)

i like the idea of Kindle re-energizing the market for short stories. in fact, i might even love it. i can't wait until Kindles and their ilk are practical enough to be universally appealing (e.g. allow for sharing, borrowing, buying used, transferring currently owned print titles, etc.). sure, there is something tasty about fondling a paperback -- but, as someone who has moved six times in the past four years, i'm looking forward to not having to lug a dozen boxes of books between states in order to keep my library handy.

everyone knows the literary landscape is changing thanks to the progressive obsolescence of print media. who the hell reads fiction anymore, much less buys it at retail? the obvious trend is that the literary world has become increasingly cloistered (here's another NYT article proposing a more pessimistic view). how many readers of even the most prominent lit journals are not themselves writers hoping to be published in these same tomes?

the atmosphere around literature in our society is eerily reminiscent of the field of philosophy in America, which is done purely for the sake of other philosophers. no one else gives a damn! nor should they; it's too obscure and irrelevant to contemporary concerns to merit attention from the general educated public.

i'm not sure whether there's any hope for anglo analytic philosophy, but i think writers can escape these walls that are, in a very real way, closing in on us. after all, we may be writing first for ourselves, but art is ultimately about communication, isn't it? i hope we all believe we have something vital to convey to the world, or at least a chunk of it. so it's just as much our responsibility to figure out how to make that happen.

anyone heard (or come up with) any other intriguing ideas for making literature more accessible and suited to this post-print world?


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